On Tuesday, October 30th the Walt Disney Company paid George Lucas 4 Billion Dollars to purchase Lucasfilm Ltd. and they’re starting right away on the next Star Wars film, currently referred to as Episode VII, to be released in 2015.
So that happened.
Disney is a synonym for children’s content and they’ve been bringing some impressive content providers into their tent in recent years, Pixar, Marvel Comics, and now Star Wars. Once upon a time I would have been worried about how Disney would treat these properties but after acquiring Pixar they made John Lasseter (the director of Toy Story) the Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation and he and the Pixar brain trust are being brought in as creative consultants on a variety of other Disney projects. Along with the Marvel Comics brain trust that’s pitching in on all the Marvel movies, as well as assorted other creative powerhouses like Joss Whedon (director of The Avengers and creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) it would seem that Disney has cornered the market on many of the best cinematic storytellers on the planet. The kind of storytellers who are ideally suited to a story like Star Wars. I imagine they’re all ready and eager to contribute to Episode VII.
But what about George Lucas? Can Star Wars be awesome without him? Of course it can. Episodes I – III were very successful despite George Lucas who, I would argue, jumped the shark in 1982 when he created the Ewoks. At the time he said, “dare to be cute.” It was a death knell. Regardless, with the original Star Wars, George Lucas created a setting for the best space opera ever – and that’s including television like Star Trek and books like The Stars My Destination. The first three seasons of the new Battlestar Galactica were awesome but very specific – as fodder for a whole universe of stories Star Wars wins easily.
Critics of my enthusiasm, and I suspect dissing Star Trek has just created a few, might point out that the Pixar brain trust was deeply involved in the historic flop John Carter. I consider the failure of that particular blockbusting disaster to be a personal blow. I’ve been a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars books since I was in middle school and read all of them through Llana of Gathol. I have to say I was cautiously optimistic about John Carter as a movie but not entirely surprised by its failure. Well, surprised at the epic scale of its failure, but not at the lack of acceptance from contemporary audiences. After all, A Princess of Mars was published 100 years ago. John Carter’s ability to jump tall buildings in a single bound was influential on the creators of Superman 26 years later. By staying true to the original the ideas in the film weren’t exactly fresh. In a way, they were setting themselves up for failure.
But with Star Wars freed from Lucas’ hegemony there is an opportunity to succeed and expand on the franchise in new and exciting ways and introduce it to young audiences without all the unfortunate racial stereotypes of Episode I. George Lucas has talked about how other people have been playing in the sandbox he created and I think that’s an appropriate metaphor. It’s a good sandbox and now that George has been paid 4 billion dollars to share it I’m excited for the future and the sand cloud cities the other kids will be able to build.
Check out my earlier post on The Important Question and the comments where a faithful reader points out an article describing in detail the Machete Order.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment or have something to add?
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Let me know what you think.