There's no finer line a director has to walk than the one Rian Johnson finds himself currently traversing with The Last Jedi. The film has to be so many things to so many people, and as Disney put him charge of shaping the film, he's the one tasked with crafting a film that is as fast and fun as Force Awakens while also being as good and dark as Empire Strikes Back and doesn't have too much fan service like Rogue One. In other words, it has to be its own thing while still being several other things simultaneously.
At last weekend's D23 Expo, Fandango caught up with Johnson and he talked about all of the expectations people have for the film and how he's being mindful of them...
"The temptation is to say, well it's a middle chapter, so it's got kind of an Empire thing, but at the same time, I really wanted to maintain the same sense of fun that J.J. [Abrams] had in The Force Awakens, that to some extent in Return Of The Jedi, which I was like 10 years old, that was primed for me when that came out, and the sense of playfulness, I think. So when I say Empire, I guess I don't want to give the impression that it's kind of a dark, gloom and doom. It was also very important to me that this was a fun adventure. I don't know, it's a mixed bag of a lot of different stuff. And hopefully some unique stuff too."
So yeah, there's obviously a lot of factors he has to contend with, but I'm willing to bet it will be its own thing in a way that Force Awakens wasn't. That film had to win back a lot of fans who had been disillusioned by the prequels, but the only way to keep those fans invested is to do something new, interesting, and different going forward. I expect The Last Jedi will be all three of those things. We'll find out for sure on December 15.