The irony of this all is that I’m dabbling in a bit of time travel here at the intro. The piece is written, but between the three different premises I juggled as my Star Wars rant evolved, my old introduction no longer makes sense. I describe this as “irony” because the simple film trope of sticking an exciting, out of context thing in the opening to create intrigue and suspense before the first chronological events would constitute brave, revolutionary film making in the stale space that is Star Wars.
Looking back on it all, the premise ended up being “you are a big dumb idiot boy for ever investing yourself in a franchise run by Disney – the fuckers who made the live action Lion King.” Ultimately, that’s what hurts my feelings the most. It’s not just that the newest stuff is all bad, it’s that I feel fucking guilty for ever supporting garbage that was rotten to its foundation. Even as I edit this thing to bring some semblance of cohesion, anything positive I say feels like it now needs comes with a disclaimer: Do not believe the Star Wars man’s twisted words. This movie was built on a throne of empty nostalgia and lies.
Everything below is ultimately experiencing me in real time me solving the question on why I hate this thing I used to love – why I hate it so much I still follow it* just to find new things to hate. So take a seat as you experience me trying to reverse engineer the corporate machinations on why this thing sucks, which really boils down to, well, all of the above.
Really, this starts all the way back with Disney’s first Star Wars story, The Force Awakens. I still enjoy the movie quite a bit in a vacuum*. In short, I really love the beating heart of this movie that comes from the new characters it introduces and how they interact with each other. I also love the fun, practical action sequences** and occassionally stunning visuals that give this move its andrenaline. “What if the Nazis that escaped to Argentina got back together,***” idea is pretty genius given they’re sort of stuck with the “A New Hope remake but not” premise.
*As TimeTravelerMason™ said in the intro, the context of what comes after really soils this movie in particular if acknowledged because JJ Abrams would go on to make Rise of Skywalker.
**In spite of bullet one, I can’t emphasize this enough. These action scenes fucking rule, and they age better with each passing day that another super hero film shits out generic, punch mans visual sewage like this. By contrast, Force Awakens starts with the iconic Kylo Ren freezes a lazer beam in mid air scene and ends with the best lightsaber fight in all the Star Wars movies. (Yes, better than Duel of Fates, don’t @ me)
***In particular, Kylo Ren – public face of The new Order – being scared pasty white boy hiding behind Darth Vader was a brilliant decision. This feels all the more prescient in the 4chan era of American politics.
That’s sort of the problem, isn’t it. They’re “stuck*” with this premise. This creates serious cracks in the foundation. The almost exact plot point mirroring of the OG A New Hope is already a bit much before they unveil that yes, we’re doing a third death star no seriously but this one is HUGE. There is effectively no exploration or development of themes**. Both of these main issues derive from the same foundational problem – which is that the The Force Awakens has no idea why it exists outside of “because we were recently acquired by Disney and need to recoup their investment.”
*For monetary reasons, which we’re about to get into.
** 8th grade book report variety or otherwise
Normally, such an aggressive financial investment would result in an outright remake of the acquired property, but the intensely culturally imbedded iconography of OG Star Wars makes that wierdly risky. That makes The Force Awakens the next best thing in that regard. However, it’s not just that they had to tap into original trilogy nostalgia. Perhaps more importantly, they had to tap into a now forgotten concesus hatred of the prequels.
A Forgotten Anti-prequel Agenda
Among the endless stream of Star Wars narrative and post-mortems is the popular idea that one of the biggest sins of the Disney trilogy was lacking any sort of central cohesion that would be provided from a “show runner” type figure like Marvel’s Kevin Feige. As someone whose brain contains wrinkles, I would personally rather just enjoy good movies instead of worrying Content™* i’ll be consuming next like the good little consumerist zombies Disney expects us to be. That said, understanding Disney’s evolving relationship with the prequels and how it has deeply informed their corporate decision making.
**This is popular shorthand for dorks who spend way too much time worrying about dumb baby movies like Star Wars and Spiderman for when movies feel like they were written by an executive. I’ll dive into the nuances of what exactly this means later.
In a world where the Obi-wan show is just having Ewan McGregor recite prequel memes, the Scarlett Letter status that was held by the prequel trilogy less than ten years ago is rarely remembered. As I mentioned, The Force Awakens is about as close as humanly possible to a straight up remake of a New Hope as one can get without explicitly being one. Implied by the choice to adhere so closely to the original formula was an outright rejection of the changes in tone, content and visuals that was established by the prequels, and the marketing leaned heavily on the latter. Feature after feature after feature was presented about how The Force Awakens was returning to the older, purer way of filming: “on location” shooting and especially a return to utilizing practical effects. Nevermind that The Force Awakens utilized more CG Effect Shots than The Phatnom Menace, Disney’s marketing team managed to split the difference between rejecting the prequel movies enough to get older fans on board while not making younger, more prequel friendly fans feel rejected. (They also created the prototype for their 2019 CGI Lion King remake marketing gimmick of claiming it was so realistic it no longer qualified as animation – a crime against god which cannot be forgiven).
So yeah, it’s pretty much imposible to overstate the degree to which Disney did not want to acknowledge the prequels exist or remind fans of the prequels in any way when they released Force Awakens in December of 2015, which makes it all the wilder that Solo: A Star Wars story would be released in May of 2018 with a spectacularly egregious Darth Maul cameo that only makes sense* to people who watched The Clone Wars children’s cartoon aired almost exclusively on Cartoon Network.
*I don’t think that’s strictly true since robo-legs Maul had been around long enough that there were plenty of people who were generally aware of this just by cultural osmosis. This observation is mostly based on my dad’s utter confusion at this scene when we saw it at the theatre together. I’m more using this as a demarkation point where Star Wars started focusing mostly on its most irrational, emotionally invested fans. This will become relevant much later.
From Zero to Hero: How the Prequels Were Redeemed
Rogue One calls into question my prior declaration that The Force Awakens was the closest one could come to remaking A New Hope without remaking it. It goes a step further in marrying the franchise to the OG movie as tightly as humanly possible. It is, quite literally, a two hours and change prologue to the original film that is bound so tightly to it Rogue One’s ending can be stitched essentially seamlessly into A New Hope and, if one was so predispositioned, presented as a single four hour movie.
By contrast, The Last Jedi, mercifully, detatches itself just a little from the franchise event horizon that has become A New Hope. I would posit that The Last Jedi is far from the anti-sequel/middle finger to the prior movies it is often depcited as. Truly, people depict The Force Awakens/Last Jedi relationship as if it is a Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens situation, and that’s just not true. The Last Jedi very much matches the tone and visual style of The Force Awakens, and it’s certainly enthusiastic about the characters and setting established by the prior film.
The Last Jedi is beyond well worn territory for my writing, so without relitigating in full my positive opinion of the movie, let me try to stick to what matters for the greater issue of the franchise’s identity crisis.
Lost in the discussions of the Last Jedi’s politics and treatment of the Luke Skywalker character is that it’s also kind of subtly tying together the prequels, original trilogy, and Disney sequels. It suggests (through Luke’s character arc) that the Jedi Order as depicted in the prequels was a deeply flawed institution, but not a valueless or irredeemable one. It walks a fine line between accepting the prequels themes of fascism rising inside a liberal democracy without faltering to their greatest faults – The Last Jedi still largely avoids politics in the literal plot point sense.
In sort of the messy stew of what was the second wave of reception to this movie, there was a protest lobbed at a conception popular amongst dissenter’s that The Last Jedi is arguing to “let the past die” and throw away (in a meta-narrative sense) Star Wars as a whole. This often cited line, keep in mind, is spoken by the unambiguously evil character Kylo Ren, and if I wanted to take this line of thought further, I could easily draw parallels to why this particular type of Star Wars fan is suggesting the space nazi cosplayer is the one whose views are endorsed by the franchise. Needless to say, Luke saving the day by being a Big Damn Hero(tm) and the movie’s epilogue suggesting the downtrodden will be inspired as a result suggests director Rian Johnson has the opposite opinion regarding the general Star Wars mythos.
Nevertheless, what’s important in the context of identifying the greater franchise’s identity crisis is that this particular type of fan’s reception is the one that Disney elected to react to. The substantial body of evidence which suggests this particular reaction was wildly overblown by social media algorithms that favor brashness and outright audience score manipulation campaigns was irrelevant. Once the decision was made to radically alter the direction of everything Star Wars with immediate urgency, it couldn’t be undone like when James Gunn was rehired by Disney after they made a similar panicked overreaction.
Because Disney was reacting to the fan reaction to the Last Jedi rather than against the film itself, the Last Jedi had the bizarre dual impact of both being the first Disney Star Wars property to give the prequels the basic dignity of narrative acknowledgement while also encouraging Disney to embrace prequels nostalgia as a direct refutation of what was that film’s perceived disrespect towards the six George Lucas movies collectively.
How Disney Lost its Library of Potential Nostalgia Bait
If the prequels are the base ingredient to Disney’s corporate decision making process with the Star Wars franchise, then Star Wars’s fictional canon is the various herbs and spices. While carefully stewarded Marvel continuity would theoretically make Disney uniquely qualified to handle it, the inherent baked in differences for each franchise make the self-imposed* challenge of handling Star Wars continuity an effectively unrelated task.
*I say self-imposed because there’s no law that says Disney has to continue approximating the same style of continuity they inherited. Hell, they don’t even need to worry about managing a continuity. Like I said, this is an entirely self-imposed burden.
Star Wars is unique amongst the nerd properties that began establishing official world continuities in the 80’s. DC and Marvel established the go-to approach for such things by establishing in-story explanations that picked and chose publications, characters and histories to form into a single, theoretically consistent brand universe history. Very loose interpretation of scientific multiverse theory goes hand in hand with this approach, allowing the brands to seperate contradictory material into different “multiverses” while still being able to lend the canon “legitimacy” to any sufficiently popular products.
By contrast, Star Wars canon was tracked and established before such messes needed to be sorted. It posited that anything with the Star Wars stamp existed simply as part of Star Wars’s linear fictional history, and any sort of contradictions that arised from conflicting material had a commitee and a detailed tier system to establish which telling of a story, character, or even obscure factoid was “historically correct.” This system was unique and innovative, and allowed the Star Wars brand to give hard answers or non-answers to any conceivable question regarding its universe.
However, all of this presented a unique problem for Disney when they acquired the Star Wars intellectual property. As I mentioned, the four billion dollar investment necessitated the safest possible film launch from Disney’s perspective. Given the original corporate investment against anything that hints towards the prequels and the presumed impossibility of a straight up remake, they were boxed into direct sequels to the original trilogy. However, this particular space was extremely thoroughly explored in the inherited original Star Wars canon, including some of the most beloved pieces of expanded Star Wars stories like the Thrawn trilogy and the Yuuzhan Vong saga. Because of the inherited unique, single defined time line nature of Star Wars’s continuity and its strict tier system for resolving cross-media contradictions, Disney’s options to create a Star Wars sequel were:
- Adapt the beloved Thrawn trilogy to film. Seems like a fine idea, but this presents two problems.
- The Thrawn story’s emphasis on complex political machinations doesn’t exactly translate remarkably smoothly to a 2ish hour movie, and more problematically, it also goes against Disney’s set “no politics” rule to avoid any prequel semblance.
- Star Wars’s canonical hierarchy would cause any film adaptation to canonically erase any adaptational changes of contradictions from the original, beloved Thrawn stories.
- Radically alter the nature of Star Wars canon to adhere to a more DC/Marvel style of seperate bubbles of continuity connected only by branding and vague multiverse/time travel pseudoscience.
- Delete everything but the George Lucas created properties and start over.
They of course, chose the last option with the official press release’s justification stating the reason as “In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience…”
In summary, while The Last Jedi and its perceived reaction created the unique set of circumstances to make Disney’s corporate overlords do a complete 180 on the prequels, the treatment of Star Wars canon caused by their prior OT-only stance lead to a situation where the Star Wars prequels and its connected Clone Wars cartoon counterpart were the only other properties with the shiny gold star canon legitimacy
Solo: A Story About How Darth Maul Killed the Concept of Star Wars Movies
Solo feels like a reaction to all of the above. While its less connected to the original trilogy than Rogue One and Force Awakens in the sense of plot, it compensates by explaining an absolutely impossibly long line of things no one was asking to explain, which includes the origin of the dice that hang in the Millenium Falcon’s cockpit and how Han Solo got his last name. However, its long and troubled production occured almost exclusively before The Last Jedi was released, let alone before there was adequate time to shift the franchise’s direction entirely.
Still, I would posit that any additional reshoots after Ron Howard’s original batch of reshoots probably leaned even heavier on all of the above, and I certainly think how shoddily animated holographic Darth Maul was in Solo’s closing scene suggests if anything substantial was added at the last minute, it was this.
This exact moment marks not just a precursor to the embrace of the prequels legacy, but a radical shift in who the target audience would be going forward. I would describe the target audiences of the Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Last Jedi as “inoffensive to a broad audience plus appeal to nostalgia.” A long time ago, I posited this audience was created by an economic trend I called the “six ticket theory.*” The basic idea is that broadly appealing, extremely creatively safe super hero movies dominate the box office because no one in a family of four will be any more upset then “meh” if they go to one.
*The detailed version of this idea is that high ticket prices result in families specifically going to far fewer movies and thus wanting to make sure these movies provide a baseline non-annoyance at minimum for Mom, Dad, Brooding Teenage Johnny and Toddler Suzie. These three Star Wars provide roughly the same swashbuckling light hearted action-adventure tone and their plots are largely connected to the original Star Wars trilogy, the idea being even if Toddler Suzie hasn’t seen them, she at least understands the referenced events and characters by cultural osmosis.
Darth Maul being shoe-horned into the end of Solo is a half-assed attempt to split the difference between the new approach and the old one. The corporate moneymen can at least assume the audience knows who Darth Maul is, while the “true fans” offended by the Last Jedi can get their reassurances the old movies are once again “respected.”
The problem is that while a general, casual audience may know who Darth Maul is, they are mostly clueless about Maul’s continued survival into the Clone Wars animated series and his connection to the expanded universe group called the Black Suns, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of a large chunk of the audience who is just confused instead of tickled pink by nostalgia. This is not ideal when your movie makes such genius decisions* such as establishing the reason Han Solo’s surname is “Solo” is that some random imperial officer thought it would be funny to put that down when he told him he had no legal surname, and this name somehow was also passed on to his child.
So that movie bombed and the geniuses at Disney decided the learned lesson here was that recasting characters, a concept that has succeeded for decades across multiple artistic mediums, was economically unviable. That is, of course, because nothing can possibly be the egotistical producers’ fault, so that rules out things like the famously disasterous and expensive development.
The Rise of Skywalker and The Death of a Movie Franchise
Rise of Skywalker is the collision point of every piece of artistic and strategic mismanagement small and large i’ve professed for an obscenely large word count. Explaining all the levels this movie fails on feels like cheating when it breaks the newly formed 11th biblical commandment that was unearthed as a result of this atrocity.
To attempt brevity, this movie employs seemingly every artistic hack sin in the book: Seven(!!!) fake out deaths. Several retcons. Bringing back dead characters. Empty pleas to nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake – which includes ghoulishly resurrecting Carrie Fisher’s dead corpse via shoehorning in archival footage. And on top of all this, a truly horrific lack of basic filmmaking craft caused by a chaotic, poorly managed production.
In spite of all this, traditional metrics of movie success indicate Rise of Skywalker was a disappointment, but not the franchise altering disaster even Disney is treating it as. It made a billion with a capital B dollars, making it the 34th highest grossing movie in human history. Critics disliked it, but their response hardly reflects the revulsion of what I outlined in the last paragraph. It goes so far as to do pretty well* by most audience response metrics.
*”Pretty well” means audiences thought it was about a 7/10 on average, which means a tick better than the average that would be implied by a 5/10 since audience tend to treat ratings like they’re grading a paper instead of saying “this movie was 50% good.”
And yet, the mere concept of making a Star Wars movie seems dead in the water for a while. The “future” section of the linked Rise of Skywalker wikipedia entry simply reads “In a November 2021 interview by Empire, Kathleen Kennedy indicated that Lucasfilm creatives had been having conversations regarding the future of the sequel trilogy’s characters.”
Every whiff of what would possibly evolve into the next Star Wars movie reads as “[renown creative person] has been brought on to make a Star Wars movie” followed by some later story that indicates a delay as this person just sits in stasis apparently having gotten the job without any sort of basic story pitch. The latest verison of this, for example, is Taika Waititi being announced to be in charge of the next Star Wars movie – allegedly scheduled for a Late 2023 release. Lo and behold, delays are announced as the director indicates that he haven’t even written a story pitch yet, let alone gotten a movie greenlit.
So we’ve established that Rise of Skywalker was not, contrary to my own opinion on the matter, a franchise killer by the traditional metrics used by corporate decision makers. We’ve also established that Disney has minimal interest in making another billion dollar movie, which is odd to say the least. We know the last few movies were bad, and we know why they were bad, but that alone has never stopped studios from Weekend at Bernie’s-ing a franchise. That last mystery is yet to be solved.
“Star Wars Doesn’t Work as a Movie Franchise”
With the disaster of all of the above, popular opinion in the internet nerd gossip/thought-osphere is that Star Wars works better as a TV franchise. In fact, making it a movie franchise was a mistake. Reasons for this range from its Flash Gordon TV show inspirations, the scope of the universe is too big to explore in two hours, smaller budgets will bring a return to character focused stories, Star Wars can escape the gravitational pull of the Skywalker family, and being on TV gives it greater creative freedom. These reasons are often times both contradictory and listed right next to one another. It seems to me alot of these takes look at the crowded, cocaine paced Rise of Skywalker script and thinks the problem can be solved if each of these ideas has room to breathe while ignoring the fact the screenwriter’s last two movies are Batman v Superman* and Justice League.
*Yes, I did make a twenty minute video defending the parts of the movie that weren’t the horribly written boat mystery or shoehorned Justice League setup. That doesn’t make Batman v Superman not a trashfire becuase those elements still take up a huge chunk of the run time. Also, “MARTHA!!!”
To briefly detour, I feel compelled to defend Star Wars should exist as movies. I’ve spent over 3,000 words explaining why the movies fell apart, yet I’ve chosen to lay this out as a sort of tragedy instead of writing a much briefer post about why the TV shows are better than the movies. In short, I would object to these arguments with:
- What made Star Wars special was combining the exciting escapism of Lucas’s beloved Flash Gordon with the classic, thematic and character driven New Hollywood style storytelling popularized by his Movie Brat peers. Without the second ingredient, it becomes a cheap thrill with rapidly diminshing returns.
- (Not that the New Hollywood stuff can’t be applied to TV. I am merely arguing against that specific return to Flash Gordon roots argument)
- The scope of Star Wars is also too big to be explored in a single TV show. That’s the idea of making it a franchise which consists of movies, TV shows and other media.
- Smaller budgets would be great if the TV shows weren’t just resorting to worse versions of the movie-style effects driven action scenes and cheaping out on locations, animation and behind the camera talent instead. Also, this 100% should have been the idea applied to the non Skywalker-saga movies, so it’s not like you can’t do the same thing there.
- The TV shows are even more deeply trapped in the Skywalker vortex than the movies. These fucking people couldn’t be arsed to hire noted voice acting specialist Mark Hamill to voice a CGI puppet of a character played by Mark Hamill. They built a fucking computer to accomplish this task instead.
- Any creative freedom enjoyed by early Star Wars TV shows like Star Wars Rebels and The Mandolorian Season 1 can be attributed to the movies serving as a distraction for potential executive interference, which is why they didn’t even bother attempting explain or sort out Canon contradictions when they arised.
- I personally do not care about a consistent internal canon at this point when obsession over such things has ruined so much of popular storytelling with obsession over lore. I make this point purely to point out how little attention was being paid to non-movie properties when they were constantly firing people or reshooting every movie.
So ultimately, why is Star Wars stuck to the silver screen? Two interconnected reasons: economics and continuity.
For the latter, think of Star Wars continuity as a single long timeline of potential stories. Alright, Star Wars canon stretches hundreds of thousands of years with several eras to choose from, not a big deal. Unfortunately for you my burdgeoning strawman story pitching director, the vast majority of this is a non-starter because of Disney’s corporate initiative to tie everything tightly to the six Lucas films. The Obi Wan show is not so much a spinoff series as it is is a satelite spinning so close to the planets “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” that it’s torn in half as it enters their respective atmospheres and causes untold destruction on each planetary surface.
For that reason, anything super far before or after the movies is inherently off the board. The Clone Wars, Rebels, Bad Batch, The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, as well as the scheduled shows Andor, Lando, and three(!!!) Mandalorian spin off shows have filled the spaces between the nine Skywalker saga films to the brim. Meanwhile, anything after the sequels is an absolute under no condition do we touch this. If there’s a single other corporate initiative stronger than nostalgia in the Star Wars univerise, it’s don’t fucking touch The Last Jedi with a ten foot pole. Even if you wanted to make a Star Wars property for that group of fans, Rise of Skywalker aggressively reversing or ignoring virtually all that movie’s creative decisions has taken that move off the table.
That leaves that little block of space right before the prequel trilogies, and that’s where economics comes to play, because it seems that Disney is preparing to quardon off this block as well for the TV shows. Why no movies? Well, that brings us all the way back to Darth Maul’s solo cameo, becuase that marks the casual fans were kicked off the Star Wars train, and if you have a smaller group of people* who are extremely emotionally invested**, a streaming service is a much better business model for this. Movies as a business model is all about getting a very large group of people to say “i had a good time” to my friends. Streaming’s business model is about getting two to four shows that garner enough emotional investment to make someone say “I will spend ten dollars a month so I can access this for the rest of my life.” If 20% of people who watch a streaming show love it with all their hearts, and 80% have a reaction that is anywhere along the spectrum of hate to indifference, that’s wildly successful as long as the streaming service is casting nets that catch different 20% chunks. On top of this, Star Wars has the strong institutional advantage of inherently drawing attention simply by being Star Wars and also pulling a substantial chunk of people along who will say “I had a good time” as long as lightsabers were involved.
*very much speaking in relative terms here
**people who stuck around after Rise of Skywalker’s crimes against cinema
Finally, to make matters worse, because of the corporate movie tying initiative, making a Star Wars movie script that will actually greenlit by Disney while also not being hot garbage is just an extremely hard task when you are slavishly beholden to the existing movie’s characters and concepts as well as current and planned future continuity, so it’s no wonder that everyone who is announced to make one of these things ends up in stuck in the “still solving the story pitch” section of development for what so far seems to be a a period of time best described as “forever.”
Why I Hate Star Wars
There’s the final question implied in why I lob all of this general disdain lobbed towards a majority of Star Wars’s recent output. There’s also final final question on top of that I’ve inherintly invited anyone who disagrees* with the disdain both detailed and casually presented as quasi-fact, which is “why spend over 4,000 words talking about Star Wars if you don’t even like it.” My answer is that I used to love Star Wars. My preeminent defense of this answer is that it’s okay to care about things that are less important than global warming, and I would like to witness a new Star Wars story I actually like at some point in my life again. My more detailed** explanation on top of this is that late stage capitalism is in the process of squeezing all popular media into a few franchise silos at the cost of everythign else, and if I’m going to live in a dystopian hell, I would at least like the dignity of at least some popular fictional story being told that I actually like***.
*If you think my Star Wars takes are garbage and you’ve made it this deep, I genuinely respect you.
**By detailed I also mean overly dramatic
***I dislike or outright despise the majority of popular fiction being released at the moment. I realize quite a bit of this is being a snob, and also, being a snob about Star Wars is the critical equivilant of going to Applebee’s and complaining the food isn’t fresh enough. I can’t rule out that all of this is an exercise in me trying to escape my destiny of becoming an old man who’s not “with it” anymore.
I think the final* question of why this particular era of Star Wars when bad films like Attack of the Clones exist within this franchise is answered by the very subject matter of this article. I just spent a very unhealhty amount of time** talking about Star Wars, and the majority of it was spent talking about corporate mandates largely implied from released content. And really, that’s the essence of it. That dirty c-word. Content. Something to be released for no reason other than because a chart suggests it is optimal to publish the next Star Wars branded product. Something to be consumed purely because you are obligated to for reasons*** you have long forgotten.
*I.E: the one I posited before feeling the need to respond to guy who is upset you bother to spend time being critical.
**TimeTravelerMason™ here, Like four fucking days writing and then rewriting this article. I yearn to be free of this self-imposed burden and click “publish.”
***Really what i mean by all this is that, by contrast, a “movie” is something you want because you want to experience emotions vicariously through the characters on screen. This often includes negative emotions for reasons that are too complicated to dive into on the footnotes, but let’s just say emotions are the mortal enemy of Content™.
Even at its worst, the George Lucas controlled Star Wars had the enthusiasm of someone who wanted to tell a story*. Mace Windu had a purple lightsaber because Samuel L Jackson thought it would be cool** to have a purple lightsaber, and George was like “yeah, that sounds fine.” Rey has a gold lightsaber at the end of Rise of Skywalker because a toy line featuring gold lightsaber Rey was already planned out*** before the movie script was written.
*That’s not to suggest that George Lucas was this paragon of stubborn auturism. The dude literally invented the business model that became THE franchise business model. I’m only suggesting the business of Lucas’s Star Wars wasn’t the sole purpose for making new Star Wars stuff.
**Yeah, “being cool” isn’t on my usual list of these unnecessarily deep pop cultural critical evaluations either. Star Wars is a movie about space wizards intended for children. It’s totally okay to change an unimportant visual detail because it’s cool.
***I have no hard evidence of this, but these are the motherfuckers who stuck the Emperor’s important “i’m back” announcement in fucking fortnite. They allude to this in the fucking opening title crawl and don’t use it in the movie because they gotta save this gem for FORTNITE. So like, come on, we all know deep down this is true.
The old Star Wars was a storytelling franchise. Disney’s Star Wars is a brand for them to apply to content. Did this very basic conclusion need an entire length blog article? Not in the slightest. Really, the journey for me was watching the premise of this article change three different times during the course of writing it. The purpose of the exercise was dissecting my own complicated emotions about Star Wars. In the end, they main unresolved, and they probably will for as long as the endless durge of new Star Wars branded contest teases my interest just enough for me to hate watch* an eight minute clip of the new Obi-wan show.
*And Jesus Christ, Ewan’s incredible line delivery here is absolutely disgraced by the truly atrocious quality of everything else around him.
While I ultimately failed to find anything groundbreaing or deeply profound, at least this all meant something. That’s more Disney can say about Star Wars.