by Sam Broady
Star Wars has been releasing a lot of content lately. You can watch it all on Disney Plus. But will you enjoy it? Do you like repetitive spinoffs that keep you attached to the past? Or do you like refreshing stories with new characters and expansive lore? I believe the writers should focus more on originality than formula. This was the great mistake of the Disney purchase in 2012. They continue to show their desperate merchandise intentions through all these films, series, games, and more. But Star Wars isn’t the only cash-grab franchise; that term applies to Marvel, Pixar, and the rest of Disney as well.
Let’s start with the sequel trilogy. Whether you enjoy it or not, there’s no denying its similarity to the original trilogy and its reliance on fan service. Disney didn’t plan a storyline, their writing was based on the audience’s reactions to each installment. For example, the amount of backlash that “The Last Jedi” received led to a retcon of everything in “The Rise of Skywalker”. Rey is a Palpatine instead of a nobody; Anakin’s lightsaber is fixed; Kylo has his mask back; and Rose is heavily sidelined. Fast forward to season 2 of “The Mandalorian”. The first season is its own story, but the next one is a festival of cameos from well-known franchise characters including Cobb Vanth, Bo Katan, Ahsoka Tano, Luke Skywalker, and R2-D2. Then there’s an animated series entitled “The Bad Batch”, a prime example of one cliche after the other. There are some good episodes, but most of them have no stakes and old characters are thrown into the story on occasion to keep us engaged. Next we have “The Book of Boba Fett” which is literally living in the past. There are cameos everywhere and Tatooine is an overused location that loves smashing familiar sites in your face. Which is one of the problems with the series “Obi-Wan Kenobi”. It’s nothing new; it uses shaky cam too often; and it’s the third time we’ve seen the protagonist care for a child.
There’s a pattern to be noticed here. Disney is relying too much on our familiarity with the franchise in order to get viewers. I think plenty of people would still watch their content if they took a new approach. “The Mandalorian” was the first Star Wars series on Disney Plus and it succeeded because it’s a standalone story with a completely different tone. But people don’t realize that. The final arc of “The Clone Wars” is in the top tier of television. “Andor” is such a bold take on the lore and it doesn’t feel like Star Wars at all. Clearly, Disney isn’t always lazy. “Rogue One” is a great film that tells its own engaging story without the Skywalkers. “Rebels” is a fun series with many meaningful moments such as Ahsoka’s duel with Vader and Kenobi’s confrontation with Maul. The point is that Star Wars needs to be more consistent with its quality. One day, it’s the same old content. The next day, it’s the best we’ve seen in a long time. The reason Star Wars became popular in the first place is because it was something no one has ever seen before. It’s an exploratory adventure with memorable characters and iconic imagery that blew everyone’s minds with the ambition of its filmmaking. Now, they need to continue building off of that.
The other Disney projects have the same issues. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is even more formulaic and I cannot stand how unoriginal the majority of its installments are. They’re typical superhero stories with an overuse of poor CGI. Again, not all of them are like that. It mostly applies to Phase 4 and the amount of content released isn’t helping. They need more time to craft thoughtful and passionate projects. Pixar isn’t necessarily in the same boat, but even their films have a tiring formula at this point. Sure, each installment has its own creative premise and execution. But they all have very similar messages. Whether they’re about life, family, or friendship.
The moral is that people don’t like seeing the same thing over and over. We only pay to do so because we expect something from franchises that we fell in love with. Writers like Dave Filoni, Jon Favreau, and Rian Johnson need to stay in the business because they have bold takes on storytelling in Star Wars. Dave Filoni dove so deep into the lore of the universe; Jon Favreau crafted an original and immersive western story; and Rian Johnson wasn’t afraid to take a trilogy into a new direction. I believe techniques like those are what’s most important.