Friday, December 7, 2012

Nerd Rage #12b: The Cons of Disney Buying Star Wars

George looks a little under dressed for the occasion
And we're back. Today we'll continue talking about Disney buying  Star Wars but things won't be so positive. just because there are good things to come out of it doesn't mean there aren't things that might be cause for concern. Of course it's important to note that it's not all bad no matter what I might be ranting about here. Remember to check out Part One of this blog to reassure yourself that I'm not just being a Negative Nancy.

The Cons after the jump.


-The Expanded Universe May Be Screwed

This is a “wait and see” situation but hear me out for a bit. In case you are not aware the Star Wars franchise and story, aside from the films, are furthered in many different mediums. One of the most popular and longest running are the books that take place after Return of the Jedi, starting with Heir to the Empire in 1991 and still being published to this day. There are also numerous spin-off comics produced by Dark Horse Comics that also have a loyal following.

Anyway one of the first things I noticed when the deal went through was that many Star Wars fans were convinced that Episode VII would be based on Heir to the Empire, despite no one official ever once saying that would be the case. Once Disney/Lucasfilms finally came out and said that they would in fact not be using the expanded universe as a template a lot of people got really angry. Why did they get angry? Because they’re crazy. I know that the expanded universe is beloved and everything but even Lucas didn’t allow himself to be shackled by it when he started editing the film original trilogy for his Special Edition or when he made the second trilogy: both times he contradicted established expanded universe continuity and back-story without even blinking. Why then would Disney do any different? What will end up happening is that the third trilogy will likely completely veer off course from what was written in those books (but elements, plot points and characters could easily make their way in). Sure Mara Jade and the Solo Twins are extremely important characters to the whole franchise but we shouldn’t expect to ever see them on the big screen. Just think of it as an alternate universe; you don’t have much of a choice.

On a sadder note Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics are in serious danger. While the deal between the comic company and Lucasfilm, as of this writing, is still standing Disney now owns the biggest comic book publisher on the planet: Marvel. It would be fiscally irresponsible of them to not eventually create the books in-house. The exact same thing happened with Disney’s deal with BOOM! Studio after Marvel was acquired. Sooner or later Dark Horse will lose Star Wars. Now the creators who have long worked with those books might follow the license wherever it goes; the same thing happened with the Transformers comic when it bounced around during the 2000s. However for all we know everything fans loved about those comics might disappear forever. If I were them I’d be really nervous.

-Disney Cares More About Your Money Than Lucas Did 

In the new world order "Mickey Dollars" will be worth quite a bit
You can say a lot of things about George Lucas but one thing you can’t do is accuse him of is being greedy. Yeah, Star Wars did get merchandised to hell but the man himself doesn’t seem to be all that interested in bleeding his fans dry. Case in point he gave away the money he got from Disney to charity. He didn’t sell Star Wars for the money, he sold it so it would be secured and taken care of. Plus the fact that between 1977 and 2005 he only made six Star Wars flicks, and that there was a decade’s long gap between half the films, supports this. I’m sure many Hollywood types were salivating at the idea of a sequel to Return of the Jedi but Lucas never budged. He waited until he had completed the story he wanted to tell before made any more films and not a second sooner…they weren’t good films, but kudos to him to for sticking to his guns. Lucas is a storyteller who just wants to tell the stories he wants in the way he wants. It wasn’t the money he loved but rather the creation and nurturing of his beloved fictional world that drove him. That says a lot about him as a creator.

However Disney is a machine and while they say a lot of stuff about “magic” and “love” they, like all corporations, are mainly concerned about one thing: profit. And there’s a lot of profit to be made from Star Wars. Disney may, and likely will, cross the lines Lucas hesitated to in order to make that cash money. Toys, comics, video games, and likely far more film projects than necessary might get jammed down our throats but whose quality might easily take a seat. It’s happened before, many times. Of course this is all theory. Things might not get that bad. However with Lucas, like him or lump him, he loved and cherished Star Wars. Disney loves and cherishes money because they are a billion dollar corporation and this is still America.

-If Disney Messes Up It Might Be the end of Star Wars 

This one might be hyperbole but the stakes for the franchise are at an all-time high. Consider this: legions of Star Wars fans were disillusioned with the product before this and even today, over ten years after the fact, many people will still curse the name of The Phantom Menace and will hotly debate the quality of the film. What will happen if Walt Disney Presents Star Wars: Episode VII is a wretched movie? And I don’t mean “It’s not as good as Empire, thus it’s bad”. I mean “Holy shit, I rather watch Dark Shadows on loop for three months than to have to watch that garbage again.” The nerd backlash would be immense, almost hard to actually imagine.

Pictured: The Internet, circa 2015 
(If Episode VII sucks)
Rumors have said that Lucas was actually disillusioned by the fans who despised the second trilogy and that may have been the true incentive for him wanting to retire. If true what would fans do if a Lucas-less Disney produced film ended being the soulless, money grabbing vehicle so many people are afraid it will be? Would the franchise ever recover? Look what happened to the Star Trek franchise after one too many fan hated projects; it had to be rebooted from scratch! How many franchises used to be world wide phenomenon only to ended up being half remembered source material for overly comedic movie remakes? (The Star Trek movie was actually really awesome).

I maintain that the Pros are all real while the Cons are more conjecture. It’s possible that all of the Cons might be true but there’s no guarantee of that. Therefore I think that we have a lot more to be happy about with this purchase than not. At the end of the day I can’t believe that there are any Star Wars fans who don’t want more movies and that’s exactly what we’re getting. To complain about that would be insane. My nerdom feels like it’s been a series of disappointments the last ten years; I will likely never get anymore Firefly, Farscape, or Sym-Bionic Titan, three of my favorite comic book characters (Wally West, Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown) don’t exist anymore, Dredd bombed at the Box Office, and Cyclops killed Professor X and is now set to start wearing the ugliest uniform I’ve ever seen. So I need to stay positive about Star Wars. I need to believe that this deal will help more than hurt. Because frankly I can’t take any more negativity.

Still, doesn't this scene kind of scream "Sign it or we'll kill your family"?

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