Why Disney buying Lucasfilm could be a good thing

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that today’s news totally threw me for a loop. I, like almost no-one else, saw that coming. I, like everyone else, immediately wondered what was going on, and what could it mean?

The first thing that came to mind was that the last time a major media mogul sold a widely-loved empire to Disney, he died not long after.

Okay, so the deal fell through at the time. Bear with me on this, already!

I doubt the deal will fall through this time. With the next movies being teed up already, there’s already quite a lot of business that will keep this moving forward. The question, of course, is how badly will Disney screw things up?

Therein lies an interesting question. If you look at Disney’s track record of late, they’ve done a reasonably good job of keeping things from going horribly off the rails, especially things that have a storied history behind them (witness Tron: Legacy), and far more attention to detail, story-wise, thanks to the creative leadership team acquired through their merger with Pixar. And we all know Pixar’s penchant for excellence.

I know, we’re talking about Star Wars, that bastion of geekdom that has suffered some serious slings and arrows of late. Notably with the Special Edition modifications from the late 1990s, and then the atrocities of Episodes I and II. Combine that with Disney’s ability to turn a buck (let’s remember, however, that it was Lucas that effectively pioneered the commercial movie tie-in), and we have some serious worry.

But I’m thinking it might not all be that bad. Some thoughts…

  • With Lucas out of the picture, wiser minds within the geek world can appeal to Disney to “correct” the issues introduced into the movies. There’s fan cuts all over the place that remove the unnecessary CG, restoring scenes to their original states (Han shot first), and still get a proper high-tech colour and audio correction to bring it to more modern levels.
  • Episodes I and II could be entirely overhauled (even reshot), with an experienced screenwriter and a decent director (hey, we could go with “visionary”, but I’ll be happy with anyone with decent chops) to fix those messes.
  • The Expanded Universe has been getting a little … odd. Lucas has held the reigns on what was canon and what wasn’t, but even he admitted inconsistency.

Now for the big question: Episode 7. A lot of people are worried about that one. Here’s the simple reality: the canon post-Episode 6 is a very crowded land. Between video games and books (all of which use, create, or expand canon characters and plot), you couldn’t easily slide in a new movie (let alone a rumoured three) without really pissing off a lot of people. And unlike some other genres, I’ve found it rare that the lovers of the movies didn’t move into other media.

So it’s almost certain that one of the existing series would become the basis for the next movie(s). And of those, one of the best options (in my opinion) would be the “Thrawn Trilogy”, which has been begging for an adaptation for almost as long as they’ve been around (nearly 20 years, in case you’re wondering).

Obvious problem: the books take place a mere 9 years after the events of Episode 6. It’s been quite a lot longer since the last movie was filmed, and replacing the original actors would elicit howls of discontent.

So, here’s where creative license would have to play into the game. Like most books adapted to film, some things have to change. The original actors could be used, some smaller plots altered (others expanded), with the copious canon put to use to build the backstory. The movies would, I think necessarily, be considered non-canon, however, and be allowed to exist more for the fans, to see the universe exist again as we always loved it.

Don’t know where this will go, but I guess we’ll see soon enough… We can only hope that the acquisition opens Star Wars to the corrections it so greatly needs.

 

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