A Short Time Ago In Our Galaxy...
Disney buys Lucasfilm, Star Wars, and announces there will be a new Star Wars movie entitled Episode VII in 2015. When I logged on yesterday to find out this news, I've got to say I was completely blown away and it's taken a bit of time to fully process the news. When Revenge of the Sith finished its credits, I was fairly sure Star Wars was finished. There might be animated series, books, or television shows but the movies were the heart of the beast.
George Lucas has always been the father of Star Wars and I think the backlash against him has been somewhat unfair. Okay, not entirely unfair because the Prequels had horrible acting and numerous terrible ideas but they were still enjoyable--at least to me. Lucas has always been an idea man with the original trilogy primarily benefiting from his immense vision. I encourage anyone who thinks the Prequels were flukes to watch some of the screen tests for Star Wars and hear some of the original dialogue.
Still, Star Wars isn't a fluke either. If you ever thought it was, you just have to look at Indiana Jones. It was George Lucas' idea that he and Steven Spielberg do a work based on the old pulp serials. Really, given Harrison Ford was involved in both projects, I'm inclined to think he was a major guiding force in dealing with some of Lucas'....quirks. In any case, at the age of 68, he's at retirement age and should be able to enjoy his remaining years. Given he's being paid two billion dollars in cash and two billion in Disney stock, presumably he'll retire on whichever planet he chooses to buy.
What does this mean for Star Wars as a franchise, though? The revelation they're going to make Episode VII indicates it's going to be a living franchise now. Even if George Lucas dies, the series will continue on indefinitely. In some ways, this is a bad thing. Say what you will about George but he's always done what he wants to do. George could have kept churning out Star Wars movies indefinitely like they've done with the Aliens franchise. Hopefully, Disney isn't going to do this but the fact is they've now got time George as a movie mogul doesn't. Two hundred years from now, Disney will still be around and hocking Cinderella merchandise.
The difference is, now, they might be hocking Jedi merchandise as well.
I think future generations deserve a chance to experience Star Wars in the theaters and keeping it a living franchise is a good thing. I'm not particularly worried about what happens with the Star Wars Expanded Universe since I have a somewhat Doylist view on the subject. There is no "true" story of Star Wars. Han shot first in the first movie but shot second (after Greedo's incredibly **** first shot) in the Special Edition. Stories like the New Jedi Order build on previous continuity but I consider these to be features of a well-written story as opposed to an absolute necessity.
Some of my favorite Star Wars stories are Crisis on Cloud City, Domain of Evil, and the Otherspace duology. Even if you're a die-hard EU fan, you probably haven't read about these stories because they're tabletop RPG modules. They're stories about how a set of heroes stopped a nanotechnology plague, redeemed a fallen Jedi, and fought against other-dimensional death cultists. There's no way to say how these things happened in the "real" Star Wars universe because they were different for every Gamemaster who ran them. This is how I view the Star Wars universe, to an extent, as a playground for people to tell their stories.
The Disney corporation may declare all of the novels non-canon, start the next trilogy immediately after the Battle of Endor, and kill Luke Skywalker in the first five minutes. None of this will affect my version of Star Wars. Luke Skywalker married Mara Jade, had a son named Ben (also a daughter named Padme I made up), had many adventures, and died centuries later.
When the opening crawl first came into theaters, it ceased to be entirely George Lucas' tale and became the property of all of us. I'm eager to see what other storytellers have to say but won't get bent out of shape over them.