Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In All Honesty... I don't trust Darth Mickey and the Disney Empire yet. [Editorial]

          Recently various Disney employees have been making statements about the future of the Star Wars franchise and some of it has been pretty nerve racking. This largely concerns the release of  SW brand films every summer from 2015-2021. I know George Lucas was no one's favorite, but I am kinda getting the whole meaning behind the "better the devil you know..." Disney is still a wildcard for me; they have done cool things with Marvel (Okay Iron Man 2 was kinda weak, and I really don't know what the freaking purpose of NOW was), but Star Wars isn't Marvel.  They are two very different kinds of franchise. The frantic pace at which Marvel movies come out is great since it follows the format that the weekly issue does, granted on a yearly scale since movies take more time to produce. Last year we had The Avengers [issue 1]; this one Iron-Man [issue] 3 and Thor
[issue] 2; next year Captain America [issue] 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy [issue 1]. I do not think the same format is the best idea when it comes to Star Wars. Part of the original influence for Lucas when he was creating his monolith was the sci-fi serials of the 50's (specifically Flash Gordon which was the movie he wanted to make but couldn't get the rights to)  which really play on the the use of cliffhangers.  The film that echos this the most being Empire Strikes Back, which also happens to be the most beloved of the original trilogy. Having a episode released on the reg, along with spin-off films just seems out of place.  Where is the build up and the excitement, Disney? Hell, there has been four years between the new Star Trek films (my feelings on JJ Abrams at the helm of Star Wars are still not soaring) and people, myself included, are still clamoring to see 'Into Darkness' and in the interim fans have spent those years eagerly wondering what the film would have in store for them.  I don't want to see the Star Wars pimped out anymore than it already has, especially when it comes to films, the medium that the brand was born in.
          My troubles extend beyond the films when it come to the changes
Don't be sad Obi, it'll get much worse
at Lucasfilm.  The animation division seems to be suffering at the moment, with the pulling of 'The Clone Wars' series from Cartoon Network, which makes some sense since that would be direct competition for their own network.  Though the decision to end the series seems odd rather than to steal those eyeballs from Cartoon Network and add an extra bump to the ratings of their Disney XD channel.  Disney does claim that there is finale material for Clone Wars to come, but have been very guarded on the details of where and when.  There are also some rumblings that Disney will begin there own original series, despite the numerous layoffs and restructuring at Lucasfilm Animation.  While I did really enjoy Clone Wars whenever I watched, it is not the loss that I am most pained over.  Star Wars Detours, on the other hand, was looking to be quite a piece of work.  For those who aren't familiar, Detours was going to be a comedic original trilogy show headed by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich from Robot Chicken.  Worry, for me, comes from the thought that Disney may be trying to make SW more squeaky clean by pulling away from satire of the franchise with Detours, and the dark aspects that Clone Wars regularly played with.  Frankly, I think this is silly, if it is the case, but I don't know that for sure.  I was feeling that certain aspects of the brand did seem to be getting it's footing back.

        The distancing from the more mature aspects of the universe may have also extended to the choices being made around LucasArts, which we eulogized on our podcast.  The main projects on LucasArts' docket were 1313, (the Boba Fett third person action adventure game), First Assault, (a Stromtrooper FPS), and Battlefront 3, which I don't need to tell you about [Battlefield with Blasters-Ed.].  All of these are effectively cancelled, and more importantly, loads of folks seem to be getting laid off.  The reason for this is that Disney has never had a desire to own a game imprint, and would rather licences out their properties as they have always done.  Perhaps I am being too sentimental, but LucasArts put out a lot of great games, although more recently they seemed to be more reliant on Star Wars branding to sell their products.  I was pretty excited for 1313 and the Battlefront series was always a riot to play.  Perhaps I will just have to fire up Battlefront 2 or dust off my Wii and pop in my copy of Bounty Hunter for some action.
       In all honesty, I don't know where Disney is taking Star Wars from here, but I am more concerned than ecstatic now, though that is not how I felt at the beginning of this handing off of the torch (more like major acquisition of the torch I suppose) when it happened in October. The real worry is that Star Wars cost over 4 billion, so until that number in revenue is reach for Disney with this property, the old Jedi might have to turn tricks in the meantime. I just hope that the Dark Horse material doesn't get the ax too.


  1. I share your concern that Disney is trying to do too much, too fast. Although it strikes me as weird that you would use the comparison of weekly sci fi serials as evidence for that point. It seems to me Weeks:Months:Years as TV:Comics:Movies but that's beside the point. Maybe the silver lining is that all this stuff was just hype, and had to go, and they're starting with a clean slate? After all the mud Star Wars has been drug through over the last 10 years, that can't be totally bad, right?

    1. The tabula rasa is nice in theory, but like it or not Star Wars has a history for better or worse. The hacking away of everything isn't going to change that since the biggest stumble of the franchise, the weak prequels which I don't think Disney plans on ditching. Most of the auxiliary products have not done too much shape the brand at large. In some ways they ended up being the stronger aspects of the brand. The Clone Wars in it's original 2D style was fantastic and the 3D animated show had plenty of punch to it too. LucasArts is a sadder story and most of the best to tout the logo were license games, though I do not know the purpose for axing projects already in the pipes, since they didn't cut Star Wars-Angry Birds.