What we lose when Star Wars goes to the Dark Side

Under Disney management, the Force may be with us always — but will Star Wars still offer young viewers that “first step into a larger world”?

SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

“If money is what Disney wants,” quipped a friend, borrowing a line from Princess Leia in the original 1977 Star Wars, “then that’s what they’ll receive.”

And, indeed, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is already a certified global hit, if not to the same record-breaking tune as last year’s The Force Awakens.

Both films have also been decently received by critics. It seems the magic touch guiding Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe — which has yet to produce a box-office or critical flop — is alive and well in the ongoing expansion of that galaxy far, far away.

Not everyone is thrilled, of course, about what both fans and skeptics agree is the “Marvelization” of Star Wars. Though a lifelong fan of both Star Wars and Marvel Comics, I’m decidedly ambivalent about it myself. But I recognize that any connection between the latest Star Wars movies and the Marvel movies must be seen as a feature, not a bug.

Star Wars’ simplistic, escapist style of storytelling was as out of step in the 1970s as it would be today. Prior to Star Wars (and Close Encounters, also in 1977), 1970s Hollywood science fiction tended to be as jaded and pessimistic as early 1970s cinema generally.

Still, even features come with trade-offs, and the Marvelization of Star Wars is no exception. This might not be as clear in The Force Awakens — about as pure a work of nostalgia and homage as can possibly be contrived short of a shot-for-shot remake — as it is in Rogue One, where the Marvel-style engineering is more obvious.

Rogue One isn’t just a different sort of story than the original Star Wars films, or even just a story in a different genre. It is a story set in a different moral universe — a story that is on some levels fundamentally incompatible with the spirit of the original Star Wars films.

What do I mean?

All Things Star Wars, Debilitating Sequelitis, Fantasy