Did Disney Wreck Star Wars?

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(Image Credit: Disney)

One question that I see asked often is “Did Disney Wreck Star Wars?” 

While it depends on who you ask, as fan preference of movies, shows, games, etc. is subjective and people are going to have different opinions on this subject, I think that the proof is in the fandom and the reactions to Disney/ Lucasfilm choices since the mouse took it over.

Disney had a relationship with Lucasfilm for a long time prior to their acquisition on the company. Star Tours in Disneyland has just had it’s 35th Birthday. The problems have mostly started since Disney did the fan-splitting sequel trilogy.

I’m not here to discuss choices in the films or which films are better. I will discuss the behavior around the films by the fans, the media, and even Lucasfilm employees, because they all have led to the issues with Star Wars.

The films

The Star Wars franchise has been facing issues beyond just fan satisfaction. Making films has been an uphill battle with a few films being announced and canceled. There have also been a list of directors assigned to films and then removed over “creative differences.”  This isn’t a good thing.

From what has been released there is very little question that the Disney sequel trilogy has fractured the fandom. A lot of people did not like that Disney and Lucasfilm banked on nostalgia with “The Force Awakens” then didn’t give fans Han, Luke and Leia together. That lost opportunity can never be fixed, short of CGI.

But even after that a lot of fans were still on board. Then came The Last Jedi.

The Last Jedi is arguably the point where the train went off the rails. A lot of fans weren’t happy with the story and a lot of fans were. But many list this film as the start of the major fandom issues. It also led to people boycotting ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

It did not help that there was a massive amount of negativity leveled at anyone who did not like the film. Even the director, Rian Johnson, was out on social media poking fun at those who didn’t like his film, calling them “manbabies.”

(Because only men didn’t like the films. Uh huh.)

There were also people who didn’t like the film that were making inappropriate comments leveled at actors in the film, namely Kelly Marie Tran. Sadly, their behavior was used to paint any fan who didn’t like the films as a “bad person.”  Neither was okay.

All of it was a mess. The focus was on belittling those that didn’t like the film, on social media and in the media. Instead of meeting in the middle, dynamite was thrown into a crevice and it made the chasm much wider.

By the time we got to The Rise of Skywalker and fans found out they were banking on  nostalgia again while also walking back The Last Jedi, fans from both camps were just fed up. It was a film that made very few happy and the box office reflected that.

As a result of all of the shortcomings around the films, the merchandise and toys were not selling. Disney started to return to the original trilogy to try to win back fans and increase sales.

Disney+

We finally has a bright spot with The Mandalorian.

(Photo Credit: BBC)

When all seemed lost, a tiny green alien that everyone called “Baby Yoda,” along with a great story and characters, seemingly brought Star Wars back from the brink. Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau, along with other directors, were able to create show that felt like Star Wars and made fans mostly happy.

Merchandise sales and toys started to bounce back, however there still was a strong focus on original trilogy items. People were loving the show, Grogu, Mando, Cara Dune, and so on.

By the end of season 2 Luke Skywalker returned and was redeemed for many. It was looking like Disney may have pulled out of the tail spin. But then they put it right back in.

Online Controversy

What Disney, and much of Hollywood, doesn’t seem to understand is that social media, and especially Twitter, aren’t representative of the general audience.

Aside from all the drama and controversy, mostly on Twitter, about the films and who did and didn’t like them, there were some issues that caused a lot of drama and even led to an actress being fired.

Luke Skywalker’s Return

One such example of flat out animosity from someone at Lucasfilm happened when audiences responded to Luke Skywalker’s return.

Popular YouTube channel Star Wars Theory did a reaction video to the episode. When Skywalker appeared, he got emotional. Apparently Luke was a childhood hero to him and helped him get through illness.

To which Lucasfilm Creative Executive Pablo Hidalgo mocked him for crying. This of course did not go without an outcry from fans and he did apologize. But it never should have happened.  Sadly, this wasn’t the only incident from Lucasfilm / Lucasfilm Story Group people.

Twitter vs. Rosario Dawson

Dawson, who plays Ahsoka Tano, in the Disney+ Star Wars shows, faced Twitter demanded “cancelation” over allegations leveled against her, and members of her family, over alleged behavior against a trans family friend. Twitter rallied hard to get her canceled, but the lawsuit was dismissed and she and her family were cleared of the charges.

Twitter vs. Gina Carano

Perhaps the most well known fall out from social media and Star Wars was the firing of Gina Carano, the actress who played Cara Dune.

When Carano first appeared on The Mandalorian, fans were excited. Cara Dune was a strong, female character done right and she was a media darling for it. But then Twitter.

A few Twitter users felt that Carano somehow owed it to them to use her “social media power” for their personal gain. They kept insisting she post her pronouns to her bio. She declined but then still offered support by saying “I won’t be putting them in my bio but good for all of you who choose to. I stand against bullying, especially the most vulnerable & freedom to choose.

I want to point out that a lot of other actors, employees at Lucasfilm, and Disney do not have pronouns in their bios and they were not fired, “canceled” or harassed.

This led to a barrage of harassment from the usual suspects on Twitter. After awhile Carano fought back posting “boop/bop/beep” in the usual pronoun format for the platform. Of course this made those harassing her even more angry and the campaign to get her fired ramped up.

Eventually she was fired. They used a tweet she posted about turning people against each other led to neighbors turning against each other during WWII. Lucasfilm used that opportunity to fire her, even though Pedro Pascal allegedly made comparisons involving Nazi symbolism and Trump voters. Only she was fired.

Even Forbes posted an article saying that the firing was “confusing and hypocritical.

This led to further backlash and the constant downvoting of videos on the Star Wars Youtube Channel.

Fellow Star Wars actors and actresses have also commented favorably about Carano many times, but she was still thrown to the Twitter wolves, while other women were protected.

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

(Photo Credit: Kairi Pratt)

Yet another reason that people question Disney’s leadership over Star Wars comes from the theme park expansions of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

When the parks were announced fans were told that it would be highly interactive and would have two (well three at one point) attractions. But when it opened on each coast, only one attraction was up–Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.

While it’s very cool to see the Millennium Falcon in person (very, very cool) the ride itself is a bit bland.

The big draw was the highly anticipated “Rise of the Resistance” attraction that was delayed in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Because of the delay, many guests waited to visit the parks until both attractions were open. This led to lower crowds than what they expected.

When the ride finally opened it was met with a lot of technical issues and Disney forced guests to use a virtual pass system that would also create a lot of drama. But it is a pretty cool attraction.

Prior to the opening of Galaxy’s Edge, then CEO Bog Iger, even made comments about how they wouldn’t have to market the expansion because if they put Star Wars on it people would flock to it. I think that arrogance summed up why Star Wars has floundered under Disney.

Other potential missteps involve changing the focus from original trilogy to Batuu and sequel trilogy characters. Pulling an attraction and the proposed restaurant that was to go in at Disneyland over cost cutting and the idea that guests would be happy taking selfies and posting to social media and didn’t need more.

Then a lot of the interactive elements people were hoping for were taken out and now headed for an expensive hotel LARPing experience called the Galactic Starcruiser.

Which brings us to the current fiasco facing Disney Star Wars–The Galactic Starcruiser Hotel.

Disney took a lot of their “immersive” ideas they touted for all guests to Galaxy’s Edge and have put them behind a paywall hotel. It’s not going well. The price for less than 48 hours runs in the thousands to start, with some rooms going for $6k base price.

Then, Disney released a first look video and it was met with cancellations. The hotel was sold out for months and now there is a lot of availability appearing. Every time Disney gives a peek at something about the hotel that doesn’t look or feel like “Star Wars” they lose more and more bookings.

This doesn’t count all the upcharges, costume prices, and more they banking on. I didn’t even touch the Star Wars cruises, life style brand, or the High Republic, but you get the idea.

To finally answer the question I have to lean towards “Yes, Disney Wrecked Star Wars” but with some footnotes.

Disney and Lucasfilm have done some big time damage to the Star Wars brand and with Star Wars fans. However, it is also because of people like Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni that was have a lot of good new Star Wars projects, characters and stories too.  In some ways it’s been damaged but in other ways it feels like we got more good stories.

Image: Disney

Most of the missteps come down to Disney’s arrogance towards franchises they acquire. Just milking franchises without understanding them or their audience doesn’t work.

(Photo Credit: Inverse.com)

Disney needs to find a way to keep Star Wars where fans can reach it. Treating it like a valuable and beloved franchise more than just a commodity. Focusing on good characters and good story, making is affordable, accessible, and genuine.

Maybe then people won’t feel like they “wrecked” Star Wars.

But this is all just my opinion.

What do you think? Comment and let us know!


Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.