Let’s talk franchise fatigue. I see this tag thrown around a lot when it comes to Star Wars. What most people consider fatigue is too many movies too soon. Let’s take a look at this specific definition.
I have several topics I wish to discuss in relevance to Star Wars, and I thought about writing a massive blog addressing these issues, but I felt the meanings would get lost in this endless wall of text. So, I will pursue multiple, miniature blogs to articulate these points.
Marvel started its cinematic universe in 2008, kicking off with a B-role character Iron Man. This character went on to be a household name and anchored the MCU as a box office powerhouse. Marvel released twenty motion pictures in ten years, and four in 2018 alone. To anyone on the outside looking in, this would be considered an oversaturation. Don’t get me wrong, I am not attacking the MCU. There are several I liked. The original Iron Man was a great place to start the MCU. There were elements within that took you out of the moment, like Tony Stark falling over two hundred feet and surviving (the desert scene). My favorites are The Avengers (the first one), Guardians of the Galaxy volume I, Dr. Strange, and I’ve grown to appreciate and like Thor: Ragnarok. To me, these are the gems of the MCU. There are flaws within, make no mistake, but these made me interested.
So, let’s take a pause for the cause and look up the definition. Fatigue is: to make weary, either physical or mental, to lose so much strength and energy that one becomes weak and tired—or the noun version—material failure, such as cracking or separation, caused by stress on the material.
What I find interesting and almost comical is I agree more with the noun version of the definition rather than the verb. So, if you meant the noun version with regards to Star Wars, then I agree with you. There has been a material failure. There is a cracking or separation in the Fanbase caused by the stress on the material. I am not tired of seeing Star Wars in the theater every year. I am not tired of journeying to a galaxy far, far away. What I am sick of is the subpar writing, execution, and packaging of this beloved franchise, and we will leave those aspects alone for now. I will have more blogs relevant to the writing and other elements. If you would like to read my thoughts on where Lucasfilm took a wrong turn, you can read my Sins of the Last Jedi blog. Just be forewarned, is a lengthy tome, but it addresses all I found wrong with the movie.
Now, I am not advocating I want Star Wars to be like Marvel. I don’t want two or three or four daisy-chained flicks a year. That wouldn’t make Star Wars special. I want well-constructed, epic sagas that tell a fascinating story while echoing the themes of fantasy and mythology and what made the franchise so special in the first place. To me, Marvel is reaching the critical point. I know many of you may disagree with my assessment, and that’s fine, you don’t have to agree with me. From my point of view, it’s stalling. I haven’t gone to the theater for an MCU movie (excluding the Infinity War) since Thor: Ragnarok, and before that was a long time ago. I am sure there are others who are the same. To be fair, I love this incarnation of Thor, not the classic comic book version. Another reason I went to Ragnarok was Cate Blanchet. Had she not been in the movie, I doubt I would have gone. So, what makes Marvel teeter on the precipice?
The MCU did a great job of mapping out where they want to go. They’ve had an over-arching grand design (like the Sith with the Rule of Two) and allow individual directors to come in and tell a story based upon the set floor plans. However, it took them too long to get to a significant payoff—Thanos. He has been teased for many years and while they are building up this hype for the big evil villain–here comes my opinion–they ran out of steam, chiefly in the broader audience. They’re moving out of phase four an into phase five, and a lot of characters we’ve grown to love or hate are not going to be returning, and that is fine. It’s the nature of the beast. But, if you did not watch each film that teased Thanos, then you wouldn’t know the continuity of the story or about the infinity stones. Twenty films equates to the whole picture, and at $19.99 a pop, that’s a hefty investment.
So, where does Star Wars come in?
It goes back to the beginning of the blog, the tag franchise fatigue. Disney put out four silver screen pieces in four years, and from a mathematical standpoint, that’s half the speed of the overall MCU pace. Since Disney bought this IP from George Lucas for a paltry figure of $4 billion, they systematically decimated a beloved franchise. Why? Well, because they lacked a grand plan, and they didn’t want the fans that made the IP such a huge success; they sought new ones, people they could control with their narrative. They wanted a movie by 2015, to milk the brand for all it’s worth as soon as possible. Whether this falls on the shoulders of Bob Iger or Kathleen Kennedy, I wouldn’t profess to know or debate. All I can tell you is the result of such decisions.
Whether you like JJ Abrams or not is irrelevant at this point. He made the first installment, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and he had a template for what came next. This was the beginning of the foundation for Star Wars. As everyone knows, the next director came in and threw it out. And this is what is fundamentally wrong with Star Wars as a whole. It’s not fatigue from the movie pace, its weariness from lack of planning, atrocious writing, incompetent directing, and substandard execution.
Some folks out there complain that you cannot compare Marvel cinematic universe to Star Wars. I wholeheartedly disagree. As you can see, the comparison between the structure of one led to the success of one the wealthiest Intellectual Properties to date, and how the lack in the other led to its demise. If you were saying I cannot compare interconnected films of one to another that doesn’t have associated movies other than trilogies, then I agree.
Planning is the key to success in this regard. You cannot make twenty linked films without careful planning; you cannot make a trilogy without careful planning. Marvel has a tight grip on the writers to make cohesive movies. The limitations on directors include creating a story within predefined parameters. If you want to witness an intellectual property implode on itself, just look at the difference between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
If you enjoyed this content or you’re an avid, epic fantasy reader, check out my book, The Bearer of Secrets, on Amazon. It’s available on Kindle Unlimited, eBook, and print.