Purchasing Lucasfilm and its lucrative property Star Wars back on October 30th, 2012, for $4.05 billion, Disney presumably thought they had immediately opened the door to yet another guaranteed franchise success. However, Star Wars is instilled with a lot more history than its other properties, with generations of fans that span far wider and are far more passionate than the Marvel comic-book followers.
As a result, despite ten years having passed since the influential acquisition, all that Disney has conjured is five unimpressive films that have failed to considerably rouse fans and three TV series that have only worked to run their dull formula into the ground.
Creating a nostalgia trap of their own making, Disney has made Star Wars into a transparent financial exercise that tries to do nothing new in its pursuit of box office supremacy. From pointless cameos from the likes of Lando Calrissian in The Rise of Skywalker to Darth Maul in Solo, it’s clear that Disney has little idea about how they should handle the world that they spent over $4 billion acquiring, resorting to constant lazy flashes of Star Wars iconography.
This truth is self-evident in the almost total erasure of style and spirit from the galaxy, far, far away, copying Marvel’s formula of success that mixes one parts comedy to two parts action, no matter the lead character, style or movie. In embracing this reliable formula that treats its stories with childish levity and ultimate insignificance, Disney has established itself as a company that is happy with embracing mediocrity.
This failure to capture the spirit of what Star Wars really means is illustrated by the disappointing limited series Obi-Wan Kenobi, the show that was meant to stabilise the Star Wars franchise.
Set in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, the story sees Obi-Wan Kenobi watch over a young Luke Skywalker, shortly after his father, and Obi-Wan’s old apprentice turned to the dark side and embraced a truly evil alter ego. We have long heard of this story through the original movies and impressive Star Wars animations, with each one telling insidious tales of a dark time in the force where Darth Vader ruled with an iron grip and Obi-Wan suffered great mental trauma.
This context is almost totally abandoned for Disney’s impression of the tale, however, with all the sheer bombastic fun, melodrama and darkness of the original films being replaced by a stiff, sterilised corporate impression of a ‘safe bet’. Built to resemble something that better resembles the shape and organisation of the MCU, Disney has used the crutch of nostalgia to make it look like they’re making great headway in improving the Star Wars universe when really they’re not at all.
The essential formula of the Star Wars franchise is built on something far more unique than many modern movies offer, prioritising fun and originality over a complicated story, placing its plot within a theatrical framework that contextualised it within the genre of space opera. Disney clearly has failed to realise this fact, as ever since the release of The Force Awakens in 2015, Disney has constantly mishandled the Star Wars universe, sucking the fun and melodrama out of its core to make it into a new generic sci-fi property.
Unfortunately for the truly promising Obi-Wan Kenobi show, it merely becomes yet another footnote in Disney’s careless treatment of the franchise, treating it no differently than the style it established for The Book of Boba Fett, The Mandolorian or any of their sequel movies.
It would be short-sighted, however, to suggest that this issue merely relates to the struggling Star Wars franchise, with recent Marvel outings suggesting that the company is inept of taking risks, despite their astonishing box-office weight. Sucking the personality from Sam Raimi’s filmmaking in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as well as from Chloé Zhao’s with The Eternals, surely it’s just a matter of time before Disney’s endless bland schlock becomes a chore to sit through.