Star Wars finally found its potential

posted by Jeff | Monday, December 21, 2020, 4:30 PM | comments: 0

One of the most remarkable things about Star Wars is its cross-generational appeal. As a member of Generation-X, we probably have the deepest attachment to it. The original movies debuted when we were kids, and the toys were insane and comprehensive. I didn't have any of them (we were GI Joe and Transformers kids), but my step-brothers had pretty much all the Star Wars things.

When the prequel trilogy started, we were blown away at first. We managed to overlook the terrible dialog and acting just because it was so satisfying to finally get the Darth Vader origin story. By the time it wrapped with "Vader-Nooooooooo," and the goofy Luke-and-Leia-are-born-while-Padme-dies B-movie style, it felt good to see it through. As time passed though, and a hundred different variations of the originals were released (VHS, VHS Special Edition, DVD, Blu-Ray, streaming), we started to realize that the prequels were kind of bad. Terrible dialog, a political fascist subplot that people didn't get, a childish crush relationship story... it's a miracle that Natalie Portman's career survived any of it.

The sequel trilogy was definitely better. Even though episode 7 felt familiar in plot, it was at least self-aware. ("How do we blow it up? There's always a way to do that.") It didn't feel like Lucasfilm had a solid plan to end the Skywalker saga, and the changing directors and such felt like no one was really steering the ship. I don't blame JJ Abrams... he made it pretty clear that he was honored to start the new series, but got tired of being the reboot/sequel guy. They tapped him to finish it anyway. The sequels didn't have a tight story, but they did understand what it meant to advance the story in service of the fans and existing canon. There was a lot of joy in those movies. I mean, we named our kittens Finn and Poe.

The one-off side stories showed promise though. Solo was just OK, but I thought Rogue One was outstanding. The sequels gave a lot of reason and space to fill in some gaps, in fact, the way Rogue One did between episodes 3 and 4. The universe is so expansive that there's so much to explore in between, and Disney's larger content strategy, to emphasize streaming, where the people are, needed a seed. That seed was The Mandalorian.

The intention of the show was likely to take one of their most valuable properties and give people a reason to subscribe, which it definitely did. What may or may not have been by design is the discovery that Star Wars works really well as a serialized TV show. And just as they've found a ton of opportunities to tell more Marvel stories, the potential for Star Wars is equally huge. There was already a precedent for this, with the animated Clone Wars show, and it was pretty good.

I'm really looking forward to more Mando, as well as Ahsoka and The Book of Boba Fett.


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