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In making Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, writer and director Rian Johnson invented his own answers to the mysteries raised in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. In particular, he invented the answer that Rey’s parents were no one important. Now in Star Wars Episode IX: Tne Rise of Skywalker, JJ Abrams retconned that into “Rey’s parents were no one important because despite their lineage from Palpatine they chose not to be important.” But Abrams’ original plan while making The Force Awakens was to make Rey into Kylo Ren/Ben Solo’s sister.

But my question is, when Rian Johnson was writing The Last Jedi, was he ever informed by Lucasfilm or by JJ Abrams’ team what the originally planned answers were for the mysteries raised in The Force Awakens? Or was he provided no information about the original answers and just asked to come up with his own?

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In advance of the release of his new murder mystery film Knives Out (which has been getting great reactions), the British Film Institute hosted a Screen Talk with Rian Johnson where he spoke about his career, including the making of his highly divisive entry in the Skywalker Saga’s Sequel Trilogy. According to a fan on Twitter, the director revealed that he in fact had many long discussions with J.J. Abrams about The Last Jedi.

So J.J. Abrams was actually involved with Episode VIII insofar as he talked with Rian Johnson about it prior to the film’s production. By the sound of it, these weren’t quick bits of small talk where the two directors just traded pleasantries as a matter of professional courtesy. Based on what Rian Johnson said, these were lengthy discussions about The Last Jedi.

We don't know what JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson discussed, but we do know that they did talk prior to The Last Jedi's production.

But the premise of the Q might be a bit faulty, because it implies that there is a retconn, when there may not be. You can't change something that isn't definitive, only add onto it and shape it.

Wikepedia: The Last Jedi

Johnson wrote the scene with the mirrored versions of Rey to symbolise her search for identity; when she asks for a vision of her parents, she sees only herself. Rey learns that her parents were "nobodies" as it would be "the hardest thing" she and the audience could hear; Johnson likened the scene to Luke learning that Darth Vader is his father in The Empire Strikes Back. He said: "The easiest thing for Rey and the audience to hear is, Oh yeah, you’re so-and-so's daughter. That would be wish fulfillment and instantly hand her a place in this story on a silver platter. The hardest thing for her is to hear she’s not going to get that easy answer ... You’re going to have to find the strength to stand on your own two feet and define yourself in this story.

But looking at The Last Jedi itself, it is only the word of a potentially untrustworthy villain who suggests to the audience that Rey's parents are "nobody" and where the Force Mirrors do not show us that this is the truth, as it chooses to only show Rey, Rey and two shadowy figures becoming one, suggesting that there is still a potential mystery behind the full truth of Rey's lineage. There was never any sufficient evidence to prove to the audience if Kylo Ren was right, only that he was playing on Rey's fears and loneliness. In other words, Johnson didn't want to give Rey and the Audience an "easy" answer, but it was never stated that this answer was THEE answer, just that it's a hard answer to hear...

However, Colin Trevarrow's Duel of Fates script gave Rey the surname of "Solona" and it's revealed that Kylo Ren and The Knights of Ren killed Rey's parents:

But despite its promise, Duel of the Fates doesn't exactly stick the landing in the end. Whereas Rise of Skywalker had a fairly tidy conclusion, this (alleged) version of the film ends in messy fragments. Rey is blinded by Kylo Ren, who has grown more powerful than any Sith before. She loses. It's revealed that it was Ren and his Knights who killed Rey's parents.

But there is no resolution as to why Rey having a surname is meant to mean anything to the audience, except that she learns the truth about what happened to them. But this might of played on Johnson's initial idea better for some.

IMO what happens in TROS better sets the stage for a spin-off where Rey can take the mantel of Luke's former role in "Legends" and begin a new Jedi Order, while also taking the baggage of The Skywalker Saga with her.

As to your comment about an interview regarding JJ Abrams mentioning that he has ideas for a bigger story, which some elements of The Force Awakens concept art made it's way into The Rise of Skywalker, it should be noted that from the get go, The Sequel Trilogy announced that each film would have it's own director and therefor JJ Abrams either only set a light tentative path and/or created his own head canon just to help him make The Force Awakens, as he was not intending to return to write another film in the trilogy.

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  • JJ Abrams said in interviews that the original plan he had while making the Force Awakens was to have Rey be Kylo Ren’s sister. And Rian Johnson said in interviews that his intent while making the Last Jedi was Rey’s parents to genuinely not be important people. I’d like to know if Johnson had any inkling for what Abrams’ team intended. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 14 at 19:56
  • @KeshavSrinivasan perhaps, but that his own "head canon" in order to make the film (TFA) he wanted to make. Concept art also shows us some things they were considering. BUT the reality is he was never originally suppose to make another film, as it was stated right from the start there were suppose to be 3 directors. All I know is that Rian Johnson requested the ending for TFA and he talked to JJ when making TLJ--but I don't recall the specifics being ever stated. – Darth Locke Mar 14 at 22:11
  • Don't get me wrong, as an EP Abrams surely had some say, but clearly a lot of creative freedom relied on a combination of factors, Kathleen Kennedy's approval, borrowing elements from George Lucas' ideas (exiled Luke), and Rian Johnson being allowed to execute the film and make bigger story telling decisions himself. – Darth Locke Mar 15 at 12:24

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