Aside from Rian Johnson, no one person associated with Star Wars has had a target painted on them as big as the one on Kathleen Kennedy. The beleaguered Lucasfilm president’s run has been nothing if not tempestuous. Under her watch, Star Wars relaunched with the blockbuster first installment of the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens. Then, the following year, Lucasfilm delivered Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Rogue One is arguably considered one of the best films of the entire franchise. But things went, to some degree, off the rails from there.

JJ Abrams; Kathleen Kennedy
Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams on the set of The Force Awakens.
(Image: David James/Lucasfilm ltd.)

Granted, The Last Jedi was a success at the box office, but at what cost? The film’s divisiveness split the fan base. And the subject of how the studio bungled Solo: A Star Wars Story is one we’ve addressed multiple times, as well. With so much riding on Star Wars: Episode IX, Kathleen Kennedy recently spoke to Rolling Stone about The Rise of Skywalker, Star Wars in general, and what the future holds from there. Based on Kennedy’s own words, her tenure at Lucasfilm appears to be in limbo.

Kathleen Kennedy: Disconnected from Star Wars

Kathleen Kennedy; The Last Jedi; Lucasfilm
What appears to be an awkward moment between Carrie Fisher, Rian Johnson, Mark Hamill, and KAthleen Kennedy on the set of The Last Jedi. (Image: Annie Liebovitz for Vanity Fair.)

When it comes to The Last Jedi, Kennedy still doesn’t seem to understand just how the film affected the franchise. In describing the film and Rian Johnson’s treatment of Star Wars, Kathleen Kennedy had this to say:

I mean, I love what Rian did …. And I really appreciated the bold moves that he did make. I think people forget that, especially when you’re doing a trilogy structure, the first movie is setting things up, the second is usually the conflict, and the third is the resolution.”

There’s a condescending air to her words here. “I think people forget that …” screams of a defensive excuse for the film, as if she’s blaming the fans for their feelings. She is, however, correct to some extent; the second film of a trilogy usually is the conflict. What she seems to forget is that the conflict is supposed to be part of the plot, not the film itself.

Sourcing Star Wars

Legends; Expanded Universe

Kathleen Kennedy’s disconnect from Star Wars and its fans doesn’t end there, however. Look no further than her comments regarding The Rise of Skywalker to illustrate that fact. Of making the film, she remarked:

“[t]here’s no source material. We don’t have comic books… don’t have 800-page novels. We don’t have anything other than passionate storytellers who get together and talk about what the next iteration might be.”

The first thing Disney did when it acquired Lucasfilm was to declare the Expanded Universe no longer canon, relegating it to “Legends” status. Admittedly much of the material no longer fits within the new, post-Disney Star Wars canon. But to say that there’s no source material for this or future Star Wars stories? There are literally millions of pages of material from which Lucasfilm can draw for inspiration and basis. Obviously it doesn’t have to copy EU material in-fact. Frankly, it shouldn’t. But to say there’s no source material shows that Kathleen Kennedy truly doesn’t understand the Star Wars universe, or its fans.

The future

Perhaps she’s beginning to realize her own shortcomings, too. Fans, critics, and even the show’s stars have heaped lavish praise upon Jon Favreau for The Mandalorian. Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, now has his spoon in the Star Wars pot, too. So are Kathleen Kennedy’s days as president of Lucasfilm numbered? Kennedy herself doesn’t even seem confident of her future:

What happens in the future, and how long and how much longer I do this? I don’t know yet. I’m looking at all of that.”

For now, Star Wars appears to be stable. The Rise of Skywalker has fans waiting with eager anticipation. Many are calling The Mandalorian, after just two, short episodes, the best thing in Star Wars in decades. Even the new video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order appears to be a roaring success. Beyond that? Well, as Kathleen Kennedy says:

…. what the future holds, who knows.”

Source: Rolling Stone