EDITORIAL: The Case Against A Marvel-Inspired STAR WARS "Cinematic Universe"
While it makes sense from a financial standpoint to make multiple Star Wars films each year, Lucasfilm would be better off sticking with the formula that has made this franchise so big in the first place.
We are absolutely being spoiled with Star Wars content these days. After a ten year wait between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm has been set on releasing Star Wars films annually. With the studio announcing that even more projects are in the works, it is looking increasingly likely that we’ll soon see more than one theatrically released film each year.
However, Disney is taking a bit of a risk by making Star Wars movies a regular thing. The release of a new Star Wars movie is a cultural moment unlike anything else in the film industry, dominating the entertainment news cycle and consuming the social internet. Part of this is because we usually have to wait a while for these films to hit theatres.
It used to be standard to wait three years in between entries in a trilogy, but Lucasfilm has shortened the wait by making more movies, including standalones like Rogue One and Solo. From a fan’s perspective, getting more films in a series you love seems like a great idea, but flooding the market with Star Wars movies might make them feel less significant.
Lucasfilm is taking inspiration from Marvel Studios, another Disney-owned Hollywood powerhouse. This is a bit concerning, as even though producing several movies each year has helped make Marvel’s brand incredibly strong, it might not be the best approach for a franchise like Star Wars.
Marvel Studios is tremendously successful, but the frequency in which they release films makes their releases less notable. While for hardcore fans (those of us who frequent a website about comic book movies), this is far from a problem. Hardcore fans don’t have any trouble keeping up with the several Marvel movies that get released each year, but casual moviegoers might get intimidated by the sheer volume of superhero entertainment.
This is not a slight against Marvel, as they continue to make good movies that are appealing to a wide audience. But the Marvel brand is very different from what Star Wars has established itself as over the course of its 40-year history. The fact that Star Wars movies are released fairly infrequently not only lets the general audience keep up, but also gives each movie plenty of time to shine. If we get multiple Star Wars movies each year, this shine will start to wear off.
Even though one could make a strong case that you can’t have too much of a good thing, a big part of what makes Star Wars special would be taken away if Lucasfilm releases multiple films each year. Even with the current plan of releasing one movie a year, things are feeling a bit repetitive.
The Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer showed us a lot of things we have seen before. TIE fighters, stormtroopers and Star Destroyers are all there, and seeing them on screen isn’t as exciting as it was when The Force Awakens came out. While this fatigue could be lessened by moving away from the Galactic Civil War era, Lucasfilm seems keen on sticking with material that people are familiar with.
Marvel Studios has shown that a franchise can’t be ruined by oversaturation as long as the movies are good, and while Star Wars could continue to make good movies, fans of this franchise are notoriously hard to please.
Old school fans might not be too keen about having Star Wars turn into a cinematic universe since the “event film” strategy Lucasfilm has used with these movies for the last four decades has been absurdly successful. Lucasfilm will certainly make money by churning out Star Wars movies at a faster rate, but there are no guarantees that it will actually strengthen the franchise.
As a fan of Rogue One, I don't have a problem with the concept of standalone films or spin-off trilogies. However, Lucasfilm has to be careful not to go overboard with Star Wars content. Of course, we'll have to see how fans react to the year-and-a-half gap between Solo and Episode IX to see if Star Wars fatigue is really a thing.
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