Is Star Wars Better Off Now Without George Lucas?
It was considered blasphemous to ask such a question back in the mid-80’s after George Lucas delivered his original trilogy of Episodes 4, 5, and 6. To date, none of the other 5 Star Wars films that followed were even close to re-capturing the magic that Lucas and his fledgling teams were wielding in the 70’s and 80’s. This is true even with today’s unbelievable advancements in special effects. Over 30 years later, asking this question is a truth that loyal Star Wars fans will have to face. Do we boycott the franchise now that the corporation has taken over? Are we sellouts for enjoying the last two post-Lucas films more than the prequel trilogy? Or do we remain fans of Star Wars now that the narrative is controlled by the House of Mickey?
In GameFob’s last visit to the D23 Expo in August 2015, Bob Iger had honored George Lucas as a Disney Legend. The award wasn’t just about Iger’s ability to get the rights to Lucasfilm at price tag of $4 billion, it was about Lucas’ history of collaborating with Disney to bring Star Tours, Captain EO, and Indiana Jones to Disney theme parks. Lucas credited his involvement when he saw the Disney experience through his eyes as a father. He talked at D23 about the important memories of bringing his kids to Disneyland when they were young, which contributed to these collaborative efforts at the theme parks. So where did this love and mutual admiration go astray? When was there a force of opposition (no pun intended)?
When you walk the geek conventions, fans of Lucas that now see the literary works of Kevin J. Anderson and Timothy Zahn labeled as “Legacy” or an alternate universe are upset. These writers expended a great deal of creative power to expand on Lucas’ universe and provided characters fans with new characters like Mara Jade and Admiral Thrawn. Yet, Disney has now opted to change the course of history and present their own material after Return of the Jedi. Lucas himself admits in an interview with Vanity Fair back in December 2015 the following:
The issue was ultimately, they looked at the stories and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans.’ People don’t actually realize it’s actually a soap opera and it’s all about family problems – it’s not about spaceships. So they decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing so I decided, ‘Fine.’
Some fans have suggested Lucas has seller’s remorse shortly after the remarks were made. For me, I think it’s an adjustment period of not being in charge. We all go through an adjustment period when our authority has been succeeded by another.
As for our original question — Is Star Wars better off without Lucas? Let’s be good scholars and look at the data for a semblance of an answer. J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII earned a Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%. Lucas’ prequel outings for Episodes 1-3 respectively scored 55%, 65%, and 79% respectively. If we factor in Lucas’ original groundbreaking trilogy scores of 93%, 94%, and 80%, he’s averaging an overall score of 77.6% with a sample size of 6 films. Rogue One is currently sitting at a score of 85%, which brings the average after a sample of 2 films at 88.5%. While signs show that maybe Disney could be better off without Lucas, these averages aren’t indicative of much and only time will tell if Disney can maintain high scores for their efforts. On the plus side, Kathleen Kennedy has been a producer on many of my favorite childhood films. As long as she’s at the helm of Lucasfilm, the Force will continue to be strong with the Star Wars franchise. Thanks for reading.
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