Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An era of new Star Wars films? Yes, please!

I just returned to the Internet today expecting to catch up on Hurricane Sandy twitter hashtags and facebook updates when lo and behold the most surprising news I could have ever expected in a million years (yes honestly) came to light - George Lucas has sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney and Disney plans on releasing a LOT of new Star Wars movies (one every two or three years). This is amazing news. I'm pretty much jumping out of my seat right now. I mean, I couldn't imagine a better fit. Yes, Disney makes some clunkers these days, but they also make some amazing movies, particularly the Marvel and Pixar divisions. You are telling me you don't trust those people with the Star Wars franchise? I do. Much more so than George Lucas himself, who, sadly, lost the feel for his own franchise decades ago. Who isn't excited about the possibility that we might be able to see a Joss Whedon directed Star Wars someday? Or Peter Jackson? Or Guillermo del Toro? Or Wes Anderson (okay, kidding about that one). This is joyous news.

I have to admit, there has been a massive, gaping hole in my heart since the last Star Wars movie was released. Anticipation of a new Star Wars world and a new set of movies has been intertwined with my childhood and my personal identity since I was a little kid. It didn't matter that the prequels were disappointing (they were). What mattered were the possibilities - the new storylines, the new adventures, the new characters. A massive piece of wonder and excitement died for me when that last movie ended. Not to get too dark (though remember this blog is "mostly fueled by anger and alcohol") but I really don't have a lot too look forward to in my life. It's the truth. Here's what I have to look forward to these days - new seasons of Game of Thrones and the next book in the George RR Martin series. If he can write it before he dies. That's it. That's what I had to look forward to. But now? Now, at least I have Star Wars again to look forward to. That's something. That's a start.

I think the most exciting opportunity a Disney/Star Wars collaboration permits is a Star Wars theme park. Like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Let me tell you, when this park opens, I will be there. This has to be a no-brainer for Disney right? [Wait, I wonder if I can get it built on Long Island?].

One thing I wonder about this collaboration is whether or not it allows Disney to relaunch the prequels. I am going to assume the answer is "Not while George Lucas is alive," but at some point I think re-launching the franchise around good actors, good dialogue, and "non-trade-war-related" plotlines is a must. The sad reality is, a lot of Star Wars fans are perfectly willing to pretend the prequels don't exist. So I don't see re-making those movies as a threat to canon. Most hard-core Star Wars fans ignore them anyway.

For now, Disney is (rightly) moving forward with chapters 7, 8, 9, so we can table the prequel discussion for now. The question is, what form should these sequels take? Alyssa Rosenberg, who writes for Think Progress and has read many of the books, has a smart take here. I have never read any of the Star Wars books (except for a stand alone book on the bounty hunters from Empire Strikes Back). Personally, I'm not sure Luke, Leia, or Han have a place in the new sequels. I think it might be time to bring in new characters and plotlines. God knows, the Star Wars world is rich enough. A clean break, with the new Disney team in place, might work best. I think it's massively important that the Pixar screenplay writers are brought into the Star Wars division. No studio has a better track record than Pixar (though Pixar-affiliated director Andrew Stanton swung and missed on the movie adaptation of John Carter, the book of which was a Star Wars antecedent).

I know some people are concerned about new Star Wars movies, having been disappointed by the prequels and arguing that they somehow taint Episodes 4-6. I can understand their skepticism. I mean, they probably think Disney, roll their eyes, and wait for a heavy dosage of children-friendly characters like (sigh) Jar Jar Binks. But to be honest, I just don't see that happening. There is no way that Jar Jar Binks (or his ilk) makes it through a Disney-run script read. Disney will certainly insist on child-friendly characters, but they'll do it a lot better than Lucas. And Disney clearly doesn't have a problem with edgy. I mean, Tony Stark anyone? Honestly, I am just not personally affronted like some people when a sub-par Star Wars movie is made. Even the shittier movies offer something new and exciting like the three best light saber fights ever! I can take them or leave them at my leisure.

In short, I am super excited for 2015 (the anticipated release date for the next Star Wars movie). This is like waking up and finding out Pearl Jam is going to make a Ten-inspired record. Or Radiohead is going back to it's Pablo Honey/The Bends roots. I couldn't have asked for better news. And really, you should get on-board too. I mean, at the very least we should get a kick-ass theme park out of this. Don't you want to take that ride with me?


  1. I'm taking a wait and see approach. I was more excited for the re-releases of the originals (although some how they disappointed too) than I was for the prequels. It's already been said that the new movies will be original stories and would have nothing to do with the books (which is fine for me since I didn't read them anyway). It's this kind of mindset that gets Godfather III made. Leave the classics alone.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I don't believe in the "leave the classics" alone mindset. For some reason, it only seems to apply to movies. Comic book fans don't scream about new Batman or Spiderman issues (or even parallel, competing titles). We don't want interesting cartoon or television series to come to an end. (I would take new episodes of the original cartoon Transformers or Lost, or The X-Files, or The Sarah Connor Chronicles, etc.) We encourage book novelizations to continue (Ender's Game, A Tale of Fire and Ice, Lord of the Rings, etc.). I just don't believe a series of movies by natural design runs its course. Its a really function of the producers/writers/directors/etc. If the right team is assembled, great stories can be rebooted or continued. And Star Wars is a great story. Why not let a new generation of Star Wars fanatics take a shot at it?

    All of this being said, I reserve the right to take back every last word I've ever written about the Disney/Star Wars collaboration if Michael Bay is ever hired to do Star Wars movie!