May as Well Wipe and Restart

Rumors about Disney Rebooting Star Wars... Again

Rumors have been circling recently that Disney is looking at rebooting the Star WarsThe modern blockbuster: it's a concept so commonplace now we don't even think about the fact that before the end of the 1970s, this kind of movie -- huge spectacles, big action, massive budgets -- wasn't really made. That all changed, though, with Star Wars, a series of films that were big on spectacle (and even bigger on profits). A hero's journey set against a sci-fi backdrop, nothing like this series had ever really been done before, and then Hollywood was never the same. series. After the poor reception of Star Wars, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (which is generally reviled by fans at this point, even more so than the last one they all hated, Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi) Disney is realizing that one of the crown jewels of their franchise empire has become rather dull and tarnished (okay, so jewels can't tarnish, but just go with it). Star Wars has entered a bit of a low period, not seen since the last time a bunch of sequels came out: the dreaded prequel trilogy.

It's not really the fault of Episode XI, or even Episode VIII for that matter. Star Wars has been sliding in quality for a while now. Solo: A Star Wars Story was the first ever Box Office bomb for the series, but even before them the series was struggling. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had issues behind the scenes and didn't make nearly as much money as Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. And, as I argued in the article about that movie, while Episode VII made a crap-ton of money, it wasn't exactly good.

That's not to say that the franchise has done nothing right under Disney's tenure. Certainly The Mandalorian is a solid entry into the franchise, and Star Wars: Rebels is a solid cartoon series that just about every fan agrees is so much better than the previous animated attempt, Star Wars: Clone Wars. It's just the when it comes to the movies, the big entries that are supposed to be lavished with attention, the series is falling short.

It's easy to point fingers. I mean, seriously, as fans we always point fingers whenever anything goes wrong, and for a couple of decades there we were blaming all the ills of the world on George Lucas. He deserved it, as the prequels were all terrible, but he hasn't been involved in the franchise since 2012. If the franchise is flailing, someone new has to get the blame, and that person is Kathleen Kennedy, current head of Lucasfilm. It's been under her tenure that the series clearly lost its way.

To Disney's credit, they have realized this. They saw not only the fan backlash against both the eighth and seventh films, but the production problems caused by Kennedy, butting heads with the directors on both Rogue One (leading to extensive re-shoots and a different ending for the film) and Solo (leading to her firing Chris Miller and Phil Lord as directors, comic geniuses who would have made one hell of a movie, and brining in the workman-like Ron Howard to finish the film). Her time in charge of the franchise has been rough, to say the least.

I get it, stewarding a franchise of this scale can be hard. The reason the television shows have done better is because expectations are lower. Kennedy doesn't have to micromanage as much and the creators of the shows, Jon Favreau for The Mandalorian and Dave Filoni for everything else, have more latitude to take the franchise in new and interesting directions. Where the movies feel safe, beholden to the past and unwilling to innovate, the shows are finding bold new directions, telling stories outside of the incestuous inner workings of the Skywalker/Palpatine clan.

So the fact that Disney wants to reboot the series makes perfect sense. Hell, technically they already did it once before, throwing all of the extended universe materials out and trimming the franchise down to just the original six movies, the animated TV show, and the Old Republic games (since the MMO is still ongoing). All the other books, comics, games, and everything else that wasn't the movies or TV (or the MMO) was wiped away, put into a pocket universe never to be seen again.

And that's the plan Disney has for the sequel trilogy (Eps. 7 through 9): they're going to be set aside, put into their own pocket universe, so that they exist but whatever Disney does next won't reference the events, and if they decide to have other, new events take place during the same time period (like if The Mandalorian extends into that era) would overwrite the canon. J.J. Abrams might be upset, since he directed two of the three films, but no one else will shed a tear.

The thing is, while I agree those movies sucked and I'd be perfectly okay never mentioning them again, I also said the same thing about the prequels and Disney has kept those in canon (despite all the many and various continuity flaws they actually cause). Just kicking three movies out of the continuity doesn't really improve matters that much if Disney then decides to keep making sequels to the Skywalker era. The Old Republic era proved there were stories to tell outside of the movies, stories that could be interesting while building new worlds to explore. We need more of that.

There is some hope in that regard as Disney is looking at launching (whenever COVID-19 stops getting in the way of production schedules) The High Republic, a new era set between the time of the Old Republic and then the later New Republic. This part of the franchise is just going to be comics, novels and maybe video games for now, but I could see Disney electing to crate movies in this era to if they ever wanted to get away from the time of the Skywalkers. It at least would feel a little more fresh.

However, I would make a different pitch. For 4,000 years (in the continuity of the current franchise), the Galaxy Far, Far Away hasn't changed very much at all. The technology on display back in the time of the Old Republic is basically the same as the much later New Republic (right down to a very Millennium Falcon-like ship that the characters of the first Knights of the Old Republic fly around in). It's crazy to me that the galaxy has stagnated that much -- consider the fact that since the time of the Industrial Revolution, our world has shifted dramatically, but over four millennia the Star Wars universe remains exactly the same. That makes no sense.

So let's say that the New Republic era was a success and it brings about a new Golden Age for the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Instead of keeping everything the same, let's evolve this whole universe some. New technology, new ideas, maybe even a new religion to replace the fallen Jedi Order (perhaps various Jedi splinter religions that take the path of the Force in different directions instead of just "Honorable Good" and "Broody Evil"). And, most importantly, lets have an evolution of the conflict so it's not just "Rebels" and "Empire" anymore. So much can be done with this series, expanding out into new ideas and locales, if only the franchise wasn't so behold to exploring the same worlds, the same conflicts, the same archetypes.

If Disney wants to reboot (or soft-boot, or whatever) the series, I'm all for it. But let's get some real ideas, some new ideas, in this series. If they just decides to iterate once again on Skywalkers and Palpatines, on Jedi and Sith, then what's the point? Why even reboot? Haven't we already run those stories into the ground?