The Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm this week is a pretty big deal in the GeekDad world, and many of us had an opinion to voice about it. Rather than publish a slew of different articles, we’ve collected our comments here. Let us know what you think.
I have to admit, when I first heard that Disney was buying Lucasfilm, I cringed inwardly. And outwardly. Disney has sanitized and homogenized so many things in the past few decades. They merchandise like crazy. Sure, I’ve had my share of fun at the Disney parks, and I love movies like Mary Poppins and Beauty and the Beast. But Disney applies a certain heavy-handed treatment on things. Everything is bigger and more, and not necessarily better. Of course, I’ll withhold judgment until they actually start doing something with Lucasfilm properties. But I’m protective of my childhood memories, and those have been stomped on quite enough already, thank you very much. But I’ll go see Episode VII, of course. Everyone will. They know we will.
— Jenny Williams
George Lucas took a lot of heat for Episodes I through III, but the man did give us Episodes IV through VI. And since those are the movies I grew up with, I have a soft spot in my heart for him and will always be grateful for his creation of the Star Wars universe. There are a lot of questions in the air right now, especially with regards to Episodes VII through IX, but the one that I’m most interested in is whether Disney will follow George Lucas’ vision for the next three movies or if they’ll come up with their own storyline. I’m hoping for the former, but fear the latter is more likely. Disney can make great films… and bad ones.
I worry that the future of the franchise will be built on nothing more than creating new characters that can be commercialized (more than the SW Universe already is) and spun-off into their own movies ad nauseam. There’s already a fairly solid and reliable amount of source material from the Expanded Universe, and I’m hoping Disney will consider using that material first before it goes and further muddies the already murky waters. Some news sources are already reporting that Disney is planning on three totally new films that break from existing material, but we’re in the early days of the buyout so I’m crossing my fingers that Disney might just listen to the large fan base it has inherited and not commit too soon to any specific direction for the new films.
—James Floyd Kelly
First, let me state for the record: I, for one, welcome our new entertainment overlord.
Disney is so big these days that it’s in competition with itself more than anyone else. When it makes crap movies, no one goes to see them. Instead, they watch an older Disney film, watch a Disney Channel, or (god forbid) watch ABC. In the software world, companies generally buy a product to shut it down or to integrate into their line of offerings — not to compete, but to enhance. I’m not sure I see that with Disney’s acquisitions. Take the Pixar acquisition, for example. Brave (Pixar) looked more like a Disney princess movie and Wreck-it Ralph (Disney) looks more like a Pixar adventure movie. Having worked at a company where separate divisions did the same thing and competed against each other (AOL), I can say with authority, it’s not a recipe for success.
And what of Star Wars: The Clone Wars? This is a series that lived quite happily on Cartoon Network for many years and making some good green. But Cartoon Network is owned by Time/Warner (notice that’s not Disney). I understand the series is coming to a close, but who will get the re-runs? Think about the re-runs.
Since the announcement of Darth Mickey, there has been a positive energy that surrounds the Star Wars brand within my circles. I work side by side with over 400 other nerds under one roof and many of them are mothers and fathers with children who will be of prime viewing age for Episode 7. As a father of three girls, I’ve come to trust the Disney brand within my household. I have a new hope that that this next trilogy will be what sparks the next generation of Star Wars fans to carry the torch forward.
We as geeks are incredibly passionate about things and perhaps it’s time to reach for the paper bag and do some breathing exercises for those that find themselves on the verge of a nerd rage. As a parent, I’ve come to accept that change isn’t always bad. Think about it: Princess Leia is soon to be made a card carrying member of the Princess Pantheon! The Disney marketing machine will see that a full line of plates, cups, party favors, dresses, and accessories will grace the shelves of retail centers everywhere. As a GeekDad of young girls I am thrilled that having a Star Wars-themed princess party is now a possibility come 2015.
— Ryan Carlson
So when did my generation of geeks turn into the old man standing in his yard with his pants hitched up to his bellybutton yelling at the neighbor kids? I am from the Star Wars generation and we are acting old. All the bellyaching and Chicken Little behavior makes it official: Gen X is middle aged. Next thing you know we’ll all be filling out our AARP applications and moving to Boca. It’s like we want to put our childhood under glass and protect it.
Don’t get me wrong. Lucas’ continual tampering with what were once great films hasn’t improved them. Greedo shot first! That is why I am celebrating Disney’s takeover. One of the greatest entertainment — scratch that — the greatest entertainment property in the history of film has been languishing for years in the hands of a man who didn’t know what to do with it after the Emperor got killed. He took one of the greatest hero’s journey tales of the last century and turned into a morose drama about the downfall of a father. Talk about cranky — and O-L-D.
It’s time for a reboot and Disney is just the right company to pull that off. They have a proven track record of letting franchises stand on their own merits without having to give them mouse ears, and they have the money and the chops to get the right talent on board to make 2015 the year that Star Wars comes back. I cannot wait. It is such a great storytelling universe and there are many great stories to be told. This is a good day for the Force. No, the sky isn’t falling, you’re just turning into your parents. Check yourself, Gen X.
— Erik Wecks
My initial response to the Lucasfilm buyout was horror. Like a lot of creative types, as a writer I fear the gradual and inevitable conglomeration of the entertainment business. Any time that two huge companies merge, you know the result is fewer choices, not more, for us consumers, as well as fewer choices for us creators to get our works into the marketplace. Like when a jungle gets razed for cattle grazing land, the underbrush — with its quirky, oddball activity and species — disappears. Say goodbye to a diverse ecosystem of creativity; make way for USDA beef. Disney will be aiming for the stars — long, spaceshots at the mega-mega blockbuster. With the Star Wars and Raiders/Indiana Jones properties now captured within the walls of the Magic Kingdom, there is no doubt we will see more of the same. And perhaps less of what is risky, innovative and unique. Narrative intellectual properties, whether expressed as books, movies or video games, will play even more to the common denominator, which is getting more common all the time.
But, when I let my doom and gloom subside, I did have a second thought, even a new hope. At least for my beloved Star Wars empire, whose magic George Lucas has slowly diluted with his endless tinkering, and certainly nearly wrecked with bad storytelling in the three prequels, perhaps it can be saved. I think Lucas got too big, too powerful, and his vision grew too weak. No one stopped him to say, “You know what, George, these scripts suck.” (Same with Indiana Jones, which Spielberg and Lucas jointly messed up.) Perhaps the Disney gang, if they can assign the right writers and directors, can undo some of the damage done in Episodes I, II and III. But I don’t think it’s necessarily “Disney to the rescue” and “Mickey, you’re our only hope.” Any number of filmmakers, from Peter Jackson to Joss Whedon to Sam Raimi, could also save the Star Wars franchise. Let’s hope someone does.
— Ethan Gilsdorf
To be perfectly honest, I don’t have much of a reaction, beyond my initial surprise. I know a lot of people are really excited and others are near-boiling angry, but I’m indifferent. For me, the mere mention of “Star Wars” immediately transports me back to when I was nine, when the original first came out; it’s an undeviating reaction.
My brother and I obsessed over that movie (and then Empire and RotJ), finding any excuse we could to go to the theater again and again and again. We scoured department store shelves and grocery aisles for any tie-in, so hungry were we for anything Star Wars related. Every birthday, every Christmas, and every quarter we could keep away from the arcade slots was dedicated to expanding our own miniature Star Wars universe of figures, toys, and books.
The new trilogy wasn’t that. Even though I enjoyed the fantasy of it all, it wasn’t really Star Wars to me. I’m not sure it ever could have been, viewing it through the filter of adulthood, rather than the wonder of a child. Like Thomas Wolfe said, “you can’t go home again.”
If we are lucky enough to get a great writer and director to make the next trilogy something really special and wonderful, I’m sure I will enjoy them. But I’m not going to worry about it, because whatever magic Disney manages to weave, it’ll never top my nonstop obsession I lived through with the first trilogy. And I’m OK with that.
— David Banks
For me, the most important aspect of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm is this: The path is now cleared to finally reboot Howard the Duck.
Yes, I’m serious.
After Lucasfilm completely bumbled the movie, stripping it of all the sharp political satire and social-cultural criticism, it was obvious, given the stench of the bomb and the legal entanglements and complications of brokering a deal between three corporate entities who didn’t really want to deal with each other (Disney, Marvel and Lucas), that Howard would never get another shot at stardom. But all that has changed now.
Now that Disney owns Marvel, the concerns about trademark infringement have evaporated, and the parodic intent of Howard is able to have free rein. Now that they also own Lucasfilm, rights to the largely forgettable movie are also a non-issue. And of course the current state of CGI animation will allow Howard to not look like a little person in a bad duck suit. The only thing needed now is for somebody at Disney-Marvel-Pixar-Lucasfilm to say “I love Howard the Duck and want to make a great movie with him.”
Somebody has to make this happen.
— Jim MacQ.
When Leif and I first watched Darth Vader burst through the door onto Tantive IV, I think Leif wet himself and little bit and I know I cried. That evening, Leif grew from what we affectionately call a ninny bear into a little boy. He’ll probably need years of therapy as a young adult, but that’s beside the point. The point is this: Star Wars is more than a movie – it’s a rite of passage.
Sure a bit of the sound and fury is borne of the nostalgia we dads have for hiding beneath the theater seats in 1983 while the Jedi did some returning, but it’s so much more. The Joseph Campbell aspect of Star Wars has been beaten into the ground, but there you go: IV through VI are Perseus and Odysseus and Jason (and Oedipus). But so spectacularly have I through III been eviscerated of their grounding in myth that what seemed literally sacred turns out to be nothing but the profane attempt to turn a buck.
For some kids – me and now Leif included – Star Wars is like a religion. But it only remains so by a very willful act of omission. To keep Star Wars sacred requires denying the existence of I through III. For the movies to be more than entertainment, the first three simply can’t exist.
And so Lucas is Vader: the father fallen to the dark side, having traded purity for ambiguity, sacred for profane. Disney feels there is good in Lucas yet, but will Disney be Luke or will it be Anakin? Can Disney resist the pull of the dark side and help Lucas throw the Emperor of formula entertainment into the Death Star’s reactor core?
If the force is strong enough within you, geek dad, it’s possible to repress the existence of three profane testaments. But we can’t overlook four or five or six clinkers. If Disney fails, it will be as epic as Lucas intended for the fall of Anakin – and it will pull down IV through VI with it. But if Disney succeeds, it will restore balance to the Force.
May the Force be with Disney.
My first reaction to the news that Disney was buying Lucasfilm was along the lines of most of those over 30, I think: a sense of disappointment, that something inherently wrong had occurred. And what was this about Episodes VII – IX? George Lucas had explicitly said he would never make them because he had no more story he wanted to tell.
And then I recalled that I’d thought much the same thing when Disney bought Marvel three years ago. Since then, they have managed to turn every reservation I’d had about the purchase completely on its head, treating the various properties with respect and producing several excellent films. Heck, The Avengers by itself would probably have been enough to redeem them in my eyes.
So there’s no reasonable cause to assume Disney would do anything worse with Lucasfilm’s properties than it has with Marvel’s, and every reason to assume the opposite. And it’s not as though Lucas hasn’t already proved that he can’t be trusted not to screw up his own creations. The phrase “Han shot first” exists for a reason. The name “Jar Jar” inspires instant revulsion from anyone over the age of 20 because Lucas made a prequel trilogy whose cumulative quality doesn’t approach that of Episode VI, the weakest of the original Star Wars films. It’s hard to imagine Disney introducing anything worse than Jar Jar — if such a thing exists — to the franchise.
And hey, maybe they’ll get Joss Whedon to make Episode VIII, since he’s committed to Avengers 2 so can’t do VII. And here’s hoping that, whatever VII is about, it doesn’t require recasting the original major roles or having a septuagenarian Harrison Ford pretend he can still be believable as Han Solo.
— Matt Blum