Lately something happened to shock me out of a state of newsy apathy. Between the onslaught of mind numbing political drivel and the terrifying prospect of New York City going without subway service, I heard on Halloween that the Walt Disney Co. had bought Lucasfilm Ltd., the company behind the 1977 sci-fi classic “Star Wars.” Finally the news media reports something of substance.
This is a surprise to most “Star Wars” experts, i.e. me, because company namesake and “Star Wars” creator George Lucas has usually been very independent. According to the documentary “Empire of Dreams” this is because 20th Century Fox didn’t give him enough money to finish “Star Wars,” so he used his own money to make up the difference.
Lucas, in doing so, retained merchandising rights and creative control of the franchise. That basically means he got a big cut of all your little “Star Wars” memorabilia over the years.
By selling “Star Wars” and his company, Lucas has basically given up any real control of it and genuinely retired. Over the years the original trilogy has been expanded on with a multitude of video games, toys, comics, cartoons, books and of course the three prequel films everyone loves so much. In general I have not liked many of them.
Many fans criticize this “expanded universe” and prequel stuff, mostly because a lot of it is inconsistent with the originals and cliché. This is not to say it is all crap. In fact “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” for the original Xbox is one of the best video games I have ever played.
“Star Wars” to me was always the king of geekdom, the epitome of sci-fi/fantasy. Yes there have been the Jurassic Parks, the Harry Potters, The Lord of the Rings, etc., but somehow “Star Wars” transcended those, becoming an almost mystical work of art.
That was an illusion. “Star Wars” was never better than everything else. It is not special. It is not off limits. “Star Wars” is not the Nerd Testament. Deal with it.
Disney plans on releasing new “Star Wars” films, starting with “Episode 7” in 2015. I have to admit I am thrilled. There’s nothing to actually complain about yet, so I honestly don’t have a problem with it.
“Star Wars” has always been incredibly commercialized, which is why it is so omnipresent in American culture. People who have never seen the movies know Darth Vader is Luke’s father and what a lightsaber sounds like. There were crappy novels and video games from the beginning; we just don’t hear about them because of nostalgia.
The interesting thing about Disney’s plan is they are making sequels, not prequels. It will be new content with all sorts of possibilities. If the stories are half as good as “Knight of the Old Republic,” they will be classics. They have the money to hire the best director, writers, actors and anyone else they want.
Or they could hire Michael Bay and Zac Efron, whatever. Even if Leia is now a Disney princess and Darth Vader can legally fight Iron Man in “Avengers 2” (Disney bought Marvel in 2009), I am looking forward to whatever is in the works. May the force be with us during the long wait.