Between the controversial Revenge of the Sith and the generally well regarded The Force Awakens, there was a decade-long gap rife with speculation and a lack of clarity on where the Star Wars franchise might go next. Putting aside the Clone Wars series and additional expanded universe works like games and novels that the general public may not be aware of, there wasn’t a huge amount of major content released under the Star Wars banner.
Fast forward to 2018 and filmgoers have been bombarded with four major Star Wars releases in a space of fewer than four years. Although the two main series films and Rogue One all performed well at the box office, it looks like Solo may be struggling to break even. So is this wealth of new content a good thing for fans and the moviegoing public alike? Or is this oversaturation, making another outing into the galaxy far far away more and more offputting?
As a Star Wars fan myself, I am biased towards wanting more and more films as often as possible, or at least I was until I saw Solo. Whilst it serves as a fun and competent film, I and other online critics have found that the movie failed to live up to the hype of the rest of franchise, and was the first time in a long time where we had not felt any level of excitement upon its release. Rather than booking for a midnight screening and talking about theories with my friends as I was with The Last Jedi, I found myself watching the trailer a couple weeks after it came out with general disinterest.
And as a fan of the controversial The Last Jedi, it wasn’t any issues of low quality regarding the other films that dampened my anticipation. Instead, I think it’s a desire to see something new, not derived from a popular property of the late 1970s. I love the original Star Wars, and I love the character of Han Solo, but I don’t feel as though making films that rehash old, developed characters in the universe is useful or progressive. Solo doesn’t even particularly add to the Star Wars universe in a meaningful way, lending nothing new to Han as a character and only really existing to clarify some throwaway lines from the original trilogy.
Of the ten highest grossing movies of 2017, seven were sequels, including The Last Jedi, Fast and Furious 8 and Despicable Me 3. The other three were either remakes of existing properties like Beauty and the Beast or designed to be part of an existing cinematic universe as in the case of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Whilst these films are all clearly very profitable, it saddens me to see major movie producers taking as few risks as possible, choosing instead to invest in tried and tested formulas and stories rather than attempting to think of anything new.
So whilst I will always have a love for Star Wars and have generally enjoyed the past few films that have come out, I would take a brand new property with the same level of funding and care any day if only films like that were made.
Photo credit: Disney