J.J. Abrams Talks About The STAR WARS References in THE FORCE AWAKENS

With interconnected, shared cinematic universes being the name of the game in Hollywood right now, I imagine it'd be tough to keep everything straight if you're J.J. Abrams and the creative team involved with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Luckily the Lucasfilm Story Group is around to oversee every storytelling decision of the Star Wars universe moving forward, but still — dropping hints and references into a new Star Wars movie seems like a daunting task. How much do you hint at? What exactly do you reference? Well, it seems like Abrams himself struggled with these questions.

Vanity Fair (the outlet that posted those awesome photos from the film earlier this week) has an interview with Abrams arriving on their website soon, but it's not actually there yet. The Playlist got their hands on a copy of it, though, and they've excerpted some key quotes from the writer/director:

"...we’ve obviously had a lot of time [during the development process] to talk about what’s happened outside of the borders of the story that you’re seeing. So there are, of course, references to things, and some are very oblique so that hopefully the audience can infer what the characters are referring to. We used to have more references to things that we pulled out because they almost felt like they were trying too hard to allude to something. I think that the key is—and whether we’ve accomplished that or not is, of course, up to the audience—but the key is that references be essential so that you don’t reference a lot of things that feel like, oh, we’re laying pipe for, you know, an animated series or further movies. It should feel like things are being referenced for a reason.
"That, to me, has been the constant struggle: to make sure that none of these things are treated like either they’re a museum piece and we’re trying to honor them or they’re gratuitous and thrown in because, well, it’s a 'Star Wars' movie so you’ve got to put these things in. Everything has got to be essential to the characters in the film."

It's impossible to tell whether there was a begrudging tone to that last bit or if he's excited about it or what, but it raises the question of whether he and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan actually wanted to included references to other movies, TV shows, and events in the universe, or whether they were following a Lucasfilm mandate. With the behind-the-scenes stories between Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios still fresh on my mind, I'm looking at everything with a more suspicious eye than usual, because we didn't really hear too much about those battles until the movie hit theaters. Will we eventually hear about similar disagreements between J.J. and Lucasfilm, or is the Force strong with them? We'll find out soon, and I suspect there will be more Star Wars-related news this week as the full interview comes online.

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