Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the highest grossing film of 2017 and the eagerly anticipated follow up to the 2015 blockbuster, The Force Awakens. Even though The Last Jedi was met with critical acclaim, the fan reaction was split down the middle, with many rallying against the decisions made by director Rian Johnson in telling the narrative. While a lot of decisions were made by carefully considering everything from studio ambitions, to fan reaction to the franchise’s legacy, it seems one decision had to be made due to discrepancies between merchandise related to the film and designs within the film itself.
At about the end of the first act of The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren hunts down the Resistance with the intention of wiping them out, and he does so in his Tie Silencer, a personalised vehicle that sets him apart from the other pilots in the First Order fleet. This resulted in a powerful scene between him and his mother, General Leia, played by the late Carrie Fisher. Ren’s vehicle looked closer to traditional Tie Interceptor but was sleeker, more menacing and had missiles on the side wings.
While the design in the film looked outright brilliant and matched the toy that was released, Industrial Light and Magic’s VFX Supervisor Mike Mulholland, who worked on The Last Jedi told the crowd at the VFX Festival held in London last week that that was not always the case. As Mulholland said:
“Initially, the plan was to have missiles on the underside, and shoot them off, and that was it. But halfway through production Rian got a toy, a prototype toy of the Kylo fighter. And they had the missiles on the side wings! So we went and redesigned a bit of it [in the movie] so that we could open it up and pop them out. I’ve heard of the toys’ influence in the past, but that was the first time for me.”
Mulholland also mentioned that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson had to make another compromise pertaining to the vehicles. Johnson initially wanted to use small models for the space battle scene, but the idea was ultimately scrapped because CGI was the fastest and most effective way to do the scenes. According to Mulholland: