First, what is the basis for Star Wars? While Lucas used Campbell’s mythical hero’s journey to craft the characters and a lot of the story, Star Wars is really based off of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Foundation, Dune, and a host of others, not to mention some solid, real world history. But even if you go back to the classic myths, what is one thing that holds true for each and every inspriation? Victories don’t last. Flash fought Ming over and over again. Buck Rogers had a new foe with every adventure. The Foundation faced a critical crisis generation after generation. Dune had crisis after crisis, often costing characters their lies. And in mythology, every victory lasted until it was time to tell another story. How many victories did Hercules have? What was always going to be true of a sequel - things were going to fall apart.
So, what is the setup we have now? Things fell apart. The Republic never got strong (a very realistic approach - far more so than the EU New Republic), a powerful foe rose up on the Rim and is poised to seize power. Revolutionary governments do not last. Why did the US last? Because we cut off the head and left the structure in place. The first revolution in France and Russia didn’t last because it didn’t have anything to fill the power vacuum. So it is very realistic that the Republic created by the allies of our heroes has failed. And note, that they failed to heed Leia who was already leading a resistance to the First Order. Luke had a huge failure that drove him to find the first Jedi temple and to hide there when it didn’t give him any answers. Han lost the Falcon, but ended up with a bigger ship. Virtually all of the failures are no on our old hero’s heads, but on others. The Republic fails because they don’t listen to Leia. Ben falls because he is listening to Snoke, not Luke. Our heroes have not failed so much as been ignored by the next generation. When they should be retiring, they have to go back at it and lead a new fight. But along comes a new set of heroes to pick up the reigns and learn from the great heroes of the past. Classic mythological story telling.
And the story so far has taken place over weeks. The New Republic capitol was destroyed, the First Order is poised to take over, but they have not done so. They have to take over each planet, each system. They have to put a structure in place. Leia’s allies didn’t respond to her call because the are preparing to defend themselves from the First Order. But Luke showed up just when Leia needed him in just the way she needed him - larger than life, legendary, the great Jedi and hero. Luke’s last stand spread like wildfire with even a stable boy (there is nothing ever indicating he is a slave) and his friends on a far off planet hear about what Luke did. Luke again restored hope in a way he never did in the OT. His epic battle with the Emperor and Vader was private. No witnesses. What Luke did in TLJ is epic and witnessed by many on both sides. I wouldn’t be surprised if Leia set the base to film and broadcast it before they exited.
Many comments here have taken the First Order superiority so far to be that they are in charge. There is no evidence of that. Not enough time has passed. The remains of Starkiller Base are not even cool yet. We have not heard of a single system that they have conquered and subjuated. The victory over the Empire has not been lost just yet, only the government that refused to prepare for the fight Leia could see coming. Only the Hosnian system and Takodana have been lost to the First Order, not the entire Galaxy. And after what Luke did and how it spread (the real purpose of that scene at the end), the legacy of the OT is intact. What they fought so hard for has not been lost yet, only endangered. Kylo Ren and General Hux still have to conquer something or all they have done is destroy the capitol.
This whole crapping on the OT nonsense is based on things that just aren’t in TFA and TLJ. Luke had a bad spell, but he came out of it. That is a very mythological thing to do. An old hero now fills the mentor role and is reluctant to get involved again due to some past tragedy. They ST is just following on with the same sources that inspired GL back in 74 to start this journey. And I think he is likely the source for the core story here. I think they threw out his characters and created some new ones that are more in tune with modern audiences like Luke, Han, and Leia were in tune with the 70’s and 80’s. I think that is one mistake of the PT, GL greated heroes that were in tune with some other period besides the 90’s and millennium. To me they feel more like the heroes of 50’s epics like Ben Hur.
So I think everyone who feels that TLJ is crapping on the OT is missing things and assuming things that any diehard Star Wars fan should be picking up on. Do you have to like it? No. But you need to see what the story is, and where it has been, and the origins of all of it before you come down on this movie like this. Sure it didn’t go where you expected. What is wrong with that. Sure it derailed the victory that the OT led to, but pay attention to the story. Not enough time has passed for that victory to be destroyed. They are building it up to create an even stronger victory. Luke may not have had success at rebuilding the Jedi, but he has passed on some important lessons to Rey. He passed on his failure so she can learn from it and the ancient texts of the Jedi. What the OT ended with was, in truth, uncertainty. It ended with the potential and intent to rebuild the Republic. But the government that resulted was weak. After the First Order are defeated, the galaxy will clamor for a strong Republic, like what we hoped they’d get. The ST won’t tear down what the OT left us with, but it has to throw a wrench in the works to shake things up so what we end up with is stronger than before. The ST heroes are there to finish what the OT heroes started.
Wow, you’ve really put a lot of thought into this post. Unfortunately I disagree with you in everything, especially the last sentence. The OT heroes finished it already. RotJ is an ending. You don’t have to destroy their victories so that the ST heroes can have their victories on top of the OT heroes’. That’s just, from my point of view, Rian Johnson doing whatever he can to destroy everything that’s within his reach simply because he can, to prove some sort of point to someone. To surprise everyone! Woohoo!! Plot twist baby, Darth Vader killed the Emperor!