Beard, McGinnis on Disney buying ‘Star Wars’Written by Toledo Free Press Staff Writers | | firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Star Wars’ writer says Disney will respect franchise
By Jim Beard
In the wake of The Walt Disney Co.’s announcement of its purchase of Lucasfilm for a smidge over $4 billion, it’s not just “Star Wars” fans who are putting their trust in the Force — it’s also those creators who make their living shaping that galaxy far, far away. Freelance writer Jeremy Barlow, author of several “Star Wars” projects at Dark Horse Comics as well as “Mass Effect” tie-ins, exhibited “complete shock” when he first heard the news, but swiftly realized the deal’s potential and profitability.
“I did not see it coming, but it makes sense, really,” he insists. “Overall, it’s a good thing for the franchise — Disney will respect the brand and inject some new life into it. As a fan, I’m excited to see what they do with it.”
Barlow’s a pragmatic fellow, able to look at the Disney purchase in a cold light as well as by the flickering embers that burn in the heart of all devotees to George Lucas’ little 35-year-old rebellion. “This is Disney’s game to lose,” he said. “There’s a segment of ‘Star Wars’ fans that put ‘Star Wars’ expanded universe timelines and continuity ahead of story, and those guys might have a rough road ahead, but I’d hope that some good films will ease that pain. Because, really, what are we talking about here? The — OK, very slight — possibility of Brad Bird or Andrew Stanton or Matthew Vaughn writing and directing a ‘Star Wars’ movie? I’ll be first in line.”
Is Barlow concerned that a portion of his bread and butter — ‘Star Wars’ comics — may make the jump to light speed and leave Dark Horse?
“That’s the other shoe still to drop, isn’t it?” he said. “Dark Horse has put so much care and thought into the ‘Star Wars’ comics that I can’t see anyone else doing that job at the same level. So I hope they keep the license. What’s right and what’s profitable seldom cross in the corporate world, though, and Disney does already own their own comics publisher. We can only wait and see.”
Fans: Stop vilifying Lucas
By Jeff McGinnis
There is probably no franchise in pop culture more celebrated than “Star Wars.” And, in a perverse twist of fate, there are few figures in pop culture who are more reviled than the series’ creator, George Lucas.
Ever since 1999, when the first of the three prequels was released and widely derided as an unworthy successor, fans of the franchise have taken up arms against Lucas and found fault in most everything he has done. The man who created and guided the “Star Wars” series, overseeing its maturation into a pop culture juggernaut that changed movies forever, was suddenly a schmuck.
Lucas was now clearly a horrible filmmaker, fans everywhere would write endlessly on message boards, social media outlets, blogs and more. He was a lousy writer, as evidenced by the terrible dialogue and plotting of the new trilogy. He was a man who obviously held nothing but contempt for his fans, given how he refused to offer the original versions of the films they held so dear for sale.
What has always bothered me about the level and passion of the vitriol directed at Lucas is how overblown the anger is, considering that if the guy hadn’t created the series in the first place, there would be nothing to get so passionately angry about. Lucas is obviously not the awful director and writer he is being painted as, given the quality of the first “Star Wars” movie — the one that launched the fanbase’s passion in the first place — not to mention his work on “THX 1138” and “American Graffiti.”
Granted, if you loved the original movies and have hated everything he has done since — Lucas did not direct another movie after “Star Wars” until Episode I — you can still dismiss his work under the scientifically proven “What have you done for me lately?” train of thought. And anyone can express dissatisfaction and disgust over an artist’s work, of course. Look who’s talking — I make a kinda-sorta living doing the same.
But the anger I see goes far beyond just saying that you don’t like a movie. It ranges into the most ridiculously hyperbolic hatred I can think of, with fans jokingly (I hope) ranting incessantly about how they plan on making Lucas pay for his transgressions against the franchise that they care about, grew up with, one that has made a big contribution to their lives since childhood.
I grew up with “Star Wars,” too. A big part of me loves the franchise as fervently as the most passionate fanboy. But I also try and keep perspective.
Yes, it is silly that Lucas continues to tinker with the original trilogy and maintains the position that they should not be released except in the new forms he deems worthy. But then again, that was his right when the movie was first released, too, before anyone else had even seen it. As the author of the work, I believe he has the right to make alterations if he wishes. I also believe that for film history, he should continue to preserve and release the original versions.
Were the films of the prequel trilogy equal in quality to the original films? Of course not. But they were also not bad films, either. Yes, I said it. I have always felt that Episode I and III were fundamentally good movies with amazing special effects, imaginative visuals and genuinely entertaining storytelling. They also had no chance of standing up to the first trilogy. Lucas could have made the space opera equivalent of “Citizen Kane” in 1999, and the shadow of Episodes IV-VI were impossible to overcome.
Now, as we sit in the aftermath of one of the biggest deals in pop culture history, wherein Disney has announced plans to buy Lucasfilm and the rights to “Star Wars,” you’d think fans would be rejoicing that the man himself would no longer have any connection to the franchise they insist he ruined. But in actuality, this is being seen as one last act of contempt — clearly, selling these beloved characters to the most saccharin of Hollywood studios is his final middle finger.
But it also means the franchise now has steady leadership and a future outside of Lucas’ guidance. It means that maybe those original films will now be readily available. It means that new films will be made. As has been pointed out on Twitter, Disney purchased Marvel in 2009 to similar fan hand-wringing, and the end result has been a stronger brand which hasn’t been compromised — and gave us terrific “Iron Man” and “Avengers” films, too.
And Lucas? He’s already announced his plans to donate the lion’s share of the $4 billion he’ll make from the sale toward education. And, just maybe, he can garner a respite from the overheated hatred of fans who love his work but hate its creator. So, on behalf of myself, I would like to say, thank you, George. No matter what others say, you have contributed far more good than bad to the world, and changed the pop culture landscape forever. And for that, you deserve far more respect than you seem to garner.
Oh, and “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was a good movie, too.