Yesterday I posted a video from Star Wars Kinect which showed a CGI Han Solo dancing to a space-themed rewrite of a Jason DeRulo song. For a series that has had many low points throughout the years, it’s right up there with the Christmas Special and Anakin Skywalker’s lamentations about sand.
But something about it got me thinking on a deeper level. When was the last time I actually ENJOYED something set in the Star Wars universe? I tried to play The Old Republic, but found it stiff and dull. I tried to watch The Clone Wars, but found it to be aimed at an audience a decade younger than myself. As for the prequel movies? Though I may have liked The Phantom Menace at age eleven, it didn’t take long for me to grow up and realize how truly terrible they were.
The far, far away Star Wars galaxy used to be amazing. Yes, we had the original three movies which were incredible and entrenched the entire series in the hearts of millions. But past that, we had a whole stable of books and video games that were almost just as awesome. Tales of the Jedi, Dark Empire, Jedi Knight, Knights of the Old Republic, Shadows of the Empire (the book AND the game). These were supplementary titles that proved that the universe was vast and promising far beyond three mere films.
But there has been a drought for so long now of quality Star Wars content that I’ve finally completely and utterly lost hope. I’ve always been of the opinion that someday, Star Wars will be awesome again. George Lucas will have a road to Damascus moment and come out with a brand new trilogy or an epic TV series or phenomenal game that restores all faith in the universe. The world that exists for Star Wars has such potential, surely there are more great stories to be told from it, right?
I don’t think so. Not anymore. George Lucas is like Colonel Kurtz. He’s gone too far up the river, driven to madness aided by those around him who deem everything he does as godlike. The descent into insanity is easy to see if you look at the timeline of events.
For both A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the story was George’s vision, but he was always being challenged by friends and advisors who would question his ideas, and force the films to evolve in positive ways. But by the third film, George was a legend, and who would dare question such a genius?
Creative vision took a back seat to consumerism. Most of Lucas’s money was coming from merchandising, and it became clear that aiming the films more toward toy-demanding children was the recipe for financial success. It’s how the Ewoks were created, over the objections of longtime collaborators. In one small step, the film became infinitely more commercial (Ewoks make great plush toys) and kid-friendly.
By the time the prequel trilogy was announced, Lucas was a god. His word was gospel, and he crafted the trilogy almost entirely by himself with no outside input whatsoever. As such, there was no one to tell him about all the stupidity contained within, from midichlorians to Jar Jar Binks. There was no one to tell him that his script was flat and was drawing out horrible performances from otherwise great actors. There was no one to tell him to maybe not have every scene in front of a greenscreen. There was no one to tell him that maybe making three films leading up to events that were already known was not a good idea, that fans would rather see the series move forward than backward.
Perhaps the new films weren’t the abominations many fans proclaim, but they certainly aren’t “good” in any sense of the word, and if they were the original three movies instead of episodes IV-VI, Star Wars would not have become the franchise it is today. And don’t even get me started on Lucas’s truly bizarre obsession with “re-editing” the old movies with updated effects and actor swaps.
Unfortunately, Lucas’s bad judgment and apathy has seeped into all other Star Wars related projects. It’s become clear that him wielding complete control over the series has caused it to be almost entirely aimed at children. The Clone Wars is fine entertainment for an eight year old, but Lucas forgets that his original fans have all grown up, and the series they loved has left them behind.
The Clone Wars is a perfect example of how safe Lucas wants to be with Star Wars these days. He has an entire show based around a war that’s robots fighting clones (all being controlled by one man), featuring a cast of characters that we know can never, ever be in any real danger because the entire series is a prequel. There is quite literally nothing at stake at any point in time. Again, like the prequel trilogy, Lucas is terrified to try and move the series forward, and simply wants to rehash familiar elements with a known outcome.
I’m not saying Star Wars can’t cater to children, but why does it have to be entirely for them? With how much the series is beloved, we should have an Star Wars HBO show in its tenth season (it doesn’t have to be dirty, but simply have a good budget). The movie series should be longer running than James Bond, and there could be a new installment out every other year, as envisioned by a different director. Can you imagine if Lucas would relinquish control to someone like , JJ Abrams, Ridley Scott or Christopher Nolan? But no, it’s his baby and he’ll never let it grow up. He has the right to do so, as yes, it’s his creation, but that doesn’t mean he’s not doing a huge disservice to millions of his fans.
I used to think that someday he’d wise up and realize that his creation could be so much more if he just started trusting talented people to help him craft his stories. Instead we get dancing Han Solo. I honestly don’t think he’s ever going to learn, and I feel by the time someone competent is able to take the reigns of the Star Wars universe, I might be as old as Lucas is now, and he’ll be encased in carbonite six feet underground.
I know the arguments against this kind of thinking. I know how people say fans like me are just yelling at kids with Jar Jar action figures to get off our lawn. That we all just need to lighten up and accept that Han Solo can go from an iconic badass space pilot to a dancing buffoon with Lucas’s blessing and it’s OK. I guess I now agree with what appears to be their general sentiment. Star Wars isn’t for us anymore, and it hasn’t been for a long time. It’s time to let the kids have it, and stop pretending that someday we’ll get it back. It pains me to say that I’m not a Star Wars fan any more. I guess the best defense mechanism is to abandon it completely so you can’t be disappointed further.
All I wanted was for Star Wars to grow up with me, but it never did, and I don’t think it ever will.