When the Marvel and Muppet deals were made, fans were very vocal. However, Star Wars fans have done little more than create a new phase of Internet memes.
Star Wars fans used to be second only to Star Trek fans in their fanaticism. I saw Star Wars when I was two years old and I still remember snapshots of seeing it for the first time. The blast of the opening music with the Star Wars title. Luke with the blast shield down. X-wings.
My entire life, every time I have sat in a theater and/or smelled popcorn, I have thought of Star Wars. Going to the theater to watch a movie always makes me think of Star Wars. That is the impact that seeing it when I was two had on my – I am now 37.
1977-1984 my frame of reference for all films was centered around Star Wars. I appreciate Kevin Bacon’s work, but in my world, everything was a game of Six Degrees of Star Wars. Superman The Movie also had a huge impact on me. Like Star Wars, I still remember the opening titles, young Clark kicking the football into the stratosphere and outrunning the train, and saving the school bus. I was older when Superman came out, so I remember more of it. Do you know who did the music for Superman? John Williams. The same John Williams who made Star Wars.
Of course, after Star Wars and Superman came Indiana Jones – played by Han Solo and co-created by George Lucas.
In 1984 everything changed. I began to realize that George Lucas had handed over the baton in the race to win my imagination through film. Steven Spielberg gave me E.T., Close Encounters (a movie that I still don’t know why I love so much), Jaws and a TV series called Amazing Stories. George Lucas faded away, but Star Wars did not. Like most of my fellow fans, I craved every opportunity to get a new glimpse into the Star Wars universe. I bought books, read the fan magazine and probably spent hundreds of dollars in quarters blowing up the Death Star in the arcade.
My love of Star Wars lasted well into my college years. I played Rebel Strike and waited in line all day to see Phantom Menace.
Phantom Menace changed everything for me. I don’t think that I am alone. Sure, it was a rough movie to sit through, but I was willing to play along because the politics of the rebellion and empire matter. However, what had really changed was the world around me. Film had changed. Somehow the magic of tiny plastic models, go-motion filming and endless props carried most of the magic. Knowing that everything had been filmed in front of a green screen or modeled by a computer, completely ruined the experience.
Star Wars sold millions and millions and millions of action figures because George Lucas had not withheld any secrets about how the movie was made. When I saw that the Millenium Falcon stuck to the side of the Star Destroyer was actually a dime-sized model glued to the side of a table-sized model, it helped me imagine action figures, models and other toys in their proper scale. In other words, playing with relics and replicas from Star Wars was not much different in my mind to what an antique or art collector feels when they are in the presence of a masterpiece or significant artifact.
Recently, I was was able to see a Star Wars prop exhibit at a discovery museum in California. I spent hours taking hundreds of photos of the 1:6 scale Millenium Falcon, 1:4 scale X-wing and countless other “artifacts.”
So, why doesn’t it break my heart to see Disney acquire Star Wars? Shouldn’t I be worried that the franchise will be Mickey-fied? Nope.
George Lucas gave Star Wars fans more campy family Disney-esque elements than Disney probably ever will. He gave us Jar Jar Binks. He gave us the crybaby Vader “Noooooooo!” He gave us the sentimental , nay sappy, new scenes and revised endings.
I am going to say what every Star Wars fan is thinking…
Thank you Disney! Thank you for saving Star Wars from George Lucas. Picking at a scab only leads to nasty scars and infections. It is best to let it heal. Sure, Disney may defile the Star Wars brand, but could it really get much worse than Jar Jar Binks, wacky sports announcing, or musical chair ghost-of-Anakin appearances at the end of Return of the Jedi?
In all honesty, the Ewoks and Salacious Crumb belong in the Disney universe alongside their Muppet cousins. Luke and Vader can play with their Lion King nephews. Princess Leia was the role model for the modern spunky princess – she blazed the trail for Tangled, Brave and she gave Belle permission to slap Gaston.
There was a time when Star Wars was more than a movie. Most fans gave up on the mythology and storytelling of Star Wars several episodes ago. Most of us will admit that we still have a special place in our hearts for Star Wars, but not for the brand or the trademark. Star Wars represents the importance of imagination and storytelling. It represents our understanding that sometimes, even though you know a magic trick is just that – a trick – it’s OK to allow yourself to be fooled in order to learn about yourself and the world around you. That is, after all, the purpose of mythology and storytelling. The storytelling manipulates the audience and the audience comes with a desire to be manipulated. If either refuses to participate, then the magic fades away.
I like to think that there’s an old satchel somewhere in the offices at Disney that’s full of magic dust that Walt used to sprinkle on stuff to make it appeal to our imaginations. Every few years, just as things are looking grim, the head of Disney pulls out the magic dust and sprinkles it on a Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast and the whole company revives and Walt’s vision is restored. I also have a conspiracy theory that Steve Jobs found that satchel and carried some of it to his offices at Apple about 20 years ago, but that’s a different article.