Recent news that Disney and Lucasfilm would not have a Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker panel at SDCC (they’ll showcase Episode IX at D23 Expo 2019 in August) got me thinking. Disney has made a lot of decisions regarding Star Wars since it took over the franchise. Some have been good, some… not so much. Today we’re going to grade some of the bigger happenings of the Disney Star Wars era. While this list likely won’t be all-inclusive, we’ll try to hit the major events as we see them.
Grading the Disney Star Wars Era: Cancelling The Clone Wars
This was one of Kathleen Kennedy’s first official acts as Lucasfilm CEO, and fans did not appreciate it all. The Clone Wars was and remains highly regarded as having some of the best storytelling in all of Star Wars. (Thank you very much, Dave Filoni). Cancelling the show in favor of a new animated series in Star Wars Rebels upset a sizeable chunk of the fan base. In then end, the gamble seemed to have paid off. Filoni remained in charge of Rebels, and the show earned its own corner of the fan base. Plus, Disney recognized the mistake in cancelling The Clone Wars and is bringing the show back. Season 7 debuts November 12 on Disney+.
Initial Grade: C (based on original cancellation)
Final Grade: B+ (with success of Rebels and Clone Wars being renewed)
Declaring the Expanded Universe “Legends” instead of canon
This was another initial decision, and one that met with extraordinary backlash. With such large gaps in theatrical, franchise storytelling, fans relied on the EU for their Star Wars fix. Beginning the Disney Star Wars Era by wiping all of that out? While understandable (the EU had grown quite convoluted), declaring all of the EU as Legends was a mistake. Again, Disney seems to be rectifying that by slowly reincorporating the best elements of the EU (Thrawn, for example), back into canon. Additionally, some of the new canon works, like Alphabet Squadron and Master and Apprentice, are actually quite good.
Initial Grade: C-
Final Grade (to date): B
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
While many criticized The Force Awakens for relying too heavily on nostalgia and past plot points, I didn’t join that camp. For the beginning of the Disney Star Wars era (in film), I though the movie did what it needed to do. It bridged the gap from old stories to new, old characters to new. And it did so utilizing both new cinematic technology and the practical effects that endeared the original trilogy to fans. Perhaps it could have used a little more originality, but it accomplished what it needed to accomplish.
Best Grade of the Disney Star Wars Era: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story thus far remains by far the best product of the Disney Star Wars era. It showed the darker, grittier side of the Galactic Civil War. Likewise, it didn’t need the “heroes” of the franchise in order to be compelling and entertaining. This sits third on my list of best Star Wars movies, behind only The Empire Strikes Back and the original Star Wars.
(Now, from the best to the worst grade…)