Star Wars to Disney: A force for good?

Art & Lit Screen

Well. I’ve got a very bad feeling about this. On October 30th, the news came that George Lucas had sold LucasFilm, the company behind such classics as Star Wars IV-VI and India Jones 1, 2 and 3, to Disney for $4.02bn. So, uh, trick or treat? A forgivable gut reaction for any serious Star Wars fan is one of outrage, to label George Lucas a sell-out. According to the man himself, he sold his soul because “at some point, [he] needed to retire” and wanted to pursue other, more “experimental” avenues. Of course, the $4bn price tag may lead the more cynical to believe that Lucas’ prime motivation was financial. After all, such a force can have a strong influence on the weak minded .

So, has Star Wars sold out? Yes. But it did so long before this announcement. There is a tendency amongst Star Wars fans (and I charge myself guilty) to view the galaxy through rose-tinted spectacles. Remember, LucasFilm also bred the monstrosities Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). I call to mind the “Expanded Universe”, an array of media and merchandise designed to feed the hungry appetites of fans with extra canonical treats, from Princess Amidala knickers to Death Star barbeque grills. Frankly, LucasFilm Disneyfied itself without the help of Mickey. Type “Star Wars” into LoveFilm (as I did when I heard the news, wanting to rediscover the magic) and you will trawl through three pages of games and spin-off TV series before finally arriving at what remotely resembles a Star Wars film.  Ewoks Adventures, anyone? Perhaps returning to something solidly cinematic will help Star Wars re-establish its credibility.

Because I don’t want to sound like a Disney fascist. They’ve done some wonderful things; The Lion King, almost anything Pixar related, Herbie Goes Bananas… and, to use the much cited Avengers example, they didn’t dare maul Iron Man when they snapped up Marvel. Disney and LucasFilm have shared a symbiotic relationship for a while now – the Star Tours ride at Disneyland Paris is one of the oldest and best at tnhe park. LucasFilm have conjured gimmicky characters to rival Disney (“Exsqueeeeze me…”), and Disney owes an awful lot to Star Wars. WALL-E, C-3PO and R2D2 would make the ultimate robot trio, and the Vader reference in Toy Story 2 sent shivers down my spine.

Disney’s not really the problem. It’s the desire to perpetuate and stretch Star Wars beyond its means that worries me. There is the potential that fans will look upon their world akin to the way Luke looks at his ravished home on Tatooine: shocked, distraught and a bit perplexed. Star Wars Episode VII is scheduled for release in 2015, with VIII and IX following close behind. The glimmer of excitement at this prospect is overshadowed by the sense of dread. There have been rumours that Ford, Hamill and Fisher will reprise their roles – but how? As geriatric Rebels? Will Han Solo and Leia be doting grandparents, with Luke guiding their young in the ways of the Force? Star Wars: The Next Generation does not sound appealing. Think of the Epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I don’t want an Anakin Yoda Skywalker, or a Padme Wan Solo.

Let’s be honest, the original trilogy was enough. Star Wars cubed just might be overkill.