Disney and Star Wars: Is the Force Still With Us?


Catherine Bowman, Features Editor

Star Wars has been loved by many fans since the first movie release in 1977. The characters are well known by all ages  and will continue to be known thanks to Disney, which in 2012 bought LucasFilms–the company that made all six of the Star Wars films.

The Star Wars universe, consisting of a land that existed “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” has been a part of a lot of lives, including mine, since before they could remember. Many kids of this generation have grown up watching it with their parents.

For as long as I can remember, Star Wars has been a part of my life. It started when I was fairly little, maybe 5 or 6 years old. My dad told my brother and me that he wanted to show us this great movie that he had watched when he was younger.

For Christmas a few years later, we bought him the whole box set and watched all of the older trilogy. Ever since then, from time to time we sit down together and immerse ourselves back into the adventure-packed universe of Star Wars.

But is Disney going to ruin this universe that we all know and love? When Disney bought LucasFilms from George Lucas, the head of Lucasfilms and the creator of Star Wars, Lucas explained that he knew there were three more films that needed to be made, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be committed to making them.

“To do it right would be 10 years, and I said, ‘I’m 70 — I don’t know whether I’ll be here when I’m 80,’ every 10 years the odds get less, and I want to do [other films], so I have to make the decision on my own that it’s time for me to move on,” Lucas told businessinsider.com.

Personally, I feel like Disney is not going to be able to continue to do Star Wars justice. Although I was happy with The Force Awakens, I’m afraid that as they make more movies and get farther away from the storyline of Lucas’ six, it will get increasingly hard to keep the Star Wars universe alive the same way Lucas was able to.

Disney is a giant company and one that has done many great things, as well as brought joy to people of all ages. However, the sheer size of Disney alone brings up the issue that they are just too big to focus on the magic that is Star Wars.

In addition to the worry that Disney might be just too big to tackle something as technique filled as Star Wars, the question that fans must ask themselves is: is Disney equipped to handle the type of space action-adventure film that characterizes Star Wars?

Since 1938 when the groundbreaking Snow White came out, Disney has largely focused on animation and princesses. Star Wars isn’t either of those things–quite the opposite really. Star Wars also isn’t some feel-good family movie catered towards younger audiences or families with children. Star Wars is different than most of what Disney has created before, and I just don’t think they are up to the challenge.

When creating the original trilogy of movies, Lucas picked small time actors  instead of popular faces that everyone knew to increase the believability that Star Wars really did occur in a separate universe. But now that Disney has the rights to Star Wars, it’s very possible that they are already on their way to diluting the well known story to make more money for themselves.

Plus, to leech more money off the brand recognition, besides the toys and other Star Wars paraphernalia, Disney has broken ground on its new Stars Wars Land in Anaheim and in the meantime have converted Tomorrowland into a temporary Star Wars Land.

But this was definitely not the right approach for Disney to take. Star Wars was a huge deal even before Disney took over the rights to the franchise, so there is no need to milk Star Wars for all that’s it’s worth–it’s not another Frozen.

Star Wars is popular enough to stand on its own when it comes to advertising and generating hype over a new movie, unlike purely Disney created movies that need to be advertised in order for people to get excited. So turning Tomorrowland into Star Wars Land while the real Star Wars Land is being built seems unnecessary.

Although I’m excited for a whole land devoted to the beloved movie series, I wonder if Disney’s motives are truly for the fans or if they only see dollar signs when thinking about what else can be done with  Star Wars.

Despite the doubts, at the mere mention of another Star Wars movie, fans exploded with excitement and hope for the long awaited continuation of the Star Wars saga.

Stars Wars fan Consetta Parker described to usatoday.com her excitement for the new possibilities for the series: “Anytime you have the possibility for more Star Wars, as a fan you get excited. I know a lot of people get negative, but it’s Star Wars and Star Wars makes me happy.”

Other fans, however, take a more negative approach to the topic. Gerardo Valero, a writer for the blogging site, rogerebert.com, expressed his concern that the newest film in the Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens “pulls the original trilogy’s beloved main characters from the state of ‘happily ever’ that we left them.”

An avid fan inside our very own walls, chemistry teacher Jordan Wang’s first memory of watching Star Wars was when he was 5 years old, when he watched Empire Strikes Back in theaters.

Wang had mixed feelings about the acquisition of Star Wars, but he did agree that Disney could begin to over-do it when it comes to Star Wars. “The only thing I worry about is just, like, too much saturation. They are just going to try to do too much and capitalize too much off of it,” Wang said.

When it comes to the new movies that Disney is coming out with, Wang talked about the direction that he thinks Disney should go in order to keep up the feel of the older Star Wars movies alive: “I think, going forward, if they can focus more on these new characters, that’s really the way they should go.”

In the coming years there will be a lot of new changes to the Star Wars franchise, probably both good and bad. All we can do as fans is hope that the direction Disney decides to take is beneficial to the fans, and not just for the financial gains of the company.