Is Disney A New Hope for Quality Star Wars Content?


(Lucasfilm Ltd./TNS)

Set in the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian is one of the original series available at Disney+.

Emily Deming, Editor in Chief

It’s easy to imagine why Star Wars, a franchise spanning over 40 years, is a large target for  criticism as to why it routinely becomes a hot topic in the media, and with the December 2020 announcement of multiple Star Wars series being released over the next few years, it is happening once again. 

Disney bought Lucasfilm, the company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, for $4 billion in 2012–a decision still largely talked about. Disney’s Star Wars trilogy is one of the most controversially-received pieces of Star Wars media, the main divide coming after the release of episode VII, The Last Jedi

It’s no surprise that with such a large fanbase, not everyone would be happy about every decision, but it apparently brought out the worst in some, resulting in the popularity of the term, ‘The Fandom Menace’ which not-so-lovingly refers to the ‘toxic’ Star Wars fans who criticize everything Disney does. in relation to this epic series. 

One thing important to understanding  why so many fans have negative opinions of Disney-produced Star Wars content is that it was more than a change of ownership.

Star Wars Legends, the expanded universe of Star Wars that is said to have started as early as 1978 and contributed to the original six films by George Lucas, the original and prequel trilogies. 

However, when Disney gained the rights to the characters and stories in 2014, they announced that all prior stories telling the past and future of the Star Wars timeline would be relabeled and classified as no longer canon due to the work then being made on the sequel trilogy, consisting of episodes VII The Force Awakens (2015), VIII The Last Jedi (2017), and IX The Rise of Skywalker (2019), which went on to be  famously disliked for similar reasons.

With such a popular series spanning two generations, Warren Hills students weighed in on this hot topic.

“There was depth to the Star Wars universe before the new movies because of the extensive fan-made lore from comics and books,” said Alec Patriarca, a senior and long-term fan. “A lot of fans were upset that Disney decanonized it.”

Senior Simeon Guretese agreed.

“They completely ruined the impact of Luke turning his father to the light side and the killing of Palpatine,” he said. “They destroyed Luke’s character, and made multiple decisions that contradicted the history and lore of the Star Wars Universe.” 

Despite such criticism from old school-fans, things continue to look up for Disney.

Premiering with the launch of Disney+  in November 2019, The Mandalorian series  was expectedly under a lot of scrutiny.

“I love the Mandalorian! Seeing a character that’s not 100% tied to anything we’ve seen before is actually really cool,” said junior Taryn Faccenda. “Seeing characters like Bo Katan in live action is also awesome after only seeing her animated.” 

With Disney releasing one episode every Friday during the fall of both 2019 and 2020, The Mandalorian series tells the story of a lone bounty-hunter- turned-adoptive-dad of the beloved ‘Baby Yoda’ and his travels in a post-republic time.   Characters like Boba Fett, Bo Katan and Ashoka Tano also make appearances, though the goal of the series is being able to tell a Star Wars story from someone not directly involved in the Tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. 

“I think Disney is milking the franchise, but maybe after the success of the Mandalorian, it can show the direction that Disney needs to take with the Star Wars license,” said senior Nikolai Osadtsia.

Osadtsia isn’t alone in that opinion, either.

“[Disney] needed to decide whether or not it was an episodic adventure show or something that built to an overarching plot,” Guertese agreed. “Before committing to one or the other, the show was wonky, but it has turned into something good now. The Mandalorian is not good because of Disney– it is [good] because John Favreau, Dave Filoni and George Lucas are involved in it.”

With the general opinion on The Mandalorian being positive, it was no surprise when nine more series were announced. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka, Rangers of the New Republic, Andor,  The Bad Batch,  Star Wars: Visions, Lando, The Acolyte, and  A Droid Story. 

“I’m most excited for the Ahsoka series and the Obi-wan Kenobi series,” said Faccenda,  “mainly because I’m absolutely in love with the Clone Wars, so seeing those characters again after all this time is really exciting.” 

The Obi-wan Kenobi series is said to take place ten years after Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side in episode III, Revenge of the Sith. It has been announced that both Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen will reprise their roles from the prequel trilogy in this live action series. 

“The Obi-Wan Kenobi series is exciting. It will be interesting to see his further training with Qui-Gon, that is, if they include it,” said Guretese. 

And the Obi-Wan praise seems to be common among fans.

“My favorite character has to be Obi-Wan as every scene he is in is simply just great,” said Osadstia. “Also, growing up, I always found him the coolest out of the characters right by Darth Vader because he works great in every scene he is in.”

But what about a series not involving already- introduced characters?

“I’m definitely attached to the story of the Skywalkers and will hope for them to be a big part of the Star Wars universe, but I am ready for more,” said Patriarca

The first series out of the nine expected to come out is Andor in 2022, with Cassian Andor and K-2SO going on adventures pre-Rogue One. More information regarding the other series, as well as season three of The Mandalorian, is expected to come out as soon as 2021.

Overall, despite challenges,  the outlook for Star Wars is looking up again.

“I think the Star Wars franchise has a lot of potential with the new series coming out,” said Faccenda, “but I feel they should touch on characters not related to the Skywalker saga.”