Don’t Look Now: Your Cherished Memories are for Sale!
by Rob Gravelle
With the recent purchase of Millarworld by streaming media giant Netflix, one can’t help but wonder but ponder the implications. As the authors of our favorite childhood stories are swallowed up by large multi-nationals, will franchises be destroyed by corporate greed or can something good come of this new reality?
For most of us, it began with Disney’s $4 billion purchase of Marvel back in 2009. At that time there was heavy skepticism that the company would ever make its money back. Disney proceeded to release a series of superhero movies that have been more successful than anyone could have predicted.
If that didn’t register on your radar, I’m sure that Disney’s 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm for another $4 billion perked your ears up real quick. On the one hand, it offered a string of new movies to recoup Disney’s buying cost; on the other, there was the distinct possibility that Disney might ruin the franchise even worse that Lucas’s three prequels did!
For three years, Star Wars fans waited with baited breath, imagining the worst, all-the-while. Would Disney emphasize the child-friendly aspects of the franchise, and introduce new characters in the vein of the infamous Jar Jar Binks? Surely they had to know how maligned that character had become.
Thankfully, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally hit the big screen in December of 2015. Although there was no denying that it was very much a re-trudge of the original three installments, it all came together like a glorious love letter to the series that we grew up with. I think that I wasn’t alone in shedding a tear or two at certain parts of the film.
Could it be that, rather than ruin our beloved franchises, Disney was breathing new life into them by instilling the kind of care and attention to detail that only a company that spent billions of dollars would?
The answer to that question would become apparent when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released the following December. Having used up all of the familiar Star Wars tropes in The Force Awakens, Disney’s writers would have to take chances and delve into uncharted territory by exploring as-of-yet unseen facets of the Force mythology. It was a good place to start; being an offshoot of the official Star Wars series, it could be taken as more light-weight than the other movies. In the end, the movie that resulted was anything but. Darker than even Empire Strikes Back, Rogue One was more of a war movie than as a “Chosen One fable”. Light saber duels – a staple of all preceding seven movies – were replaced by vivid and kinetic fire fights. And, for a change, none of its characters were discovered to be hidden blood relatives or training to be Jedi masters.
Perhaps the best part of Rogue One was that, by strategically placing the story just before Episode IV, it gives us the chance to revisit the fledgling Death Star, and even better, one of the most enduring evil characters ever, in his prime no less. Yes, I speak of Vader! His scenes alone were worth the price of admission in my books.
Disney’s movies are not without their flaws – they might be a little too action-packed and fast-moving for us fans of the older films – but I think that the assimilation of smaller companies into behemoth’s like Disney need not be met with trepidation. With Han Solo: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Last Jedi slated for a Dec 17 and May 2018 release respectively, I look forward to a steady diet of Star Wars viewing for the foreseeable future.