With an overload of thrills and Easter Eggs, the recent trailer release for Star Wars: The Last Jedi has caused a great disturbance online, especially since you can already pre-order cinema tickets for the movie's opening weekend. Yet as fans gush with excitement over their upcoming return to that galaxy far, far away, a great many commentators have expressed concern over some curious critters that cropped up in the trailer. And now, director Rian Johnson has stepped forward to have his say.
Rian Johnson Responds To Critics Of The Porgs
From casual fans to the likes of William Shatner, many have already noticed the prominence of a Porg in the new trailer for The Last Jedi. Porgs are the feathered residents of Ahch-To — the planet on which Luke Skywalker has exiled himself — and after we saw one screaming its little head off in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, fans became increasingly divided over them. Some used their photo-shopping skills to poke fun at the little guys, but others already expressed an extreme dislike for the Porgs. But rather than rushing to condemn this aggression outright, Rian Johnson fully understands this response:
“I [totally] get it if people are a little wary of cuteness in the Star Wars universe...”
Indeed, as many readers will know, #StarWars has a troubled past with adorable aliens. Fans have long been critical of certain species that have cropped up through the Star Wars saga, with Ewoks and a particular Gungan springing to mind. Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace saw these two endearing races receive a large amount of screen time, which fans widely (and not unfoundedly) saw as George Lucas’s attempts to sell more movie merchandise. But Rian Johnson was quick to stress that the Porgs weren’t just shoehorned in for the sake of selling more soft toys. In fact, Johnson reiterated that he’d been allowed a lot of creative freedom on The Last Jedi, and that he’d decided to include Porgs himself when he’d encountered puffins and other sea birds during production on the island of Skellig:
“I was like, ‘Oh, this is part of the island; we need to find the Star Wars version of this. And then just story-wise — not that they play a big part in the story — but I knew I wanted to find any source of comic relief I could on the island. And so they were very useful in terms of that.”
So, it seems that while Porgs will entertain younger viewers particularly with their mischievous escapades, they are there merely to provide texture to the huge and diverse landscape of the Star Wars galaxy, in the same way that the squabbling Jawas did in A New Hope.
Star Wars And It's Struggle With Cuteness
As quick as we are to pass judgement on changes to culturally important properties such as Star Wars, Rian Johnson’s explanation does make a lot of sense. Rey’s (#DaisyRidley) time with Luke (#MarkHamill) on Ahch-To looks set to be a captivating but bleak affair, thanks to the latter’s hopelessness and loss, so a bit of Porg-related levity might go a long way. We fans may take every new development in Force-lore very seriously, but let’s face it, as cool as it is, Star Wars is meant to be a fun romp in space. The saga features space monks brandishing laser swords, so it was never meant to be an exploration of existential issues — at least, not on the same level as Blade Runner 2049.
Plus fans have long had a somewhat contradictory attitude toward cuteness in Star Wars. Few batted an eyelid when the now-beloved BB-8 came along in #TheForceAwakens, yet they still despise the Ewoks. Plus, for all of its grit and gnarly gadgets, even the darkest part of the series, The Empire Strikes Back, featured lots of endearing bickering between the stalwart favorites R2-D2 and C-3PO. Furthermore, the wise and powerful Yoda may be a tad wrinkly and serious at times, but even he’s a pretty cute character, and look how influential he’s become!
Many adults may love the series dearly, but at the end of the day we do need to remember that Star Wars was originally conceived with children in mind, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten so hooked on the series in the first place. Rian Johnson concurs, and firmly rebuffed all rebukes against the Porgs:
“...I personally love them, and I think they have their place in the movie.”
Nicely said, Rian. And hey, everything we saw in that trailer looks amazing, so it seems clear that Johnson's judgement is reliable so far. Heck, we haven’t even seen the finished film yet so we’re not in the best position to judge Porgs too harshly, though we won’t have too long to wait until we meet them properly. That December 15 release date is fast approaching, though that hasn’t stopped us here at Movie Pilot from wishing that we could arrive there quicker by jumping to light-speed. In the meantime, we’re keeping up to date on all of the latest news, rumors and opinion pieces on our site — make sure you do too!