In 2015, the Star Wars fan community (mostly) rejoiced with the release of director J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film — the first installment in the saga in a decade — resurrected the franchise, reintroduced classic characters and created an entirely new set of beloved heroes for moviegoers to fall in love with. Of course, the release of the film was the first move in Disney’s effort to kickstart a new era for the Star Wars saga, following its acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012.
Though the Mouse House has done an incredible job reviving enthusiasm for the series — especially in light of the divisive prequels — some of the business moves Disney has made come at a price. Smart business doesn’t always mesh with the desires of the franchise’s hardcore fans, and some of the changes that Disney has made to Star Wars as a brand so far, have no doubt inspired ire from a certain segment of the series’ longtime fanbase.
1. Ditching the entire expanded universe
Soon after news broke that Disney had acquired Lucasfilm and would re-launch the saga, fans were forced to bid farewell to decades of supplementary novels, comic books, and other stories that had heretofore been considered canon by fans. Now re-dubbed “legends,” titles like Heir to the Empire and Shadows of the Empire were sacrificed so that Disney could start fresh with a new continuity to establish an ongoing connectivity between new and upcoming projects.
In the long run, this approach may be for the best, but the loss of so many beloved titles means that generations of storytelling were suddenly silenced.
2. Still not releasing the untouched original trilogy
Some fans were already enraged at the changes made to their beloved Star Wars trilogy when the “special editions” hit theaters in 1997. However, in the years since, these updated cuts have replaced the original versions of the films, accumulating more and more changes with seemingly each home video release. In fact, Lucasfilm has yet to make the untouched original trilogy readily available to fans, with only a limited-edition DVD release. If Disney was truly hoping to appease fans, the studio would finally do what George Lucas never did and release the original cuts of the films to Blu-ray and DVD once and for all.
3. Cancelling Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The Cartoon Network series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars may have lucked out as the only element of the expanded universe to survive the canon shift that occurred when Disney took over. Still, the show aired on a network owned by Warner Bros., and Disney’s desire to bring every element of the franchise under its own roof meant that the fan-favorite animated show fell victim to the chopping block.
At least the visual style and tone was largely carried over into the new Star Wars Rebels series on Disney XD, but it’s unfortunate that The Clone Wars faced a premature end due to reasons that had nothing to do with its epic storytelling.
4. Too much reverence for the original film
Across the board, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was warmly received, ultimately to the tune of a $2 billion worldwide gross. Nevertheless, the film faced a fair amount of criticism for its slavish adherence to the character archetypes, plot outline, and design elements of the original trilogy.
While the story was well-executed and captured the spirit of the franchise, the fact that we essentially got a third Death Star out of the deal is a tad disappointing. Abrams himself has asserted that the decision to model the film after the originals was necessary to launch a new era of stories. So here’s hoping Episode VIII offers something vastly different when it’s released this December.
5. Closing down the LucasArts videogame division
Of all the elements of the expanded universe that got shut down, one of the most upsetting losses for many fans was Disney’s shuttering of LucasArts, the gaming division behind popular titles like Rogue Squadron and Knights of the Old Republic. Again, this decision is clearly predicated on Disney’s aim to keep all Star Wars projects within its own existing corporate structure. Still, it remains to be seen if the Disney-released Star Wars games can compete with fan-favorite titles that preceded the Lucasfilm acquisition.
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