Rian Johnson Explains Leia’s Big Last Jedi Move Again For Fans Who Are Having Trouble Accepting It

Rian Johnson Explains Leia’s Big Last Jedi Move Again For Fans Who Are Having Trouble Accepting It

Fans are still debating a lot of the content from Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And they likely will continue to do so for the rest of time. But the director recently reiterated the very logical reasoning behind one of the more contentious moments.

Image: Disney

Most of the major stories within the Star Wars franchise have revolved around the Skywalker family because of how strong they are in the Force. Because Luke inherited it from his father, it makes perfect sense that Leia would be incredibly powerful in a similar way.

In many of the older (now non-canonical) extended universe books, Leia went on to master a number of strategic Force abilities such as battle meditation that her brother never could.

While General Leia doesn’t flex her battle meditation muscles to save her fleet in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, she does use her Force abilities for the first time on screen in a move that’s equal parts majestic and terrifying.

After she’s sucked into the vacuum of space, Leia saves herself by using Force Pull to reel herself back to her spaceship before promptly passing out. Though the scene’s a touching tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, it threw some people for a loop – especially those confused as to how Leia, who we haven’t seen training to use the Force, could manage to pull off such a feat.

In a recent podcast interview with Empire Magazine, Last Jedi director Johnson once again recalled how Leia’s use of the Force in The Last Jedi came as a result of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wanting to dig into Luke’s assertion to Leia in Return of the Jedi that she has within her the same potential he does:

The idea behind that moment was that in a moment of that – first of all her use of Force in that moment is not incredibly powerful she’s in space which offers no resistance. So actually take much to pull her back in she is in zero gravity, but also [her use of the Force] is instinctual.

That was the bigger thing for me is that it’s the equivalent of like when you hear stories about parents who have a toddler trapped under a car and they lift the car up they get Hulk strength. It’s that idea “this is not going to end today. I’m not finished yet” and that she it’s almost like just a drowning person is clawing their way to the surface the way she pulls her way back.

After seeing literally all of the Force-sensitive men in Leia’s family pull off incredible feats with the Force, it was fantastic to finally see Leia getting in on the action. Will fans accept Johnson’s answer and move on? Nah. Probably not.


  • I think we could have seen Leia be a badass with the force (and be introduced to it) in better ways than that. Oh well.

  • Will fans have the wool pulled over their eyes with this half-baked explanation and suddenly ignore that it was an awful scene regardless? Nah. Probably not.

    • Thank you. Thank you for summing up so elegantly my feelings toward this movie and franchise, and all these stupid articles.

      Next i’d Like an article explaining why “actually yes you should care” about that stupid overly emotional death scene of that character that means absolutely nothing to any Star Wars fan whilst complely ignoring the death of a long term fan favourite.

    • If you needed it explained to you in the first place it’s because you’re unable to accept something at face value that clashes with your weird, ideal version of ‘Star Wars’. These films have always been brightly-coloured popcorn entertainment with no real rules or logic or deeper meaning, no matter how much fanfiction you have read that says otherwise. Leia done used the force to fly back to the ship because movies.

      • As someone who’s not a Star Wars fan, bad writing is bad writing. IT makes sense that she can force pull herself, sure. But they could have shown us her using the Force at some point earlier, even if it was just to pull over a cup of water. Her doing so is basically a Deus ex Machina.

        Also, pretty sure Jedi or not, you’d still die in the vacuum of space after being exposed for how long she was.

        • If at any point they actually established that she could use the force as much as she did in that scene, then people will just complain why didn’t she instinctively use it to protect her and some if not all of her crew (remember she just reprimanded Poe earlier for not considering other lives are involved here). So I totally get and agree with the whole instinctual thing that the director is aiming for.

          I think all they needed was just an emotional flash or even just a voice over of Han like saying “Me too” or something with more feels before Leia floated back into the hangar.

    • My first thought on seeing this scene was “I’m Mary Poppins y’all.”

      it kinda ruined the movie for me for a few minutes after that til I could move my mind past it.

  • it’s never been about Leia having the force. always about the execution of it. no build up and while literally everyone else died she remained alive. if there was even an off hand comment about her having done some training before Luke left no one would bat an eye at it (CGI aside)

    Someone needs to sit down with these people and not yes man off the comments for them to disparage but, actually explain the criticisms in a way that can’t simply be handwaved and requires them to actually address the concerns presented.

  • I don’t care about Leia using force powers, I can buy that explanation. I care about it being a pointless bit of deus ex machina for a plot point that didn’t need to exist, with awful CGI.

  • When you have to keep explaining your movie and why you made certain choices, maybe it is time to just accept you made a bad movie and move on.

    • He doesn’t have to explain anything about his movie, but he is a big fan of the franchise and is answering fan questions.
      Plenty of people had already come to the same conclusions as the Director intended.
      You didn’t like the movie I take it? That doesn’t make it a bad movie, just a movie you didn’t like.

      I feel like people just want to get the boot in, from the way some people are writing about it, I’m not sure why they went to see the movie. I am a big fan of the OT, I loved this film, I loved that it didn’t explain everything, and left stuff to discuss/argue with your friends about on the way out of the cinema.
      A lot of people are complaining or claiming that the Director talking about choices means they are ‘justifying’ bad choices, I see it more just as a director having a conversation with the fans and giving some insight to the behind the scenes planning.

      There seems to be a movement lately of if someone doesn’t enjoy a movie, they feel that no-one should have enjoyed it, or make out that you are stupid or foolish if you did.
      I figure if I didn’t like a movie, it wasn’t for me, but someone else probably loved it.

      • I agree targeting compoita. I enjoyed this film. I wouldn’t say I loved it but I thoroughly enjoyed it and to the people who are perplexed as to how someone could like it, I am equally perplexed as to how they couldn’t.

        Everyone complained that Star Wars 7 wasn’t ballsy enough and played it safe. This one didn’t. He made it his own movie. Some of the decisions I agreed with, some I didn’t but overall I liked the film.

      • I agree too even though I thought the scene was ridiculous. The hate the newer movies get seems a little too angry – to the point where they might as well just stop making anything Star Wars related because they’re not the original trilogy or fan-service expanded universe.

      • I’ll admit to being very critical with the articles and I think part of the outrage in forums and elsewhere is a backlash to the glowing reviews it got when it was a fairly run of the mill – 3/5 – movie. I enjoyed parts of it, the overall story I liked but the execution, as in pacing/tone was pretty poor (in my opinion obviously).

  • It was more the way she survived in the harsh vacuum of space long enough to actually save herself with her Force powers that was a bridge too far for me. The actual use of the Force didn’t really bother me.

    • You can survive that vacuum for about 15 seconds until passing out, with the more violent effects happening after 1-2 minutes.

      • I doubt she was prepared for the sudden decompression and defenestration though. Odds are that she would either be concussed by the explosion and/or would have air in her lungs which would pop her like a balloon. We’re talking about a general/politician here, not a space ninja. Latent force abilities could have manifested themselves in other ways. I liked how Rey tapped into the force in the escape from Jakku when she piloted the Falcon. That was sort of a callback to Luke’s skill with a speeder X-Wing and even young Anakin in the Phantom Menace. This was kind of absurd.

          • I get what you’re saying but, at the same time, Star Wars has had so many films and additional lore that its universe has more or less been established to have its own rules of science. At this point, we’ve all pretty much accepted that, in Star Wars, sounds can be heard through empty space, those gifted in the Force can unconsciously tap into it at times of great concentration without necessarily having been trained prior (though the Force user has always been hinted at having some relative amount of ability in it as opposed to them suddenly just having mastered it out of nowhere), and that everyone fears stormtroopers despite knowing that they have terrible aim and standing directly in front of one is the best way not to get shot.

      • You can survive that vacuum for about 15 seconds until passing out

        Considering she had been passed out long enough for all the debree to stop flying around…

  • They missed a perfect opportunity to kill her off. Imagine if Leia died in space and then came back at the end as a force ghost to distract kylo Ren and save everyone. It would have been a nice respectful way to write her out.

    • Yep I agree 100%.

      I thought they could have had Kylo blowing her up and out into space……dead. Game over. Would have made Kylo a bit nastier, and closed the loop with Carrie in a meaningful way.

      But no, instead we get a little tid bit that Kylo has a little good left inside (even though Luke explains that he searches inside him and sees no light, hence trying to kill him) by not blowing up mumsy.

      By Leia’s head not exploding the vacuum of space etc, then her pulling herself in using the force was ridiculous. And for me, was easily the worst part of a movie I enjoyed. that scene was utterly terrible.

      • Despite what Red Dwarf would have us believe, your head doesn’t expose in space, and you can survive for a while. Long enough to do a David Bowman and transfer from one ship to another for example.

        I like that Kylo is a bit of a mess, he can be evil and nasty and still hesitate over killing his Mum. It gives the guy a bit more realism than just this guy evil, this guy good.

        • Despite what Red Dwarf would have us believe, your head doesn’t expose in space, and you can survive for a while. Long enough to do a David Bowman and transfer from one ship to another for example

          That’s true. However that “while” is 15 seconds before you lose consciousness. Yet we saw her regain consciousness in an environment with no oxygen. And judging by how there was no debree flying around and it was all still, she had been there for a while.

    • Right, but they had no way of knowing that Carrie Fisher would die between the filming and release of this movie.

      In retrospect we can say it would be nice to give a better send off for the character now that the actor is dead, but for all we know they had some big plans for Leia that required she be alive for Episode 9.

      Now lets just hope they don’t replace her with computer generated Leia from Rogue One …

  • Whilst all these awful scenes deserve criticism I do feel they distract us from the elephant in the room. That being, we’re 2/3rds of the way through a trilogy and there’s still no sign of an actual plot. Star Wars under Disney feels like a mobile game to me. The original trilogy was made by a story teller. That’s what made it so amazing. This new trilogy was made by a group of employees.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve given on the Disney version of Star Wars as they do not have any over arching story. Even the prequels told a story. For instances, how did the first order come into existence. What happened to the Empire. These new films are making lots of money but they are devoid of anything resembling a soul.

    • Yup. Snoke offed with no explanation or foresight. A massive weapon destroyed in every film so far with almost no effect to the first order. No explanation why the first order is so powerful at all.

      Rey needing almost 0 training and defeating Kylo in every encounter so far. So where’s the drama when they encounter each other again?

      It’s just going nowhere. It had ALL the ingredients from the first and the 2nd just squanders them.

  • I hyped this movie too much after loving The Force Awakens and Rogue One. They were bound to make an average film at some point. Space Leia was in my opinion an opportunity to deal with the death of Carrie that they didn’t seize. Now they’re either going to have to write her out in the opening crawl of Episode 9 or recast Leia (which would probably put a lot of fans offside).

    • It’s so strange that she “dies” then doesn’t, but then is rendered unconscious anyway and has little to no impact on the rest of the film.

      • It was the perfect place to actually kill her off. Respectfully, in the film. It only would’ve taken 1 scene to reshoot.

        They made so many strange decisions in this film that I don’t understand. Snoke’s death was so cheap. Like, unbelievably so!

  • It would have been a damn shame to go through all the movies without seeing Leia use the Force. She’s a motherfucking Skywalker! And the only real difference between her and Luke (given the fact they’re twins) is gender and the fact Luke was given male priveledge access to Jedi training.
    It makes sense that she would autopilot her Force powers when faced with death. I was bewildered to see the fanrage over it instead of people being all “Fuck yeah! Finally!”. Especially considering how established her Force powers were in the EU.
    Also, for all we know she could have done heaps of awesome Jedi shit in the decades between trillogies.

    • I don’t think people are “fanraging” over Leia using the force. And let’s not make this about “male privilege” or gender. Leia Is a great example of a strong female character, force user or not. People are just annoyed at the decision making and writing that went into the scene. Or lack thereof.

    • and the fact Luke was given male priveledge access to Jedi training.
      Except that never happened the way that you stated it happened…

    • It was a cheap way for her to show that she had force abilities. In the novels she’s mastered abilities like battle mediation. Why not have her use that at the start to help the fighters and bombers destroy the Dreadnaught?

      • I do agree with that entirely, however I worry the Jedi Powers we know the names of, like Battle Meditation, Force Push, and Auto-erotic Force Choke are not at all how the writers and directors have been construing the Force.
        Luke’s ability to kinda teleport a younger version of himself across time and space before imploding demonstrated that for me.
        I’m still not sure WT actual F that was or even if I liked it or not.

  • Leia having the ability to force-pull herself to safety was never the issue. It was that there was no hint of her abilities reaching that level prior, not even in ‘The Force Awakens’. Going from subconsciously having an internal grasp of the Force (aka. sensing Luke or the presence of the Force) to externally manipulating it is a huge leap. Saying that she was trained in the now-defunct EU is a moot point because it is now-defunct. So in terms of canon all we know is that Luke told her she could be taught how to harness her power in RotJ, and then we get Mary Poppins with no buildup.

  • “…After seeing literally all of the Force-sensitive men in Leia’s family pull off incredible feats with the Force, it was fantastic to finally see Leia getting in on the action. …”. Oh play the misogyny card if people don’t agree. Leia had never used the force in any scene beforehand, and quite frankly they missed a good dramatic opportunity with her dying right there and then. Unfortunately the thread played out like something you would see in a tv series, not a movie, with leia finally getting out of her sick bed and ending the mutiny. People in the cinema were bursting out laughing when she floated back to the ship in the theatre I watched it in.

  • The idea behind that moment was that in a moment of that – first of all her use of Force in that moment is not incredibly powerful she’s in space which offers no resistance. So actually take much to pull her back in she is in zero gravity, but also [her use of the Force] is instinctual.Does Rian Johnson suck at English, or does someone suck at transcribing? Coz both of those sentences are terrible.

  • Don’t worry they’ll go back and fix all the issues in the future special editions…. But then again, given how deep some of these issues are it might just be easier to remake the entire sequel trilogy. Fortunately Disney is an expert at remaking things because new ideas are hard.

  • “But we STILL didn’t see a training montage! How can a character have learnt something in the 30 years between movies, if it was off-screen?!”

    Yeah, we never saw any of those ace pilots go through flight school either. Shut up.

    • They’re pilots for the entire duration that we know them. The first time we see them, they’re already pilots. Often, when they’re killed, it’s as pilots. We don’t see a single one go from never having flown a ship to suddenly being an ace. Even Luke had had some amount of experience flying his Skyhopper on Tatooine before A New Hope.

      This issue is that, not only did we not see a montage that portrayed Leia training with the Force, we didn’t get any indication that she had any training with it at all. Without that information, the movie comes across as if she doesn’t need any training but can do things right off the bat that took Luke a long time to master (judging from how we saw him struggle with it even when being trained by Yoda). This is the same problem that many fans have with Rei: she’s too good with the Force right off the bat without any actual training when it took the master years to become the master. The Matrix gave us a similar situation, when Neo went from nothing to a martial arts master instantly. However, there was an explanation: the knowledge and expertise was uploaded directly to his brain, which worked with the plot of that film. We don’t get any hint of an explanation in TLJ; no anecdote about how Luke trained Leia since RoTJ or how it was fortunate that she used her free time to meditate on the ways of the Force. We are expected to just accept it as gospel and fill in the gaps with our imagination. It’s an extremely important part of character development that has been completely omitted. What if Anakin suddenly became Vader without showing us the events that led to him becoming Vader? Or if the first time Luke trained with the lightsaber on the Falcon, he blocked every shot from the training droid with ease and then used the Force to smash it against the wall? Making or giving the perception that any character can go from nothing to a master instantly is jarring and bad writing, and that’s the problem fans have with the sudden Leia Poppins.

      • Yeah, Leia sure seems the kind of person who wouldn’t bother ever looking into it, at all, over the course of 20+ years. She’s Force sensitive enough to remember her mother, who died when Leia was 10 minutes old; by the series’ internal logic, TLJ wasn’t a stretch.

        • Thanks for the downvote. The point was that it’s bad writing to assume that the audience will put all that together. The smallest bit of anecdotal evidence in the form of afterthought statement to indicate that Leia had had training or whatever to give her such prowess with the force would have been enough but there was no indication of it. The idea of “show, don’t tell” is a widely agreed with philosophy in film. One of the worst ideas that movies makers can adhere to is “don’t show, don’t tell, let the audience figure out the backstory themselves”. And, as I alluded to before, for a major character like Leia, who we’ve never seen use it before, learning how to use the Force is too important a part of character development not to make any mention of it at all and then suddenly spring it on the audience as it was in TLJ.

          • Might just be me, but I prefer surprises to foreshadowing that usually gives away too much. Which Leia dicking about with the Force out of boredom instead of leading would have been.

            Don’t know about the downvote; you were making a point well. Some of the reactions to it, though, make me wonder if they need their hand held for every movie. “Oh, Uma can suddenly kill 5 billion Yakuza?!! She never used a katana before now!”

          • Fair enough.

            Just to point it out for anyone who doesn’t know, you can see everyone who upvoted/downvoted a post by clicking on the vote counter box for that post.

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