You can ask any one right now. The state of the Star Wars fan base is toxic. People have liked Ewoks. People have hated Ewoks. People have hated the prequels. People have love the prequels. Life moved on. The different opinions however on The Last Jedi and Solo are now tearing the Star Wars fan base apart at the very seams. Some loved these new movies. Some have hated them. Some are now trying to destroy Star Wars because they would rather see the franchise fail instead of continue on its current course. Were we conditioned this way?
The year is 1977. A movie is about to limp into theaters, barely finished, badly over budget. Star Wars was a vision many studio execs scoffed at and turned down. Even its creator was not happy with its final form. It would of course open to fanfare and applause the likes of which the world had never seen. Star Wars would rewrite movies, merchandising, medicine, science and so many other things like no movie ever had before.
The year is 1980. Lines wrapped around blocks for the sequel to end all sequels. Everyone was ecstatic to return to a galaxy far, far away and see what would happen next. Fans would not be disappointed in what Irvin Kirshner churned out. The movie was darker than what movie goers were used to from fantasy/sci-fi movies. Action ripped the big screen apart like had never been seen before, and of course we get an ending twist that even Shamalan couldn’t dream up. It was an ending so secret only a handful of people even knew of it. Lucas and James Earl Jones I believe were the only two. The finale could not come fast enough!
The year is 1983. Out comes the final film in what was the most epic unforeseen movie trilogy of all time. It would be received less popularly than the previous two, but still widely loved. It was the end to an epic saga. End right? While rumors flew fast and heavy that Lucas had in mind 6 more movies for the story. They didn’t come. Fans viewed Return of the Jedi as the end to the saga and the end of Star Wars. For those of us alive at the time, in the late 80s we saw Star Wars die.
I will never forget walking into my local comic book store in late 1990, early 1991. There on the shelves were model kits for three to four Star Wars ships. It was the first star wars products I had seen in years. Deep down I knew instantly what it meant. Star Wars was coming BACK! Sure enough Star Wars came roaring back to life.
Here is the first step in the creation of a Star Wars fan base that would truly be spoiled. Continuity is a staple in the Star Wars diet of books, movies and comics. Star Wars fans kept track of EVERYTHING! After the release of Jurassic Park, George Lucas said he knew technology was ready to support his story telling. Lucas set out to make the prequels to his story. The wise move he did, knowing he would probably not touch the later movies if there were to be any, was to release the post Jedi timeline to the books and comics while protecting the areas he was exploring.
While Lucas was working on his Clone War era, Authors were free to develop everything that was to come post Jedi. There would be no conflict in time lines or continuities. All of us fans grew spoiled with this set up, me included. The Star Wars universe grew broad and deep in both directions, including the introduction of the Old Republic. What could possibly go wrong?
THE POISONED FUTURE
The fans drove George away from the franchise after the prequels. Were they justified? Largely yes. The story was there. The actors were fine. The directing and some of the story focus was horrid. George is one of the greatest story tellers to have ever lived. His movie directing leaves something to be desired.
In comes Disney. I really do not think it mattered who bought Star Wars. They would face this same backlash. If George would not continue the franchise, it either dies or someone must carry it foreword. At first most were excited to see Star Wars with the chance to carry on. However, the first action by Disney would begin the fracture of the fan base. Disney throws out all the books and comics post Return of the Jedi as well as the Old Republic. A number of fans became upset with this move. It threw out books, stories and characters we loved.
If you are any future film company how would you do it? Where is the newness and originality in remaking books into movies. Not to mention the canon problems this would cause as movies are never exact copies of the book they copy. If they keep the old canon, what room do they really have to cover anything with the characters we knew? The book/comic coverage was too thorough.
A NEW POINT OF VIEW
The new movies begin. This is where things begin to change. Fan expectations are through the roof! Fans demand excellence and justly so. The subtle change here though is that for two trilogies, Star Wars was a limited run, event of all events type movie release. Now Star Wars would be common place. Films would be released every single year. When movie events become common place, they lose some of that grandeur right there. Overlay the troubles of the last three movies, despite how they turned out, and we now have a chunk of the fan base that hates movies before they are even released.
Why would such a release schedule and subsequent change in said releases affect things? Look at Marvel. Marvel started with a singe film and then hinted at a combining of the films. Each Marvel movie is a stand alone movie that hints at a great goal and movie to come. Why is this style an advantage? It lets every movie be their own thing with no real pressure. I didn’t care much for Antman. The first Captain America was my personal favorite. Black Panther was solid yet overrated. Many of you will think differently than I do and that’s great. That’s movies for you. Each movie can come and go as it pleased. What does the Marvel fan base lack? The hate, venom and vitriol that is currently poisoning the Star Wars fan base to shreds.
LET GO OF WHAT YOU FEAR TO LOSE
Fans need to let go of their hate and accept the movies for what they are and the new ways they are told. If we keep holding onto past expectations of both movie and character, we can never see the new movies in anything but a negative light. While mistakes have been made, good things have been done as well. If you love something you don’t try and kill it. This is the new Star Wars. Like what you can like, dislike what you don’t, but accept each movie as its own movie. If you don’t like anything about Star Wars, walk away from the franchise.
Above all this is the truth. Disney owns Star Wars now. It will never leave their hands because they know the money they can make without even releasing another movie. They have a theme park opening next year that will draw millions with or without movies. I can assure you this one thing. Beyond the money, uncle Bob Iger doesn’t care about Star Wars. He proved that with how he handled Solo. He has plenty of other titles to make him rich. The day a poisoned fan base drives the franchise into the ground and its no longer worth it, he will box it up and move on. Star Wars will be truly dead.