Since acquiring Lucasfilm in October of 2012, Disney has released five Star Wars films, but what does George Lucas himself think of each movie? The Star Wars canon, like the original timeline, the Expanded Universe (aka Legends), is largely inspired by the work of Lucas, rather than coming from him directly. Nevertheless, as the creator of the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas’ opinions on the Disney movies understandably hold a lot of weight to creators and viewers alike. Like critics and longtime Star Wars fans, his feelings on each of the sequel and spinoff films vary, ranging from disappointment to strong appreciation.
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1977’s Star Wars was a labor of love for George Lucas, with countless sources of inspiration from media that Lucas devoured as both a child and adult. Flash Gordon, Dune, and the films of Akira Kurosawa are well-known influences on the movie, along with Marvel’s Fantastic Four and DC Comics’ New Gods helping to shape the franchise. Starting with the seventh issue of Marvel’s Star Wars comics and Alan Dean Foster’s novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the Expanded Universe turned the franchise into more than just a film series. Creatively, it also became more than the vision of Lucas alone. Mary Jo Duffy, Timothy Zahn, Tom Veitch, Haden Blackman, and countless others enriched the universe Lucas created in the original and prequel trilogies.
Lucas treated the Legends-era non-movie materials inconsistently. Planets like Coruscant and characters like Aayla Secura and Quinlan Vos being some of the many elements that he added to the films. Lucas also approved of (and in some cases helped create) characters and storylines in Legends, such as Mara Jade (the adopted daughter of Palpatine who eventually married Luke Skywalker) and Palpatine’s resurrection in Dark Empire. Despite this, Lucas said in a 2008 interview with Total Film (via Cinephilia & Beyond on Twitter) that “the Emperor doesn’t get cloned and Luke doesn’t get married.” Lucas also contradicted much of the non-movie lore in 2008’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, which he had a strong influence on. Once Disney purchased Lucasfilm and announced a new slate of films, they also turned the Expanded Universe into an alternate timeline, renaming it Legends. Both the Legends timeline and George Lucas himself had a massive influence on Disney’s movies.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The much-hyped first installment of the sequel trilogy was 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, directed and co-written by J. J. Abrams. With a talented cast and well-intentioned creative team, the film pleased most viewers and generated enormous amounts of speculation and anticipation for the next film in the trilogy. That said, many viewers felt it played things too safe and was lacking in originality. The film uses the same basic plot structure of Star Wars, spends much of its runtime referencing the original trilogy, and raises a plethora of questions that it doesn’t answer before the credits roll. George Lucas himself was disappoointed in The Force Awakens, believing the film to be lacking in originality. Bob Iger’s book, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years As CEO Of The Walt Disney Company, reveals:
“Just prior to the global release, Kathy screened The Force Awakens for George. He didn’t hide his disappointment. ‘There’s nothing new,’ he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, ‘There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.'”
Lucas also provided Disney with story treatments for the sequel trilogy and was disappointed to learn that they were ignored in Disney’s first Star Wars movie. He said:
“They looked at the stories, and they said, ‘We want to make something for the fans’….They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing….They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway — but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘Okay, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Disney’s second movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was another crowd-pleaser. With the Battle of Toprawa and Mission to Danuta now part of Legends, Rogue One told a new story of how the Death Star Plans were stolen, and it captured the spirit of 1977’s Star Wars and the old Expanded Universe in the process. With exciting action and an ensemble cast of all-new characters, each with their own motivations and character arcs, the movie was a critical and commercial success.While there are no interviews of Lucas discussing Rogue One, the movie’s director, Gareth Edwards, spoke at a press conference shortly before the film’s premiere, saying:
“Two days ago we got to show George the movie, and we all had a phone call and I got to speak with him yesterday, and I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I can honestly say that I can die happy now. He really liked the movie. It meant a lot. To be honest, and no offense to anyone here, it was the most important review to me. You know, you guys are important too, but he’s kind of god… I will take that conversation to my grave. His opinion means the world to me.”
While Lucas’ specific thoughts on Rogue One are unknown, it can be assumed that the film’s visual and narrative originality and the way it seamlessly tied into Star Wars won him over.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
While The Force Awakens and Rogue One united viewers, regardless of the age and investment in the franchise, Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a divisive entry. Most critics and many viewers praised the unexpectedness of The Last Jedi’s plot, while some new and longtime fans of the franchise felt it misunderstood its characters and the universe they inhabit. The film’s negative reception was shared by more than viewers. Mark Hamill, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Sam Witwer, and Alan Dean Foster all criticized the movie with varying degrees of subtlety. George Lucas’ thoughts on the movie are similarly mixed. Like Rogue One, there are no quotes directly from Lucas regarding it, but one of his representatives, Connie Wethington, said that Lucas thought The Last Jedi was “beautifully made.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Disney’s second spinoff film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, brought sincerity and earnestness back to the franchise with an emotional and exciting retelling of Han Solo’s origins before the original trilogy. Like Rogue One, Solo is inspired by the broad strokes of its Legends-era counterpart, in this case, the Han Solo Trilogy of novels. Though Solo was generally well-received by critics and viewers alike, the film was unfortunately not a financial success. Of all the Disney Star Wars movies, Lucas seems to have enjoyed Solo the most. Lucas strongly supported Ron Howard as the director of the film and even visited the set to help direct a scene with Alden Ehrenreich’s Han and Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra. In an interview with ComicBook.com, Ron Howard said this of Lucas:
“(George Lucas) was really supportive of it. He doesn’t get down in the weeds on the movies anymore,” Howard said. “He did come by and visit the set, which is a pretty rare thing, but he did it as a show of support which was really cool. And he was really complimentary. But he was also really confident when I came in that I would get the feel of it and understand how to maximize the entertainment value of these characters and this world.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
The final installment in the sequel trilogy, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker sought to please everyone after The Last Jedi’s divisive reception and Solo’s commercial underperformance. Like The Force Awakens, it tried to play things safely, but this was ultimately a source of criticism from critics and viewers alike. Nevertheless, The Rise of Skywalker answered most of the questions raised at the start of the trilogy, such as Rey’s parentage and the true nature of Snoke and the First Order. As it turns out, all were intertwined, and the plot, whether intentionally or not, had a lot in common with the Legends-era comic series Dark Empire.
Lucas’ thoughts on the final Disney Star Wars movie are unknown, but he was absent from the film’s premiere. This may indicate either negative feelings towards the movie or indifference. After decidedly negative reactions to The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, Lucas may not have felt motivated to give the sequel trilogy his attention anymore. Lucas’ change of heart in regards to Legends resurrecting Emperor Palpatine may have also played a factor if he did dislike it, but for the most part it seems more like he decided to stop commenting on Star Wars movies.
Next: Star Wars: Every Upcoming Movie & Release Date
- Rogue Squadron (2023)Release date: Dec 22, 2023
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