The interesting thing, or at least AN interesting thing about Disney’s purchase of STAR WARS, is that they plan on releasing a movie what, once each year? That is a ton of movies. Once a year is going to really dilute, in my opinion, the impact of a STAR WARS film on the big screen. The original three films are so celebrated that all it took for audiences to flood the theater was the mention of a new STAR WARS film. However, there is only so much that can be accomplished with nostalgia, and the prequels are a perfect example of this. The disappointment audiences felt after that first eagerly-anticipated watch of THE PHANTOM MENACE popped that nostalgia balloon, and for some fans, myself among them, greatly diminished their interest in STAR WARS altogether. At some point, people are going to get bored of the same old characters, the same old dynamics, and stop going. But: the universe of STAR WARS is vast, deep and largely unexplored. We have followed the Skywalker family throughout all of the STAR WARS films, and theirs is a singular story.
The galaxy in which STAR WARS exists has so much potential for unique, new, and exciting stories, with all the STAR WARS tropes we know and love. What makes STAR WARS so much fun are the Jedis, the Sith, Droids, awesome laser battles in neat spaceships, bounty hunters, and weird aliens hanging out in bars. There is a distinct design along with those story tropes that plant us firmly in the STAR WARS universe. As an audience, we don’t need to see Luke or Vader or Leia to know where we are. Those 10 words that precede every film are enough.
Of the 8 feature films, every single one of them has something to do with the Skywalker story. Why not show me something from 200 years in the past, or 200 years in the future? Or something that takes place in a distant pocket of the galaxy largely unaffected by the Empire? A lone Jedi’s quest to eliminate a Sith collective taking us to worlds as-yet unseen. A wizened Mandelorian mercenary that has seen too much and done some things he regrets, but must go on one last mission to take out his old boss to ensure the safety of his wife and new child. A droid’s tale of a lifelong friendship with his human or otherwise organic owner and their refusal to bow to a small village leader’s isolationist and backwards worldview that takes them on a harrowing yet incredible adventure off planet. The possibilities are quite literally endless.
ROGUE ONE is a step in the right direction, albeit a small one. In the film, we are introduced to a new cast of main characters (for the most part). We have no trouble falling into their rhythm, and at no point does anything they do or say take us out of the established STAR WARS universe. A good story shows us the most momentous event in a character’s life. If we aren’t being told that story, then why bother listening?Although it still relies heavily on the films that preceded it, and ties directly into their (for lack of a better term) “main” story arc, it does so without focusing on the same characters doing less important things than we have already seen them do.
The next film in the STAR WARS universe is a young Han Solo picture, so it seems as if Disney is unwilling to gamble on unknown characters and unknown stories at this point. I am sure that Han Solo will be fun, but I am also sure that Disney will jam in needless cameos as it did in ROGUE ONE and give us something safe and digestible. I hope the success of ROGUE ONE will soften Disney’s view of what can work as a STAR WARS property and allow for new, exciting stories to be told in that galaxy so long ago and so far, far away.
If you can't tell yet, OWA really loves STAR WARS - so much so that this May the 4th marks our third annual Star Wars Day Fan Film Screening! We take the best (and goofiest) Star Wars fan films out there and give them a night of big screen glory. This year's free event take place at 4th Tap, starting at 6pm. They even brewed some beer just for us (Light or Dark Side, take your pick...) so we'll see you there!