Unless you completely live under a rock, you’ll have heard that Disney has bought Lucasfilm, thus bringing Star Wars under the banner as Mickey Mouse, and Star Wars Episode 7 has been announced. The general reaction from Star Wars fans has been…mixed. Actually, that’s not true and I hate it when people say “mixed” when they mean “negative with a couple of calming voices”. It has, in fact, been mostly shouting and much mouth frothing, with a very small minority of sane people trying to calm everyone down.
Let’s start with some of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard. The first was that Star Wars was going to be “Disneyfied”, which I assume means adding Mickey as a Jedi to a new super special edition of the prequels. The basic complaint is that Disney is going to force their characters into everything. The people complaining about this clearly never saw The Avengers. See, Disney owns Marvel Comics. They own The Avengers. Did you see Donald Duck arguing with Tony Stark? No you did not. But, you say, that’s just films! Well go count how many Spider-Man meets Mickey Mouse comics are out there and part of the 616 continuity.
Disney isn’t stupid. They understand the concept of brand recognition. They bought Marvel, reorganized it, and let them continue to make the same kind of comics they always have. They didn’t mandate everything turn into a Disney cartoon. They didn’t mandate a G-rating for The Avengers. They basically just treated Marvel as a new division of a very large corporation that has interests outside of a cartoon mouse. Funny how that works.
The second major gripe I’ve heard is that so-n-so is playing Luke or Han or somebody in Episode 7. First of all, we have NO IDEA what Episode 7 is going to be about. It could be set just after the original trilogy, or thirty years later, or a thousand years later! Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher have both confirmed they spoke with George Lucas about the merger and the new film, but that’s no guarantee they would be returning, as there’s not even an actual script yet. There’s no point in getting pissed that Zac Effron is supposedly playing Luke Skywalker when we don’t even know if the story will even be set in a time when Luke is alive. Also, there were similar ridiculous casting rumors back in the prequel days, and we all know how well Leonardo DiCaprio played Anakin, right?
And please do not get me started on people who think they’re going to make Episode 7 be about an EU story. Listen, I loves me some KOTOR. I play on SWTOR. I’ve read a huge chunk of the books (pre-NJO, anyway). But there is a very, very small slice of the Star Wars audience who even knows what the hell those things are. This is not dissimilar to people who love the EU novels arguing that Lucas needs to follow something some hack writer spat out about Mandolorians because, “the novels are so popular!” Yeah, about that…the Thrawn Trilogy is, without argument, the most popular of all the Star Wars EU books, with about a million copies of Heir to the Empire sold. Most books sell 30-50K copies, if they are lucky. Now…those are big numbers…but one episode of The Clone Wars draws about 1.2-1.8 million viewers. Its biggest night, it drew somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 million viewers. The Star Wars movies? Well, let’s say it’s an order of magnitude higher than even that. So no, sorry, your EU story may be very, very good, and there are definitely people at Lucasfilm who try to keep track of them, but seriously, they are not more popular than the movies or even the cartoon.
Finally, I’ve heard people complain that Disney will somehow “screw up” Star Wars. This isn’t the same as injecting Disney into Star Wars, but rather that they won’t manage it well and will drive the brand into the ground. To this I have to ask again, did you see The Avengers? Also, did you see the prequels? Star Wars is already in the ground. While the fanboys will scream that The Clone Wars is an affront to everything they hold dear, the cartoon series is just about the only thing keeping the whole affair afloat right now. People HATED the prequels. They HATED George Lucas for destroying such a wonderful galaxy with such concepts as minichlorians and Jar Jar Binks.
Quite honestly, removing George from the equation can only be a good thing, and The Clone Wars are proof. For those who don’t know, TCW is run by Dave Filoni, who also worked on Avatar: The Last Airbender (and not the crappy live action movie). Mr. Filoni has created a really good series with interconnected plots, drama, and characters you actually give a damn about. You’ll hear fans scream about how it ruins the EU, but it’s GOOD STORYTELLING. That’s something that’s been lacking in Star Wars for years. Nor is the cartoon only for kids, unless you think watching the dead, zombified Nightsisters of Dathomir rise from their graves or Darth Maul’s clear intention to slaughter a group of children to be a kids show. In one of the most recent issues, a teenaged character, one of the primary heroes of a four part story, dies at the end. And we all know the horrible fate of the little padawans recently shown in episode titled The Gathering…they’ll forge their sabers, yes, but they’ll all die at the end of Anakin’s blade.
And most of this has been because George is not in charge. Oh, he’s had his hand in it, and much like with Empire, you can tell where they take his ideas and make them work. You can feel his hand there, but it’s not throttling the life out of it like it was with the prequels. This is because Mr. Filoni, while clearly working for Mr. Lucas, still stands his ground at times and makes good stories, not just whatever George wants.
And that’s what Star Wars needs. So goodbye, Uncle George, and hello, Uncle Mickey. Maybe the Galaxy Far, Far Away will be a better place with a mouse in charge of it.