Mary Poppins or Princess Leia? Star Wars: The Last Jedi director talks *that* controversial moment

Leia returning in Star Wars: The Last Jedi was always going to be bittersweet. Carrie Fisher’s untimely passing in December 2016 left a gaping hole in a galaxy far, far away. However, many fans are none-too-pleased with one of Leia’s big moments in the movie, and Rian Johnson has felt the need to explain what went down. There are spoilers for The Last Jedi from this point on.

Speaking to the L.A. Times, the catalyst for Leia surviving the explosion on the bridge after being launched into space by using the Force to ‘fly’ back onto the ship came from Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, according to Rian Johnson. Kennedy asked “Why has [the Force] never manifested in Leia?”

For Leia, it was merely “an instinct survival thing, like when you hear stories of a parent whose toddler is caught under a car and they get superhuman strength,” Johnson explains. “It’s basically just her not being done with the fight yet.”

Although it’s a fairly solid explanation, Johnson himself admits that he knew that “it was going to be a stretch… and I’m sure it will land different ways for different people.” People were right to be a bit confused – it was never mentioned again after all, plus the SFX looked a bit janky – but using it as a stick to beat the movie with is a bit much. 

It was great that Leia got her own iconic moment after practically being either a disapproving mum to Han and Luke or an object of desire in the original trilogy. For better or worse, it was certainly unforgettable.

For more grumbles (boo, hiss) about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, see why that petition to rid the movie from official canon is not what you think, plus a look at Star Wars: Rogue One’s pretty nifty The Last Jedi Easter egg.

Image: Lucasfilm/ILM

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.