Everybody OK out there?
I’m not talking about Hurricane Sandy Cohen, but rather the collective force of the news cycle yesterday, when word broke that George Lucas sold the rights to the Star Wars franchise to Disney and that NBC has finally set a premiere date for Community season 4.
The combination of those two little nuggets ripped a gigantic hole in the internet and the resultant damage made Sandy look like nothing more than a trickle of Ewok tears. (What?)
Being of a certain age, I suppose that we should at least address the former of those news items. Another Star Wars trilogy? By Disney? With no George Lucas?
Of course we’re Star Wars fans. Give me a break. Why did you even ask?
And of course, like everyone else on the planet, we think that the second trilogy is a pile of putrid garbage, sullying everything it touches from Lucas to Natalie Portman to the very concept of technology.
Few details are available about the forthcoming Disney trilogy, but it couldn’t possibly be worse than The Phantom Menace et al. I wouldn’t say that I have high hopes, exactly, about the new movies, but I do think that George Lucas allowing his precious stories to be pried from his ample bosom is cause for guarded optimism. In that spirit, I have a few pieces of advice for Disney as it embarks on its mission to recoup its $4 billion investment and to not piss off an entire world as much as Jar Jar Binks did.
1. No J. J. Abrams or Joss Whedon, Please
Those are the two names being most bandied about as potential successors to Lucas as the mastermind behind the franchise, but both gentlemen have too many fingers in too many pies. Both are arguably past their primes. And it’s doubtful that either would manage to provide Star Wars with a fresh vision. Yes, Abrams’ Star Trek was fun but that’s all it was. And Whedon is too snarky for the bloody sincerity of the Star Wars universe. Disney would be far better off handing the keys to the car to a younger, less proven hand a la Christopher Nolan with the latest Dark Knight trilogy.
2. Ignore Those Stupid Star Wars Books
Yes, there are books that supposedly provide the narrative for what “officially happens” after Return of the Jedi. They were written over the last 30 years by a variety of random people (kind of like the Bible!) and Disney should pretend they don’t exist. Such a move would undoubtedly piss off a number of obsessives who treat the novels, video games, cartoons, etc. of the Star Wars universe as gospel, and who will cry foul if Lando Calrissian doesn’t die in the second movie like he’s supposed to or whatever. Start fresh with new ideas, completely divorced from anything tainted by George Lucas’s mercenary march to the Dune Sea.
3. Star Wars rides at Disneyworld!!!
Seriously, that would be some awesome shit. And I’m not talking about virtual reality rides like Star Tours, I mean honest to goodness roller coasters and the like — imagine a steep drop into Sarlacc’s pit or cold air rushing on you as your car passes through the “frozen in carbonite” section of the ride. I’m not being sarcastic at all here…this possibility is the best part of this whole deal. I don’t see why Star Wars can’t support its own mini-park like Harry Potter does at Universal Studios (but not nearly so dumb).
From a corporate perspective, there’s no question that Disney is only interested in making as much money as it possibly can from Star Wars. Lucas, on the other hand, had dual goals: to make as much money as he possibly could and to wield his megalomaniacal might over the world in an unending quest to prove that Star Wars belonged to him and him alone. Because of that, Disney might fare better with the franchise than Lucas has at any point since The Empire Strikes Back.
George Lucas is a poor writer, a poor director and a poor steward for his creative property. I am at least mildly hopeful that Disney, cognizant of the fact that good films will make more money in the long run, will take better care of Han Solo than Lucas ever did.