A long time ago in a decade far, far away, there was a little movie by a small time director named George with the odds stacked against it.
Defying expectations, it became a smash success. Before incomplete numbering and television specials, there was just Star Wars. Not the first (or fourth) in a series; just a rather good science fantasy that captivated the public consciousness.
The popularity exploded and changed the landscape of not only franchise entertainment but movies in general, starting a slow but steady movement away from auteur directors with a singular vision toward a blockbuster model with less emphasis on challenging audiences and more on providing an opportunity to shove popcorn into their mouths.
By the time Return of the Jedi came out, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were icons for an entire generation and Princess Leia’s gold bikini launched thousands of fetishes.
And then there were the dark times.
References scattered throughout the original trilogy, on top of their subsequent re-titling to become episodes 4, 5, and 6 of a larger saga, made people wonder about the history of the Star Wars universe. There had been countless novels written under the “Expanded Universe” banner, but those stories were not canonical - if George Lucas ever contradicted them, they’d be disregarded.
People clamored for the untold history of Star Wars and they got it in the form of three prequel movies with awful titles, acting, and writing. You couldn’t come up with a greater cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for if your name was Aesop. Many people felt it killed the series for good and washed their hands of the franchise altogether.
But there was hope: Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars. J.J. Abrams was the new Chosen One who would save Star Wars and make it safe once again.
That generation of children who were ensnared by the original trilogy are all middle aged adults now, desperate to return to the security of their beloved franchise. Trailers were released and people filmed themselves watching them like it was a historical event on par with the Challenger explosion. “Where were you when you saw the preview for The Force Awakens?” They treated a five second shot of the Millennium Falcon like the second coming.
And you were there, watching. Maybe you’re not as old as the 40+ men who punch the air when they see a geriatric Han Solo hobbling to his mark. Maybe you’re not as young as those who view episodes 1, 2, and 3 as a valuable part of their own childhood. You like Star Wars, maybe even love it, but you don’t have an orgasmic fit just because you saw an image of Darth Vader.
You look at the current schedule of movie releases: a new Star Wars movie every year, alternating between official episodes and spin-off stories and you wonder... Is this really a good thing? Am I even excited because I think it will be good or because it reminds me of something that was good? Am I even excited at all? Maybe I should give up Star Wars.
And you know what? You probably should give up on it. Unless you’re sitting on the edge of your seat to find out Kylo Ren’s tragic backstory or can’t stand the idea of not knowing where Rey’s parents are, Star Wars might not be for you anymore.
Here are some reasons to leave it to those who think it’s better than sex.
7. It’s Repetitive
There’s an old George Lucas quote that a lot of people like to make fun of, where he points out the repetitive, arguably lazy story elements peppered throughout the Star Wars saga as a positive, stating: “It’s like poetry. It rhymes.” He was mocked relentlessly for saying that, but when J.J. Abrams does it, well, it’s apparently so awesome, you guys.
Of the first six Star Wars movies, three feature a space station being blown up - two of them Death Stars. Abrams decided that the best thing was to soothe longtime fans and make them feel safe, that there wouldn’t be a repeat of the prequel movies. At this point, it’s all but accepted that he completely copied the story structure of the first Star Wars movie. It’s an easily understood decision - it reminds the alienated fans of their past positive experiences, but it’s poison to innovation. You can’t properly move forward if you’re constantly looking backwards.
The Star Wars Universe, or more specifically the galaxy in which the saga takes place, is full of colorful alien worlds and species, Jedi mythology, and political conflicts. There’s a feeling that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s truly out there in space, yet The Force Awakens focused on things that are reminiscent of the past. Desert planets, alien populated cantinas, revelations of parentage.
But it doesn’t stop there. Look at Rogue One. Though it wasn’t Abrams’ decision to retread a plot point from A New Hope, it has the same flavor. The next one will be a Han Solo prequel where we’ll undoubtedly see the Kessel Run, a reference from ANH that doesn’t even make sense and was written solely as a point of reference for the Millennium Falcon’s speed.
Right now, Disney isn’t being shy about its reliance on the past, even symbolically. While people like to describe The Force Awakens as a movie that “passes the torch” from the old to the new, it’s impossible to ignore the obvious and blatant symbolism behind Rey handing Luke Skywalker back his lightsaber at the end of the movie. She’s literally passing the torch back to him!
Do we need another Han Solo movie, especially when Star Lord is probably this generation’s version of the jerkish space rogue with a heart of gold? We do if your goal is to capitalize on old guy’s nostalgia, fully expecting that they’ll drag their kids with them to see it, justifying their presence in the theater.
Once again we see the metaphor: the parent is supposedly passing his love of Star Wars on to his child, but really it’s all about the parent’s love of his own childhood. Star Wars isn’t repetitive by accident; it’s by design.