The media has been buzzing for two long years over the revival of the Star Wars franchise. Helmed by J.J. Abrams, the first installment of the now Disney produced series is set to hit theaters in under ten months with stand-alone films scheduled for release one per year. But is this revival of a beloved franchise such a good idea? Financially, this will surely make the Disney empire only stronger. It goes without saying this is a smart business move for the Disney corporation, but does the decision to expand the Star Wars universe beyond the six original films tarnish the spirit of the franchise? Is it even necessary?
As a fan of the series for nearly my entire life, I tried to be rational in seeing both the good and the bad in the idea of reviving the Star Wars saga. I went through the stages of shock, then excitement, followed by fear and anxiety over picturing Mickey and Minnie Mouse dressed up as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, and finally to a slight taste of resentment. As exciting as this may seem to fans of all ages, I cannot see past the main flaw of Disney’s grand plan. While simply tagging on more and more Star Wars movies is a financial and critical goldmine for Disney, and also adds more to the already rich and abundant Star Wars universe itself, this new “addition” basically ruins the entire narrative that the previous six installments have worked so hard to build.
The previous six Star Wars films illustrate the life of Anakin Skywalker and his transformation into the infamous Darth Vader. With his death marking the climax of the final film (chronologically, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi), there is really nothing left to tell. We don’t need an Episode VII, because the story of Darth Vader has been told from his rise, to fall, to redemption. All is well, and to introduce a new plot, cast of characters, and conflict comes across as random, and frankly, unnecessary. It makes the heart of the original six films seem less extraordinary, and special.
The revival of Star Wars to the silver screen means we will be introduced to a new generation and world of characters. The beauty of the previous six films was that all the characters overlapped. Famous faces from the Original Trilogy were given backstories and a past life that we saw fleshed out throughout the Prequel Trilogy, which made everything fit together as a puzzle. Despite it being known that the original heroes of the galaxy far, far away—Mark Hammil, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher—will be returning for at least this first film of the new trilogy, I have to wonder what sort of treatments that their characters will have. Will they be integral parts of the plot, so as to make these new films seem like less of additions to the franchise and more vital pieces to the story?
We don’t have these answers yet, of course, but it is something to consider as Hollywood is infatuated with senseless sequels and the money they bring in. Nearly every franchise since Harry Potter’s 2011 two-part finale has seen a split final installment. While some can argue that it is necessary for the depiction of the story for certain franchises, other movie sagas are clearly following suit for ticket sales and to prolong the franchise. Star Wars is no different here. The saga has revolutionized and shaped the film industry throughout its innovative production, and creator George Lucas has worked hard to make his six-film brainchild read like a personal, conclusive narrative. Disney’s idea to reprise the saga under its ownership leaves us hoping that their new trilogy continues to consider and honor the heart and spirit that George Lucas built the franchise with, rather than add more films for the sake of expanding a brand.
While a world with endless Star Wars movies is an idea that my inner 8-year-old would go absolutely nuts for, I have to wonder if for the heart of the franchise, is it a good idea after all?