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A close look at why Disney just can't get 'Star Wars' right

@Russellisation

A long time ago, in what feels like a galaxy far far away, Disney was preparing their takeover of Lucasfilm and Star Wars amid their success with the recently expanded Marvel universe. Buying out George Lucas’ influential company for $4.05 billion on October 30th, 2012, many believed that the takeover would inject new life into the long-dormant Star Wars universe, though ten years after their memorable acquisition, they are yet to excel with the lucrative property. 

Whilst many believed it would be Star Wars that would lead Disney to contemporary Hollywood supremacy, it was actually the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that would see the company become the most powerful in the world of cinema. The process of superhero success came across the course of several years, with the company treating the property with a methodical attitude that treated the material more like television than cinema. 

Mixing one parts comedy to two parts action before flourishing off their recipe with a regular post-credit scene, Disney created the perfect formula for consistent box-office success and have since impacted the identity of modern blockbuster filmmaking. In the hunt for similarly profitable movie ‘universes’, companies around the world of Hollywood (including Disney) have reused this recipe over and over again, creating a ‘Marvelisation’ of modern cinema that treats its stories with childish levity and ultimate insignificance. 

Glancing over at their endlessly successful series, Disney took the Marvel template and applied the very same stipulations to Star Wars, blindly branding the series with a new identity without considering the decades of history the series is based on. Though, of course, this is somewhat untrue, as Disney most certainly recognised the history of Star Wars though decided to take all the empty iconography of the past without thinking about what any of it really, (really) means.

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Creating a nostalgia trap of their own making, Disney 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. 

As a result, Star Wars has been treated like Marvel and has been given a blueprint that includes basic action sequences and forced comedic moments that never had a place in the original movies. Built on the perfect formula of action, romance and theatrical storytelling, the very best Star Wars stories ride a fine line between sincerity and melodrama, with the perfect formula looking a little like The Empire Strikes Back, Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi.

The sheer bombastic fun of the original trilogy, and even the prequels, has been lost in the gain of something far more generic that emulates the shape and organisation of the MCU. Built on the wealth of nostalgia that keeps older audience members coming back, Star Wars has long been crumbling on top of a fractured soapbox that force-feeds its audience into thinking nostalgia and character lineage is an integral part of Star Wars; it isn’t. 

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 story 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. 

In the brainless mind of Disney executives, it’s stories such as The Mandolorian and The Book of Boba Fett that modern audiences want to see, when in reality the painful boredom one experiences whilst watching either of these TV shows is only damaging the integrity of the franchise itself.

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