The nerd world exploded when the announcement was made that George Lucas was out of the entertainment game. He was done with LucasFilm and its properties and to top it off, Disney would be taking the reins from now on in a $4 Billion merger. Disney quickly announced that a new Star Wars trilogy was in the works with the first movie to hit theaters in 2015.
Oh my stars, this news made my day! Others demonstrated over the top concern for how Disney would handle the property. Some people were so upset by the news you would’ve thought Lucas announced he’s selling Star Wars to Michael Bay. I know better than that though, if Lucas is stepping away from the game then who better to take over? Disney has a ton of money, a previous working relationship with Lucas and the visionaries to make something awesome happen. In fact some people might not know that Disney’s Pixar and Disney’s head mouse, John Lassiter, began their careers at Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic.
The speculation began as writer, Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt, was quickly attached to the new movies. Who would direct? What direction would the new films take? Disney said they would be original works, but so far have been mum on details. Every director that causes nerd boys and girls to nerdgasm was mentioned. Whedon, Abrams, Snyder, but no one was willing to play ball due to busy schedules and outright fear of screwing up the most celebrated movie franchise in history. News leaked that Zach Snyder was to direct a Star Wars film to run concurrent with the new trilogy, and then Snyder said it’s not true. Lawrence Kasdan, Empire Strikes Back scribe, said he’d throw his lot in with the new trilogy. Nerds around the world broke out in high fives. One by one, original cast members all said they would have some involvement in the new movies, though they won’t be the main attraction. Then it happened, out of nowhere and after a lot of convincing, Disney announced the director’s chair would say J.J. Abrams on the back of it. Jaws around the nerd-verse dropped. This was the guy who said he originally passed due to not wanting to ruin the franchise and his many TV commitments as well as a commitment to that other franchise that also starts with Star (but in no way holds a candle to Star Wars). LucasFilm’s Godmother, Kathleen Kennedy, said she presented Abrams with a creative offer he couldn’t refuse.
The real questions remain though, how will this effect the Star Wars brand across the rest of the platforms? There’s TV, comics, books and merchandise. What would be the fate of those mediums? Some of those questions have already been answered. My beloved Dark Horse comics have been pumping out amazing, and some not so amazing, Star Wars comics for years, and in turn have added to the official Star Wars canon. We know now that the Star Wars comics franchise will be heading to the other Disney property, Marvel, once the year is up. Despite this, Dark Horse is still in the game for now and are delivering some serious work this year such as Brian Wood’s fantastic and aptly titled Star Wars, as well as a new volume of the classic Legacy. Only this time Legacy will deal with a future kin of Han and Leia where as the original Legacy dealt with Skywalker descendent Cade. Now this is pure speculation, but Brian Wood does a ton of work for Marvel too, so maybe his Star Wars series will continue with Marvel.
On the TV front, the Clone Wars, airing on Cartoon Network, is easily one of the best toons on the tube. If you’ve caught the last few episodes you can attest to that. I’ve been on this show since its first episode aired and haven’t missed one yet. Well Cartoon Network recently released their new schedule and the Clone Wars was suspiciously absent, with the network not saying a peep about it. Anyone who is familiar with how they’ve been jerking around DC Nation fans (a jerking that continues with the recent cancellations of Green Lantern The Animated Series and Young Justice.) knows they probably won’t be saying much either as pleasing fans doesn’t seem to be their strong suit as of late. The only question is what will the fate of Clone Wars be? As one of the best toons it would be folly for the show to outright end, however it could possibly find new life on a Disney network such as Disney XD where it would fit in perfectly with their line up targeting teens more than young kids.
Now for the issue that personally stings the most, the Star Wars Expanded Universe. If you’re not familiar with it, there is a huge volume of novels, and Dark Horse’s comics, that deal in all the eras of Star Wars, from the Old Republic days right into 30-40 years after the original trilogy where the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han and Lando have been continued. Luke has built up a new Jedi Order and they all have children now. They’ve survived numerous threats to the galaxy since deposing Emperor Palpatine. The importance of these books to the Star Wars Universe is that they are all official canon with Lucas himself having final say in what can be written and what is off limits. (After Wookie Jedi Lobacca died Lucas issued an order to all the authors that Jedi Wookies are now off limits.) I personally must have spent close to $100 on my collection of paperbacks just so I can continue the adventures; if you have all the hardcovers you’re probably out three times that. What does a new trilogy mean to these books? Disney has said the new movies will be set around 30 years after the original trilogy ended. The problem is the Expanded Universe novels have covered that territory and Lucas has made those officially part of the Star Wars lore. Disney will essentially be negating those books and their events to rewrite the Star Wars mythology. Of course that didn’t sit well with me because it meant all the money I spent on those books is null and void, as the new movies will rewrite the happenings of those novels out of existence. I thought there was real gold that Disney could mine there, such as the Thrawn series or my favorite, Legacy of the Force series which sees Han and Leia’s son, Jacen, follow in his grandfather’s Sith footsteps as he turns his back on being a Jedi to become the Sith Lord Darth Caedus (pronounced Kaidus). However Disney says no, we want all original work, though the new movies most likely will deal with the original cast’s kin. So if you’re an Expanded Universe nut like me, enjoy it while you can.
I doubt the merchandise will be effected because that mainly deals with the movies, not the other mediums, but I’m sure we will see a ton of new merch and I’m sure Disney is already licking their chops in anticipation of all the toys, apparel, books, coffee mugs, video games and lunch boxes they will be selling. They might even get a return on their investment in merchandise sales alone. There’s also the upcoming release of the Hasbro 6-inch Black Series figures as well. Rumors were flying around last fall that Disney may be looking to purchase Hasbro. Some reports say yes, some say no, but what is apparent is that Disney and Hasbro will have to have some kind of working relationship going forward if Hasbro wants to stay in the Star Wars game.
Well, that’s what we know, and what we have speculated so far. Of course news is breaking all the time on these events as they happen, so what is true today might not be tomorrow. Whatever we’re unsure of now may be answered soon. It’s an exciting time for us Star Wars fans, and I couldn’t be happier.
Follow Christopher on Twitter @AUDone44 and The Nerd @nerdfollowing