It’s pretty clear at this point the immense cultural impact Star Wars: The Force Awakens has had, demolishing box office records and overtaking the entirety of the Internet. The mostly positive response to the film and its reboot of the Star Wars universe has kick-started an endeavor from Disney that will see us experiencing a Star Wars film every year for at least the next five years. The obvious comparison here is to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (another Disney-owned effort), an eight year experiment that is paying off in spades. If the excitement towards films like Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange are any indication, the fervor for that ongoing series isn’t showing any signs of slowing. So, what does that tell us about the public’s clamoring for more Star Wars films?
There’s a few differences to take into account here. The Marvel films are part of a serialized story that progresses with each entry, making each movie something of a sequel to the last one. Excluding the three Trilogy films in the new Star Wars series (Episodes VII, VIII, and IX), the other movies we get are going to fall under the banner of “A Star Wars Story” and be scattered throughout the timeline of the Star Wars universe. And although each of the Marvel movies manage to carve out their own identity, there is something of a “house style” when it comes to their tone and approach. From what we know about the anthology Star Wars films (the upcoming Rogue One and the eventual Han Solo prequel), it looks like Disney is taking much bigger tonal risks. Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One looks to be much grittier than any previous Star Wars film, and the inclusion of Phil Lord & Chris Miller as directors for the young Han Solo movie implies a heavier comedic slant than usual. Those variations allow for a sense of newness to these adventures, but all of this leads up to a particular quandary: will our culture get sick of (or at the very least numb to) Star Wars?
Of course, I’m sure some of you were sick of Star Wars at some point before, during, or shortly after The Force Awakens, so this bit of pondering isn’t for you. It’s for those of us who are excited at where the franchise can go but are wary of the possibility of dilution creeping into what’s arguably the biggest pop culture property of all time. Naturally, a lot of this will depend on the inherent quality of the films we get (particularly the Trilogy films) but that’s not always a signal for success. Look at the Transformers series; the films are critically panned but continue to bring in embarrassingly huge returns at the box office. If jumbled messes like those films can captivate a large swath of the worldwide movie-going populace, it’s more than likely that Star Wars can easily survive a few turds in its billion-dollar punchbowl.
This isn’t a piece where the article’s titular question has an answer ready. I’m genuinely asking if we might tire of these trips to a galaxy far, far away. Advertisers and the merchandising companies certainly won’t, slapping Star Wars on everything from makeup kits to Chex Mix bags. The money machine is going to milk Star Wars drier than the deserts of Tatooine (Jakku for all you young’uns), but will that integrated marketing help or hinder our devotion to this property?
I’ll admit to some trepidation when it comes to the upcoming films, particularly the non-Trilogy entries. Even with Lord & Miller attached, a Star Wars Babies story about Han Solo holds next to no interest for me. I’m more intrigued by Rogue One in terms of its tone and presentation, but the actual story (“here are the folks who stole the Death Star plans”) feels more suited to a comic book one-shot than a multi-million dollar film, especially if the characters we meet won’t exist in other films (they will be a big part of tie-in novels and disposable materials like that, I’m sure).
While you may be able to easily answer this question as it pertains to yourself, can this be something we can attempt to answer for the population as a whole? Maybe the answer is a resounding, “No,” and our movie theaters will just be converted into Star Wars churches where we all meet for service once or twice a year (like Catholics with Easter and Christmas). As far as my own outlook goes, I don’t see myself getting sick of Star Wars, but being bored with it? That’s not outside of the realm of possibility. I hope that isn’t the case, but too much of a good thing…
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