Disney and the war over ‘Star Wars’

Dylan Lemert, Preface columnistBy Dylan Lemert

   Perhaps this article was only a matter of time.

Like any “Star Wars” fan under the age of 30, I didn’t have the luxury of seeing the groundbreaking original series in all its campy, cinematic glory. Instead, I grew up on the prequels, the films that are considered by most to be the pallid afterthought of “Star Wars” in actuality.

Instead of Han Solo and the Death Star, I grew up with CGI Yoda, something called Naboo, and Princess Natalie Portman. And Jar Jar “what-in-the-world-were-they-thinking” Binks. Still, as an eight-year old with even more imagination than energy, those characters and those worlds drew me in and didn’t let go. I remember losing sleep because I would lie awake at night praying to God for Jedi powers.

The original movies I learned to appreciate later in life, and for different reasons. I even began to see why people hated the newer prequels, but that didn’t erase the impact those films had on me. And it sure as heck didn’t rid the awe instilled by Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber (R.I.P. you red, horn-faced ninja of The Force).

I divulge all this backstory in light of the recent and tentative release date for the yet-to-be-subtitled “Star Wars: Episode VII,” currently slated to hit theaters December 18, 2015, and which has already proven to be the frenzy of the online world.

“Star Wars” fandom at its finest. “Star Wars: Episode VII” is set to be released on December 18, 2015.  Photo via/Wikimedia Commons
“Star Wars” fandom at its finest. “Star Wars: Episode VII” is set to be released on December 18, 2015.
Photo via/Wikimedia Commons

See, Lucasfilm (director George Lucas’s famed brand which used to have exclusive dibs on the “Star Wars” franchise), was last year bought out by one of the other most famous brands in history: a little establishment by the name of Disney.

This seems to frighten people. Whether it’s because Disney is primarily known for painting their projects with a coat of candy, or whether it’s simply anti-corporate sentiments, folks are hesitant that Lucasfilm now residing under Disney’s umbrella will result in good films.

On the flip side, however, we must remember Disney owns Marvel too, a combination which produced the third highest-grossing (and extremely well-received) movie of all time in the form of last summer’s “Avengers” film.

And, if we want to get truly technical, Disney also owns 80% of ESPN. But I’ve yet to see Mickey Mouse reporting from the sidelines.

Point being, if we’re to understand anything by now, it’s that a big machine like The Walt Disney Company doesn’t necessarily equal a distasteful product, and neither does it always mean regulation of creative freedom. The “Star Wars” prequels were a Lucasfilm production after all, years before there were any murmurings of ties to the Disney name, leaving no one to blame but George Lucas & Co.

That diatribe aside, I’ll readily admit I’m hopeful for the future of the “Star Wars” franchise, Disney involvement or not. Because to me, a return to the “Star Wars” universe means, in a lot of ways, a return to childhood, to imagination.

And whether or not we’re okay with it, we’ll soon be seeing that now immortal phrase, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” grace our theater screens in around two years’ time. As for me, two years is much too far away.

On the bright side, I suppose I’ll have plenty of time before then to perfect my Jedi moves.

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