How 'Star Wars Episode 9' Responds To 'The Last Jedi,' According To J.J Abrams

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was divisive for some fans of the sci-fi saga. While some saw it as an innovative and exciting leap forward for the franchise with compelling character arcs, others thought it misused legacy characters and went in a drastically different direction than they hoped. Therefore, director J.J. Abrams has some heavy lifting to do when it comes to wrapping things up with Star Wars Episode 9. Thankfully, he accepted the task through a giant leap of faith, and brought with him some lessons that he learned from making Lost on a truncated timetable.

When it comes to taking on something like Episode 9, Abrams knew he had to take "an all-in leap of faith," as he said during an interview with Fast Company. Thanks to the full support of his wife Katie Abrams was able to have "an immediate immersion into the what-ifs of it all." The good news is that Abrams was feeling the pressure from meeting a release date that had already been set and wouldn't be delayed, and it actually helped them approach the story without enough time to overthink it. Abrams explained:

"I'm not complaining when I say this, but it was having to make decisions based on gut. When Damon Lindelof and I created Lost, we had essentially 12 weeks to write, cast, shoot, cut, and turn in a two-hour pilot with a big cast. And that was a crazy short amount of time. The benefit of that was, we didn't have time to overthink. There wasn't time to get studio notes that end up sometimes taking you in lateral positions and making you adjust things—death by a thousand cuts—to a place where something doesn't resemble what it should be, and you can't remember why you got there or how."

Speaking of getting there, let's not forget that there's a whole movie between The Force Awakens and Episode 9. And Abrams has to craft a movie that follows the events of that film, but also wraps up an entire saga of movies. That comes with a hefty load of challenges, but Abrams doesn't seem to have looked at The Last Jedi as something he needed to fix. Instead, he looked at the legacy of Star Wars, how to bring it to an end, and how to also continue some of the threads he began in The Force Awakens. Here's what Abrams had to say about that:

"I had some gut instincts about where the story would have gone. But without getting in the weeds on episode eight, that was a story that Rian wrote and was telling based on seven before we met. So he was taking the thing in another direction. So we also had to respond to Episode VIII. So our movie was not just following what we had started, it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else. So there was that, and, finally, it was resolving nine movies. While there are some threads of larger ideas and some big picture things that had been conceived decades ago and a lot of ideas that Lawrence Kasdan and I had when we were doing Episode VII, the lack of absolute inevitability, the lack of a complete structure for this thing, given the way it was being run was an enormous challenge."

That part about bringing in some "big picture things" that were "conceived decades ago" is really interesting. What threads is Abrams using to resolve this story? What ideas inform how this all comes to an end? Hopefully we'll have a better idea when Star Wars Celebration kicks off later this week and we learn the title and see the first trailer from Star Wars Episode 9.