Written by Robotical712
Reflections on the current state of the Star Wars franchise.
Tomorrow is what’s become a quasi-holiday celebrating Star Wars, May 4, or “May the Fourth”. Since George Lucas’s Star Wars (now subtitled A New Hope) first graced theaters forty-four years ago, the movie has spawned a sprawling franchise and left an undeniable mark on both culture and film. Even the rare individual who has never seen the films knows the names of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Princess Leia and the Jedi. For fans, the franchise isn’t simply entertainment, but an integral part of their lives.
It is little surprise then that Disney jumped at the chance of buying the franchise when George Lucas offered it eight years ago. For them, it meant inheriting the vast merchandise empire and dedicated fanbase built by George. For fans, with the sale came the promise of a new golden era of Star Wars content. There would be movies, shows, books, comics and games for decades to come. Not only would there be plenty of content, but it was all to be part of a single story, narratively managed by a newly formed story group.
Eight years later the franchise has become an incoherent mess at best and what remains of a bitterly divided fandom can hardly talk about the franchise without vicious arguing. The first new mainline film in the franchise cleared two billion and set a domestic box office record; the final film in the trilogy placed seventh for the year globally and struggled to clear a billion. Before The Mandalorian single-handedly turned things around, Star Wars toy sales were declining annually, with even the president of Diamond Select Toys admitting demand was a shadow of what it once was. There is content being created, but there’s no direction, no central narrative to unify it. Instead, there are an array of disconnected stories going off in their own directions, if they have any intended direction at all.
Without that guiding central narrative, that spark, Star Wars is left dead in the water. Yes, the success of The Mandalorian shows there is still demand and love for the franchise, but the show can only do so much for so long. In the end, it too must contend with the reality it’s tied to the same crushing weight as the rest of the franchise. Until that crushing weight is dealt with, the franchise will struggle to do more than turn out the occasional hit show or movie. Its popularity will wax and wane, but its cultural prominence will eventually fade.
The Saga is the central myth of the Star Wars franchise and what everything else is ultimately built upon. Stories set anywhere in the setting’s expansive timeline are all ultimately tied to this mythology. In ending the core story where it did, the Sequel Trilogy has left a broken foundation. For Star Wars to again capture the popular imagination and inspire like the enduring myths it is based upon, the Sequel Trilogy, as it stands, cannot be left as the final chapter in the story of the Skywalkers.