Unless you’ve been living under a rock on a remote moon somewhere, you’ve probably heard the big news that Disney has bought out Lucasfilm for a cool $4 billion, and all the rights to Star Wars along with it. Bigger news yet, they announced that Star Wars: Episode VII is coming in 2015.
My feeling when I heard the news? Pure, unadulterated fanboy elation. Why? I would have raised an eyebrow certainly if George Lucas had announced Episode VII himself, but that would shortly be followed by “it’s going to suck if he’s writing and directing it.” The prequel trilogy will never be forgotten for its unequivocal awfulness, and further chapters in the series would likely only damage the universe further. Our own David R, avid prequel trilogy defender for reasons still unknown to me, will likely have a different take on this tomorrow.
But I never thought I’d be so glad about a corporate takeover. Though Lucas is staying on as a “creative consultant” for the films, he is not writing or directing most likely, meaning, for all intents and purposes, Star Wars is free of George Lucas at last, for this movie, and anything else the series does from here on out.
The good ‘ol days.
That sounds stupid to many, as why would you want a series like this to be free of its genius creator? Well, to most it’s apparent that Lucas lost himself somewhere along the way. By Return of the Jedi, it was clear he was more interested in toys than in movies. By the prequel trilogy, Star Wars was such a behemoth that Lucas’s terrible ideas were left unchecked, when they had previously been challenged and rewritten in the original films. With no checks and balances, Lucas ran wild with bad ideas, and so Midichlorians and Jar Jar Binks were born.
But under Disney’s leadership, there is now the potential for absolutely anything to happen with the series. I never thought this day would come, as Lucas seemed destined to control his property with an iron fist until the day he died. I thought we might see a new Star Wars film in a few decades, but 2015? Unbelievable.
Already the internet is catching fire with speculation as to what’s in store for Episode 7, and more pressingly, what Disney can do now. With Lucas merely “consulting,” they have the freedom to hire absolutely anyone to take on this massive project, and few people would say no to a Star Wars movie. Looking to their in-house directors who have made hits for them you have names like Brad Bird, the Pixar legend who showed he could do live action as well with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. There’s Jon Favreau, who did more than anyone dreamed imaginable with Iron Man. You also have Joss Whedon, whom they entrusted with their formerly biggest movie project, The Avengers. The idea of a Whedon directed Star Wars film is enough to make any nerd’s head explode, mine included.
And don’t say Firefly was Joss Whedon’s Star Wars. He could do great things here.
Of course, this could be bad news. Disney could mishandle the property and their involvement says to many that the series will look to pander to children even more than it does now. I don’t subscribe to that theory, as they will pander to anyone who will make them money. That includes children sure, and if Pixar wants to make another Clone Wars movie, they should. But that also means 18-40 year old geeks who grew up on the series and want a more mature direction for at least some aspects of the Star Wars universe, be they TV shows, video games or of course, movies.
Disney showed what they can do with another beloved giant of pop culture, Marvel. The Avengers was a triumph that left few fans disappointed. If they can devote that much time, money and talent toward a new Star Wars film? Again, there’s a reason this feels like Christmas to me.
I respect Lucas for his work creating Star Wars, but without a doubt it’s time he left the series and “passed it off to a new generation of filmmakers” as he said in the announcement. He was probably exhausted by all of it at this point, having to deal with constant criticism for anything new he did with the series (justified criticism, mind you), and felt turning it over to someone else was probably the best play. And four billion dollars may have had something to do with it too.
Why can’t I hold all these billions?
I’m looking forward not just to Episode VII now, but to all the games and shows we’ll be getting that don’t have to follow George Lucas’s master plan that has us permanently stuck in an endless loop of prequels. At last, the universe can move forward in ways other than the endless books that were written after the original trilogy, and the series can evolve into something fantastic again.
A while ago, I wrote that I was giving up on Star Wars for good. I must eat my words now as I never thought in a million years the series would be able to extract itself from Lucas’s grip anytime soon. I’m excited about Star Wars again, which is something I didn’t dare dream of being after being given false hope too many times before. But this feels like a fresh start to me, and I can’t wait to see what comes from it.