Has Lucasfilm Learned Anything?

Has Lucasfilm Learned Anything?
Screenshot: Lucasfilm

The most distressing thing about Vanity Fair’s massive look into the future of Star Wars isn’t the lack of any new details about the specific future of Star Wars. It’s that, despite claims to the contrary, I don’t know that Lucasfilm has learned anything from the lessons of the sequel trilogy and its TV series, which means the franchise’s future is just going to be more of the same.

Here’s the sentence from the piece that’s driving me crazy. Author Anthony Breznican writes: “To keep minting fans, Lucasfilm must give new generations their own collection of characters to love and hate, and not every classic character can be brought back endlessly anyway. [Lucasfilm president Kathleen] Kennedy is well aware of all this now.”

That’s great, but it doesn’t change the fact that the next Star Wars series are about Obi-Wan Kenobi (introduced in 1977), Cassian Andor (introduced in 2016), and Ashoka (introduced in the original Clone Wars movie back in 2008). Or that prequel star Hayden Christiansen is back as Darth Vader for Kenobi, or that Mon Mothma (introduced in 1983) is a major character in the Andor series, or that we just spent an entire TV series watching fan-favourite character Boba Fett (introduced 1980, died 1983) try and fail to be a crimelord on the most familiar planet in the entirety of the Star Wars galaxy?

The only plan for a truly new Star Wars story, at least that we know of, is the series The Acolyte, set 100 years or so before the prequels, but even it will be serving as a prequel of sorts. According to showrunner Lesley Headland, “My question when watching The Phantom Menace was always like, ‘Well, how did things get to this point?’ How did we get to a point where a Sith lord can infiltrate the Senate and none of the Jedi pick up on it? Like, what went wrong? What are the scenarios that led us to this moment?”

What’s even more damning is what immediately follows Breznican’s lines above: “In The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Mark Hamill, 70, delivered performances as 30-something Luke Skywalker, but younger actors played Luke’s body while advanced deepfake technology replaced the face. Bringing Luke to life is now a team sport. But that tech has its limitations. So does recasting.”

“The 2018 movie Solo explored Han Solo’s younger years, with Alden Ehrenreich taking on the role of the smuggler originated by Harrison Ford,” the piece continues. “The film has its admirers, but it made less at the box office than any other live-action Star Wars movie. Solo’s swagger may be too singular for another actor to replicate. ‘There should be moments along the way when you learn things,’” says Kennedy. ‘Now it does seem so abundantly clear that we can’t do that.’”

To go from “Lucasfilm knows it needs to make new Star Wars stories” directly into “The lesson Kennedy took from Solo is that they need to use deep-fake technology so 70-year-old Mark Hamill can be transformed into a young Luke Skywalker ghoul” is beyond baffling. Shouldn’t new stories specifically preclude classic actors from returning as the classic characters they’ve been playing for 45 years?

Apparently not. I guess we’ll see how new The Acolyte really is when it debuts in… 2023 or so?

Comments

  • Alden was fine.

    Donald Glover was goddamed triumphant.

    Chewie was, as always, perfect.

    The recasting REALLY wasn’t the problem. We promise. Cross our hearts and hope to lift and separate. They did the best they could with what they had.

    But no one cared how Han, lock-step and by the numbers, got his name/ship/gun/copilot/frenemy/reputation/job/etc. And the female characters were wasted (I have a rant prepared about L337s treatment, but I’ll spare everyone that … ). And the story was a bunch of big set pieces barely held together by a bunch of nod-and-wink obscure references to the Extended Canon, fashioned into a semblance of plot.

  • It’s such a shame. There’s this whole galaxy out there full of different people with their own surely fascinating stories, but Lucasfilm makes it feel like the total population of that galaxy is about 15 people. Like nothing at all has been going on for a hundred years across an entire galaxy except one family’s squabble.

  • Mandalorian is a western genre triumph in every respect, the Clone Wars grew into a truly compelling piece of the story, Rogue One was great, TFA was a near perfect starting point to a trilogy, I’d include the Fallen Order game too which is very very good.

    Yes, Rian Johnson screwed the sequel trilogy, he took TFA and sucked the life out of it because he has no clue what fun is, Abrams essentially had to try and ignore the entire film, stuffing his vision for the trilogy into a single film, it didn’t work, there wasn’t enough time for the necessary character development even if I could understand what he was going for. Goddamn Rian Johnson. And no, Leia using force pull in zero gravity, one of the most BASIC force powers, is not one of the issues with TLJ, I can’t believe how dumb people are, nobody who took issue with that can call themselves a Star Wars fan if they don’t what freaking force pull is.

    Either way, despite confusing mis-steps like Solo, they are doing a lot of good stuff. Of course we want more stories away from the Skywalker family, we’re most likely to get that from video games of which there are going to be quite a few coming.

    • There’s been a lot more good stuff than bad, I agree. And when it’s good, it’s really top-shelf stuff, big screen or small, live-action or animated. I thought Visions was breathtakingly good. I’m also in the cohort who likes TLJ, but I get why those who dont, don’t, and it’d be a boring old world if everyone agreed all the time.

      I do look forward to them branching out a bit, galactically, with Kenobi and Andor; Tattooine has been lovely, but can we see the rest of the galaxy now, please-and-thankyou, and maybe a bunch more political intrigue and urban/non-desert settings? And a few more women up front and centre? Every time they’ve led with a man he’s been working out his mid-life crisis through child and rancor rearing … it’s a good story, well told, but it’s not the ONLY story.

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