Disney+ Is Saving Star Wars
Since Disney acquired Star Wars in 2012 for $4 billion, fans haven’t loved everything that has released. While 2015’s The Force Awakens was generally received positively, subsequent films have divided the fan base and at times provoked ‘fans’ to show their worst side. Cast and crew members received hostile reactions to some creative decisions, with The Last Jedi causing the most outspoken criticism.
While some of the films split the fan base, the overwhelming response to the animated series have been positive. In particular season 7 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels united the fans and provided some of the most loved stories that Star Wars has produced.
In November of 2017 Disney announced they were working on a live action Star Wars show that would debut on their direct-to-consumer streaming service, Disney+. As more films released and the fandom was divided, the premise of this show also became contentious among fans. While many doubted Disney’s ability to produce a product that would be loved, many others pointed towards the success of the animated shows as a reason to be hopeful.
This hope only grew when we discovered that Executive Producer of The Mandalorian would be working with Dave Filoni to develop the series. For those of you who don’t know, Dave Filoni was the Director and Executive Producer on The Clone Wars and Rebels. What’s more is he worked directly alongside George Lucas on The Clone Wars and to many fans, is considered the apprentice to the master himself.
With its release in 2019, The Mandalorian showed fans that a live action Star Wars show could absolutely work. While it didn’t blow people away it offered a fun perspective on the franchise and introduced us to characters that quickly became very popular. It was with 2020’s release of season 2 however that we finally got to see the true potential of a Star Wars show.
For those that are yet to see the show I will avoid spoilers on the most part.
Season 2 of The Mandalorian took a different narrative approach compared to season 1. In the first season, each episode acted like a mini adventure for our main characters. Season 2 however created a continuous narrative throughout the episodes, with each progressing the story from the one before it. This led to some truly incredible moments and ultimately to a season finale that fans, almost universally, loved.
This long form story progression seemed to address the biggest issues from the sequel trilogy (Episodes 7,8 and 9). While the trilogy started strong with The Force Awakens, it ended feeling disjointed and didn’t quite tell a cohesive story. Having Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni write and produce The Mandalorian from the beginning has allowed the shows story to flow and create moments that feel earned and not just shoehorned in.
The success of The Mandalorian meant that fans excitement only grew with what Disney and Lucasfilm announced at Decembers Disney Investor Day 2020. Disney+ has quickly become a focus for every studio under Disney, and Lucasfilm is arguably leading that with The Mandalorian. The shift to streaming seemed likely in order to bolster their content offering, however the effect that Covid-19 had on Hollywood has only accelerated that transition.
The Mandalorian set the stage for Star Wars on Disney+, and it is something they will look to build upon with not only season 3 but also three spin off shows set within the same timeline. Ahsoka, The Book of Boba Fett and Rangers of the New Republic will see characters introduced in The Mandalorian off on their own adventures. Lucasfilm President, Kathleen Kennedy, also teased all of them all coming back together for a larger MCU style event. Disney and Lucasfilm didn’t stop there though.
They also announced live action shows based on Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrission and Cassian Andor, as well as a show set in the final days of the High Republic called ‘The Acolyte’. These shows will be joined by three animated projects too. The Bad Batch, Visions and A Droid Story.
These eleven projects that are all adopting long form storytelling, will hopefully allow the creators to develop their stories further and give us time to sit with characters and plot points. With the creative heads at Lucasfilm seemingly now aligned after the mishaps of the sequel trilogy, I think that Star Wars is finally on a track to success. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have proven they truly understand the franchise and what makes it work. Based on reports they will be influential in all upcoming Disney+ projects, even if they are not the ones creating them. This creative collaboration is what Star Wars has been missing.
The sequel trilogy felt disjointed, with reports each writer and director didn’t consult with each other to form the bigger picture. Lucasfilm now appear to adopt the Marvel model, where all involved work together to build the larger franchise going forward.
This is the shake-up that Star Wars needed. The Marvel Cinematic Universe changed how every franchise is perceived, with its decade long story arc consisting of twenty three films and much more to come. Star Wars on Disney+ has forced Lucasfilm to think differently and in turn, opened their eyes to the creative mistakes made before. With this new direction and diverse line up in place, Star Wars finally seems to be on the right path.