So the Star Wars franchise has been passed onto another company. This company is the master of entertainment. It regularly churns out top notch animations through one of its subsidiaries and turned out one of the best superhero films of our life time, so far…and if you don’t count the Dark Knight Trilogy. Yes I am talking about Disney; the company synonymous with the two mouse ears has acquired the rights to this once great film franchise to the tune of over $4 billion (£2.5 billion).
What does this mean for the existing franchise? More importantly, what does this mean for the existing fans?
With the recent Star Wars prequels being reasonably successful at the box office but not very well received by critics or fans, one can only speculate how an actual Star Wars sequel may turn out. Can Disney insert some kind of Mickey Mouse Magic into this franchise?
The Star Wars Universe already has a few official story lines (not counting fan fiction) that are being or have been explored:
1. The Prequel Trilogy Story – revolves around Anakin Skywalker, Padme and Obi Wan Kenobi
2. The Original Trilogy Story – revolves around Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker
3. The Clone Wars Story – animated TV Series set between Episodes II and III of the Prequel Trilogy, focuses on the missions Anakin and Obi Wan get up to before Revenge of the Sith, as well as Anakin’s Paduan
4. The Old Republic Story – series of video games set many millennia before the events of the films (pictured above)
5. The Force Unleashed Story – video game series set a few years after the Prequel Trilogy but before the Original Trilogy. Revolves around Darth Vader’s apprentice
6. The 1313 Story – unreleased but announced video game revolving around the bounty hunters of the Star Wars Universe. Time period is undetermined
I think for the sake of the fans and the franchise, it would be pointless to milk any of the film stories anymore. With Disney’s experience with animation, The Clone Wars may get some type of boost but also risks become less mature and appealing to the adult fans even less. The Old Republic has a huge online following due to its massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) nature. This particular storyline has many interesting characters that can be explored through film or anything else that Disney can come up with but at the same time, may anger the existing fans of the series due to possible misrepresentation or misinterpretation, seeing as the fans are able to control the actions of these characters in the game. The 1313 storyline is not yet known and if Disney decides to expand this, it would be rather foolish; however, the folks at Disney may be able to have input in the game itself. This leaves us with The Force Unleashed story or a totally new story to consider. The characters in The Force Unleashed were voiced by actors in real life who also lent their likeness to the game, so each character also looks like the person they are voiced by. This kind of makes it easy for a film to be made revolving around the same characters. However, being so close to either trilogy, it would seem too close to the existing movie storyline and cause some incoherence as well as seem like they are milking the films again. Finally, we have a new story. This can be either a reboot or new characters in a new setting. It also has the potential to be a series of films. Recently Disney has never passed up a chance to show the world that it can also make mature films such as Alice in Wonderland, Tron: Legacy and Secretariat as well as one of this year’s most successful blockbusters, The Avengers. Some have turned out to be franchises such as The Pirates of the Caribbean and the Chronicles of Narnia. There is no reason to doubt the potential quality of a new Star Wars story but the problem remains for Disney to tackle is how to make it unique whilst maintaining the same Star Wars feel.
Disney’s move to acquire Star Wars is bold and one can only speculate at the motives behind it. The only way for the Star Wars Universe to live on through Disney is with original content but it must be unique and have the same shock factor that the original trilogy had. If a new film has a mediocre reception, the possible negative perception of the new direction would be uncontrollable and would harm Disney’s image; fans would begin to assume that Disney did not have best interests in mind for Star Wars during the acquisition and are just milking it for the money. With the quality and reception of sci-fi films improving every year with films such as Looper and Inception, a new Star Wars film should have a decent chance; emphasis is placed on the “should” because it also has all these great films to compete with. More often than not, a good film is often overlooked because it lay in the shadow of a great film of the same genre released during the same time, and a new Star Wars risks being one of those films.
Disney definitely knows how to make movies but let’s take a look at some of its other franchises. Star Wars fans would be very reluctant for their franchise to be preserved by the same group of people responsible for the likes of High School Musical or Hannah Montana. The acquisition could indicate that Disney is looking to use the rights to expand their theme parks and Star Wars themed rides would definitely make sense. There is always potential for more original content but the people at Disney must think to themselves, can this new idea function outside of the Star Wars Universe at all and stand alone as a film in its own right? If so, why not just leave Star Wars alone and make an original film instead. Should this franchise be milked even harder?
No. Star Wars should be left alone.