Sigh. In case anybody really had hopes that Disney wouldn’t turn Star Wars into an oversaturated MCU-style franchise of movies and TV series, consider those hopes dashed.
Today, Disney announced an all-new trilogy of Star Wars films from Rian Johnson. This new trilogy will be complete unconnected to the Skywalker Saga films (aka the main “Episodes”) and will be in addition to the seemingly endless onslaught of stand-alone Star Wars films (which really didn’t get off to a great start with the utterly mediocre Rogue One and doesn’t look to be getting any better with the utter catastrophe that was the production of Solo, what with the firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as the directors of the film and the reshooting of essentially the entire movie).
And, if that wasn’t enough, it was also announced that Disney would be premiering a live-action Star Wars TV series on their upcoming streaming platform (think along the lines of CBS All Access) in 2019.
In case you can’t tell, I am not remotely excited for this. Frankly, it’s just too much Star Wars. With this new trilogy (in addition to all of the other films in various stages of production) and the new TV series, Disney is embarking on the same journey that led them to a never ending collection of mediocre films and TV series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For the past several years, the MCU has been so preoccupied with producing as many films as humanly possible that they’ve barely put any effort into making sure the films are actually good. Nearly every Marvel movie follows the exact same formula with the exact same character beats and they all start to blend together. Even films that feel original (Guardians of the Galaxy) end up with a sequel that just feels like another Marvel movie. Civil War is one of the biggest perpetrators of this. The film hits all the typical beats in a Marvel movie while also making sure that none of the characters grow an iota throughout the movie. Emotionally, everyone is in nearly the same spot at the end of the film as they were at the beginning. Yes, plot stuff has happened, but the characters haven’t really been challenged; they haven’t evolved or changed their views or anything. It’s just an excuse for action and for moving one chess piece to a different side of the board.
If Star Wars isn’t careful, they’re soon gonna be facing the exact same problem. They’re already in a rough spot: The Force Awakens was criticized for basically being a remake of A New Hope; hitting all the same story beats, just with new characters and a slightly new plot. Then you’ve got Rogue One which couldn’t be bothered to actually create interesting and memorable characters and instead relied on a relentless assault of nostalgia and pretty pictures and hoped that’d be enough to carry the film. Judging from the box office numbers of the film, it was a good bet. But it’s not a recipe for ensuring your audience stays interested enough to continue seeing these films. There’s only so many times you can pull the same trick before people start catching on.
It’s already wearing thin as the plot elements that are visible in the trailers for The Last Jedi are hilariously uninteresting. They’re the most obvious choices a storyteller could make given the circumstances the plot and the characters are in. Everybody expects Luke to either fully be a Sith or to be some kind of gray-Force User. Everyone expects Rey to turn to the Dark Side at some point. Everyone expects some kind of redemption storyline for Kylo Ren. The trailer makes it seem like that’s exactly the route the film’s gonna take, and that’s boring. Yes, it looks visually gorgeous, but the story has to be good, too.
So, with all of that in mind, I’m not exactly left having a whole lot of faith in another Star Wars trilogy in addition to the stand-alone films and the Skywalker Saga (because, let’s be real, there’s no way Disney doesn’t greenlight another trilogy of Skywalker Saga films once Episode 9 is released). Disney doesn’t have a great track record at ensuring their franchises don’t quickly plummet into mediocrity, nor do they have a great track record of not rushing out as many films of a franchise as quickly as possible. And, yes, Lucasfilm isn’t technically run by Disney, but at this point, they don’t have such a great track record either.
I wish Disney would just… relax. Let Star Wars be event films. Take a couple of years to make one film. Focus only on that one film. Make sure it’s a FANTASTIC film. Then release it as an event. Build up the hype. Everyone will see it.
Or, keep up with this endless onslaught of new Star Wars stuff and watch as your audience becomes overwhelmed and quickly seeps into ambivalence. Your choice.