A Key Filming Location Confirms Everyone’s Worst Fears for JJ Abrams’ “Star Wars: Episode IX”

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Lucasfilm)

When it was announced that JJ Abrams would be taking over from Colin Trevorrow as the director of “Star Wars: Episode IX”, many fans were more than a little concerned.

We had every right to be. JJ Abrams is a lot of things, but he most certainly is not an innovator. His movies are built almost like Paint By Numbers kits, as he fills in blanks by borrowing directly from other, more popular movies.

Heck, sometimes he even steals exact iconography and shot composition from previous films!

Sure, this makes for enjoyable films, but they all feel vapid and empty. They’re like fast food cheeseburgers – full of flavor, but lacking any genuine substance.

It seems that Abrams will be back to his old tricks with “Episode IX”. A key filming location has been revealed, and if you thought that the next “Star Wars” film would feature any original ideas or planets, think again.

Coming Home

Apparently, production will take place, at least in part, at Cardington Airship Sheds in Bedfordshire, in the UK.

This same location has been used in two previous “Star Wars” movies, both for the same location. Cardington is the site for Yavin IV’s Rebel base, both in the original “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Rogue One”.

It’s also a base which, according to wider canon, the Rebels had to abandon shortly after the events of “A New Hope”, as the Empire knew exactly where they were all hiding.

I have a sneaking suspicion that, instead of doing anything original or interesting, Abrams is going to take “Episode IX” back to the abandoned Rebel base.

Yavin IV
Source: Lucasfilm

In the old Legends canon of books and video games, Luke built a Jedi academy on Yavin IV, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something of this in the new movie, thereby ensuring that Rey gets all the Jedi training that was denied her in the previous film.

This feels like his kind of thing. I’d wager he’s angling for some kind of poetic symmetry, with the new trilogy ending exactly where the original “Star Wars” finished.

While personally I find this lack of innovation frustrating, I can almost see this as a reactionary move, inspired by the fan backlash against “The Last Jedi”.

If the creed of “The Last Jedi” is that you should forget the past, “kill it if you have to”, Abrams’ work has always been summed up by the opposite sentiment.

Thus, it’s looking to me like “The Last Jedi” will be the one anomaly in the new “Star Wars” trilogy. Both “The Force Awakens” and “Episode IX” will center on revering the past, while only “The Last Jedi” will stand as a treatise on moving beyond clichés.

The Fractured Trilogy

Personally, I didn’t much care for “The Last Jedi”, but this is due to its abysmal pacing – it’s a film that’s primarily concerned with stalling for as long as possible to justify its runtime.

Nevertheless, I appreciate that the movie has done more to energize “Star Wars” fans than anything else Disney has produced. Considering the wall of apathy that met “Solo” this summer, it’s hard to argue that “The Last Jedi” is the more important cultural work.

Even if the reaction it inspired among many fans is incredibly negative.

To go from “The Last Jedi” back to a “Force Awakens” style rehash of earlier “Star Wars” ideas feels like a step backwards.

Yavin IV Rogue One
Source: Lucasfilm

Yet again, everything that was built up by the previous director could well be thrown into the trash in a flurry of competing visions. Just as Rian Johnson disposed of Snoke and Rey’s parents, I can foresee Abrams ditching the young generation of baby Force Sensitives. He’d definitely prefer sticking with established cast members and traditional “Star Wars” themes.

Why Can’t We Just Get Along?

Do you know what I’d really love to see? A collaboration between Johnson and Abrams.

I’d love a movie that is the brainchild of both an innovator and a staunch traditionalist. In a perfect world, the Disney “Star Wars” saga would have just a little more cohesion. The series wouldn’t appear to be the result of a constant power struggle between directors with wildly opposing views.

As news about “Episode IX” continues to roll in, I’m going to cross my fingers that I’m wrong about this movie.

I really hope it does something original and unique. If it turns out that the First Order is building a new Starkiller Base on Yavin IV, with a flimsy shield generator that’s defended against indigenous fuzzy primitives, I’m going to be very disappointed.