‘Star Wars’: How George Lucas Got a Taste of His Own Medicine

Many stories have circulated about how Star Wars creator George Lucas felt betrayed by Disney’s Star Wars movies. Fan reaction seems to run to two extremes. One side seems to be saying: “Poor George! How dare you hurt the creator by not listening to him and making movies that disappoint us like The Last Jedi ?” The other side seems to be saying: “Hmph. Serves him right for making such lame prequels. Talk about betrayal.” 

How was George Lucas ‘betrayed?’

Director George Lucas attends the 2017 LACMA Art + Film gala.
George Lucas | Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

The lowdown is that when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, Lucas gave Disney an outline of stories he had in mind for a sequel trilogy. Disney was not contractually bound to use these — and indeed they did not. The company went its own way with director JJ Abrams and his team when they put together The Force Awakens.

Nevertheless, when Lucas realized his work was not being used, he felt “betrayed,” according to a new memoir by Disney CEO Bob Iger titled The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company.’

Lucas’ relationship with Disney had gone back several years, which is why the Star Tours simulator rides were in the parks long before Disney actually bought his company. So it made sense they were the ones Lucas turned too when he looking to unload his company. As quoted by Comicbook.com, Iger writes in  his book: “George knew we weren’t contractually bound to anything, but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we’d follow them, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded.” 

George Lucas had taken a lot of heat for the prequels

Perhaps one reason Disney had been reluctant to use Lucas’ outlines was that Lucas had faced severe criticism for his prequel trilogy from 1999 to 2004. When The Phantom Menace came out, anticipation was stratospheric, as there had not been a new Star Wars movie in 16 years. 

Then, people actually saw it and saw it repeatedly, trying to figure out why they didn’t love it. According to the book Star Wars Conquers the Universe, one fan gave a three-word review to the movie: “s**t f*****g sandwich.” Fans criticized Lucas for everything from racist characterizations to fart jokes. 

Reception for Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith was not much better. The YouTube channel Red Letter Media became famous for its lengthy takedowns of the prequels. There was even a feature-length documentary called The People vs. George Lucas about the fan furor, which included the oft-debated Special Editions of the original trilogy. Not to mention that Lucas got much of the blame for the underwhelming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Is it any wonder Lucas grew weary of the whole thing? In a comic about various Star Wars personnel being harassed by fans, Lucas got one of the panels with the caption: “Sold his franchise because making them wasn’t fun anymore.”

Will George Lucas have the last laugh?

The final chapter of the Skywalker saga, The Rise of Skywalker, hits theaters December 20, and Abrams said: “We had conversations amongst ourselves, we met with George Lucas before we started writing the script … These were things that were in real, not debate, but looking at the sort of vastness of the story and trying to figure out, what is the way to conclude this?”

Perhaps knowing that Lucas had been disappointed with Force Awakens, Abrams reached out with an olive branch to Lucas to at least get his opinion before wrapping everything up, according to Indiewire, and comments on that story run pro and con about Lucas specifically. Hopefully, when all is said and done, fans can at least agree that Lucas should be thanked not only for creating that galaxy far, far away but for giving fans something to disagree about.