Rian Johnson Changed Kylo Ren's 'The Last Jedi' TIE Fighter Due To A Toy Mistake

Just in case you have some preconceived notion that franchise moviemaking is purely an artistic endeavor, here's a story about toys. Star Wars: The Last Jedi ended up changing the design of Kylo Ren's TIE Fighter in the hit sequel after laying eyes on a toy.  

It's no secret that toys can play a big part in big blockbuster moviemaking. The other day, we reported a story confirming the reason Marvel decided to launch the MCU with Iron Man was due to the fact that kids gravitated more towards Iron Man toys. Now comes word that something similar happened with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Midway through production on The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson got ahold of some Star Wars toys featuring Kylo Ren's TIE fighter, dubbed the TIE Silencer (sounds pretty badass). Johnson noticed a key difference in the toy's design from the design of the fighter in the film: missiles on the side wings.

Rather than send a note to Hasbro and ask them to change the toy design, Johnson instead decided to change the design of the TIE fighter in the film to match the toy. Industrial Light & Magic VFX Supervisor Mike Mulholland confirmed this in an interview with Radio Times:

"Initially, the plan was to have missiles on the underside, and shoot them off, and that was it. But halfway through production Rian got a toy, a prototype toy of the Kylo fighter. And they had the missiles on the side wings! So we went and redesigned a bit of it [in the movie] so that we could open it up and pop them out. I've heard of the toys' influence in the past, but that was the first time for me."

TIE Silencer toy

There are two ways to look at this. One would be the cynical viewpoint, wherein you'd roll your eyes and say, "Ah, here is more proof of the rampant, soulless consumerism of modern moviemaking!" Or, if you wanted to be positive, you could look at this decision as proof that Johnson cared enough about the little details to make the change. Kylo Ren's TIE fighter only appears in one scene, but it's a key scene in the film – a scene wrought with emotion. In it, Kylo Ren flies out towards the ship containing the Resistance, including his mother, Leia. He comes very close to firing on the ship, but hesitates. It's a very memorable scene.

All that said, whether or not Star Wars toys mean anything to you, they do mean something to someone out there. Perhaps that metaphorical someone was exactly who Johnson was thinking of when he made this decision – a decision that wasn't exactly simple, since it required changing a lot of digital effects work.