The Last Jedi fan theory

Han Solo may have shot first, but Rian Johnson isn’t afraid to pull the trigger when the occasion calls for it, either. Yesterday morning, the writer/director of one of this year’s most anticipated blockbusters shot down a popular Star Wars: The Last Jedi fan theory about the true identity of Benicio Del Toro‘s mysterious character. Star Wars Rebels fans may come away from this feeling slightly disappointed.

There has been a lot of chatter online about Benicio Del Toro’s character in The Last Jedi, who we know is named “DJ” and who briefly appears in the behind-the-scenes sizzle reel released at the D23 Expo this past weekend. A fan theory sprang up wondering if Del Toro’s “DJ” is actually secretly an adult version of Ezra Bridger, the young hero of Disney’s Star Wars Rebels animated series. But according to Johnson, that’s not the case. Someone at Good Morning America asked him about the possible connection yesterday morning, and the filmmaker responded: “Oh, Ezra from Rebels? He’s his own person. DJ is his own person.”

You can watch the exchange below.

I have a feeling Johnson isn’t interested in repeating the Star Trek Into Darkness Khan situation, in which J.J. Abrams lied to the public about the villain’s identity in order to attempt to preserve a twist in the movie. (A couple of weird connections, though: Abrams directed the previous Star Wars saga movie, and Del Toro was up for the role of Khan before Benedict Cumberbatch won it.) There’s not much of an upside to Johnson lying to everyone about this, and think about the practicality of the theory for a second: there would likely be some kind of big reveal that DJ is actually Ezra, but considering a majority of people who watch these movies don’t watch Rebels, it’d take too much screen time to explain who he is and why people should care about this reveal for it to be worth it.

Star Wars The Last Jedi

But I can understand the impulse to try to connect the dots between these characters. The Star Wars universe has limitless potential in the characters that inhabit it and the types of stories told within it, but we’ve often seen Lucasfilm be frustratingly small-scale in their thinking. The fact that they’re making a Han Solo prequel movie is emblematic of this “safe” style of storytelling, one that’s intended to excavate every last inch of a fan-favorite character’s origin instead of, you know, actually exploring the vast new possibilities of George Lucas‘s cinematic universe. So it’s not surprising that people are trying to answer a mystery by looking at familiar characters and thinking there may be a secret connection between them. Lucasfilm has practically encouraged that level of thinking at this stage, and I’m looking forward to the day they decide they no longer need to keep these narratives so contained and have the confidence that audiences will follow when they head to different, previously-unexplored corners of the galaxy.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives in theaters on December 15, 2017.

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