I don’t often get a chance to pat myself on the back for being a pop culture prophet, but y’all, when it comes to the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm, I nailed it. I nailed it so hard. Back in 2012 when the story first broke, I stood among a sea of naysayers (my friends) who feared that the presence of mouse ears would only signal the “kiddifying” of the Star Wars universe. You know, the universe that had these things:
People were worried that because of Disney’s involvement, this universe would suddenly out of nowhere become some super kid-friendly franchise property. Great.
But I had faith. This is what I said at the time:
“If they can put a team in charge of the Lucasfilm properties that is as solid as the team they have for Marvel or Pixar, this could potentially be great for the future of Star Wars.”
Well, here we are, standing on the precipice of the future of Star Wars. We’ve seen Episode VII, and now with Rogue One, we finally get our first real glimpse at what the true promise of a Disneyfied Star Wars universe really means. Are we staring into a pit where we will find a new definition of jadedness and disappointment as we slowly consume mediocrity over a thousand years? I really don’t think so.
When The Force Awakens debuted, the one criticism of it that I thought had a small degree of merit, even though I loved it and thought it worked perfectly, was the argument that as mostly just a rehash of A New Hope. I personally feel like it used the skeleton of A New Hope to keep the plot from being overly complicated and instead focus on character introductions, re-introductions, and development, as well as planting seeds of backstory. But I can concede the point of the movie’s actual plot being redundant, and I think had this been the only new Star Wars movie we’d ever be getting again, that would be a criticism that could really sink it.
But that isn’t the case, and Rogue One will show it. The Force Awakens served its task as a perfectly executed in-universe reboot film, it flushed away our bitter memories of the prequels and gave us a new hope for a future within this world. Now with Rogue One, we’ll get our first glimpse at what that actually means. And from the trailer, what it means is a spy/heist film with some real examinations on morality in a universe where being dark or light can have real and immediate consequences.
What it means is that Disney recognizes that for Star Wars to have a solid and lasting presence, we need to view it not as a genre in and of itself, but rather as a medium with which to share different stories, and told by filmmakers whose voices work best for them. We’ve already seen this recognition within Pixar and Marvel movies, both before they came under the Disney banner officially and after. With Marvel or example, we’ve seen straight up superhero films like the Iron Man franchise, and historical period pieces or spy stories with the Captain America movies, or the Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter TV shows, and even a heist film with Ant Man. This is what Disney does best, they take a property that already has proven it has legs, and helps it to run.
We don’t yet know the plot to the Han Solo movie, but I feel like it can be reasonable to assume that it’ll deal with some of his time as a smuggler, but beyond that there’s really no limit to the types of stories that can be told within this world. Personally, I’d love to see Disney Lucasfilm get even bolder and expand outside the time-frame of the main saga, digging deep back into the Old Republic, to a time untouched by the Skywalker family, and beyond. Regardless, if The Force Awakens felt familiar, perhaps it is only because it is a door frame to a house we already recognize, but now can enter and check out the expansions and remodeling that has been done, and those still yet to come.