Obviously, given the title, this is a blog about how Disney could ruin Star Wars. However, to say that Disney is on shaky ground right now would be, quite frankly, insane.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens gave new light to the franchise in a way many feared would never be possible. It stole the hearts of millions of fans and began a journey I couldn’t be more eager to finish.
With Rogue One set to be a triumphant second outing, and my excitement levels for episode VIII similar to that of a child at Christmas, Disney seem to have done the impossible. They also continue to get things right: ignoring George Lucas, casting unknown actors, using real sets and removing the complicated ‘legends‘ (expanded universe) from canon are to name to just a few.
But, while the near-future of our Disney/LucasFilm love affair appears to be paved with gold, as THG looks to the further future, there are some concerns we simply can’t ignore.
With the mouse in charge, I’m worried things will soon get out of hand. Things could go very wrong if they aren’t careful.
So, how could Disney mess this up?
Big Old Cash Grabs
Disney bought the Star Wars franchise for the disgustingly large sum of $4.05 billion — or the GDP of Barbados.
Some might say this was a bargain. Given movie ticket sales, DVDs, merchandise, games, etc, the money will just be pouring in. But, $4.05 billion is a lot to recuperate and Disney will be looking to make its money back anyway it can.
As a result, the primary drive behind making more films and materials is financial success. That’s not good. Money is the great corrupter of things and with a corporation as hungry as Disney behind them, financial success, not the art, story, nor fans will be what drives our beloved Star Wars from now on.
A Lack of Innovation
With a need for financial success comes an affinity to safe choices. The Force Awakens is a powerful example of this. The movie was a popular, Star Wars themed romp, but about as innovative as Tesco’s own sliced bread.
It follows all the twists and turns you’d expect, includes every Star Wars trope you can shake a stick at and sets up the sequel in a way that means that you have to shell out for the next ticket.
It might have worked, this time, but this is not how Star Wars was built. Star Wars was a massive risk, nobody thought it would be a success, let alone become the biggest film franchise in history. George Lucas was thought to be a madman until his genius came through on the big screen, and he was even planning a seriously low-budget sequel prior to A New Hope’s massive success as he believed the studio would never fund another big budget Star Wars film.
The special effects of A New Hope transformed the industry, and The Empire Strikes Back changed how we thought about sequels forever.
Disney could ruin Star Wars because they don’t appear to be taking those risks. It’s following a formula designed to entice and play off nostalgia, but nostalgia burns out quickly.
If Disney doesn’t take risks on their new Star Wars babies, then people will get sick and tired of the same old narrative playing time after time.
Too Many Star Wars Movies
You can never have too much of a good thing, right?… I’ll just leave this bottle of tequila right here.
Like Christmas, Star Wars movies now comes once a year. And, like Christmas, we’ll all soon be jaded, cynical and sick of it. In a word, it could result in desensitisation.
The more you experience something, the less it effects you. Remember the hype for The Force Awakens? We’d gone 10 years without a Star Wars film, and 32 without a good one — burn.
Just look at Disney’s other big purchase, Marvel. At $4 billion, it came in at roughly the same price. And, like Star Wars, we see movies annually. Some of these are fantastic, but others are just so-so, or even pretty poor. Looking at you, Iron Man 3.
While we do get more Marvel movies, the principle is the same. We don’t want just so-so Star Wars flicks, we want more Force Awakens.
Spacing things out not only helps maintain interest and hype, but it also increases the chance that everything put to film is of high quality.
Yes, Force Awakens was produced in 2 years, but how can you expect Lucas Film to churn out something of that standard year-after-year? It just isn’t possible.
Forced Spin-Off Stories
The Han Solo spin-off is on the way, scheduled two years after Rogue One. We’ve also got rumours of a Bobba Fett movie, Obi-wan tales and potentially even a Rogue One: 2 — yeah.
But, these ideas don’t sound like amazing stories that were born in the minds of writers and just had to be told. They sound like films designed on a producer whiteboard, captioned with a famous Star Wars character and ‘nostalgia’ written beneath it.
The best stories, the ones that we love, come from more than a desire to tick boxes. The way these spin offs are being created sounds more like a shitty
Batman vs Superman superhero movie or a messy Transformers sequel.
I’ve already stated that this constant stream of Star Wars movies is going to kill the magic, but if Disney insist on doing so, they should at least use the opportunity to take more risk and be innovative in their storytelling.
Feeding a Star Wars fan a Han Solo film is like offering an addict some crack. They’ll take it, they’ll enjoy it while it lasts, but soon they’ll just be angry and asking for something with more of a kick.
We are, however, seeing potential for a spin off movie that doesn’t rely on nostalgia. Recently, it came out that a Bobba Fett movie was so very nearly announced, only to be called off at the last minute. There is no official confirmation as to why this happened. Some speculate it was down to director Josh Trank, others point to Disney and LucasFilm. The movie could still be in the pipeline, but we hope that it isn’t.
If the Disney/LucasFilm duo have decided to step away from nostalgia and focus on new stories, the good times might just keep on rollin’. If Bobba Fett is still heading to our screens though, I worry the producers with the whiteboards are going to be the ones with creative control.
Recasting Fan Favourites
Let me start by saying, this isn’t a rant about Alden Ehrenreich. I’m sure he’s going to do a fantastic job!
Harrison Ford is Han Solo. We’ve seen his world, we’ve already fallen in love with him.
By recasting fan favourites and pushing their prequels on us, Disney could ruin Star Wars in a way we never dreamed possible. I, like a lot of people, am not excited for the Halo Solo spin off. And a lack of excitement for a Star Wars movie is very unsettling.
Recasting a legend like Han Solo is so dangerous. Ford built that character on who he was. One of his most famous quotes — saying ‘I know’ to Leia — was an adlib from the man himself. Ehrenreich will no doubt play a great imitation of Ford’s Han Solo, but it will always be an imitation.
Delving Too Deep into Character Backstory
I’ve got one more point to make about the Solo movie and potential spin offs.
The mystery around the character is what makes him so interesting, the same goes for Fett. We know he’s had a dodgy past, we get glimpses of it and it created a deep character, we don’t need more.
I wrote about this when referring to The Walking Dead, but the idea is transferable. Over development of characters means they lose some of their polish, their shine, especially when you have characters who are built around their mystique.
By pushing too far, by trying to dredge up too much, there is the potential to go too far. Just like Lucas did when creating Vader’s backstory in the prequels. Vader went from being this powerful, intimidating and captivating figure to a whiny, ignorant, arrogant kid.
We don’t want the same thing to happen to Solo, or any other character.
The Schedule Is Too Tight
Filming for the Han Solo spin off begins in January, which means they will just under 2 years to make a perfect movie. I don’t know about you, but that worries me.
The schedule for the new trilogy movies is also similarly tight. Star Wars is an expansive universe and fans expect more than just a normal movie. Getting it right takes more than just a good script. It’s a well-known fact that the original Star Wars trilogy was saved in the editing, with a New Hope famously unwatchable before much of it was left on the cutting room floor.
The reason they managed to perfect these masterpieces was because, amongst other things, they had 3 years to produce them. Time to get the script right, time to go over the decisions and adjust the trajectory as the movie evolved. Editors could then tear it apart and rebuild carefully. Even with that extra year, the trials and tests of film-making nearly destroyed poor Lucas, to the point he gave directing responsibilities over to Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand for Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi respectively.
Who knows what we would have got if they’d been working under an even stricter time schedule? Pushing these movies out so quickly not only ruins the magic behind them, but it also lends itself to problems. Without the time to step back and reset a course if things aren’t going well, the production team will be forced to push on to meet their 2-year deadlines, even if it costs us a much better film.
Corporate Control Could Mean Disney Eventually Ruin Star Wars
You can say what you like about George Lucas, he was no Hollywood stooge. Ewan McGregor was apprehensive about taking the Obi-Wan role, only convinced by how far removed from the normal, corporate film-making process George Lucas was.
Lucas was an artist. Sometimes art transforns a generation, like the original trilogy. Sometimes it doesn’t…
But, Star Wars was still his art. Disney are not artists, they are businessmen. Businessmen make paint-by-numbers art. Art that follows the patterns of a previous artist, but never challanges or changes.
Plenty of artists still exist to make Star Wars movies, but how much power will Disney give them?
We’ve seen interference from money-hungry executives hellbent on making a financially successful movie destroy creative works before. Suicide Squad being the most recent big-name casualty.
While Marvel seem to be left well enough alone by parent company Disney, concerns have been rising about whether or not LucasFilm is receiving similar treatment — they are a lot less tested than Marvel after all.
Star Wars Rogue One underwent some pretty massive reshoots over the course of its production. While no reason for these reshoots has been confirmed, some — including us — have speculated this is down to Disney forcing in new elements and changing its previously darker tone to make it more like the action-packed, fast-paced Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A movie that banked over $2 billion to become the 3rd highest grossing film of all time.
Sure, Disney have a good track record for moviemaking, there are certainly worse studios to have meddling with your movie, but any amount of studio meddling can prove disasterous.
Disney are not without flaw.
Anyone see Cars 2?
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James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.