Podcast Reaction: State Of Star Wars Edition

This week on the podcast, the Geeks got another one out while I’m not sure when my own podcasting partner will be free long enough to record one again.

Oh, they also talked Star Wars.  I have a different take.

See, the Geeks were, for the most part, quick to pounce on Kathleen Kennedy.  Now me, I am a bit more reluctant to do so because I think there’s a bigger target out there to take a swipe out that I think is actually a hell of a lot more responsible:  Disney.

See, while the Geeks were more or less praising Disney for its handling of the MCU, I look at the MCU (which I do very much like and enjoy) and don’t see much there that doesn’t also feel like a fairly typical corporate piece of entertainment where most of the product looks about the same.  Yes, it is a highly entertaining piece of corporate entertainment where most of the product looks about the same, but that doesn’t change what it is.

In point of fact, the only MCU director who I think really breaks the mold is James Gunn.  The rest, in terms of general look, aesthetic, the music, and so forth, looks about the same most of the time.  Maybe we can make an exception for Taika Waiiti, but I want to see another one of his Thor movies first before I make that call.  Likewise, I will not call the Russo Brothers an exception.  They make a fine product, but there’s nothing particularly distinctive about it.

There’s a reason James Gunn wrote the dialogue for the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War and Endgame.

So, yes, we may want to lay the credit for all that at the feet of Kevin Feige, but I’m actually inclined to think Star Wars doesn’t need Kevin Feige or someone like him.  See, I think it is important to remember where Feige came from.  Feige didn’t just get tossed the keys to the MCU as soon as the first Iron Man was made.  No, he actually worked as a producer or co-producer on numerous Marvel-based products for the better part of a decade before he got that position.  He worked his way up to it.

By contrast, George Lucas, who I think was if nothing else a great Big Idea man who needs his visions shaved down a but by other, more capable creative types whether it was Steven Spielberg or Irvin Kershner in the director’s chair, Lawence Kasdan on the script, or his ex-wife in the editing room.  But since I don’t think Lucas ever really thought too much about selling the intellectual rights until Disney came along and made the right offer, there wasn’t someone there to talk about what the Force meant to the man who made the idea up in the first place.

But the thing about all of Lucas’s best known creations–even American Graffiti–is that they are built on a fond nostalgia for the things of his own youth.  Theoretically, that shouldn’t be too hard to do for a lot of directors probably grew up with fond memories of Star Wars.  JJ Abrams clearly has, but anyone who was expecting something more than a rehash of what came before from Abrams probably should have been paying attention to most of Abrams’s own career since that is basically what he does.

But I wasn’t fond of Jenny’s “one and done” idea, and it may be less of access to source material as deciding what source material to use.  But then I had an idea on what I would do if I had the power (and I don’t) to maybe try to fix Star Wars.

In short, let’s take an idea from professional baseball and set up a farm league of sorts.

Watson’s ideal farm league.

So, here’s what I would do:  rather than just find some promising sci-fi director and toss him into the Big Boy Pool to sink or swim, and rather than create an interconnected cinematic universe (there’s only one of those that really works), and rather than take a page from the MCU, let’s take a page from the DCEU (no, really) and rather than have one universe where all the movies connect to tell a bigger story, have one universe that more or less connects and doesn’t need to tell a bigger story and instead just does what it can to tell fun stories.

Star Wars is set in an entire galaxy full of people.  Why do they all have to be related to each other?  I say, rather than do a lot of stories about Skywalkers and Jedi, let’s see what else is out there.  Spend time developing these properties rather than rush them out, and if someone shows enough promise, let them make more.  Develop a deep bench of professional, skilled, and creative people in the director’s chair.  And when that person who could be the Star Wars Feige finally appears, then get that guy.

The real problem with Star Wars is the fans want it to be familiar, but not too familiar.  Challenging the audience while still making a good movie is possible, but it won’t work if the studio is still cranking out the same product over and over again.  That can lead to financial success, sure, but how satisfying is that in the end?

Granted, this is Star Wars.  We don’t go to that for anything more than popcorn thrills.  And that’s fine.  It’s a lighthearted series of movies even at its darkest.  It’s generally an older style of film-making.  It’s not dark or moody (so not something for the likes of Christopher Nolan or David Fincher), and it seems resistant to shades of gray.  That can be fine.  But let’s find some people who love the property (not hard) and shows some talent (much harder) and see what can be done.

Oh, and maybe release stuff to Disney+ first and go from there.  I think Disney’s biggest mistake has been trying to make Star Wars an annual event for theaters.

But that’s what I’d do if I had the money, the rights, and the power to do something about it.  Since I have none, well, why not just put Watson in charge?  We’ll have a movie about the guys who make Jabba’s harem girl outfits before you know it.

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