I have been plugged into Star Wars fandom for a long time now. How long? I stood in line in 1977 to see Star Wars (before the title was expanded to A New Hope) with my 2nd grade classmate. Afterwards, we went back to his house to stage our own lightsaber battle with two flashlights. It was life changing. Since then, Star Wars has been among my top hobbies and I’ve never missed a single Star Wars branded movie (though I did wait for Solo on DVD).
For the majority of my life, Star Wars has been an unstoppable juggernaut. Even the prequel movies, which were divisive among many fans, ended up doing very well at the box office and in merchandise and over the years have developed a passionate fandom of their own. That juggernaut has stumbled as of late and it’s beginning to become apparent why. Disney acquired LucasFilm in 2012 for around four billion dollars. Initially it looked like this would be a good thing. Fans were beginning to doubt George Lucas’ vision for the continuation of Star Wars into the future. Ideas that future movies would focus on midichlorians and other less than beloved George Lucas concepts gave doubts to Star Wars fans. Disney might breathe new life and ideas into the franchise.
Things got off to a pretty good start. While controversial, Disney cleared the slate by declaring any media that wasn’t on film including books, comic books, and video games were no longer Star Wars cannon but recatagorized as Star Wars Legends. Then we got the first new Star Wars movie since the prequels - Star Wars The Force Awakens. While this movie did receive a few mixed reviews it was largely well received by the Star Wars fandom and contained a lot of fan service scenes which built good faith with the Star Wars community.
Then Disney moved in an interesting direction by announcing a slate of stand alone “Story” films, the first of which was Star Wars: Rogue One. There was some skepticism initially. Is this going to over saturate the Star Wars film market? Would the spin-off films be of equally good quality? Would this lead to some fan favorite offerings? Nerves were calmed among the Star Wars fandom when Rogue One was released and turned out to be a pretty good film with an outstanding scene featuring Darth Vader. But then…
Then came the most divisive film ever in the Star Wars franchise. Replacing the former most loathed Star Wars movie Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Disney released the Rian Johnson directed Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017 and the Star Wars fandom walked out of the theater bewildered, confused, and it seems like over time- annoyed.
Even Luke Skywalker himself seems to have had much trepidation about Star Wars: The Last Jedi with actor Mark Hamill giving several thinly veiled comments about his disagreement over the direction of the Luke Skywalker character in various interviews.
Following the apparent serious misstep with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the next spin-off movie seemed to be one absolutely nobody was clamoring for - Solo: A Star Wars Story following an early adventure of Han Solo, a fan favorite character to be sure, but one that few fans felt they needed a detailed back story for. Fortunately, Solo: A Star Wars Story was better received critically than many expected but didn’t perform well at the box office giving the franchise it’s first financial disappointment. The chinks in the armor were now beginning to show.
After the financial disappointment of Solo: A Star Wars story, Disney seemed to press the pause button on future spin-off movies to reconsider. There is a Star Wars based Mandalorian television series in production as was, up to this past week, a Boba Fett movie as well. Perhaps these would provide a chance for Disney to right the Star Wars ship. Within Star Wars fandom the two characters with which there seems to be the biggest interest for a stand alone movie are Obi-Wan Kenobi and it mustn’t feature anyone other than Ewan McGregor in the role, and Boba Fett. There has been no known movement toward anything involving a Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan movie and now the axe has fallen on Boba Fett.
Boba Fett was a fan favorite Star Wars character from day one. His first appearance was in a parade, of all things, and the buzz started immediately. His costuming was incredible and he radiated a serious tough guy tone. He then made a regrettable first appearance on screen in the terrible Star Wars Holiday Special in animated form but we finally got to see Boba Fett, for real this time, in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. While he had limited screen time, he became a character that Star Wars fans MUST know more about.
Boba Fett was back in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi but only briefly where he met an anti-climatic fate. Still, this couldn’t squash the popularity of the character. Boba Fett fans got some service in the prequels where we met a young Boba Fett and his father Jango Fett but that did little really to scratch the Boba Fett itch. Fans wanted to see Boba Fett in action and nothing on screen to date has really lived up to what fans want out of the character. This was the chance.
Not only that, but the Boba Fett movie was slated to feature other fan favorite Star Wars characters- the bounty hunters! The other Star Wars bounty hunters (Dengar, Bossk, IG-88, 4LOM, and Zuckass) have done virtually nothing outside of standing on a Star Destroyer being commissioned by Darth Vader to hunt down Luke Skywalker and crew but they looked so amazing there seemed to be much story to tell about them. Outside of a few comic books and animated appearances in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, fans have never really got their bounty hunter itch scratched either.
The cancellation of the Boba Fett movie, the misfire of The Last Jedi, and the lack of movement on a Ewan McGregor Obi-Wan movie has begun to demoralize fans. While Disney seems fully invested in producing new Star Wars movies and have committed to several future ones, fear is beginning to build that the most beloved, anticipated, and fan loved characters may never get their full due. In the end, depending on the direction Disney takes Star Wars in the future, that might be a better fate than fading into the sunset… literally… as Luke Skywalker did.
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