Pro: The Disney Empire Strikes Back

“You must do what you feel is right, of course,” Obi-Wan utters to Luke as the old Jedi discusses the notion of the adventure-hungry youth following him to Alderaan upon receiving Princess Leia’s urgent message. This iconic scene immediately follows Obi-Wan’s explanation of the Force and his bestowal of Darth Vader’s (let’s face it: it’s 2012 and we all know who the father really is) old lightsaber upon young Skywalker.

It was probably these very words from Obi-Wan to Luke regarding his internal conflict whether to pursue a Jedi’s quest or to remain and fulfill his familial obligations on Tatooine that guided George Lucas’ decision to sell LucasFilm to Disney for $4.05 billion (half in cash and the other in Disney stock).

In response, the Internet was ablaze with fans decrying Lucas for selling out and demonizing Disney for playing such a heinous card against humanity. The inevitable crop of memes appeared, including one implying that Lucas’ stoic expression in a picture taken with Mickey and friends dressed as Star Wars characters as his tacit way of saying “Kill me now.”

Such harsh backlash is commonplace during mergers like this Disney/“Star Wars” venture. Take, for example, when Facebook acquired Instagram and newsfeeds were filled with skepticism and outrage as to why. Or the more relevant example, when Disney acquired Marvel in 2009 for $4.24 billion. But what Facebook/Instagram users and true believers tend to forget to admit is that they, arguably, still use Facebook and Instagram to no lesser extent than they did before the merge and absolutely loved “The Avengers.” And I will bet that some of the fans who were quick to cast Disney as an acquisition-hungry corporate giant hold annual passes to Disney’s theme parks and will continue to frequent them and even ride Star Tours while they’re there.

As for Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm and the “Star Wars” franchise, what loyal fans (of both Disney and LucasFilm alike) are forgetting is Disney’s commitment to original storytelling. A quick glance at Disney’s filmography conjures fond childhood memories, while deeper analysis of the films reveals complex, overarching themes such as the need for environmental stewardship in the face of technological progress and the inherent humanity behind a virtual character’s pursuit for what he believes is his true vocation.

Further evidence that the coming-in-2015 “Star Wars: Episode VII” is in capable hands is Lucas’ appointment of Kathleen Turner as the new president of LucasFilm and brand manager for the “Star Wars” franchise. Turner, herself a film producer, has produced works such as “Schindler’s List” (winner of seven Academy Awards and three Golden Globes), the “Jurassic Park” and “Back to the Future” franchises and “E.T.”
Nobody likes it when their best friend suddenly becomes too cool to hang out anymore and wants to be a part of the cool kids’ circle. Similarly, an overzealous sense of attachment to a body of work, such as “Star Wars,” that has such a devout following will often lead to ridiculous and frankly unnecessary outcry when a merger like the one Disney conducted occurs.

Judgment regarding the merge, and more importantly the resulting seventh iteration of “Star Wars” resulting from it, should be reserved for when the film actually hits the box office three years from now.Based on its content, then, should it be deemed a new hope for the creative property originated by Lucas, or forever be considered a foreboding phantom menace for the future of the franchise.

Phuc Pham is a third-year literary journalism major. He can be reached pcpham@uci.edu.