Star Wars: A divided fandom?
For me, George Lucas was a genius, the man was a revolutionary. In my opinion, only a select few like Spielberg and James Cameron can drink at the same bar as him. Once again, this is my own opinion and if you disagree with it, then that’s fine with me as we are not all going to share the same views. The original Star Wars Trilogy will always hold a special place in my heart. I grew up watching those movies and, as a child, Luke Skywalker was one of my favourite heroes. I think of how the magic of those movies captivated an entire generation and I was one of the millions of kids around the world at the time with Star Wars action figures and vehicle play-sets. I never followed the ‘Star Wars Expanded Universe’, so for me the story ended with Return of The Jedi. Then came the prequels…. Yes, them. Some people love them, some hate them. If I never watch Episode one and two again I won’t shed a tear. Episode three is the only movie out of the prequels I don’t mind watching and that’s because of Ian Mcdiarmid playing the role of Emperor Palpatine. He is fantastic. In 2012, Disney bought Star Wars. Kathleen Kennedy is now in charge of steering the ship (or hitting an ice berg) and my initial reaction was excitement.
When this took place, I had no idea that George Lucas had provided his outlines/scripts for the next three movies and they were rejected! So The Force Awakens comes out and it’s very similar to ‘A New Hope'. Let’s be honest here, it really was! Han solo dying in this movie ended a golden opportunity for the fantastic 3 to come together and kick ass on screen again. Honestly, I was not too surprised at this, given how Harrison Ford wanted Han dead in Empire Strikes Back, but that was back then and did he actually want the character killed off in the Force Awakens? I don’t know. For me, a lot of fans still had faith at this time that the new direction of Star Wars would come good. I was one of them. I had no connection to the new characters but didn’t care for any of them. For me, I had not seen Luke Skywalker yet and expected ‘BIG’ things from him. When the Last Jedi trailer dropped, I remember not getting excited after I’d seen it. The Force Awakens trailer got me with the “Chewie were home” moment, but this trailer looked dull and people I worked with at the time said far worse words in their take of the trailer than ‘dull’
I remember seeing Mark Hamill looking miserable and saying how he was not happy with the character. I then started to wonder what the hell they had done to Luke Skywalker? I watched the movie and I understood straight away what Mark Hamill was saying. As soon as Luke tossed his father’s lightsaber over his shoulder, I knew I was not going to enjoy this movie. Luke’s character was not what I was expecting, but why should Lucasfilm care? They wanted to give the new characters the spotlight, but I still hoped Luke would be awesome…. Boy was I wrong! Seeing him milking that space alien and drinking it summed him up as a character. Mark Hamill wore that sulking face for a reason. As for the rest of the movie, I remember the whole theatre laughing hysterically when Princess Leia flew through space like Mary Poppins (face palm moment) and I was checking out by the time Finn and Rose were freeing those animals (check your wrist watch moment). Regardless of how bored I had got, I managed to watch it till the end and when I walked out I knew that I had my time with Star Wars and that was in the 80’s, the franchise has obviously moved on without me and that’s fine…no complaints here. What I would like to state is that if they directed these movies for the younger generation, I can tell you every youngster I know in my family and my all my friend’s kids all prefer the MCU, they all prefer Iron-Man, Spider-Man & Thanos over Rey, Finn & Kyo-Ren. In the toy stores here in the UK (Smith's Toys) the Marvel sections are huge and the Star Wars figures section is only one shelf.
What comes next is the main reason I’m writing this blog and that is the fandom’s reaction since the last Jedi. After observing and experiencing the many conflicts online and in social media groups, I’ve seen a lot of harsh words between fans and even taken some online abuse myself and it’s usually the same topics. I do not speak for every old school fan, but the many I’ve seen online don’t like the Disney stuff because of how the legacy characters were treated. Han Solo’s death, Luke being a dead-beat Jedi that tries to murder his nephew (another face palm) and how the three legacy characters never really got together the way everyone hoped. Many fans I’ve encountered don’t like that they brought back Palpatine in the rise of Skywalker because, basically, it makes Anakin's Skywalkers story arc obsolete. Not to mention, Palpatine is responsible for Vader’s death and Rey is responsible for Kylo’s death, meaning the Palpatine’s have ended the Skywalker bloodline. These reasons were popular in the social media groups I was once in. (I actually heard online that JJ Abrahams was not happy that Rian Johnson killed off Snoke) so he brought back Sheev Palpatine to be a big bad villain in the final movie.
What I saw and experienced on these social media groups was when fans voiced their dislike for the Disney sequel trilogy. For these reasons, they were called many names, bigots being a common one. I was called much harsher words when I stated I didn’t like how Rian Johnson wrote the character of Luke Skywalker in the Last Jedi and was attacked because of my opinion! I guess you’re not allowed to have those when online these days! So my theory of there being a possible divide in the fan base may be exaggerated, but what I will point out is the movie's box office numbers. The Force Awakens made over $2 billion at the global box office, the last Jedi $1.3 billion, so that’s $700 million less and Rise of Skywalker $1 billion overall $1 billion less than The Force awakens and $300 less than the Last Jedi. My take on this decline is that some fans may have switched off and if your movies' box office is declining, then there’s a problem. (I just want to mention that Solo A Star Wars story grossed under $400 million, which was the first movie to be released after the last Jedi…just saying)
I want to quickly turn your attention to the Avengers movies in the MCU (The first two Ave
ngers movies grossed around $1.5 billion each, Infinity War $2 billion and End Game $2.7 billion). Ok this was pre-covid times but that’s what you call progression.
Sadly, I left many of the Star Wars social media groups because of the abuse I took for my dislike of the Last Jedi. When you’re a fan of something and you’re getting online abuse for your opinions, I feel it’s definitely best to take your leave. Finally, I wanted to say that the Mandalorian seems to be a hit and though I have not watched a single episode (and don’t intend to) however I did see the return of Luke Skywalker, scene, I finally got to see him as I always wanted. But by then I had no excitement as I'd been switched off from Star Wars since December 2017.
What I will end this blog with is the only Blu Ray I own produced by Disney Lucasfilm is Rouge One. I actually loved that movie and when I genuinely watch it I have that Star Wars feeling from when I watched the original trilogy! Gareth Edwards, take a bow my friend.