George Lucas has been saying lately that he will never make another sequel to Star Wars—and he may have found a roundabout way of keeping his promise. In major news for Hollywood and film fans, Disney has acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion in cash and stock. The deal also allows Lucas to pass off the keys to the Millennium Falcon: Disney has announced that it plans to release Star Wars Episode 7 in 2015.
And Episode 7 certainly won’t be the last: Lucas has suggested we’ll soon be seeing at least the three (possibly as many as six) sequels that he began discussing around the release of the original trilogy, and Disney’s chief executive said that there will be “new films in the series coming every two or three years” after part seven hits theaters.
While plenty of Star Wars fanboys are sure to be appalled at the prospect of a Disney sequel trilogy—and yes, in the hands of today’s Disney, Greedo would almost certainly shoot first—I for one can’t help but be at least a little excited. As we’ve written on Brow Beat before, even if you allow that there was once some prelapsarian period when Star Wars was ever sacred—perhaps it was that bright Edenic day prior to 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special—that day has long since passed.
And as any Star Wars fan knows, it seems to have been a long time since George Lucas was the right man to helm the series. While the original Star Wars may have been the best of the films, and you can’t deny Lucas his vision, it was Irvin Kershner who directed the best of all the follow-ups by far with The Empire Strikes Back.
So what should we expect from the Star Wars sequels? Serious fans know about the many books, video games, and TV series that tell the story of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. In this storyline, Luke Skywalker marries a Jedi named Mara Jade, has a son named Ben (after Kenobi), and fights with his reestablished Jedi Council against Han and Leia’s son Jacen Solo. But even in his prequels, Lucas didn’t hew too strictly to the Expanded Universe. If these sequels follow the same model as those films, it’s likely that they’ll take some aspects of the Expanded Universe while ignoring others.
And since they’re from Disney, any sequels will also likely be aimed at young boys, with millions of dollars in merchandising deals for toys and product tie-ins and video games. Which is to say, they’ll be a lot like Star Wars sequels have been for the last three decades.
As for Lucas? For years he’s said he’ll retire from Star Wars and other blockbusters to return to the small, personal films that got him started. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.