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On this Disney-Star Wars deal

  • Blog Post by: James Lileks
  • October 31, 2012 - 12:11 PM

Yesterday three people heard a piece of news and sat straight up and thought: there’s a million dollars in this for me. Maybe more. Surely more.

Hamill, Fisher, Ford.

I have no idea why people are blowing bile over the Disney purchase of ILM, except that they have a reflexive adolescent hatred of Disney. Let me break this down:

Bad news: George Lucas announce another Star Wars trilogy

Good news: the company behind “Toy Story” and “The Avengers” announces another Star Wars trilogy

Right? We’re in the age of the geek-friendly reboot with great dark epics like Nolan’s “Batman” - compared to the cartoony drivel of Episode 1, the okay-I-guess Ep 2 (which, to be honest, I liked) and the overkill of Ep 3, “The Avengers” was practically Shakespeare and Shaw. Everyone had fun speculating about the Disneyfication of Star Wars characters, the inclusion of Leia into the pantheon of Princesses, the prospect of Wookies on Ice, and so on. But Disney is several companies, each with their own target market, and I suspect they’ll think “Marvel” for the Star Wars brand, not “animated feature with brand extensions that run from pillow sheets to Broadway Musicals.” Lucas already marketed the hell out of the property; Disney can’t dilute its precious specialness. Lucas already made it kiddie-fare, long ago. Lucas already dumbed it down.

Look. This company did “Tangled,” which was pretty good. “Wreck-It Ralph” is getting the reviews you suspected it would get: raves. “Captain America” was awesome. “Toy Story 3” - well, yes. I know these are different divisions, but their high-profile projects have been quality products, and there’s nothing as high-profile as “Star Wars.” Do you know what you’re going to get when Disney does a Star Wars movie? Two things:

ACTING

DIALOGUE

Trust me. Oh, and there’s more. Once the Universal deal runs out, Marvel gets folded back into the Disneyworld amusement park cosmology. Add a new Star Wars attraction, or two, or three - and you’ll have the Hollywood theme park expanded and refurbished. Goodbye Aerosmith roller-coaster. For starters.

The other good news: SEQUELS. Not prequels. As I’ve bleated for years, no one really cares about the prequel events, especially as presented by Lucas; if you want drama and intrigue, look to the events after the Empire fell. Imagine the Republic picking itself up after however-many years of tyranny, trying to forge a civil society while being attacked by that most dreaded of foes, the Antagonist Required By the Plot. No Darth, no Emperor. None of those things. Fresh start.

Except . . .

Except Hamill, Fisher, Ford. Does anyone want to see them in Episode 7?

Maybe I do. If the plot permits it. If the screenwriters follow the books, then I’ve no idea what they’ll do, because I never read them. If the screenwriters decide to take a new direction - which is possible, depending on who they bring in; only Nixon could go to China and only JJ Abrams could blow up Vulcan - then there’s nothing stopping them from telling the tale of Luke Skywalker in his late middle-age, dealing with a rebellious kid who’s gone all Sithy-gothy on him. I know, I know; sounds horrible. Sounds like Lucas. Oh! Flash of genius! Luke’s kid is evil, like his dad! Whoa! Circle of life, sorta!

That idea is cliched enough to be guar-an-frackin’-teed to be the plot of Ep VII under Lucas, but if it’s in the hands of people with a mandate to Reimagine, it would work. Kid is sorta dark-side in Ep VII, gets really sithtastic in Ep VIII, but it ends with some sort of rapprochement with his dad. Hands grasped, instead of sliced: Yes, Luke. You are my father.

I know, I know - fool me four times, shame on me, but this is the most excited I’ve been about the franchise since they announced the prequels. And I’m not even a Star Wars guy. I’m just someone who was there when the first one opened, and saw it 12 times, and someone who went into “Empire” not knowing the big plot twist at the end of the Cloud City fight. Also someone who sat through “Revenge” with a big smile that just got smaller and smaller as the movie went on, thinking “this is kinda crap, in a way.” This will be good.

It can’t be worse.

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