“Reboot Star Wars?!? Heresy!” you say. Now hang on and hear me out before you heat up the tar and pluck the turkey feathers. “Dad,” my 7-year-old son asked me the other day, “how long will they make new Star Wars films?”
“Forever, son.” I replied, without lying. Disney is the master of milking milk cows. And Star Wars is the milkiest of the milk cows, or ca$h cows, as it’s written in Bob Iger’s board room. There will be no end to Star Wars, but to get there, we need a new beginning.
In “Rogue One,” they made a good start. As the first line of Episode VII: TFA reads, “This will begin to make things right.” To see how that applies, read two excellent reviews of the movie (with spoilers) from Ben Howe and Ben Domenech.
Disney already effectively rebooted the franchise, to many hard-core fans when they summarily declared hundreds of thousands of pages of “canon” to be merely “legend.” That includes deep back-story development on every X-wing pilot, Empire weapons program and galactic bounty hunter, along with a rich trove of the History of The Force.
Of course, The Mouse can draw upon that material, rather selectively, and they’ve done so–selectively, again–in the first two movies. But what we really need now is a new beginning, based on the gritty linchpin story told in Rogue One (and sure to be others), that wipes away, totally and completely, the travesties of Lucas’ Episodes I-III.
I mean it’s not like Star Wars is different from any other fan-beloved movie franchise. Spider-Man is undergoing its, what, third or fourth reboot? This time it’s a studio transfer, moving the series rightfully into the Avenger-Marvel universe. Batman has been rebooted more times than a PC installing Windows 95 (if you’re under 40, you will have to look that up).
The best Batman so far may be the next one up, the Lego version played by Will Arnett. It may also redeem the truly awful Suicide Squad, incorporating Jenny Slate as Harley Quinn, along with every awful Batman movie ever made.
But Star Wars needs a fan redemption, because in Lucas’ version, the only one who is redeemed is Vader. Rogue One takes care of that misconception, but now turns Episodes I-III into an infected splinter in the souls of Star Wars lovers. Disney is nothing if not masters at keeping old fans happy and new fans intrigued. The latest movie sets up the springboard and impetus for what needs to be done.
Let’s wipe midi-chlorians, virgin births, Jedi Councils and the clean, shiny, unused future from the horizon. Let’s erase all memory of Jar Jar Binks. We can do much better than Episode I, where the most memorable characters are a devil-horned Sith who gets zero character development but an awesome part, and the unabashedly racist Chicken George part of Binks. In the Rogue story line, the entire race of Gungans would have been summarily destroyed.
We can do better than to play stupid tricks like the audience doesn’t know who Palpatine really is. Why shade his face while he pronounces insipid tripe to match Yoda’s own dumbing down of the power of The Force.
One movie. It can be done with just one movie, with the timeline from Anakin’s birth through Darth Vader. Thirty seconds of screen time can take us all the way to the Clone Wars, if done right. Then tell a real story–don’t tell us like Lucas did (Qui-Gon Jinn may as well have broken out a PowerPoint presentation), but give the audience some credit for having brains and imaginations. And get some better actors than Hayden Christiansen. Don’t waste talent like Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor.
There’s plenty of time for Disney to fill in the gaps, and enough source material for 50 years of Star Wars movies, all of them fan pleasers. But to do that, we need a new beginning.