We live in a Star Wars culture. For nearly 35 years, this cinematic phenomenon has affected our society in more ways than it just being a movie series. It changed the entire motion picture industry, for instance. We’ve now had two generations weaned on the exploits of Luke Skywalker and friends with six movies, several animated series, a plethora of novels, countless toys, a number of video games, and even a religion created around Jedi mysticism. There’s also talk of a new live-action TV series, though typical of Lucasfilm projects, not much has been said of it over the last couple of years.
All of the official exploitation of Star Wars has been overseen by its creator, filmmaker George Lucas much like that other science fiction cultural force, Star Trek, was overseen by its creator Gene Roddenberry until his death (though arguably, Lucas has much more control over his property than Roddenberry ever had). Lucas has stated that he has no interest in pursuing any more motion pictures that continue the saga, leaving the future of his galaxy far, far away in the hands of novelists. The current animated show The Clone Wars takes place between episodes II and III, and the proposed live-action series will fill in the 20 years between episodes III and IV. There’s still a lot of material to mine, but given that Lucas is now in his 60’s, there’s a question about how much longer he will be in charge of the still-thriving entertainment franchise that shows no sign of abating. What happens to Star Wars when Lucas finally retires or becomes one with the Force?
To some degree, the Star Wars industry of books, toys, and other merchandising will continue as-is. It has its own mechanism that works well without much of Lucas’s influence. Where his absence will be felt mostly is with whatever TV shows happen to be on the air or in the works and with any possible new motion pictures. His universe is very specific, but with him no longer around, other producers and writers will have to step up to the plate to interpret his vision and do with it as they see fit. When this happened to Star Trek, it allowed that mythology to spread beyond what Roddenberry originally envisioned, but few will argue with the point of view that this growth was positive. Allowing others into the Star Wars universe and giving them creative license to push Lucas’s boundaries might improve the storylines. After all, most people think that Lucas himself screwed it up with the prequels.
The danger, of course, is for someone who doesn’t have the same creative vision to take the series in a direction that goes contrary to what came before. It was bad enough that Lucas introduced the concept of midi-chlorians as a scientific explanation for the Force. In the early days, he wasn’t even sure what exactly the Force was, since the first novel to follow the original film, Alan Dean Foster‘s A Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, had the Force’s energy being emitted by a large crystal. There is a chance that the next caretaker of Star Wars could end up “ruining” it for the fans. But again, that’s how many people already feel about Lucas, so a fresh take on the material might be needed.
While Lucas is content working within the timeline he already established, perhaps his successor would allow exploration into the future. Sure, there are books that tell what happened with Luke, Leia, Han, and their children, maybe we could have a Next Generation type of movie that jumps decades into the future, maybe long after our original heroes have died. It’s always possible that movie adaptations of some of the already-written novels, making those stories official canon.
Will Star Wars die when George Lucas expires? Doubtful. Will it open up Star Wars for even more exploitation? Perhaps. Maybe with the third generation of kids who will grow up on Star Wars, it won’t matter too much that one person has ultimate control over these characters and stories, and Star Wars will be an entity on its own, too large for any one person to be its master.
copyright © 2011 FilmVerse
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