On 30 Oct 12, The Walt Disney Company announced its purchase of Lucasfilm, Ltd. for $4.05 billion and has set Star Wars Episode VII for a 2015 release.
Naturally, every social media site exploded in an apoplectic rage that one might reasonably describe as “millions of voices suddenly crying out in terror” (but without the sudden silence bit). From the backlash, you’d have thought George Lucas edited out “It’s a trap!” from Return of the Jedi. But before your nerd-rage earns you a place at Palpatine’s right hand, stop and think about this deal. You might just like where this is going. We don’t even know who’s writing or directing Episode VII yet, after all.
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Disney is a giant corporation that really wants to make money. They don’t care about your childhood memories, but they do care about their bottom line. That means creating new fans, while capitalizing on the old as best as possible.
Star Wars, as a franchise and as a universe, has grown with us. Through its 35-year history, part of its popularity can be attributed to the fact the franchise has always been expanding. If it stayed at just the original trilogy, we would have never gotten the expanded universe novels and comics, copious video games and the new MMORPG, the Clone Wars cartoon or the prequel trilogy (which brought us the Vader "Noooooooo!"/"DO NOT WANT" meme, and Plinkett’s reviews, if nothing else).
Now Disney wants to expand the universe again with episodes VII, VIII and IX. Though it is easy to be immediately cynical towards this move, there’s still some potentially good things going. Lucas has ostensibly retired from “mainstream films,” and has passed Star Wars “on to a new generation of filmmakers” so his meddling shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll have to wait and see when details arrive before we can really lay our cynicism down.
I’m still neutral towards the sequel trilogy, but I’m willing to give Disney the benefit of the doubt. Let’s rewind back to August of ‘09 for another news story that made fans everywhere lose their minds: Disney announced its purchase of Marvel Comics for about $4 billion. Since then we’ve seen nothing but success for Marvel. No character has grown mouse ears. The Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon (2012) was a success. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010) was a critical and commercial success. We’re getting two more cartoons along with a S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show in 2013. Marvel Studios has continued to excel in moviemaking, with commercial successes like Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. And in May 2012 we got this little movie called The Avengers, written and directed by some guy named Joss Whedon. With this in mind, two suppositions: 1) Disney has earned the right to the benefit of the doubt in these cases; 2) Disney knows how to appease both younger generations and lifelong fans. If Disney’s treatment of Marvel is any indication of how they’ll treat Lucasfilm, then we’ve got nothing to worry about.
Star Wars episodes VII, VIII and IX are coming to theatres whether we like it or not. My biggest concern is for Dark Horse Comics, the publishers of the expanded universe material. If Disney decides their in house Marvel infrastructure is a cheaper vessel for such material, or decides to quell it entirely... some jobs might be at stake. Other companies with existing deals to publish/broadcast Star Wars material like Cartoon Network or Bioware will likely be able to continue to maintain their contracts for the duration of their products.
I do not expect we’ll see a rebooted Star Wars with Mickey Mousewalker, Duck Vader, and Han Pluto. Quell your fears. Remember: fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. At worst, there’s new movies to hate and ignore. At best, we’ll see some quality filmmaking in a franchise that started so beautifully. Star Wars is in good hands (and no longer in George’s!), both for us and for future generations of Rebel scum.
Stay nerdy, my friends.