Back in 2012, with the help of $4 billion, Disney managed to get their hands on a little company that goes by the name Lucasfilm. You know, the empire built by the legend that is George Lucas, creator of Star Wars. This meant that Disney would hold all rights to the Star Wars franchise and be responsible for all future Star Wars movies. As a huge Star Wars fan myself, I followed this process intently with a mixture of feelings.
Initially, the thought of Disney owning my beloved Star Wars was a worrying one. As much as I adored Disney, it just wasn’t something that I would ever dream of associating with Star Wars. To me they were two completely different things that would never work together. Therefore, I grew apprehensive that Star Wars would become ‘disneyfied’ (yes, real word) and no longer be the gritty space war movies that we know and love. All I could think was that it just wouldn’t be the same without George Lucas as the driving force and that Star Wars would become something that it wasn’t. Another worry I had was that after spending so much on the franchise, Disney would want to milk it for all it was worth. Therefore, in my head I was picturing Disney throwing out crappy Star Wars films left right and centre that just wouldn’t fit with the rest of the films and would ruin the greatest franchise of all time. The thought of them discarding the original movies wasn’t one that sat well with me and the thought of yet another new cast was worrying.
However, I could also see the benefits of the Disney and Star Wars universes colliding. For a start, if done well and if the right cast was chosen, a string of new Star Wars movies could be a blessing. It would also mean ridiculous budgets, meaning high quality films with high quality actors. Disney could actually supply us with some absolutely brilliant films, they had already shown that with the majority of their prior movies, so there was certainly hope for Star Wars. Of course another benefit for me personally was that the Disney store would now stock Star Wars merchandise! The Disney Store was already one of my favourite places to visit, the magical atmosphere it created is something I have loved since being young, and this would only be made ten times better with the addition of Star Wars too!
As we all now know, the deal was closed and Disney acquired all rights to Lucasfilm and therefore to Star Wars. Five years have passed since the takeover, so what have we seen so far?
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
The first Star Wars movie Disney released was ‘The Force Awakens’ back in December 2015. After it was announced that the movie would star the original trio of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, my hopes for the movie certainly began to rise and my anxiety turned to excitement. Also returning were Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, meaning he would continue his reign of an appearance in every Star Wars movie so far. We would also be introduced to the next generation trio, consisting of newbies John Boyega and Daisy Ridley and relatively well known actor Oscar Isaac. Directed by J. J. Abrams, The Force Awakens became one of the most anticipated movies of 2015, but would it live up to its high expectations? Well, after its release, Episode VII became the highest grossing film of the franchise and third highest grossing film of all time, so yes, I’d say it did! The film is absolutely incredible and was the perfect film to begin Star Wars’ comeback. Set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens had a difficult job following such an iconic film, but it managed to do it faultlessly. A film of much higher quality than the three prequel movies put together, it felt a lot more like the original films that we all fell in love with. Overall, The Force Awakens was an outstanding start to what has so far been a very promising return for the Star Wars franchise.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
A year after the roaring success that was The Force Awakens came Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first in the Star Wars Anthology series that Lucasfilm plan to release. These would be standalone films set in the Star Wars universe that Lucas created all those years ago. Set before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, Rogue One tells the story of a group of rebels who embark on a mission to steal the Death Star plans. Featuring a brand new cast, including Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Mads Mikkelsen, Rogue one was a breath of fresh air, which although still felt like a Star Wars movie, had its own individuality about it, which was just what it needed. The fact that is was standalone also meant that, although there were links to the previous films, it could be seen by those who had not seen the other movies in the franchise (I’m not sure who these crazy people are, but apparently they exist). The use of CGI to bring back Grand Moff Tarkin and (briefly) Princess Leia was absolutely incredible and left me totally amazed! It was some pretty impressive stuff to say the least. Of course, not forgetting appearances from none other than Darth Vader himself, Rogue One certainly set the bar high for all future Star Wars movies.
So far the new generation of Star Wars movies has proven highly successful, but what is already in the pipeline for the future? In the same style as the previous movies, there will be a trilogy of Star Wars episodes released. The trilogy was kicked off with The Force Awakens and will be followed by Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, which will be released in December 2017. Lucasfilm plan to release one Star Wars movie every year and have announced that a standalone Han Solo movie, which has yet to be titled, will be released in 2018. Starring Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo and famous names such as Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover, and set before the 1977 original Star Wars film, it is certainly one that I am curious about. In my eyes, Harrison Ford is the only Han Solo, so it will be interesting to see how this new movie will pan out. Finally, Episode IX, which has also yet to be titled, is expected for 2019.
The question is, how far can Disney actually go with this? It is unknown how long this new take on Star Wars movies will last, but there have been rumours about future movies. There has been talk of a possible standalone Obi Wan movie, and Ewan McGregor himself has reportedly said he would happily reprise the role of the Jedi Master. How wonderful would that be?! It is certainly something that I would love to see happen and I really hope it does, but for now we must wait. I have also heard rumours of a possible Boba Fett standalone movie, which I think is an interesting idea. It would be intriguing to learn more about the bounty hunter, seeing as he only actually has around 7 minutes of screen time in Star Wars so far, despite being a recognised and loved character. Again, these are only rumours and nothing has been confirmed by Lucasfilm, but I’m sure it won’t be long until some light is shed on the subject of new movies! At the end of the day, the Star Wars universe is an infinite one with endless possibilities, so who knows what we could end up seeing in future!
With Disney opening their very own Star Wars land in Disney parks from 2019 (all the more reason for me to desperately want to goes to Disneyland!), Disney obviously have no plans to pause their Star Wars adventures any time soon. So far, I have been pleasantly surprised with the incredible job Disney have done with taking control of Lucasfilm and I certainly don’t see any reason for them to stop. To be completely honest, if they continue to release movies of such a high standard, I am perfectly happy for them to milk it for all its worth and release many more movies! Hats off to you Disney, you’ve done a bloody good job so far and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come!