Opinion: Star Wars...it's time you went home for a while.
I think it’s safe to say we’ve all found ourselves in the following situation: there’s a friend you haven’t seen in a while…maybe it’s because one of you moved away, maybe they’ve been too wrapped up in work…could be a myriad of reasons…and they suggest “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if I swing by and we just hang out like in the old days?” Without thinking you respond, “Yeah! That’d be great!” and you start coordinating to make it happen. They get to your place and everything’s going great. That is…until you realize that the amount of time you had in mind and the amount of time your friend had in mind with regards to his/her visit isn’t the same…it’s longer. Much longer. And no matter how many subtle hints you might provide…they never get it until you finally confront them and say something along the lines of “It’s time for you to go home now.”
Star Wars…it’s time for you to go home now.
Now before we get off on the wrong foot here, no, this isn’t due to The Last Jedi…I liked it.
In fact, I feel like I have to present my Star Wars credentials. Growing up, between my brother and my cousin, I was exposed to many of the old Kenner figures and vehicles. A New Hope always played on one of the local TV stations once a year at least through my elementary school days…and then the entire trilogy played on USA Network on Christmas Day every year in my high school days when I REALLY took the plunge: new Kenner toys, expanded universe novels, the Dark Empire comics…and then pretty much most of Dark Horse’s offerings (I still think Crimson Empire is badass!), posters, novelizations, camping out for Episode 1 tickets (before we all knew better), buying every single re-release of the trilogy…first on VHS then on DVD and yes…again on blu-ray. I could go on…but sufficed to say, I’m a fan. I’ve spent a good deal of my life…and my money…on this franchise.
So…why do I want it to go away so badly?
Well, whether you call it too much of a good thing or market saturation, there it is…there’s just no escaping it…especially now that the franchise is owned by Disney. And no, this isn’t a slam against the House of Mouse. It certainly could be…and it’d be very easy to go in that direction, but I want to keep this personal. They’re just a business…and they’re doing what businesses do, exploiting a popular commodity. Instead, I want to make this about the importance of moderation, the pitfalls of gluttony and the impacts of when it all comes crashing down…as it surely will…and as most things do.
I’m not going to go all old-fogey here and use phrases like “Back in my day…” so on and so forth, but looking at the times surrounding both the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy, one got the feeling that the timing of releases was actually spot on. There was the lead up…with marketing starting to pick up as the movie release grew closer and closer, the full-on blitz for the month just before the release and the initial few weeks of the theatrical run, the ebbing of both adverts and associated merchandise and just when things were headed to the clearance bins…leaks of what was in store for the next chapter would start the buzz and this cycle all over again. There was enough of an ebb that when, after a bit of a dry spell, you saw something new from Star Wars, it was cause practically for celebration…even if it was a toy you already had but just under a new banner or in new packaging.
But now it never goes away.
I guess maybe it started innocently enough with the Clone Wars cartoon. I loved that. And in that show’s defense, it held off until three years after Revenge of the Sith…in some ways still adhering to the precedent set by the movies, three years between each release…save for the 16 year gap between the Original and Prequel trilogies. Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 put an end to that series. We saw the sequel series, Star Wars Rebels (which I like a WHOLE LOT LESS), hit in 2014…followed by Episode VII: The Force Awakens in 2015. And here again, at least we had a little bit of a gap…a moment of rest.
But that would be the end of that.
Rogue One came in 2016, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in 2017, Solo coming in 2018, Episode IX slated for 2019…separate trilogies from Rian Johnson and the showrunners of Game of Thrones as well as other rumored stand-alone “stories” such as Obi-Wan…and, well, there’s no break. We’ll go from one movie to the other to the other…and eventually, hell, I can feel it happening to me now, you just go numb. Prime example? My feelings toward the Solo trailer. I couldn’t have ‘meh’ed harder. And there’s a part of me that is REALLY sad about that. I look back at something that I was really passionate about for such a large chunk of my life and…I don’t want to say I don’t care…but to go back to our opening analogy, dude, you need to go away for a while.
And while I risk sounding slightly hypocritical here, I don’t mind the continued presence of Star Wars in the toy aisles…I really don’t. Mainly because I have so many other interests in that arena, I can look at what’s on shelves or I can pass it by. But now Star Wars is in EVERY PART of the store. I don’t need Yoda on my Campbell’s Soup can all goddamn year…and the year after that. I don’t need a steady fix of Star Wars Cheez-Its. And sure, a Death Star shower curtain sounds kinda cool…but I don’t need it in Target! If I wanna track one down, there’s the internet or, since they’re becoming more commonplace now, the local geeky novelty store.
I can’t be the only person feeling this way…am I?
But here’s the thing…if I’m not…then this bubble is going to burst. With that in mind, I’m trying to enjoy it while I can…I mean, sure, I’ll see Solo in theaters…but I won’t be in as much of a hurry to do so. And I can’t help but feel like more and more…we’ll see fatigue develop. I certainly can’t say when because, let’s face it, many so-called-serious film critics are still waiting for comic book movie fatigue to set in…but the signs are there that this fatigue may indeed be coming (for Star Wars, that is). What makes me say this? A few things. First, the behind the scenes drama that has accompanied both stand-alone movies thus far. On Rogue One, there were massive reshoots and stories floating around the director Gareth Edwards was absent for the finishing touches…with directing duties falling to Tony Gilroy. Something similar, but much more extreme, seems to have occurred on Solo where original directors, Lord and Miller, were fired after approximately 60% or so of the film was shot and replaced by Ron Howard who, while being an A-list director, has had to do extensive reshoots and…well…sure, extensive reshoots can always end up making the film better…but the bulk of history tends to side on that not being a good sign. Just looking at these two side-by-side, you can’t help but notice the downward pattern. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t phrase it that way since Solo hasn’t come out yet and I want to avoid the usual internet practice of condemning something before it’s even released. After all, in spite of its production problems, I liked Rogue One. I guess perhaps the difference I’m looking at here between the two films is that Rogue One’s trailers grabbed my interest (aside from the EXTREMELY clunky Jyn Erso line along the lines of “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel”…ugh) whereas Solo’s trailer, as stated earlier, as left me pretty underwhelmed. Second, we need to take a look at the VERY mixed reaction to The Last Jedi. While this isn’t the first time Star Wars films have been divisive, one need only to refer to the Prequel Trilogy for that distinction, to the Prequels’ advantage, they were the only Star Wars fans were getting at the time (well, aside from the books and the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars mini-series…which…is that still canon or no?) [Nope. – Ed.]. Now, as already mentioned, there’s practically a log-jam of Star Wars choices…saga films (Episodes), stand-alones (A Star Wars Story), Star Wars Rebels ending its run with a live-action TV series in the works, the Forces of Destiny cartoon…this on top of the usual books and comics. I’m leaving out the video games for now because that’s an ENTIRELY separate rant…and one that’s been done to pieces in light of the current Star Wars Battlefront 2 debacle. A middling or divisive offering in this particular context may indeed be a signal of audience fatigue. Hell, even Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, has taken notice and in a recent interview with Cinemablend, warning Disney of oversaturation. When the deal first went through selling the franchise to Disney, George Lucas was quoted as saying that he felt like he’d “just sold his children to white slavers”…and there was much ballyhoo, as the internet is oft to do. But looking at the output Disney has already rolled out as well as what they have planned…you know, to me it’s starting to seem like he hit the nail right on the head.
Look…maybe this oversaturation and fatigue won’t happen. Hell, Marvel’s been churning out movies for 10 years now and there’s been no fatigue of their banner…perhaps Lucasfilm will have an equally long run. That’s certainly a possibility. I may be completely wrong…which I’d be totally fine with. I can only speak for myself…and for me, yeah, I’m starting to feel fatigue set in. It’s not that I no longer like Star Wars, I do…and I always will…but dude, seriously, go home for a little while. Just leave me alone for a bit. We’ll drink and play video games like…next month or something.