Disney’s new logic: what was good for Marvel will be good for Star Wars. The galactic empire that now owns the Galactic Empire is planning to make a trilogy of SW films outside Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, films they’ll plug in between chapters of the tent pole series that will center around different beloved Lucafilm characters. Yoda, Han Solo, and Boba Fett are allegedly in the running for these standalone movies, seemingly safe bets each for compartmentalized adventures (as opposed to your average Ewok who lacks the basic knowledge to pilot a star cruiser off of Endor).
My fear is the Mouse will fall into the Wolverine/Hulk trap where these standalone films underperform and their response is to keep saying “do over!” until people are sick of seeing the chosen characters onscreen. Can you believe Marvel’s thinking about making a third Hulk movie because Ruffalo got so many good notices in Avengers? Never mind audiences practically rioted in the literal sense of the word when they bore witness to the last two Hulk movies. Hey, you know what, movie brain trust? Maybe some of these characters aren’t supposed to sustain an entire production by themselves. Maybe characters like the Hulk and Wolverine and Boba Fett (at least in terms of cinema) should only be ensemble players. Shit, look at “AfterMASH.” No one wanted that much Jamie Farr.
Now, I could be wrong. Maybe the right convergence of talent could give us ninety minutes of Yoda that isn’t wall-to-wall cartoony bullshit like what they made him do in the prequels (he was throwing furniture in that third one—fucking’ furniture! Sheesh!). I’m not holding my breath, though. I’m not even holding my breath for Episode VII. Are we gonna hafta see Chewbacca’s son again? That strikes me as something J.J. might do.
I think it’s fair to have reservations about Walt Disney spending quadruple the amount of Ireland’s annual defense budget for the complete rights to every entity in the Star Wars galaxy. I mean, this is the company that once decided an ewok dressed as Slash was a brilliant idea. To me that doesn’t exactly scream “respect for the source material.” Then again, Lucas himself had chickens wandering around those two mid-eighties ewok movies, and that makes about as much sense as Teebo putting on a top hat and playing air guitar to a Guns n’ Roses song. I guess no one really knows what to do with these characters anymore.
People crow about the success Disney’s had with the Marvel brand since swooping it up in 2009, but the truth is Paramount did most of the leg work setting up the long-gestating and now massively popular Avengers—the Mouse just kinda waltzed in later and bought the distribution rights. They haven’t proven themselves there (yet). Also, in the eight years since Disney bought the Muppets they’ve given Henson’s brood dick to do, cramming them into a Wizard of Oz remake and one original theatrical release (2011’s Muppets, an experience that must not have been amazing for human star Jason Segel as he’s already dropped out of the sequel).
Maybe I’m being overprotective of my Luke Skywalkers. It just seems like Walt Disney’s retaining stewardship of several high end brands right now (Marvel, Muppets, Pixar, now Star Wars and Indiana Jones) and I’m concerned about their juggling skills. Of course, who else could afford the Lucasfilm catalog? Wal-Mart? The catch-22 is any film / entertainment company willing to devote all their time and passion to our favorite galactic saga probably doesn’t have pockets that deep. And still, some people are saying Disney underpaid, considering they bought Pixar several years ago for $7 billion. Buzz Lightyear > jawas, obviously.
Of the explosive Episode VII announcement tacked on to the end of this news I’m even more dubious. Lucasfilm has always been resoundingly awful at keeping secrets; if they began seriously considering the start of the next live action trilogy five months ago those of us who keep our ears to the ground probably would have heard rumblings before yesterday. Let’s also note that Disney and Lucas announced their deal—arguably the biggest business news of the past five years—on a day when Wall Street was unexpectedly closed due to disastrous weather. They could have said anything and it wouldn’t have affected stocks one way or the other. Of course, only an idiot would dump their Disney shares as the company suddenly had a stake in the next Star Wars cash cow.
Smells to me like in the final hours before completing the deal Bob Iger said, “Fuck it, we’re gonna announce Episode VII in 2015, maybe for some financial insurance, but mostly for the goddamn ‘wow’ factor,” and Lucas said, “Okay, I guess I’ll start telling people there’s a treatment even though I’ve spent the past zillion years saying I had no interested in Episodes VII–IX.” I could be wrong, certainly. Maybe Lucasfilm really did decide to start hacking out the new trilogy last summer and through divine miracle managed to keep the news in-house. It doesn’t seem likely, though, considering the company’s history amongst rumormongers.
There is a perverse insanity to the fact Disney’s allotted themselves just two years to fully realize the sequel to Return of the Jedi, but I suppose The Phantom Menace proved over-thinking these movies for half a decade can be detrimental. Now we fans get to chew our fingernails off in the interrum waiting to hear plot leaks and who the director is and if Mark Hamill will reprise his role as Tatooine’s favorite son. Just when I thought I was done for good, they pull me back in. Namaste, Disney. Namaste.