Samuel Brace on the Star Wars saga…
Is Star Wars in crisis? Please. Let’s not lose our minds, let’s celebrate its success.
With the recent news that Star Wars: Episode IX has lost its director, Colin Trevorrow, coming off the back of news regarding the Han Solo movie and how it has also changed its directors, people have been suggesting there’s a bit of a crisis over at Lucasfilm. The bandwagon is a welcoming place, but the glee at which people seem to gain from jumping on Star Wars’ case is something I’ve never understood.
Is this an ideal situation for Star Wars? No, of course not. But a crisis? I’m not sure about that. The real question is why people seem so keen on wanting to take the juggernaut down. People are often adverse to the successful; be it people or films, success breeds a certain level of vitriol. And a lot of criticism for Star Wars, since it made its comeback, seems to be coming from fans of the series. But again, I can’t fathom for the life of me why.
What we’ve been treated to so far by Disney has been wondrous. Who could have thought, five or more years ago, that the franchise would have returned to the heights that it has? It’s been amazing to witness. The two films that we have received so far have been enormous successes, and not just financially. The Force Awakens and Rogue One are both terrific films, and helped rescue the series tainted reputation after the dismal prequel era. Are these movies perfect? No, of course not. Are there problems to be found? Sure, absolutely. But these two pictures, the only evidence for judging this new era of Star Wars (in a cinematic sense) that we have so far, are two massive wins. Star Wars fans should be over the moon, and, most are, but there are indeed a bunch of people that give the impression of wanting to see the series fail.
Listen, I’m not fully on board with every decision that’s been made regarding the series since its return. I wouldn’t have voted for a Han Solo movie, I wouldn’t have given my approval for an Obi-Wan film, at least not above any of the other myriad new ideas that could have been developed. But you can only judge something (or someone) on the evidence available. And, so far, the evidence reflects incredibly well on Disney and Lucasfilm. These first two movies have rekindled a love of the franchise in many people who had abandoned it. These first two films have introduced a whole new generation to the delights this world has to offer. Nothing should be without criticism, but at this moment in time, Star Wars doesn’t really deserve all that much of it.
If Han Solo and Episode IX turn out to be stinkers, if the director mishaps and changes made during shooting cause the films themselves to misfire, or cause a step back in quality from what we have so far witnessed, then these criticisms will be perfectly valid. But at this moment in time, we just don’t know that this will be the case. Ron Howard is doing and saying all the right things with Han Solo, he seems to have steadied the ship, and is hard at work bringing fans a hopefully more faithful version of the iconic character than what was being proposed by the film’s previous directors. Episode IX is still in its nascent stages, The Last Jedi isn’t even out yet, so it’s a little premature to shout fire and label the situation a crisis.
Have Disney and Lucasfilm not earned our trust with their last two Star Wars outings? Only the most ardent and curmudgeonly contrarians would answer in the negative. Should we not give them the benefit of the doubt, that the director changes were a necessity and were made for the overall betterment of the series going forward? I think that we should.
There might have to be a delay here and there; moving Han Solo back to December and Episode IX to 2019’s final month would be preferable in my book, even before these recent events. Lucasfilm have time to get a new director on board and hopefully deliver a climax to the trilogy that will be enjoyed by millions the world over. If The Last Jedi arrives at cinemas a mess (there’s no evidence of that either at this point) then we can perhaps have a more reasonable conversation about the series’ future. Until that time, however, I suggest folks calm down a little, that they slow down and think about how warranted their specific criticisms are.
Is there nothing here that’s worth celebrating? Is there truly a crisis in the management of the series? Or are there just some issues that we wish didn’t exist but aren’t, at this stage, enough to panic over? The evidence says, in 2017, that Star Wars is premium blockbuster entertainment. Until this stops being the case, why don’t we celebrate its success, consider what the alternative could be, and be thankful its quality is so superior to 99% of its blockbuster competitors.