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Monday, November 5, 2012

Why Disney is the Best Thing to Happen to Star Wars Since Episode Six

No breaking news here; Disney bought out the Star Wars franchise for just over four billion dollars. What has been surprising is the amount of negative feedback this has been generating from some of the Star Wars fanbase. Sure, there have been some jokes about Leia being a Disney Princess now, and even some speculation on the next version of Kingdom Hearts having Darth or Luke in it. Yet, there was still this immediate and passionate outcry from some people about how the franchise is going to be ruined now.

The above picture could be an argument in itself as to why Disney's buy-out of the Jedi order is a positive thing, but I think for those of us that give it more than a drive-by analysis we understand that it stems from something deeper than that. I think there are very few "true" fans of Star Wars that really enjoyed Episodes 1-3. Some people just like to go against the mainstream hate to come off as less invested, but the movies were crap, so shut up. Poor acting, CGI that wasn't very well integrated into the live action, some of the worst dialogue ever in the history of written language, and a complete self-denial of the work that preceded it.

Please notice I didn't say anything about how a certain laser blaster wouldn't have been able to do something based on some specs put out in one of the hundreds of Star Wars Universe literary guides, or how the technology seemed better when it was in the past, or some other aesthetic attribute that would irritate some. Instead, I'm talking about how the films were crafted with little regard for their predecessors, or the fans who first made the films popular.

So what happened? Lucas struck gold. Granted, he didn't do it by himself. Many of the familiar aspects and looks to the Star Wars universe were not created by Lucas. George's original ideas were considered too fanciful and off for the first film. One famous change, for example, was the change from Han Solo being more of a Greedo-ish character to his more familiar form as a young Indiana Jones.

In fact, Lucas was rumored to not be especially happy with the direction that Empire was moving while filming. But, surprise, the film was a gigantic hit, and is recognized as the best of the series (and rightfully so, in my opinion). However, Lucas still retained creative control over the entire franchise, and therefore gets to do whatever he wants with it. This is a slow death for any creative IP (intellectual property), as it takes editors, second opinions, and helpful input to keep something fresh and entertaining. When that doesn't happen you get Episodes 1-3.

So what does fate hold in store for the Star Wars universe? No way to tell, but what certainly won't be happening is Lucas being allowed to write or direct another Star Wars film. That may seem like nothing, but to those of us who were crushed by the mediocrity of 1-3, this is huge.

Imagine this, if you will. You see a trailer for a new Star Wars film at a theater. It hasn't been announced that this trailer will be at the beginning of whatever film it is you're seeing, and no information has been leaked, because Disney is a governing force of information when it comes to entertainment. All of a sudden lightsabers are popping off left and right, lasers are blasting fiery rain into a crowded war zone, and one dark Jedi leads an army of malcontents against a small force of good and hope! Now imagine four words appear towards the end.

Directed by...

Go ahead, put in whatever name you want. Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, Neill Blomkamp, Edgar Wright, Matthew Vaughn, me, Guillermo del Toro, or even Joss Whedon.

Now imagine a script written by someone who hasn't been swimming in their own geek-god mode, who is both ambitious and a huge fan of the series. Someone who can take the film in a direction that doesn't follow the same stale formula that was used over and over in the new movies. We could have a narrative arc like something out of Breaking Bad; where a moral character is slowly corrupted to the Dark Side in an understandable and sympathetic way. Of course, this person must still be opposed by a "good" character, but the line between good and evil will become more blurred. Shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones have shown the potential in smearing those lines to create an amazing and provocative story, so why not do this for what could arguably be the most famous film franchise in history?

The main point here is that the creative field for the Star Wars universe is now open for business. Disney's purchase of the franchise will give the series a much needed creative transfusion that was sorely lacking for decades. Disney has the money, the means, and the man-power to put a thoughtful and entertaining Light vs. Dark story back into the limelight. And if there is one thing Disney pride's itself on, it is a proactive approach to try and please their fans. The higher-ups at Disney have to be aware of the pressure that taking on such a challenge presents, and it is also a huge gamble. Personally, I believe they will step up to the challenge in order to solidify themselves as the kings and queens of our entertainment world.

Hopefully they will take Yoda's words to heart when creating a well done Star Wars film, in that "Do or do not. There is no try."

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