Say what you will about director JJ Abrams, but the man has balls of steel. After capping off the Skywalker Saga with the divisive Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, he’s ready to face another inferno as his production company Bad Robot tackles DC properties. Brace yourself for the inevitable “Abrams ruined DC” rhetoric in the next few years.
The thing is, director JJ Abrams doesn’t seem to be frazzled by any of it. He took on Star Trek and received backlash for it. He took on Star Wars and received backlash for it, too. Heck, he was the co-creator of Lost and everyone knows how that ending went down. But Abrams doesn’t hold any grudges or hostility, as he acknowledges that his choices won’t satisfy everyone.
In a recent Q&A, director JJ Abrams said: “We live in a moment where everything seems to immediately default to outrage, and there’s an M.O. of it’s either exactly as I see it or you’re my enemy… But it’s a crazy thing that there is such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance and compassion—this is not about Star Wars; this is about everything—and acceptance. It’s a crazy moment, so we knew starting this, any decision we made—a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision—would please someone and infuriate someone else.”
He isn’t wrong. When a director takes over a popular franchise, their choices are immediately questioned and put under the microscope. It’s almost an unwinnable scenario.
Take Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel as an example. The director approached Superman from a different angle, deciding to focus on a darker, more realistic tale. Immediately, it proved divisive as the “not muh Superman” crowd aired their displeasure at this iteration of the character. And that’s the odd thing: We all scream for more creativity in Hollywood, but the moment when directors deviate from the expected trajectory, they get crucified by the same fans.
Director JJ Abrams experienced something similar with Star Wars. He was so fed-up with the franchise after The Force Awakens, but he was convinced to return for The Rise of Skywalker. Think about how much guts that took, especially since Star Wars fans aren’t exactly renowned for being the most civil online. You can only imagine the vitriol that he endured for years, and the cringe-worthy nickname of Jar Jar Abrams.
Yet, Abrams persists and is ready to take on another franchise with an equally demanding fanbase. Regardless of how you feel about his directorial abilities, there’s no denying that he’s the bravest director in Hollywood. As other film-makers dodge popular franchises, he embraces the challenge and runs into the fire.