Disney Failed their Star Wars Trilogy


Melinda Davidson

With the final installment in Disney’s sequel trilogy released, fans are left with mixed opinions, but their opinions may change over time. (Photo courtesy of Melinda Davidson from the official Rise of Skywalker poster)

This article has spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the other movies in the Star Wars franchise, just in case you haven’t seen them yet.

Star Wars is a movie franchise that is beloved by generations. The original movie was released in 1977 and since then many films have been added to the Star Wars franchise. These films have a very passionate fan base which makes it hard to make another film. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, found this out the hard way with the release of his prequel trilogy. This trilogy caused backlash, but over time the fans have come to terms with these movies and they took their place among the others as beloved films. At this point, it seemed the Star Wars story had come to a close and balance had come to the force.

But in 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm, which included the rights to Star Wars. Disney then announced that they intended to make a sequel trilogy for Star Wars. Fans were excited for new installments in the beloved franchise. The first installment, The Force Awakens, was met with general praise, but some complained that it was too similar to Episode IV. The next installment was The Last Jedi and it was directed by a different director, Rian Johnson. Critics and fans were divided on this movie. Many critics praised this film, but some of the fans felt the movie subverted expectations without any real reason. At this point, the pressure was on for Disney. The first two films left the fanbase divided and the fate of the sequel trilogy’s legacy rested on the final film. Disney brought back JJ Abrams, who directed The Force Awakens. Many critics blasted the film and many fans were left disappointed by the movie and wondering how Star Wars got here.

The sequel trilogy was left with two directors each with different visions for how the trilogy should play out. Some of this could be due to fan backlash and Disney trying to cater to the fanbase. The original plan was for three different directors, but after they fired Colin Trevorrow, they rehired JJ Abrams. This led to Abrams making several decisions that undercut the one Rian Johnson made in his movie. Many of these decisions fixed things that fans were not satisfied with, but the movies as a result felt convoluted and were confusing. I believe that Disney didn’t have a true plan for how the trilogy should play out which led them to the mess that they have now. This led to characters having no development and the storyline no real attachment to these characters. 

Besides having different directors without a shared vision, Disney made another crucial mistake by listening to fans complaining too much. Fans complained about errors in these films and Disney, since they didn’t have a plan, tried to fix them. Sometimes when you listen to the fans, you lose sight of the story you are trying to tell. They needed to remember that these films are saying something, and by listening to the fans, they were losing their message. Even with the prequel trilogy, fans complained about some of the decisions made by George Lucas, who made these films in the first place. Overtime, the fans were able to set aside the small problems they had and enjoy these films, but since Disney drastically altered the course after The Last Jedi, the storyline is a lot harder to follow. Overall, Disney just needed to remember that they were the filmmakers and fans are able to forgive small mistakes. But since drastic mistakes have been made, how can the Star Wars franchise continue to be a success?

Well, since Disney has basically killed off all of the fan favorites from the original movies, all they have is their underdeveloped characters from the sequel trilogy. They can continue to make spin-off movies like Rogue One and Solo. Rogue One was amazing, but all of the characters are dead now leaving no room for more stories and there aren’t many places Disney could put another story like it in between the films in the main series. Solo, on the other hand, was not as well done. It was a backstory movie for Han Solo, but it required them to recast Han and many fans were not happy with the movie. Many of the questions answered by the movie were ones fans didn’t care about in the first place. There weren’t any fans asking, “how did Han get his last name?” Some random stormtrooper gave it to him. This fails to add another dimension to an already developed character. The film did set up another film but I doubt it will be made since Solo didn’t perform well at the box office.

The best direction for Disney to go is to shows like The Mandolorian. This show has already been a big success drawing many fans to Disney’s new streaming service, DisneyPlus. The Mandolorian explores more of the Star Wars universe that fans haven’t seen so far. This helps the content stay fresh and new instead of feeling used like The Force Awakens did to some fans. Disney is currently working on an Obi-Wan Kenobi show for DisneyPlus. I would like for the show to have Obi-Wan face off against Darth Maul again after Solo brought him back into their big twist. This would help tie up the plot threads without making another Han Solo movie, because it didn’t do well. I believe the best way to move forward with the Star Wars franchise is to make DisneyPlus shows that show more of the universe with new characters.

This leaves us with the final question: what will be the legacy of Disney’s Star Wars trilogy? I think only time will tell how fans will feel about these films. Despite the convoluted storyline and controversy, these films entertained the fans. Sometimes only time can help people realize what they have. Many fans were disappointed at the prequel trilogy, but now many people accept them for the movies they are. It’s hard to see changes to the franchise you have followed for so long and some people may need time to accept the change. We need to remember the trilogy for what it was: a collection of Star Wars. Like it or not, it is still a part of the story and, despite my frustrations with these films, they are still part of this beloved franchise. They always will be. May the Force be with you.