Will Star Wars franchise succeed under new Disney ownership?

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, Disney announced its newest $4 billion acquisition: Lucasfilm L.T.D. This purchase gives Disney control over all Lucasfilm subsidiaries, such as Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), and all intellectual properties, including the Star Wars franchise. Disney wasted no time announcing its plans to release Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015. 

This announcement has been met with mixed feelings by the hardcore fans. The fanboy inside us is excited for more Star Wars, but the critic in us does not want to suffer another disappointment. After considering all the information at hand, however, this change of ownership may be the best thing to happen to Star Wars in a long time.

Disney has already demonstrated its ability to handle large franchises such as Marvel, creating  the blockbuster hit “Marvel’s the Avengers,” which they worked on closely with ILM. They were also successful with “Tron: Legacy” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. These movies were well received by audiences without compromising Disney’s commitment to family-friendly entertainment, something Lucas wanted keep in the Star Wars franchise.

Also, Lucas himself has announced his retirement, meaning he will not be calling the shots when it comes to future Star Wars film, which should comfort fans who felt he really dropped the ball on the prequel trilogy. Lucas will still be working with Disney as a creative consultant, however, contributing insights and ideas. Kathleen Kennedy, Lucas’s long time collaborator, will be left in charge of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise. Lucas is happy with this arrangement and has said, “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.” This move may bring the creator of Star Wars some redemption in the eyes of his fans.

Having new, younger artists in charge will help the franchise stay fresh and relevant so future generations can enjoy the franchise, which means more money for Disney but also more quality entertainment for fans. The prequels were bad because Lucas was trying to do everything, and he just was not good enough at it all. Now, with a new director, and a lot more accountability, there is no reason that Disney won’t create something fans could be proud of. I will admit though, there will most likely be complications to the franchise.

Although little information has been released about the upcoming film, the internet is buzzing with rumors and message boards about what the new story will be and who will be cast. The problem is that Star Wars’ Expanded Universe (EU) already has novels, comics, and games covering the events after “Return of the Jedi” (RotJ), all of which are considered canon, though film canon always overwrites the EU. So any story will come with major retcons for EU, possibly even throwing half of EU into an alternate universe, which many fans will likely take issue with.

 Some fans are advocating casting the original actors in a story set several decades after the events of RotJ, with younger actors playing the roles of the EU children of the Episodes IV, V and VI heroes. This story would be set in what fans call the “New Jedi Order” era, after Luke Skywalker rebuilds the Jedi Order.

Others think the events of the new film should occur very soon after RotJ, where new actors will play just slightly older versions of the original trilogy characters. A favorite for this story arc is Tom Veitch’s Dark Empire comic book series, which includes the resurrection of the Emperor thought dead at the end of RotJ. Some fans are intrigued by the possibility of casting Nathan Fillion as Han Solo or Ryan Gossling as Luke Skywalker, but others feel it just wouldn’t be the same. 

The director has either not yet been chosen or not yet announced, but big names in sci-fi like Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams are bound to be thrown around. Whedon’s sequel to “The Avengers” is due out that same year, so he is probably off the table.

For those concerned about other Star Wars projects, like the anticipated “Star Wars: 1313” video game, Disney has said they are leaving most in-development projects alone for the time being, which seems a wise decision. It is also possible that, to make more money, Disney may re-release the much demanded original cuts of Episodes IV-VI, and the world will finally get to see Han shoot first once again. Unfortunately, only time will tell what they have in store for the franchise, but you have to ask, “could it be any worse than when Lucas was in control?” This fan says to Disney, “congratulations, and may the Force be with you.”