‘Star Wars’ wants to return to the candor of the prequels but it seems to me that it does not know how to adapt to a cynical and overanalytical world

The older ones may remember the premiere of ‘The Phantom Menace’, in August 1999 (three months after the United States): literally everything was branded with Darth Maul’s face, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber or Jar-Jar Binks’ impossible tongue. Rarely in my life have I seen such a hype as the one for that film, which filled all possible merchandising in a world in which The Internet was not yet the center of marketing teams.

If you lived that moment, you will also know that the reactions when leaving the cinema were of absolute disappointment, so much so that Jake Lloyd, Ray Park and Ahmed Best had mental problems for the reaction of the fandom. The film was a success at the box office (it could not be otherwise) but the fans left there wondering what had happened to George Lucas and ‘Star Wars’: the director had infantilized the saga and the reaction of society was not positive. Despite everything, he went ahead with the plan of him dropping the role of Jar-Jar. Almost 25 years separate us, but this world in which the fan does not have the last word seems to come from a galaxy far, far away.

the internet changed everything

In 1999, approximately 7% of the population in our country used the Internet, and entering chats, blogs (the blogs of the time) or forums was still seen as an eccentricity. In fact, MSN Messenger had just been born and there were still four years left for 4Chan to do so: online film reviews were not nearly as important as those of the written press, and the debates took place in the cinema queue instead of on Twitter or Twitch.

I don’t want to make an Ana Iris Simón or judge if it was better or worse: it was a cinematographically more innocent societyless globally cynical, in which only a few overanalyzed the films in their blogs or fanzines while others used them as a personal obsession and the majority (what we now call “general public”) I saw them as part of the social routine of going to the movies.

starwars

‘The Phantom Menace’ was released at a time when beyond the books and some video games, ‘Star Wars’ was a franchise that had been 15 years without a new movie (and series like ‘The Ewoks’ or ‘Star Wars Droids’ did not help alleviate the anxiety), and time, as always, mitigated the negative reviewsthat at the premiere of ‘The Awakening of the Force’ (and, above all, of the next part of the saga) they changed sides.

The public seemed, two decades later, to adore those prequels that once took sticks everywhere. Is it because of longing for a more naive era? Because of the almost null existence of the Internet in those years? For comparative tort with the new sequels? Or maybe because the passing of the years has given a new nuance to the prequels of ‘Star wars’as daughters of their time as small sparks of peace in the galaxy?

Darth Maul

And then Obi-Wan came back.

We live in a time when the story of the global opinion online is what will base the general opinions, because, increasingly, it is easier to pick up the thread of a majority opinion instead of looking for one of your own. The repetition of other people’s arguments as our own helps to perpetuate them, and, in this way, it is how we have come to the point that no one questions that the last three movies of the Skywalker saga were unfableable. I’m not going to go into whether I think they’re right or wrong, because a person can only read the expression “Mary Sue” in the comments so many times before they lose their minds.

Do you remember that time when the loyal audience of ‘Star wars’ endured for 15 years without a single movie? There is no time for that anymore. In order not to lose the affection of the people for the brand, Disney is sure that it must overload the market with series and projects, but he thinks he has learned from the mistake of ‘The Last Jedi’ trying not to be as crude in his reuse of the past as ‘The Rise of Skywalker’. The recipe they are cooking is based on changing just enough so as not to bother the fans and try to let nostalgia take over.

If ‘The Mandalorian’ was a return to the classic adventure of the first trilogy, with appearances of classic characters included, with ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ they have tried to loop the loop, trying to return to the innocence and naturalness of ‘Episode I’, but along the way they have forgotten that this world is no longer that ideally nostalgic place, but one where millions of people are going to analyze each shot of the trailer and each subplot from all possible points of view and to crazy limits. The recipe had all the ingredients, but it has burned in the oven and ‘Star Wars’ seems more lost than ever.

Obi-Wan and Poochie

‘Star Wars’, right now, is that episode of ‘The Simpsons’ in which, trying new adventures for ‘Itchy and Scratchy’, the children wanted a realistic and normal series that is full of robots and magical fantasies. And that for seeing it, in addition, they give you some prize. Listening to the public, in the case of the cartoon series, resulted in Poochie the rapper dog. In the case of ‘Star Wars’, Leia Organa, a girl running around in space.

Poochies

Fans swear and swear that they love the prequels, especially since the premiere of ‘The Last Jedi’ (my theory is that they don’t love them at all, but it serves as a counterpoint), and at Disney, more attentive to the mandate of their public than they shouldThey have tried to do it again. They have brought together Ewan McGregor, a girl to interact with, continuous references to the saga and even a replay of the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan which, by hell, has to remain in tables.

Just like in the prequels, in ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ we know the starting point and the ending point, and it only remains to fill in the gaps about what will happen in between and how. But in 2022 the public is no longer innocent or patient, and much of it does not conceive of enjoyment without overanalysis. In a ‘Star Wars’ that has completely lost its way, with a serious image problem, only the most staunch fans (those who have ended up delighted with the series despite its serious script and tone problems) can keep it afloat.

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The future of the saga goes through a serious self-criticism disregarding what a small but very loud crowd is asking for on social media, and forgetting to replicate the positive sentiment of the prequel trilogy, because much of this sentiment is not based on its characters or plots, but on nostalgia for another simpler time that will not return. In ‘Star Wars’ (as in Marvel or any Disney saga) it is not worth saying that if the script is good, people will want to see it, because there can be no truly original and surprising script: each line has to take into account the sacrosanct base, the legacy, the characters and the expanded universe.

Yes, ‘The Mandalorian’ is a good series, perhaps because it is the one that deviates the most from the Skywalker saga, but despite everything the base has to stay there: the references, the lightsabers, the Skywalkers, the jedi and the sith, which are a stopper for any groundbreaking idea in the saga. That’s why, no matter how hard Kathleen Kennedy tries, ‘Star wars’ will never have the public so in favor again like just before ‘The Phantom Menace’ was released, when we were still confident that the saga would not obsessively repeat itself over and over again. When we were still innocent.