Did Disney ruin Star Wars? Since first purchasing LucasFilm and the entire Star Wars franchise, Disney has released four Star Wars films with mixed results. While they’ve all been critical and box office successes in their own right, there’s a disturbance in the force. Many Star Wars fans aren’t happy with the direction Disney has taken Star Wars. In response, Disney adjusted their strategy several times, firing directors, cancelling scheduled spin-offs (like a Boba Fett standalone movie), and focusing their attention on putting out Star Wars TV shows to their new streaming service, Disney+. With so much confusion on what fans want, Disney seems determined to get it right, no matter what.
Every week, List25 has been debating these hotly contested topics in a segment we call “Deathmatch.” Two of our writers take a side to the debate and fight for their side. This time, Jason and Hunter, are facing off to answer this difficult and divisive question—Did Disney ruin Star Wars?
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Yes: There was no reason for a new trilogy
When it comes down to it, the new trilogy has no reason to exist other than Disney cashing in on the success of the original movies. The “Return of the Jedi” ended with the main characters victorious, the empire leaderless and on the run, and the story all wrapped up. There was no need for a follow-up trilogy. You’d think Disney would have learned by now the dangers of unnecessary sequels? Then again, “Frozen 2” is coming out this year, so maybe not. – HH
No: We get to see the old gang again
When it was announced in the late ’90s that Lucasfilm would release new “Star Wars” films, fans were elated. Then, they found out the old gang wasn’t coming back. Instead, they were releasing prequels of a toddler Anakin Skywalker. No one asked for that. Everyone wanted the old gang back together. So, we waited for years to finally see it happen.
For a while, I lost hope it would ever happen. Then, Disney bought Lucasfilm and gave it to us. Don’t lie, you know you loved it when the old gang reunited. From Han and Leia reuniting to Chewy taking out Stormtroopers to seeing Luke again, it was a great feeling to see them fighting evil once more. – JI
Yes: Too many underdeveloped side characters
Let’s be honest, Star Wars doesn’t have a great track record of fleshing out its secondary characters, and that tradition doesn’t seem to be going away with Disney’s acquisition of the franchise. New characters are thrown in left and right with no real explanation to how they got there, and few have any chance to grow once they are there.
Yeah, I know there’s only so much you can fit into a feature-length movie, but that’s no excuse for characters like Supreme Leader Snoke or Captain Phasma, who were hyped to be amazing villains, only to eventually end up dying off before we could learn anything more about them. And no, the extended canon doesn’t count, fleshing out your side characters in a book is a total cop-out and isn’t an excuse for pointless characters. – HH
No: Star Wars isn't Game of Thrones
“Star Wars” movies have a rich history of underdeveloped characters. From Boba Fett to IG-88, most of the characters in Star Wars are underdeveloped. Honestly, what do we even know about Luke, Leia, and Han? Very little. Star Wars isn’t Game of Thrones. It’s not meant to be full of insanely developed characters. It’s about swashbuckling adventure and the heroes journey. Don’t make it something it’s not or you’ll always be disappointed. – JI
Yes: They feel like they're pushing an agenda
When it boils down to it, every Star Wars movie since the beginning has been about a group of rebels fighting off the evil, controlling empire. So, why is it that the new movies get so much more attention for being political than the originals? Well, part of the reason is Disney tries so hard to get their point across that it takes people out of the experience. Perhaps Disney is making up for their long history of contrived stories about princesses being rescued by a prince, but you can have strong female leads and good representation without it feeling forced. – HH
No: They're far better than the prequels
Many people, fans included, don’t fully realize how awful the prequels were. With three horrible movies, George Lucas single handedly decimated his entire legacy. Disney took on the insurmountable task of rebuilding trust in the franchise and scaling an impossible nostalgia wall.
They’re doing a much better job than Lucas. Every single Disney Star Wars movie is far and away better than the prequels. They have richer characters, better action and direction, better plots, better writing, and pretty much better everything. – JI
Yes: Pointless spin-off movies
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” were Disney’s two attempts at expanding the Star Wars universe through spin-off movies and, surprisingly, they weren’t completely terrible. No, the problem with these side movies isn’t that they’re bad, I myself thought Rogue One was great! (Solo… maybe not so much.) The problem with them is that they failed at the one thing they set out to do: Expand the Star Wars universe.
Both Rogue One and Solo are just retelling stories that we already know; we knew how Rogue One would end since “Star Wars: A New Hope” came out in 1977, and Solo was just every little tidbit of exposition Han Solo gave up about himself packed into one movie.
The Star Wars universe is big and packed with opportunity, but with the recent cancelling of what could have been an awesome Boba Fett spin-off, Disney has made it clear to the fans that they’re just not interested in flexing their creative muscles and making new and interesting movies. – HH
No: They're giving exactly what fans wanted
Since the first trilogy released, fans have always wanted movies exploring other parts of the Star Wars universe. Why do you think the video games and books were so popular? Fans wanted more. Disney is merely giving the fans what they’ve always wanted.
It’s true Disney hasn’t expanded the Star Wars universe through new information, but they have expanded it by experience. Fans want to experience the stories regardless if it gives them new information or not. Most Star Wars fans know everything there is to know about the expanded universe. Disney likely knows that and just wants to give them a visual experience. They succeeded. – JI
Yes: The new movies are just one big marketing ploy
Be honest with yourself; did the porgs really have any reason to be in “The Last Jedi” beyond giving Disney an excuse to market a new star wars toy? No, they did not. Ever since they’ve acquired the rights, Disney merchandised the soul out of Star Wars. So you can bet they’ll take any opportunity they can to throw some cute new aliens into the films. Of course, marketing your movie is going to be a necessary evil for any studio, but Disney has, as they usually do, taken it to an extreme. – HH
No: They've given it to new, fresh filmmakers
George Lucas invented the Star Wars franchise, sure, but other filmmakers, like Irvin Kershner, molded it and made it even better. When Lucas decided to direct the entire prequel trilogy himself, he proved he’s a horrible director, crashing and burning his beloved franchise into the ground.
Star Wars is better off when fresh, new voices take control. J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson have done a far better job recapturing the heart of Star Wars than Lucas ever could.
Yes: They're trying way to hard to be funny
Okay, the Star War movies have always been hit or miss with the comedic relief. I shouldn’t even have to bring up Jar Jar Binks. But, it seems that in the sequel trilogy the jokes have been missing consistently more often.
Sure, the lighthearted silly approach has worked for movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and some of the other MCU films, but Disney has taken it too far with Star Wars. There were so many moments in “The Last Jedi” that were ruined by a poorly timed joke. What’s with good characters like Finn and Poe Dameron being demoted to bumbling jesters for the sake of trying to squeeze a laugh out of an audience? – HH
No: Star Wars has never been more fun
It’s easy to forget, but the original trilogy is full of silly antics and jokes. From Han Solo having a casual conversation over the Death Star intercom to Leia calling Chewy a “walking carpet,” Star Wars is full of one-liners and jokes. The prequels on the other hand were stale and devoid of any humor at all. When it tried to be funny, it never landed. The new trilogy, on the other hand, recaptured the original fun of Star Wars with plenty of quips and one-liners that land, making it feel like the old Star Wars again. – JI
Yes: The new movies are rushed
Disney officially acquired the license to Star Wars at the end of 2012 and “The Force Awakens” hit theaters only 3 years later, with a new full-length film coming out every year since. Compare that to the 3 year gap between each film in the previous two trilogies and you will realize just how quick of a turnaround that is.
Sure, technology has improved since then, but every Star Wars movie since the Disney acquisition has just felt rushed. I think I speak for all fans when I say that I wouldn’t mind waiting an extra year if it meant getting a truly great movie. – HH
No: The Last Jedi cleansed the Star Wars nostalgia palette
It’s no secret the Star Wars fan base is heavily divided and very toxic. George Lucas likely figured that before he decided to sell it off to Disney. Fans have a serious perception versus reality problem drenched in an ill-placed, and detrimental, nostalgia, a nostalgia with impossible expectations. Disney didn’t ruin Star Wars; nostalgia did. Disney and Rian Johnson could have given fans everything they ever wanted but, admit it, it wouldn’t have satisfied. Fans were already complaining about “The Force Awakens” seeming too similar to the old movies. Knowing they fought an impossible fight, Disney and Johnson made a genius (and gutsy) move, and subverted all expectations in “The Last Jedi,” totally wiping the slate clean and starting fresh. – JI
Yes: They ruined Luke Skywalker
Oh Luke, what have they done to you? There is no denying that the Luke Skywalker we got in “The Last Jedi” was a far cry from the one we remember from the original trilogy. Gone was the brave young man we remember, and in his place seemed to be a moody teenager in a grown man’s body. Even Mark Hamill can’t find anything nice to say about the change in his character; he criticized the writing of his character on multiple occasions leading up to the release of “The Last Jedi.” – HH
No: Luke Skywalker was perfectly executed
30 years passed since “The Return of the Jedi.” Have you remained the exact same person after 30 years? Not likely. Then, why do fans expect Luke to be the same person? After failing Ben Solo and losing all his Jedi padawans, Luke was a broken man, unable to rectify the damage that had been done. He lost hope and faith. It makes sense he’d become a crotchety old hermit after something so traumatic. Not only that, but Luke had his own arc in the “The Last Jedi,” overcoming his cynicism and facing off against the one who betrayed him one last time. He passed the torch to a new generation of Jedi. – JI