A New New Hope

I could be referring to the recent news about the American election, a result which gives me hope for the future, but I’m actually referencing the news about George Lucas selling Star Wars to Disney for the small sum of $4.05 billion. Disney have already announced that they are going to release Star Wars Episode VII in 2015 and they will make more films after that.

As an reasonably old person, to me Star Wars means Luke and Han Solo. It means puppet Yoda and puppet Jabba. It means the Death Star and model space ships. It doesn’t mean Qui-Gon, Darth Maul and dare I say it, Jar Jar. I have very mixed opinions about the prequel films, but on the whole I was extremely disappointed by them. The problems with Star Wars have never been the same as the issues that I have with Star Trek. For example in Trek, an alien can be a human with a bit of plastic stuck to the bridge of their nose and that’s it. Not all of the aliens are like that, and some of the most interesting ones in Trek are those who have been fleshed out over many years, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians etc. Star Wars has always featured dozens of weird looking races, big and small, feathered and scaled, bug eyed and brightly coloured. The technology is diverse and endlessly fascinating. The worlds we glimpse in the movies are varied and there is so much imagination you couldn’t help being curious. The films went on to spawn so many novels, comics and animated projects over the years, which just shows what a big universe it is and how much fun people have spending time in it.

For me, the problems with the prequel films are the way in which the story was told. The actual story itself, the fall of Anakin from cheeky lad in the desert slum to surly apprentice, to uber-overlord of evil in the black mask, is a great story. It’s a tale of loss and falling into shadow. The journey from hero to villain, one that has been told many times before, and long before Breaking Bad did it.

So, I’m very hopeful and positive about Episode VII and beyond, because if VII doesn’t work and the story is not told very well, and the director is poor, that’s fine. Put it down to experience, get someone else in and try it again for the next one. Look at the Batman franchise over the years, or more recently the X-Men film franchise.

The reigns of the story and the universe are no longer in the hands of one man. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of George Lucas for many reasons, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and all of his charitable work that doesn’t get mentioned as much. I also respect him enormously for saying he is going to give away his money from the sale of Star Wars to charity. He’s a remarkably creative man, but there are other people out there who are better at telling stories. Before, it was his world, his characters, his universe, and he could do whatever he wanted. He could tell the story he wanted in his own way. But we’re moving beyond that now.

So even though in the past I let myself get excited over the prequels, only to have my hopes dashed, I’m going to do it again, keep my fingers crossed, and stay positive about the new films and new direction of the Star Wars universe. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that someone manages to persuade Mark Hamill to make a brief cameo as an older Luke. It would be very brilliant to see him in the role of older sage that Obi-Wan played to his character as a boy. Here’s hoping.