What to Expect from the Lucasfilm/Disney Merger

                  Back in 2009, Disney shocked the world when they purchased Marvel. Fans went into a speculative frenzy. Marvel Comics readers wondered if their characters would be neutered or what other agenda Disney had for their favorite properties. It’s now three years later and history is repeating itself. On October 30th 2012, Disney announced that it had purchased Lucasfilm for 4.2 billion dollars. If that wasn’t enough to get people talking, Disney also revealed that they would be making new Star Wars movies, starting with “Episode VII” in 2015.

`               Star Wars fans around the world are having reactions all over the emotional spectrum. There is excitement, anger but mostly there are questions. With the little information we’ve been given, speculation is the current name of the game. What does Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm mean to Star Wars? What will these new movies be like and how will they affect the franchise? While it’s still too early to do anything but speculate, we can look at what’s happened to Marvel in the past few years to give us an idea of what to expect. 

                                                                                      WILL DISNEY CHANGE STAR WARS?

                 One of the biggest concerns from fans has been fear of Disney taking too much control and making Star Wars more neutered. Luckily, we can look at their handlings with Marvel to see how Disney may run things. Marvel Studios have continued turning out blockbusters while the comics have had no major changes or edicts from Disney to alter their behavior. The lethal characters are still killing and the sexual characters are still seducing.

                The biggest changes are going to be for the different licensees. It’s already been rumored that “Clone Wars” will be moving to Disney XD next year. Dark Horse Comics days of publishing Star Wars may also be coming to an end. These arrangements all depend on how long their contracts go on for. Back when Disney bought Marvel, there were expectations that Universal Studios Islands of Adventure would have to close down their Marvel Comics section of the theme park. Three years later and the park still stands with no closing announced. However, Boom Studios eventually stopped publishing Disney comics, and that baton has been picked up by Marvel. It’s likely Disney will want everything under one roof, but the time it takes to get there will be determined by the end dates of certain contracts. 

                                                                       WILL MARVEL AND STAR WARS GET BACK TOGETHER?

                Mike Richardson, president of Dark Horse Comics, made a statement that while there aren’t any immediate developments, the Disney deal “changes the landscape”. Will we see a situation similar to Boom Studios? Will Marvel Comics become the publishers of Star Wars again? Marvel actually held the license years ago during the production of the original Star Wars trilogy. I have mixed feelings about the possibility of the license going back to Marvel.  I’m a very big fan of both Marvel Comics and Star Wars, and have even done a podcast about Marvel’s Star Wars title. However, I think Dark Horse has done a great job taking Star Wars in different directions in the two decades that they’ve held the comics license. What do you all think? How would you feel about a Star Wars comic written by Marvel writers such as Dan Slott, Ed Brubaker or Brian Michael Bendis?          

                The Marvel Comics factor has revived another debate, should the Star Wars universe and the Marvel universe crossover? This question was actually brought up in the letters pages of Marvel’s original Star Wars comics. Marvel Comics haven’t been any strangers to crossovers. The Punisher has met Archie, J. Jonah Jameson has met Godzilla and Spider-Man teamed up with Superman. Heck, Phineas and Ferb are teaming up with the Avengers in an upcoming television special. Star Wars has never crossed over with any other property and that’s the way it needs to stay. While the fan in me would love to see Spider-Man and Luke Skywalker rushing into battle together, it would ultimately be a horrible decision which would leave fans wishing Disney had left Star Wars alone. 

                                                                   I THOUGHT GEORGE LUCAS SAID “NO MORE STAR WARS MOVIES”

                    When I first read that Lucas had given Disney the blessing to go forward with “Episode VII”, I was in disbelief. Ever since 1997, Lucas never wasted an opportunity to tell people that there would be no sequel trilogy. He repeated this mantra as often as possible and things only intensified after “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” was released in 2005. Perhaps I should have known better, since Lucas has always been inconsistent when speaking about his plans for future Star Wars movies. However, he was so insistent that I couldn’t help but believe him. His retirement earlier this year also came with a statement that there would be no future Star Wars movies made by him or anyone else.

‘               The fact that he was making these assertions earlier this year are puzzling, since it’s since been revealed that the negotiations with Disney have been going on for over a year and a half. Mark Hamill told the press that George informed him about “Episode VII” this August. Rumors are now flying that “Episode VII” was going to be announced at “Star Wars Celebration VI” but things fell through at the last minute. Were sequels always part of the deal or was that something George had to be sold on? Had George Lucas already made his decision about “Episode VII” when he made his retirement announcement? 

                                                                                                         IS LUCAS DONE WITH STAR WARS?

                  Even though George Lucas has thrown out the word “retirement” and spoken of “handing Star Wars off to the next generation”, I still think he’ll be a major player in the making of “Episode VII”. For starters, he’s written the story treatment for the movie and its expected sequels. His “retirement” also hasn’t stopped him from continuing to being a major creative force behind the “Clone Wars” animated series. According to Seth Green, Lucas has also been to many meetings about the production and development for the upcoming comedy series “Star Wars Detours”.  While Lucas may have a reduced role, I don’t think he’ll be as absent as some people are speculating. 

                                                                                                        WHO WILL DIRECT?

                          With George Lucas’s retirement, people are wondering who will direct the new movie? Many people have already read into George Lucas’s comment about “new talent” and assume it rules out seasoned directors such as Steven Spielberg. Don’t assume that this is the case. However, I think we can throw Joss Whedon, another popular guess, out of the running. The highly anticipated sequel to “The Avengers” will be coming out the same summer as “Episode VII” and unless Whedon is a Jedi, it will be pretty hard to direct both movies concurrently. Until any further announcements are made, all we could do is make wish-lists of our favorite director choices. I’m personally pulling for Spielberg. 

                                                             ARE THEY MAKING MOVIES FROM THE THRAWN BOOKS?

                         Don’t expect adaptations of your favorite Star Wars Expanded Universe stories. A Lucasfilm representative has already come out and said that “Episode VII” will be an original story. Despite this announcement, fans all over the internet are still speculating (some are even assuming) that the new trilogy will be adaptations of Timothy Zahn’s popular “Thrawn Trilogy”. While I am a big fan of the “Thrawn Trilogy”, I don’t think they would work very well as movies. The story is more dialogue driven and works best in novel form. While the Expanded Universe is popular, Lucas has always made it clear that he has his own ideas about the Star Wars saga. Even though George Lucas won’t be directing, it’s been said that he wrote the story treatments for the next three films. Sorry Thrawn fans. 

                                                    WHAT DOES EPISODE VII MEAN FOR THE EXPANDED UNIVERSE?

                            The Expanded Universe continuity will most likely be affected. Back when a sequel trilogy seemed like it would never come to fruition, the Expanded Universe told many stories in the post “Return of the Jedi” world. With limited restrictions in place, Chewbacca was killed, Luke got married and had a son, Han and Leia’s offspring went through many trials and tribulations and the status quo was forever changed. In order to avoid continuity errors with the Expanded Universe, Lucasfilm would have to walk on lots of eggshells in their new film. However, as evident in the “Clone Wars” animated series, Lucasfilm will respect the Expanded Universe when they can but ultimately chose to go in their own direction even if it involves contradicting a popular story. 

                  The “Clone Wars” era Explanded Universe stories have been really careful with the status quo so that their material won’t be contradicted by the films or animated series. Even with all their caution, there are now dozens of stories that are no longer canon due to being overridden by the “Clone Wars” animated series. Knowing what I know about Clone Wars continuity and keeping in mind how many status quo changes the post “Return of the Jedi” stories have, I don’t think the Expanded Universe stands much of a chance at retaining most of its continuity once “Episode VII” is released. In the past, the Expanded Universe has been very creative with crafting retcons to fix continuity errors made by new movies and television series. It’s a very handy talent and it’s one of the things I love most about the Expanded Universe. However, their continuity has never experienced a “threat” like this before. There is a chance the movie will fit in with the established timeline, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. 

                 I grew up with Expanded Universe stories and years ago, I would have been furious about a new Star Wars movie contradicting them. I’m now older and my perspective on many things in fandom has changed. I’m surprisingly at peace with the very real possibility of the EU’s fate. I’ll always enjoy those stories and they will always be there to go back and reread. 

                                                                                        WHAT DO YOU THINK?

 I’m excited for “Episode VII”. I don’t expect it to be as good as the original trilogy, but a new Star Wars movie is still something we should be thrilled about. With Disney backing Star Wars now, who knows what we might see. I’d love to see a Star Wars theme park. Please sound off in the comments section. What do you think of these developments? What direction do you think things will go in? How have you felt about Disney’s handling of Marvel? What are your hopes and wish-lists? 

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(8) Comments

  1. Daugherty

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  2. Boomstick

    I'm not overly optimistic, honestly, but then this *is* Disney we're talking about.I was happy enough when the prequel trilogy came out, though it never measured up to the original trilogy and I expect the trend will continue on screen. Disney will milk cash-cow dry, as it has done with the Muppets and the rest, and it will eventually be pretty unrecognizable. Other than Ahsoka dols sold at Disneyworld, I don't anticipate more than a big spike in merchandising.

  3. cubman987

    Well said. Personally I would LOVE to see Spielberg get the directing job, so he's my numbe 1 choice right now. I don't think I saw mention here about this but they have also said there will be more movies made after 7,8, and 9....something I would love to see would be a Knights of the Old Republic type of movie or movies.

  4. fantasyfreak

    Very nice editorial Bertone! :) Do you think it would be a fair assumption to make, that Dark Horse has until Episode VII comes out to publish the stories they want? That is about as much as I have left to say so far on the subject. Until we get more info, I will be slightly confused, yet hopefully optimistic.

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