J.J. Abrams addresses criticism that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a rip-off of A New Hope

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While Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been shattering box office records left, right and centre – and repairing much of the damage caused by the Prequel Trilogy in the minds of many fans – the film has come in for some criticism for its similarities to the original Star Wars, particularly in terms of its plot and structure.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, J.J. Abrams has responded to critics who feel the film is a “rip-off” or “remake” of A New Hope, stating that:

“It was obviously a wildly intentional thing that we go backwards, in some ways, to go forwards in the important ways, given that this is a genre — that Star Wars is a kind of specific gorgeous concoction of George [Lucas]’ — that combines all sorts of things. Ultimately the structure of Star Wars itself is as classic and tried and true as you can get. It was itself derivative of all of these things that George loved so much, from the most obvious, Flash Gordon and Joseph Campbell, to the [Akira] Kurosawa references, to Westerns — I mean, all of these elements were part of what made Star Wars. I can understand that someone might say, ‘Oh, it’s a complete rip-off! What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards. We inherited Star Wars. The story of history repeating itself was, I believe, an obvious and intentional thing, and the structure of meeting a character who comes from a nowhere desert and discovers that she has a power within her, where the bad guys have a weapon that is destructive but that ends up being destroyed — those simple tenets are by far the least important aspects of this movie, and they provide bones that were well-proven long before they were used in Star Wars.”

SEE ALSO: J.J. Abrams says it’s “preposterous” that Rey is under-represented in Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandising

“What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new — to go backwards to go forwards,” he continues. “So I understand that this movie, I would argue much more than the ones that follow, needed to take a couple of steps backwards into very familiar terrain, and using a structure of nobodies becoming somebodies defeating the baddies — which is, again, I would argue, not a brand new concept, admittedly — but use that to do, I think, a far more important thing, which is introduce this young woman, who’s a character we’ve not seen before and who has a story we have not seen before, meeting the first Storm Trooper we’ve ever seen who we get to know as a human being; to see the two of them have an adventure in a way that no one has had yet, with Han Solo; to see those characters go to find someone who is a brand new character who, yes, may be diminutive, but is as far from Yoda as I think a description of a character can get, who gets to enlighten almost the way a wonderful older teacher or grandparent or great-aunt might, you know, something that is confirming a kind of belief system that is rejected by the main character; and to tell a story of being a parent and being a child and the struggles that that entails — clearly Star Wars has always been a familial story, but never in the way that we’ve told here.”

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SEE ALSO: Fan petition calls for George Lucas’ return to the Star Wars saga

Star Wars: The Force Awakens sees J.J. Abrams directing returning stars Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar), in addition to Adam Driver (Girls), Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year), Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina), John Boyega (Attack the Block), Daisy Ridley (Silent Witness), Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave), Ken Leung (Lost), Miltos Yerolemou (Game of Thrones), Max von Sydow (The Exorcist), Jessica Henwick (Spirit Warriors), Christina Chong (24: Live Another Day), Simon Pegg (Star Trek) and newcomers Crystal Clarke and Pip Andersen.

Around the Web

  • nocussing

    so basically he said “idgaf deal with it nerds”

    • Quippie

      No?

      • Jimbo

        Yes?!?!

  • Skyler Davis

    He didn’t address it at all…

    • muskratboy

      Right, except for exactly, directly addressing it. He repeatedly, directly addresses it throughout this article.

      Reading is hard, I know… but come on man. Sound it out.

      • Andrew Brill

        4 sentences worth…..

      • mychair

        No he didn’t address the criticism. The criticism isn’t just the reliance on broad based concepts that he addressed. It was that plus all of the small details. Why a desert planet…why a droid with plans again…why did the destructive weapon have to be a Death Star clone…why was the way to destroy it the same…blah blah blah. He ripped off New Hope and won’t admit it.

  • Hitloffski

    Of course, it’s everyone else’s fault. “The internet nerds are so whiny and angry for seeing this obvious truth!”

    Thanks Jew Jew Abrams

  • Andrew Brill

    “brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new”

    still giving himself too much credit. Kylo Ren is a hormonal Vader. Rey is independent-loner female version of Luke. Snoke is a Voldemort+Engineer(from Promethus) Darth Sidious. Hux is a ginger Tarkin. Captain Phasma is a shitty Boba Fett. Leia and Han rehash their roles with drastically decreased dynamism and chemistry. Han is the sacrificial teacher to Rey, directly parallel to luke and obi-wans relationship in IV. Starkiller base is Death Star 3.0. Luke is Rey’s Yoda.

    If anything, Finn is the only non-recycled character. Unfortunately, his role as a stormtrooper deserter is cheapened through the hollywood-cliche-machine as he’s given the generic character flaws of “I’m awkward around the opposite sex” and “I run away from my problems instead of being alpha.”

    • y0gabagaba

      Wow you’re pretty amazing and well thought out. Give me any character in any movie and ill give you another one that just like it from another movie.

      No idea is original, there is nothing new under the sun. It’s all been done before.

      • costume

        Of course all stories are borrowing from the past. But this sequel is basically a remake of the original. Instead of calling it a sequel, they should have said reboot.

        • Johnny Brown

          It can’t exactly be a remake of the original if it contains original characters that have aged 20 years. Yes, it is remarkably formulaic, but still a sequel.

          • Andrew Brill

            let’s meet in the middle and call it a requel 😀

        • muskratboy

          This is in no way a reboot. Unless you choose to see things in the most reductive, simplistic way possible

          • Andrew Brill

            did you read my comment?

      • Andrew Brill

        I’m aware of Ecclesiastes 1:9, however, within a series that has more lore than probably….. anything else….the level of creativity and unique direction undertaken by JJ Abrams is severely underwhelming(i guess the octopus monsters were unique….oh wait, they did that in IV, scratch that).

        Now, no doubt, this is because the direction Lucas took for prequels was too kiddish, corny, and demystified which pissed everyone off. JJ Abrams took the extreme route of rebooting rather than taking a bit of risk or using the cornicopea of lore scores of fans had already fleshed out. For new-gen fans this isn’t that much of a cinema sin…but for those who dug their teeth into the EU, wookiepedia, KOTR, and watched the original trilogy countless times…VII is a weak effort. This is an objective truth.

        • muskratboy

          A weak effort that is the 3rd best SW movie. What does that say about the 4 garbage films that come in as even weaker?

          Objectively, there is nothing objective about anything you are saying. Easily the 3rd best movie = not a weak effort.

          • Christian Rivera

            TFA was absolutely not the 3rd best one. It’s the 6th best hands down. Absolute weak effort

          • muskratboy

            Ok, if you’re that divorced from reality, there’s not much to be done. You’re too broken to be rational.

    • jayleigh

      I really think people try to find connections. When I watched I never once thought the character of Rey was like Luke, other than they were from a desert and the main protagonist. Rey was alone, Luke was a sheltered kid at the start of the movie.

      I haven’t see enough of Snoke to decide how much similar he is to the Emperor.

      Han Solo is not the wise sage, instead he was an established character from previous films (other than him being old, I feel this is a forced connection to Obi-Wan). Obi-wan was mostly a mystery in the original series (reverse engineered in the prequels).

      Ren’s whole character is established immediately as Vader’s identity seeking grandchild. How is he like Vader, because he is the protagonist. Because his character is nothing like Vader. Vader never showed weakness until the end of ROTJ.

      Finn doesn’t really even have an equivalent.

      The only obvious similaries are BB-8 carrying a secret and Death Star 3.0.

      • Andrew Brill

        oh yeah forget the plot of “droid carrying important data” that happens to find its way into protagonists hands

        • Assbutt

          Yeah but using droids as data couriers obviously works in the SW universe – it brought down the first Death Star after all.

    • None

      100% agree, then you tack on that the story was almost the same as well as the characters being clear parallels to original characters and you have a trash tier movie. If this was the first and only Star Wars movie ever it honestly could have been a good movie, just like A New Hope was. But it wasn’t…

    • RamseyDK

      I completely agree. I’ve never been a huge star wars fan, almost the opposite – I find the series pretty boring. Someone told me to watch A New Hope before seeing The Force Awakens and I did. This I regret very much. Having seen A New Hope not even 24 hours before, I laughed at almost every scene for being a complete copy of the original Star Wars movie. It pretty much ruined my experience.

      That said the The Force Awakens is a better version by 2015 standards. And I think the new generation might like it because they’ve never watched the old star wars. But to say that this is not a ripoff… It blows my mind. It’s as close to a direct copy of the original story as they could get without cloning it.

  • Cat Astrophy

    >I can understand that someone might say, ‘Oh, it’s a complete rip-off!

    Two sentences later

    > I can understand that someone might say, ‘Oh, it’s a complete rip-off!’

    Does JJ have Alzheimers?

  • diedisqus

    So to him making a new Star Wars movie just means to introduce new characters with an old story? Ooooooooookayyyyyyyyy……

  • Jar Jar Abrams has his revenge…

  • Freeman4096

    that’s a lot of fancy words for average movie, and bad starwars movie.

    • jayleigh

      At this point there are 7 star wars movies. It’s entertainment value immediately rises to 4th or 5th out of 7. Ep 1/2 are hard to watch and stay awake. I’d say that at least makes it an average star wars movie.

      • Freeman4096

        many people value highly Episode 1. it’s just the internet circlejerk that uses Jar Jar as it’s fuel. Talk to real people about star wars sometimes.

        • jayleigh

          I am a real star wars fan. Jar Jar was just one issue in the borefest. The movie is slow and dull. There are nice things in it, and the mix is a movie that is hard to watch more than once.

          • Christian Rivera

            Episode 1 is the complete opposite of slow and dull lol It was epic and wayyyyyyyy bettter than TFA. Episode 7 was the real dissapointment

  • tyler duri

    The Force Awaken is the most over-hyped film in history. Ever!
    I saw it twice to make sure. Basic repeated plot. Rubbish!

    • Oy Vey!

      It was embarrassingly bad.

  • Com3755

    This isn’t a film director. It’s a money-maker.

  • inefekt

    The vocal minority are out in force (pun intended). You only need to look at the figures – 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.5 on IMDB (no 63? all time). These indicate an OVERWHELMING popularity, a MASSIVE thumbs up for this movie. You idiots complaining about rehashed plots are the minority. Deal with it.

    • Isserley

      IMDB ratings always flatten out as more people see the movie. Wanna bet that that 8.5 rating goes down quite a lot over the next few months/year?

      • inefekt

        well it’s 2 months since your comment and it’s only fallen to 8.4

        • Isserley

          Right. So at this rate by the end of the year it’ll be under 8.

          You’re basically confirming my point: As more and more of the general movie-watching public who aren’t biased towards SW see it (i.e. the non-early adopters), the score will gradually worsen.

          • inefekt

            Linear regression? I don’t think it works that way I’m afraid.

    • A guy

      With money all things are possible…

      IMDB: 2997 reviews in total
      Reviews from users who voted this title less than 8.5: 2039
      Reviews from users who voted this title more than 8.5: 897

      Best Reviews with ratings of 5 stars or less: ~96%…

  • John Alexander

    No originality AND a big middle finger to it’s fan base by forcing affirmative action down our throats.

    The force fast track trains non white male characters in this movie. Must be nice.

    • Oy Vey!

      Well at least the bad guy was a space Jew.

    • Johnny Brown

      Mace Windu?

    • Mike Ringland

      Landau Calrissian?

      • John Alexander

        Who said anything about race? 😉

  • ken4disqus

    How dare Star Wars ripoff Star Wars!!!

  • ken4disqus

    The purpose of “The Force Awakens” was to awaken what the fan’s and viewer’s loved about Star Wars in the first place. It was important for the 7th episode to start where episode 6 left off, but more than 30-years later. If it was too original with too many new characters people would’ve complained about that also. JJ knew you can’t please everybody, so giving us something worth our while is really all he could do.

    • Bauke

      Agreed. This was a message to the fans that it would not be an Episode 1 style disaster. You have all ties to the old movies established, now we’re off to the new adventures. And I thought it was a little bit too much fan-service, bringing back EVERYONE, but it was thrilling to see.

      And Kylo Ren is a really interesting villain, incredibly strong with the force, but still very flawed. Should be cool to see what happens in the next movie.

      • Ryan Stuckey

        But that’s just a shallow FU to the people who like the ENTIRE saga and its mythos.

        • Bauke

          How?

          Nothing in the prequels was dismissed or rewritten by Ep VII.

          If you like those films, that’s fine, they exist and are canon.

          • Christian Rivera

            The Fans trashed Episode 1 so bad that JJ was too damn scared to try anything new. So thanks to the Prequel hating fans for a shitty Episode 7. Karma’s a bitch

          • Bauke

            Just curious, but what did *you* want to see in Ep VII?

            They needed to get the old fans on board again, because the Prequel Trilogy is largely considered bad.

            (And I’m sorry, but objectively they are just not good films. There are some saving graces and I actually enjoyed parts of it, and I’m glad they exist, but no, not good films and certainly not living up to the whole epicness that was the Original Trilogy. The writing is atrocious, especially on the dialogue.)

            I certainly enjoyed Ep VII. But I see it as an intro into Ep VIII and i do have higher hopes for that. A more original story, the adventures of the new and old characters, especially Kylo Ren.

          • Ryan Stuckey

            Yes. And I am very grateful for that. However, there is the posobilty that JJ blew up the New Reupublic Captial (Whitch apparently wasn’t courosaunt but looked like Courasaunt…. possibly) it might have been done so the New Republic wouldn’t have any pololtical sway in the fight against the first order.

            I get it that Georges execution of the polotics in the PT left many scarred, but as someone who found it intriguing… I’m sure there’s away for a more talented director to incorprate it wile still haveing actuale wars in Star Wars. Game of Thrones does it well… I know Star Wars can too.

            That and the lightsaber fights. Would love to see something epic that shows just how powerful Rey and Kylo can be. It can still be emotional and flashy.

          • Bauke

            The Hosnian System. Yeah, I think it was done to remove the Republic and their fleet from the equation. That way the Resistance becomes the focus for the films.

            As for the lightsaber fights: Kylo Ren was heavily injured and still held his own in that final fight, and Rey is untrained but obviously strong in the force. I’m sure we’ll get to see them square off in Ep VIII again, or maybe only in Ep IX, with Ep VIII showing their respective growth.

  • bulldurham

    He said he ripped it off to give a familiar scenario to introduce new characters. It’s just a dick measuring contest directed at Lucas to say he can do it bigger and better. Lucas did it when sfx didn’t exist and most of what is used today came from Lucas. I am one of the honest that say the movie was beautiful but utter crap.

    • None

      Been getting a lot of that from Star Wars lately, exact same thing with the Battlefront game. Looks great, total crap gameplay.

    • muskratboy

      Lucas is the luckiest hack ever. SW succeeded despite him, not because of him.

      • Christian Rivera

        Are you stupid? You must be to think SW didn’t succeed because of Lucas. He created all of it! Fans like you are the reason Episode 7 was so shitty. Too afraid of something new so fuck it here’s the same movie you all loved almost 40 years ago with a couple of new characters and thats Episode 7. Complete let down. Waatching Episode 1 I left so pumped and so amazed with everything but leaving Episode 7, I left extremely disappointed.

        • muskratboy

          Not too stupid to do research, I guess. Or understand how movies work.

          McQuarrie created all the visuals. Lucas’ ex-wife came up with most of the good ideas. The editors saved Lucas’ very loose script. Lucas was surrounded by very good people. He didn’t ‘create all of it’ in any way. If you believe that, then it just shows you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          And of course, this is not the same movie. Only the most shallow and reductive watching could come up with that. Lucas made a story that reflects all stories… of course there will be overlap, he made the most generic story template he could, on purpose. You realize ‘kid finds out he’s destined for greatness, trains, and fights the bad guy’ is literally THE story.

          And of course if you read the article, JJ tells you exactly why they did that, what they kept and what they updated. It was all well thought-out and planned. Disney is not stupid.

          And right… if episode 1 excited you… then yeah, that tells me a lot of where you’re coming from. If that’s your taste, then there’s no reaching you. Lucas is such a hack director, that pile of garbage just keeps getting worse and worse. His combination of insane ego and lack of talent just about doomed the entire thing.

          As far as reality… go ask 100 random individuals, and I DEFY you to find another human who thinks TFA is the 7th best film. That’s just so insane as to be laughable. Episode 1 & 2 alone are such absolute garbage that it wrecks your list. By the time we get to “it’s as if… she’s lost the will… to live” it’s just a nightmare of terribleness.

      • Christian Rivera

        Talk about divorced from reality.

  • Benjamin Ggb

    Holy fucking shit! Did you really just use METACRITIC AS A VIABLE SOURCE? LOOOOOL

    • Oy Vey!

      Holy fucking shit, user reviews are the ONLY reliable source these days. Marketing firms actually pay 50 centers to post good reviews.

      • I guess the marketing team for Fantastic Four forgot to pay anyone then…

        Where are you getting your “facts” about fifty centers from?

  • Mike Ringland

    Deal with it guys, he had to make it like this to reset the series to where it actually felt like a Star Wars movie. You guys want to go back to the monster politics and to the pre teen Vader? A lot of crap preceded this movie. The prequels were garbage and this first movie has to reset the tone of what Star Wars is and was.

    George Lucas is a terrible person. He’s like Michael Jackson’s dad. He gave life to gifted offspring and then beat them until they were psychological messes.