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Whither Star Wars...?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

By now you've probably heard the news that Disney bought LucasFilm for $4 billion. I'll start by saying that like a lot of people, Star Wars is near and dear to my heart. But I have mixed emotions over this one.

By and large, the consensus of fans is that the prequel trilogy wasn't up to snuff, that George Lucas had lost his mojo. While I somewhat disagree, I'm not going to argue the point. Me, I liked the political intrique of how a galactic democracy was overrun by one man. I also liked the modern special effects, despite many who claimed the films feel cold and sterile. Seeing Jedi in their prime (and Yoda's "Ball of Death") made it all worth it.

Still, I have reservations. Disney is a large corporation that does more than just Mickey Mouse. While they try to maintain their family-friendly image, they're in it for the money. Can't blame them for that. So far their acquisition of Pixar has worked beautifully, (Cars 2 being their only real mis-step) but it remains to be seen the long-term results of their stewardship of Marvel.

Therein lies my hope. The Avengers kicked ass; it was a superhero movie done right. How? Disney had little to do with it. Marvel Studios laid the groundwork before the acquisition, and Disney wisely let them do their own thing. (I have doubts Joss Whedon would have directed otherwise.) If they're willing to be just as hands-off with the LucasFilm properties, this might not be so bad.

I'm bouyed by the fact that Kathleen Kennedy, long-time Lucas and Steven Spielberg collaborator, will be heading up the LucasFilm division of Disney. If Disney is willing to let them do their own thing (which they largely do with Pixar and, one hopes, Marvel) then this may not turn out so bad. Time will tell.

Episode 7 has already been slated for 2015 release. The fact that it's number seven at least reveals they're moving forward and not remaking anything (yet). Still, it'd be difficult to see classic, beloved characters played by new actors (Ewan McGregor's Obi-wan doesn't count). And the odds of the original cast returning are, ahem, astronomical. Harrison Ford has definitively said "no way" for nearly thirty years, and Carrie Fisher is more a writer than actress these days.

That leaves Mark Hamill, but you know what? I can see that. Me, I envision a new generation of Star Wars that takes place after the Extended Universe (books, comics and games) that have told these characters' stories in the years after the fall of the Empire. Luke is a Jedi Master (oops, spoiler alert) and the leader of the New Jedi Order. Use that. Don't film the books — that story is too rich and will never translate to a good movie, especially as it would mean recasting all-too familiar faces. So move forward. Set the stories after the establishment of the New Jedi Order, and go from there. And bring back Mark Hamill as the Grand Master Poobah Jedi to tie the older films to the new. That I'd be thrilled to see.

One final thought: Muppet Star Wars. I'd pay to see that.