Where did Star Wars go wrong? How does a franchise whose name makes money quicker than the worlds banks, fall from a sure thing to a “uh-oh, here we go again”? Star Wars has captivated audiences since it began over 40 years ago. It has whisked us off to a Galaxy Far Far Away and sent us on unparalleled journeys. From the desert planet, Tatooine, the volcanic Mustafar, and the ill-fated Alderaan, Star Wars has always found its place in our world.
Yet lately, it can’t catch a break.
The Last Jedi was praised by critics and crushed by fans. Solo: A Star Wars Movie was met with skepticism before it even landed and failed to impress after it did. Even my favorite of the new movies, Rogue One couldn’t escape the backlash that Star Wars has received as of late.
With so much history, lore, and stories to pull from, why has it failed so miserably as of late? It isn’t as if it’s a new franchise trying to gain ground.
Where did Star Wars go wrong?
I don’t think that there is just a single reason. The reason for the Star Wars failure is a whole number of reasons all combined. For example, I believe that audiences are running on Star Wars fatigue. While at one point the movies would strategically come out every couple of years, these days it seems a movie hits the theater every second day. Yes, that may be an over exaggeration but the impact of quickly churning out movies isn’t. For a long time, Star Wars could heavily rely on well-timed marketing and a strong desire to see another tour of the galaxy. That just doesn’t happen anymore.
When Disney purchased the franchise for 4 Billion dollars it immediately made it known that it planned to recoup its money as fast as possible. And the best way to do that is through shoving the franchise down our throats. Don’t get me wrong. I love Star Wars and will defend it until the day that I die. This is greed and I can’t, however, defend greed. Churning out movies for the purpose of capital recoup is frustrating. And in order for Star Wars to even begin to fix itself, the greed must go.
Good things take time. Good franchises take time to build. Disney, of all companies, should know this. They’ve watched and been a part of the 10 strategic yeas it’s taken to build the MCU. I don’t know too much about running a franchise as large as Star Wars but if I was a betting man, I would always put quality over quantity. Be patient Disney and quit pumping out average movies, the Star Wars time will come.
The characters aren’t cared about as much as the last time
Outside of its animated universe, Star Wars hasn’t done too much to introduce new characters that we actually care about. When I watched Ashoka Tano walk away from the Jedi at the end of the Clone Wars animated series, I felt something. It was almost as though my heart was being grabbed by a Wookie whose only purpose is to stomp the shit out of it. When I watched Luke Skywalker die in The Last Jedi, I felt…nothing.
Here was Luke Skywalker…Jedi Knight, savior of the galaxy, the man who beat Darth Vader in battle, dead, and I didn’t care. Worse yet, I actually felt bad for not feeling bad that he died.
And that’s a problem. The franchise has lost its heart. It has lost almost everything that made it what it is. Most troubling, it hasn’t even come close to recognizing this.
So, Joel. Tell us, where did Star Wars go wrong?
Disney is just not listening.
As the second movie in a planned trilogy, The Last Jedi had expectations to live up to. While Attack of the Clones was well below standards, the Empire Strikes Back is considered a masterpiece. In fact, in the world of Star Wars, it may very be the Holy Grail. When The Last Jedi came out, expectations were high and rightfully so. The Force Awakens, for as nostalgia driven as it was, was a monumental success. It created a slew of new characters, albeit ones that I don’t care too much for, and made the audience believe that they could carry the once proud franchise.
The Last Jedi squashed that belief.
It wasn’t as though the movie was terrible. I admittedly liked it better the second time around and maybe if I watch it again, I’ll like it even more. The problem was that it didn’t do anything that Star Wars has historically done.
- Good storytelling
- Three-dimensional characters
- Good vs Evil (it very much blurred the lines)
- Memorable planets
And most importantly, the audience left with the feeling that all the questions they had after The Force Awakens didn’t matter. I’ll say it again. The Last Jedi made fans feel as though the franchise wasn’t about them. Where did Star Wars go wrong? That, above any other reason, is it.
After The Force Awakens, the internet was littered with questions as to who Rey was, who Snoke was, why C-3PO’s arm was red, and where did Poe, Captain Phasma, and B-B8 come from? The Last Jedi made a mockery of these. In truth, it might as well spit on these questions. Like before, it was a clear case of Star Wars not caring.
And yes, that’s a problem.
Solo did no better when it introduced us to Han Solo’s backstory. Disney has the chance at a sure-fire hit and it failed miserably. A character as beloved as Han Solo should be able to muster up some sort of excitement, shouldn’t it?
But it didn’t. The movie was marred with well-publicized issues, reshoots, and worst of all, poor timing. It came out just 5 months after the release of The Last Jedi and followed the highly anticipated Avengers Infinity War and the endless burns of Deadpool 2. If there was ever a definition to the word catastrophe, this was it.
Thing got worse when it finally hit the screen. The acting was poor, the story was blah and, I can’t speak for you but I left the theater thinking that I hadn’t watched a Star Wars movie.
This is a problem.
My good friend and longtime Star Wars fanatic summed it up nicely when he texted me this of the move. “I was disgusted. I’m close to writing anything else off. …Solo strayed so badly from the established archetype and didn’t match on any level…” In essence, Solo was a failure. Now Disney appears to be gun shy about releasing any more standalone movies.
Simple, yet not so simple solutions
If this is the path Disney chooses to follow, so be it. However, not releasing movies is not the answer.
Character development, good storylines, memorable locations, carefully planned release dates, well-constructed scripts, and patience is the answer. Selfishly, I hope that Disney figures this out because I don’t want to wait another 12 years for a Star Wars movie.
What do you think? Where did Star Wars go wrong?