Why Lucasfilm Should Never Make Another New Star Wars Movie
To paraphrase a famous singer: “Star Wars is over (if you will).”
After decades of theatrical disappointments, the Star Wars rebirth is finally upon us, but this comeback is not happening on the big screen. Since 2019, the best Star Wars has been on TV, or more precisely, streaming.
As fans eagerly await any word on a new Star Wars movie – the delayed Rogue Squadron to the rumors of a Old republic movie – one can’t help but wonder if the era of the great Star Wars movies is long over. Continuing to hope for a great new Star Wars movie is pointless, and the cold truth is that universally satisfying Star Wars movies are extremely rare.
Here’s why Disney should never make a new Star Wars movie again, and how history proves that the best outcome for the Force is to retire from the movies forever.
Star Wars Movies: Do the math
There is only of them universally loved Star Wars movies.
In the immensity of debates about Star Wars fans, the only constant is that everyone agrees that Star wars (A new hope) and The Empire Strikes Back are both great. Same Return of the Jedi – being part of the sacred “classic trilogy” – feels less confident and complete than the two previous films. (By 1983, Star Wars was already recycling its tropes: no more superweapons, hidden family ties, etc.)
Despite the fact that Rotten Tomatoes scores mean nothing, the site proves my take on Return of the Jedi. Let’s compare some quick scores:
It only gets worse when you watch the following trilogy:
(We could do the same for the prequels, but to be honest, the less we say about these movies, the better. Especially in this context.)
Whatever trilogy you grew up on, the evidence is clear: any Star Wars movie that isn’t New hope and Empire created problems in the fandom. This means that the one constant in Star Wars fandom is, well, it’s still conflicting. But why?
Star Wars and streaming
Imagine for a moment that Disney + existed in 2018. Instead of landing with a thud in theaters that summer, Solo debuts as a five-part miniseries on the streaming platform. Suddenly, all the critics of this film dry up like water in the sands of Tattoine.
The problem with Solo wasn’t that it was a bad Star Wars movie. The problem was, it was a Star Wars movie period. It doesn’t mean that Solo would have been universally loved in the way The Mandalorian was in 2019. But if Solo had been a tv show, the expectations would have been lowered.
This hypothesis works in reverse. To imagine The Mandalorian like a movie. You can instantly see why this might be working now. Hiding Baby Yoda from the trailers would not entice people to buy tickets. Worse yet, Grogu could have turned against Jar Jar Binks or become unforgettable like the Porgs in Last Jedi.
Star Wars fans hardly ever talk about the quality of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 Freedom Battle Droid Solo. But if you imagine Solo as a series, suddenly L3-37 flirting with Donald Glover’s Lando for several episodes becomes culturally exciting.
Why Star Wars Works Better on TV
The reason why The Mandalorian works and fans are excited for Obi wan kenobi and Ahsoka is the opposite reason people get excited about Star Wars movies. Films have to be huge cultural events, which means doing everything every previous film has done while being its own thing. (Even the most unique Star Wars movie, Thief one, was slapped with a new shot that caused Darth Vader to strike his end with lightsabers.)
That is why The Last Jedi is not as transgressive as it sounds. He still rehashes all of the great Star Wars tropes, even if Rian Johnson gives a few of them his own twist. Again imagine a big screen Mando in 2015. That would have been transgressive! But it might not have worked either.
Star Wars works best on the small screen as audiences shed the baggage of expectation. You’re much more willing to accept the occasional storytelling twist when you know next week’s episode can get the story back on track. Even great moments from the season finale like that Luke Skywalker cameo in The Mandalorian can split without blowing up the whole franchise.
It’s not exclusive to Star Wars. The very nature of cinema means that audiences expect more for their money, both because we pay for the tickets and because the wait between installments is much longer.
This is why the films of the Skywalker saga are segmented into “episodes”. Inspired by serialized storytelling like Flash Gordon, Lucas was trying to take a serialized medium and turn it into films that could be considered as autonomous. His intention was to drop us off in the environment of a series and see if it worked. And, for a short time, he did.
But the success of Star Wars ruined Lucas’ artistic experience. Instead of everyone having lower expectations for the wacky space opera, the expectations have only grown. The scarcity of Star Wars has created an unfair public need for every movie to live up to impossible standards. Streaming and TV are relieving the pressure by allowing Lucasfilm to release a bunch of low-stakes stories at a more steady rate.
It is not a new idea. Animated star wars shows like The clone wars and Rebels succeeded because the stakes were lower, both for the plot and culturally. Every show could have its place in canon without having to be all things Star Wars at all times. But thanks to Disney + and Baby Yoda, streaming is quickly supplanting movies as the center of the Star Wars galaxy.
After originally planning Ewan McGregor’s return as a movie, Lucasfilm cleverly pivoted Obi wan kenobi to a Disney + show where the stakes are much lower. Even with the return of two of the biggest stars in Star Wars history (McGregor and Hayden Christensen), there’s still a lot less pressure to deliver something earth-shattering. Why take a big risk with a movie when you can hedge your bets on the small screen instead?
The Star Wars movies are so hampered by nostalgia and unsatisfying expectations that every new idea seems doomed to fail. Even Patty Jenkins’ delay Rogue Squadron almost demands the next obvious question: why not make it into a TV series?
Star Wars: Visions proved that the ideas and characters in the Star Wars universe are diverse and interesting enough to support all kinds of different narratives. But it’s hard to imagine “The Ninth Jedi” or “The Twins” being made into live-action feature films. And maybe with good reason. Visions represents where Star Wars is going, not where it has been.
Star Wars dogma tells us that the best versions of the saga existed in those perfect cinematic moments. But with Boba Fett’s book, Ahsoka, and Obi wan kenobi along the way, perhaps it is time to take a broader view of the Force. The new hope for Star Wars isn’t in theaters, and it’s possible that has been true for a long, long time.
Boba Fett’s book releases on Disney + on December 29, 2021.