Nobody, even the movie’s creator, thought Star Wars would be all that successful. George Lucas just wanted to make a movie following his vision, inspired by Japanese samurai movies, classic science fiction serials, and the traditional “hero’s journey”. He went through hoops to ensure the movie got made. Imagine everyone’s surprise, especially the studios that turned it down, when the movie sparked a revolution in storytelling, restoring the action option to science fiction, proving making something kid-friendly didn’t mean making a movie for kids, and pretty much creating the “blockbuster” movie. It’s now a huge part of our culture. Not just our pop culture but people usually know what you mean when you reference Darth Vader, Jedi, droids, lightsabers, and a host of other terminology, some of which has become part of science fiction or as the extended media coined it “science fantasy”, elements of both science fiction and fantasy.
However, it isn’t everyone’s favorite type of movie, and some of those not into it are part of what me at BW Media Spotlight refers to as the “everything for meeeeeeeeeeeeeee” crowd. They hate the fact that something so important doesn’t cater to their interests, tastes, and preferences, and work to fix that while thumbing their collective noses at the die hard fans while the casual fans don’t really notice. Unfortunately many of them are currently in the Star Wars writing room and the poor box office returns and poorer merchandise sales say it hasn’t worked for them.
Kofi Outlaw, writer for Comicbook.com, a site that is no longer about just comic books like other websites such as CBR (formerly Comic Book Resources), has an idea: just remake the original trilogy. In a recent opinion piece Outlaw details why he thinks the original trilogy needs to be remade for a modern audience. And here I come along to tell you why it shouldn’t, beyond the fact that movie goers are pretty much tired of endless remakes more than they are sequels.
After Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the Star Wars Skywalker Saga has come to a close – but that does not mean it has achieved closure. The Star Wars Sequel Trilogy and standalones have created many new continuity knots, and Star Wars has generally gotten so much bigger than what George Lucas originally envisioned for the franchise. Instead of constantly bending modern Star Wars to fit the limited view of the Original Trilogy, we should now consider another option: Disney should remake the Star Wars Original Trilogy, for the good of the franchise and its fans.
Funny, nobody talks about fitting the limited view of Sesame Street, a show that references people who are no longer there. By the way, that IS a kids show. You think today’s four-year-old has any thoughts about Mr. Hooper? I doubt it. What few soap operas still exist have gone on for longer–General Hospital started out as a radio show in the day before television–and they don’t have a problem keeping history straight even if a particular fact or two gets messed up. Or maybe that’s changed since my mom past because I certainly don’t watch it on my own. I thought part of the reason of ditching the Expanded Universe was to get things under control by limiting official canon for this continuity to the nine movies, more recent TV and web series, and whatever novels and comics come out now.
It’s funny how longstanding continuity has to be tossed out by today’s writers. Star Trek had those weird rights issues, but the movies took on a more action tone under J.J. Abrams while Discovery swears it’s not a reboot but totally has to be to make any sense and Picard threw out any positives in Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future for a dated social commentary narrative. Yet somehow Doctor Who has remained in the same continuity but still plays games with horrible retcons.
Ever since the Star Wars movie franchise started moving forward again in the ’90s, there’s been a push-pull conflict between the Original Trilogy and the new material that Lucasfilm produced. It started with George Lucas releasing the Star Wars Special Editions, where Lucas punched-up the original films with modern visual effects, new scenes, and even big changes to the previous canon (Han Shot First!). Fans were very split over the move, and with good reason: Lucas had arguably abandoned the low-budget and maverick filmmaking he did to create Star Wars outside the ’70s movie studio system, which is exactly what helped endear the film to fans in the first place.
“Low-budget”? IMDB estimates the budget at $11,000,000. Now if that isn’t translated into 2020 values that’s quite a bit of money. Compare it to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, estimated at $20,000,000, or 2001: A Space Odyssey, estimated at $12,000,000. And I don’t know if that counts Lucas creating an entire special effects studio with equipment and techniques that never existed until then. That doesn’t come cheap and probably came from his own pocket. This isn’t Battle Beyond The Stars ($2,000,000). What endeared the film to fans was the great story, the lore, and the special effects that let you think this was a real universe while still just being a fun action story with no moral preaching necessary. Remember, not every Star Wars fan are die hard fans who read every novel and comic. Some just came for the movie. The Special Editions felt unnecessary and not only didn’t add to the films but at times it kind of took away simply because technology had advanced to the point that Lucas could see his full vision because he didn’t subscribe to the production being over when movies hit theaters. “A New Hope” was added in for later showings and TV. It used to just be called Star Wars.
There’s a lesson to be learned from fans’ reaction to the Star Wars Special Editions: We love the original Star Wars films for their kitschy magic, and there have been repeated calls to get the original (non-tampered) films released on modern services. Maybe it’s time to admit that the original Star Wars OT films deserve to be their own thing – and the larger modern Star Wars Skywalker Saga should maybe be a different thing.
I’m not sure where that leap comes from. The “Skywalker Saga” is Star Wars to anyone unfamiliar with the expanded lore of the Old Republic or the Sith Empire. I’m not even that steeped in the expanded history from novels and Dark Horse stories, but I did get books featuring the classic characters, especially anything where R2D2 and C-3PO took center stage.
No doubt the biggest and most jarring jump in viewing Star Wars is starting with the Star Wars Prequels and then going to the Original Trilogy. There was simply too much time between the ’70s / 80s era of the OT, and ’00s era of the PT, for the films to ever hope to sync up visually.
Nobody complains about the visuals for the prequels. In fact they often get what little praise the films get, and even that’s rather dated.
In many respects, the Star Wars Prequels are almost like a reboot for the franchise, in terms of visual tone and format – one that feels much more in line with the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy that has come along after. Since Star Wars has already kind of given itself a fresh start in the 21st century, why not complete the process and make The Skywalker Saga one set of visually cohesive films by adding a modern-looking version of the OT to the lineup?
We tried that. We ended up with Rouge One: A Star Wars Story, a good movie that didn’t feel like Star Wars. What Outlaw is asking for here is for the franchise to stop doing what makes it unique and get in line with what everyone else is doing. Isn’t that the opposite of what Lucas was trying to do? We’re talking a franchise that has only gained fans as it has gone on. Or do you really think that many kids from 1977 were still buying enough novels, comics, and video games to keep them coming out at the level they were and still are? Like or hate the Prequels they still drew new viewers into the films and extended media. Again, nobody asks to change Sesame Street, and it’s actually disappointing that HBO dropped a half-hour of that.
The immediate question fans will ask about this idea is: how could you recast the original Star Wars movies? It’s actually not that hard – we have the people to do it, and already know who they are!
As the Star Wars community has already pointed out, Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier star Sebastian Stan is a beloved stand-in for Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd is a breakout star in her own right, and fans would probably love to see her do a modern-minded version of Leia. Even Solo‘s Alden Ehrenreich has amassed a dedicated cult-following, calling for his return to the franchise – ditto for Donald Glover’s Lando. All of those actors are believable young versions of the OT actors who returned for the Sequel Trilogy, so the transition between OT and ST would still work. This would be almost too easy for Disney / Lucas to pull off, on the casting front.
Interesting. I keep hearing that Solo: A Star Wars Story bombed really hard in protest to The Last Jedi‘s tossing continuity in a meat grinder. Would Lourd really want to do a new version of her mother’s most famous role in a version that pretty much tosses out classic Leia’s character and arc? This isn’t like cartoons where you can change a voice actor if one dies, retires, or wants to move on to other projects and still pull it off. I’m not saying the cast wouldn’t work on a different project with the tone Outlaw wants but it really wouldn’t feel that much like a Star Wars production. There’s a reason recasts of the Star Trek actors have been limited to fan projects and alternate continuities, but my favorite fan projects are ones that create whole new ships like Farragut or Intrepid.
As stated at the start: One of the biggest problems in Star Wars is how the vastly expanded (and retconned) continuity under Disney gets harder and harder to fit with Lucas’ Original Trilogy. We’re already down to nitpicking minor extras in OT film scenes as “inspirations” for new Star Wars stories that can connect to the larger continuity. It’s getting silly.
You misspelled “fun”. That’s pretty much what the Expanded Universe did, and while it can get silly it’s a good exercise for writers and if you really liked your Hammerhead action figure you might want to see what the Ithorians were like. Come to think of it, “Hammerhead” was just a random character in the cantena that never showed up again yet the figure comes with his own blaster. However, Disney already tossed out the Expanded Universe, and classified it as an alternate universe (know as “Legends”). This is nothing new for this franchise.
A new version of Star Wars OT would have full knowledge of the Skywalker Saga canon in front of it. It could lend much more weight to details, new scenes, characters, and storylines that grow into bigger things down the line. The role of villains like Vader and Palpatine could be much more fleshed out, and the writing on OT heroes like Luke, Han, and Leia could be updated to better fit the older, modern, complex versions we met in the Sequel Trilogy.
So toss out character growth for the heroes, who grew into those characters in the Sequel Trilogy (though many would argue Luke was a step in the wrong direction but I won’t get into that here). As far as the villains, what exactly do you want to flesh out? That’s a serious question, not a comment. I’m just curious, though based on the answers I would probably have more comments. The villains fulfill the roles they need to in the original series and almost do in the Prequels. Notice he’s not asking for a fleshed out version of Snoake.
The knee-jerk reaction is that this Disney remake idea somehow downgrades the original Star Wars films – but it’s quite the opposite. If Disney remakes the OT, it forever preserves Lucas’ original films as their own, separate, thing, which inspired a larger franchise reboot with the Prequels.
I wouldn’t say it downgrades the Original Trilogy, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense to reboot it either. (And no, I don’t accept that the Prequels are a reboot. I don’t think he made a good case of that in this article. It’s a backtrack with a bit of retcon but you can make a better case for the Sequels, especially The Last Jedi as a reboot since it actually tosses out established tropes and lore.) I will say that it feels like a mistake to create a new official continuity (the Expanded Universe was never canon except for the Ewok movies–the Holiday Special was tossed out as soon as Lucas realized what a mistake it was) when everyone else has been able to build off of the previous movies. The Expanded Universe shown it could be done, and the problem was nobody was making the effort to make the comics and novels match up to themselves, never mind each other. With a smaller official continuity made by Disney’s LucasFilm that shouldn’t be an issue.
There would be no need to tamper with Lucas’ original cuts anymore, as the entire point of the Lucas films would be to represent the cinematic culture of their time, while the Disney films would be a complete set, unto themselves. George Lucas would still have his imprint on the Disney franchise through the Prequels… it’s pretty much a win all around.
No it isn’t. Fans were already unhappy the decades of built-upon lore was tossed out even if many understood that it had to be. (Much of it wasn’t canon to the movie continuity anyway.) I think Outlaw is looking at this purely from a cinematic perspective rather than lore of the franchise. Maybe the characters don’t mean as much to him as a franchise he’s more devoted to so he don’t care about the legacy of the series, like me and Game Of Thrones. You don’t fix something by throwing it away and that’s what the writer is proposing, tossing out the classic films and the saga they told in favor of something new, probably something he likes. Maybe the solution is not screwing up the continuity in the first place instead of quitting and starting over. Let Star Wars fans have Star Wars while you create and champion something new that appeals to your tastes and preferences. Everyone get to have their own beloved franchise. Not everyone needs “their version” of the same franchise.