Stop hissing at me, I know you all already know this, I’m just talking about what others are talking about, so read and enjoy.
In the midst of the worst storm in modern times, Disney went ahead and offered to purchase Lucasfilm for 4 billion dollars, an offer which George Lucas accepted. Disney then announced that fans should expect Episode 7 in 2015 some time. This marks the second major purchase of a beloved nerd franchise that Disney has made (the first being Marvel) and it has created massive fractures in the nerd community. Just as with the purchase of Marvel people have been freaking out that Star Wars is going to be made horribly immature and that Disney is going to over merchandise the products ruining the whole franchise.
Let me make this perfectly clear: Disney just saved Star Wars from the primary source of its gradual ruination over the last several years.
No, don’t start hissing again. Let’s go down the list of shouted cons to this deal that I’ve been hearing so that we may dispel some myths.
Disney will make the films immature: The films directed by George Lucas are already immature or have things needlessly in them to make them child friendly.
Phantom Menace: Jar-Jar Binks, child Anakin, Pod Racing, Gungans
Attack of the Clones: Jar-Jar again, Jedi academy younglings being taught by Yoda, kid Boba, 3PO’s trip through the factory and the head swap, a distinct lack of death for Clone Troopers- In the original trilogy people got shot, a hole burned in them, and fell over dead. Clone Troopers however never seem to take any damage, they just fall over like a Looney Toon.
Revenge of the Sith: Slapstick humor from R2 on CIS flagship, CIS droids develop sense of humor and become bumbling rather than just pathetic, Obi-Wan’s lizard mount, the emotional turmoil of love being turned into “I love you. I Love you. I Love You. I LOVE YOU!”
A New Hope: Addition of pathetic Jabba the Hut, Jawas (seriously, everything else on Tatooine looks horrifying, why are the recurring aliens short and make cute noises?)
The Empire Strikes Back: I actually can’t think of anything past Yoda and even that plays into the grander mythos of the Force rather than a way to draw kids in. Essentially the film was given to a director that wouldn’t have to be saved in the editing room and was magnificent.
Return of the Jedi: George had more money than god at this point so he got more creative control and we got Ewoks and the Speeder Bike chase.
All the useless cute crap across 5 of 6 films was added by Lucas either when he was the director or had too much creative control on the project. The bigger issue? This crap continued into other Star Wars works of his, Asoka Tano being the glaring one.
Disney will ruin the lore to make it kid friendly: I’m not going to bother with the whole midichlorian thing that Lucas did, instead I turn your attention to the Mandolorians. See, after KOTOR and the establishment of the clones in Episode 2 we had the game Republic Commando (one of the best from Star Wars) which in turn spawned the book series of the same name written by Karen Travis. In these books we learn that a large amount of the Commando and ARC troopers were trained by Mandolorians that Jango had hired. These Sergeants instilled in their men what it meant to be Mandolorians, Kal Skirata especially. The books set up and explain the Mando culture in depth and even grant it a full language.
After the publishing of these books and a proper explanation for all that was Mando we of the nerd community saw a lot of people calling each other vode and getting Mythosaur skull tattoos. What’s more, we got Mandos of this type all over the place, particularly in how heavily they were featured in the Legacy of the Force book series.
Then Clone Wars went to the Mandolore sector and screwed it all up. They turned Death Watch, a group of serial killers and thugs who used imperialism as an excuse for murder into the Mando’s we had grown to love. What’s more, the people calling themselves Mandolorians actually aren’t. Concord Dawn, while in the system, is not home to a large Mandolorian population, just many descendants of Mandos that want to live peacefully like normal citizenry. Within the previously established cannon they never claimed to be Mandolorians but suddenly they were in Clone Wars.
The reason? The ideas behind the separations between Mandolorians, Concord Dawn and the Death Watch was just too complex to put into the show. So rather than move into something else they retconned, and ruined, an entire people.
Disney will turn it into merchandising hell: HAHAHAHAHA. Seriously? No, I actually did read this on a discussion board. Lucas has released named action figures for characters and figures that were seen at a distance in a single shot, who had no speaking roles. This is the only man in Hollywood history to have more re-releases put out by himself than actual films and to top it off, he still refuses to release a Blu-Ray of the original trilogy before his idiotic additions.
So what then does Disney offer us?
Firstly, Disney doesn’t have the ego trip issues associated with having an entire, multibillion dollar operation under the sole ownership of a single person and so will not only take risks with the material they have access to, but will also introduce competent writers and directors into the mix. Let’s face it Lucas only directed the prequel trilogy because he has a near god complex and the fact that he didn’t give the reigns to someone else after the disaster that was Episode 1 is just proof of this. You can’t even credit him with the first film. The original cut, as directed and edited by George Lucas, was such a mis-paced confusing mess of a film the whole of it needed to be re-cut by people who told Lucas to shut the hell up and challenged his authority. Let me make this clear. The first Star Wars film ever made was a tangled mess of a film with horrible pacing, terrible cuts and a complete inability to connect with audiences... and George Lucas fought against the people that wanted to fix that.
Secondly, Lucas is still being kept on as a creative consultant. This means that the overall feel of future Star Wars projects won’t stray too far from what we have already. We won’t get a Citizen Kane style story, nor will we suddenly go into Film Noir. Future projects will retain the general attitudes of the previous works. That being said, because he is just a consultant, Lucas has almost no say in the finished product. If the production team and director think he’s being an idiot, they can tell him to shut up and sit down.
Thirdly, look at what Disney did for Marvel. They cut away or shuffled aside the elements in Marvel that were holding them back and nurtured the creative talent that was there as well as bringing their own incredibly talented people into the fold as well. Guess what? Things have been amazing. Sure Ghost Rider was a colossal failure critically, but just look at all their successes. Disney’s creative team is very, very good at taking older ideas and effectively recycling them and I have no doubt that they’ll do so again here.
In short: I have few reservations about this acquisition. Really my only worry is that whoever directs the next Star Wars film may be a pushover and cave in to what Lucas wants to do, like we saw in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That, and my dreams of seeing a Joss Whedon directed Star Wars film probably won’t happen since he’s the flag bearer right now for all their Marvel projects. This includes the TV show SHIELD which will run alongside production for this Star Wars film. But just think. Without Lucas stone walling, we may actually get that DVD and Blu-Ray of the Star Wars that we want.
I am really excited and hopeful. Something that I haven’t felt for a Star Wars film in a long, long time.