If you know any geeks, then you’ve probably heard how the WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD happened this week.
Disney bought Lucasfilm for a staggering $4.5 billion. And is already planning their first move: Star Wars Episode VII, to be released in 2015. And apparently this means that the following things are going to happen:
- All kinds of wrong product placement! Cinderella will pilot the Millenium Falcon! Goofy and Jar Jar are revealed to be long lost cousins, Yoda becomes the 8th Dwarf.
- Disney is going to obsessively merchandise Star Wars and desecrate its name.
- Indiana Jones will be teaming up with the National Treasure crew.
- LOCUSTS, PLAGUES, FOUR HORSEMEN! MAYAN APOCOLYPSE!
In short, Disney will ruin everything you love. Especially Star Wars.
I call shenanigans.
Here are seven reasons why this deal won’t ruin the Star Wars you know and love.
1. It’s already been ruined.
Seriously, is there any Star Wars fan that doesn’t have an issue with the prequels? With Jar-Jar and midichlorians and lovey-dovey Anakin and the worst “NOOOOO!!!!” in the history of film? Even if you give the prequels a pass, you probably hate what Lucas has done with his endless retooling of the original trilogy. I admit that I’m one of the resolute who won’t buy the blu-rays because they don’t have the original cuts and you can pry my 1995 VHS THX Edition Black Boxes out of my cold dead hands (even though I no longer have a VCR). I just carted those tapes on a cross-country move. As far as your average Star Wars fan over the age of 25 is concerned, it’s been ruined multiple times over already.
So, shouldn’t we be happy to get our beloved trilogy out of Lucas’ well-meaning but CGI-obsessed hands? Part of what makes the original trilogy great is that Lucas stepped back from the typewriter and Director’s chair for Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He handed those duties over to more talented and experienced artists and facilitated one of the best film sequels in history. Where he went wrong with the prequels was when he didn’t do the same: he wrote and directed them himself. A better screenwriter may have suggested not spending a whole film on nine-year-old Anakin (resulting in the filler material that created the dreaded Jar Jar). A better director wouldn’t have given Hayden Christensen direction to “act unemotionally.” With this deal, Disney will have the ability to create new Star Wars universe material without being constrained by George Lucas’ 35-year old vision. Besides, it’s not like this relationship is new…
2. The Disney/Lucasfilm relationship goes way back and it’s already been merchandised all to hell.
George Lucas is the reason that every major kid-centric movie has a multi-million dollar toy, game, Happy Meal, commercial, merchandising extravaganza surrounding it. In an amazingly farsighted deal, George Lucas let Fox Pictures cut half a million dollars from his salary… in exchange for licensing and merchandising rights. $20 billion later, no studio has ever let that kind of a deal pass again. That merchandising and licensing has included a tiny Darth Vader selling cars, an entire universe of action figures (collectible and for every day play), Lego video games, and, of course, the classic kid’s bedsheet sets. You’re worried that Star Wars characters are going to run around Disney World? Guess what… they already do. For multiple weekends every May, Walt Disney World Resort hosts Star Wars Weekends, drawing fans from all over the world. Minnie has a special Princess Leia costume, Mickey is a Jedi Master, Goofy is Darth Vader, and hundreds of costumed storm troopers and Jedi Knights parade through the park daily. Cast members make appearances. Frankly, it’s awesome. During SWW 2012, George Lucas was on hand for the reopening of the Star Tours ride (which was originally opened at Disneyland in 1987). Walt Disney World has been featuring another Lucasfilm property since 1989, too, in the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, pioneering the live stunt show genre. Without the Lucasfilm inspired thrill rides at Disney, there wouldn’t be a Universal studios. And speaking of Universal Studios…
3. Did Disney Ruin Marvel? Ask the $1.5 Billion The Avengers made this summer.
When the Disney/Marvel deal was announced, there was a similar amount of upset in the geekosphere. What would this mean for Walt Disney World competitor Universal Islands of Adventure, home to Marvel Island? What would happen to the films in production? Will Cap be doing commercials with Mickey? Fans were worried that Disney ownership would tone down the Marvel-owned properties: Diminish Tony Stark’s demons, make skilled assassins Hawkeye and Black Widow light and fluffy, indulge a cartoonish Thor. The Avengers assuaged all those fears and the trailer for Iron Man 3 looks to go to the dark side of Stark. There wasn’t a Disney-esque touch to it. Compare this to the dismal state of the Spiderman and X-Men franchises… both had tanked so badly they had to be rebooted within five years of the previous films. This is largely because…
4. Disney is pretty hands off with its subsidiary film studios.
What do Pulp Fiction, Dogma, The English Patient, ConAir, Cradle Will Rock, The Royal Tennenbaums, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and countless other films have in common? They were made by Disney subsidiaries Miramax and Touchstone. None of these films fit into the typical Disney mold, but it didn’t matter. They weren’t Disney films. They were Miramax or Touchstone films. And Lucasfilm films will still be Lucasfilm films. Kathleen Kennedy, a longtime collaborator with both Lucas and Lucasfilm’s other auteur Steven Spielberg, has been promoted to President of Lucasfilm. And she doesn’t take her role lightly. From a video conversation released November 1st, she reinforces “the main thing is to protect these characters. Make sure that they still continue to live in the way [Lucas] created them.” Disney also knows when one of their subsidiaries does something better than them After failing miserably at 3D animation, they went crawling back to Pixar, wanting them back so badly that the stock thrown at Pixar made its CEO the largest Disney shareholder (with more of a stake that former Disney heads) and bringing its creative head, John Lasseter, on board as Chief Creative Officer for Pixar and Disney Animation, breathing new life into the stagnant department. A new life that Star Wars is ready to receive because…
5. Fans have been drooling over the Expanded Universe for years.
And now we actually have a chance to see it happen. Even if you’ve never read a Star Wars novel, you’ve probably heard of Mara Jade. Introduced in the first of the Expanded Universe novels, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, Mara Jade consistently rates high in polls of fans favorite characters. In the expanded universe, the original trio has had children that are all grown up and having their own adventures (and tragedies). Luke’s started up a Jedi Academy, bringing the decimated faith back to life. Hell, we’re not even fighting the Empire anymore… that’s all done. And even though, there are reports (take them with a grain of salt of course) that Episode VII will be entirely original, using none of the EU storylines, there’s still the plethora of amazing characters that can be drawn from, which brings me to something I know resonates with Persephone readers…
6. More female characters and more for them to do.
Other than the aforementioned Mara Jade, there are a bunch of key female characters to be role models for generations to come. There’s Jaina Solo, daughter of Han and Leia, who starts out as a mechanically-minded tomboy and becomes the Sword of the Jedi. There’s Tenel-Ka, a princess who chooses to forgo her culture’s tradition and become a Jedi. There’s Admiral Daala, a baddie, but one that breaks some glass ceilings. And there’s Leia, who continues her Jedi training and juggles that with being a mom and continuing to be a bad ass working for the freedom of the universe. In fact, Slate proposes that it could be women (both on screen and in the audience) that save Star Wars.
And lastly, the biggest reason Disney can’t possibly ruinStar Wars (saved for spot number 7 in honor of Episode VII)…
7. We fans have already ruined it. And it’s up to us to bring back balance to the
We’ve already ruined it with our expectations and our vitriol and our hatred for anything new in the series. With sweeping declarations that George Lucas has or isn’t going to rape your childhood even more (really, now?). With expecting an exact replica of the success of the originals but with new stories and excitement. Yes, I know we were disappointed by The Phantom Menace (hey, man… kids LOVE Jar-Jar, even if you don’t), and that Attack of the Clones wasn’t a perfect sequel like Empire Strikes Back was. But you know what, Revenge of the Sith was pretty darn amazing. And don’t tell me that the inner kid in you was crazy excited to see Anakin don that black helmet for the first time. Besides, for trying to catch lightning in a bottle, 1 out of 3 ain’t bad. This new trilogy is an opportunity. An opportunity to wipe the bad taste of the prequels out of our mouths. An opportunity to go places that are new… places that we don’t know where they’re headed. The map of the future of Star Wars is an open road. Stop being so snarky and critical and give it a chance, will you?
Besides, it’s pretty awesome that this has now happened: