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Why Would Anyone Make a ‘Star Wars’ Movie?

Five years after the release of ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,’ we look at the mad mindset it takes for a modern director to tackle George Lucas’ franchise.
Star Wars Rogue One Five Years Later
By  · Published on December 17th, 2021

Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry looks back at Star Wars: Rogue One and the infectious pull every contemporary filmmaker feels toward this franchise.

Five years ago this week, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hit theaters. It landed smack dab between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. What a wild ass time that was, damn. The future appeared so bright.

You see, Rogue One was a Disney promise. That long time ago, far, far away galaxy? There’s more to it than you could imagine. Come with us if you want to party with weirdos not named Skywalker.

Since then, Disney has completed their sequel trilogy, provided us with an obsessively engaging Mandalorian spin-off, and a slight uptick in quality cartoons and specials. But, mostly, they continue to dangle upcoming properties.

Next year looks to be the time when Lucasfilm goes full Marvel Studios. We’ve got The Book of Boba Fett right around the corner. ObiWan Kenobi is a few more months away. The Bad Batch will be back, and so too will The Mandalorian. But what about Grogu? Will he be in tow with Din Djarin?

Or better questions, what about Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron or that potential Broom Boy series from Rian Johnson? It’s a big dunno. No official words have struck them down, and while rumors suggest they’re as dead as Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen, we can’t say if they’re truly Stormtrooper fried. Jenkins supposedly backed off other projects to pursue Rogue Squadron. They could happen, but…

When Asked to Make a Star Wars, You Say Yes

Right now, if you’re not on Jon Favreau’s Mandalorian squad, your Star Wars seem out of luck. So, we wait for The Mandalorian to spread its tendrils, and we wait for the Star Wars flood we thought we were going to get after Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Gareth Edwards, the Rogue One director who played nice with Lucasfilm even when it must have been difficult to do so, celebrated the movie’s fifth anniversary by chatting with StarWars.com. Most of the conversation swims around his initial excitement when the impossible seemingly happened, and he was asked to make his Star Wars.

“Obviously, it’s a dream come true. I know there’s millions of people like this, that love ‘Star Wars.’ But this is kind of the reason I got into filmmaking. If someone had told me when I was six that I was one day going to get to not just make a ‘Star Wars’ film, but make a ‘Star Wars’ film that connected to the film that I watched over and over every morning before I’d go to school?”

We all say we’d love to make a Star Wars movie. We certainly would never say no at the opportunity. That would be absurd, crazy, stupid. We love complaining and shouting at the filmmakers who don’t get it right by our vision. But how many of us actually know what we would do if given a chance?

In the interview, Edwards clearly communicates his excitement and the ridiculous notion that he was even approached in the first place. It’s a sentiment repeated frequently by directors who’ve followed his path to Star Wars. You just do it.

Star Wars is a Losing Game for Filmmakers

Robert Rodriquez expressed the same bewildered, joyous confusion when talking to The Hollywood Reporter about The Book of Boba Fett. Before the question of his Star Wars was ever raised, he would balk at the thought.

“I can’t even say this is a dream come true because I wouldn’t have even thought to dream this…I usually avoid premier properties — you’ll never be able to please everybody, it’s a losing game. I’d rather go do something I’ve created so nobody can say, ‘Hey, that’s wrong because …’ I created it, so it can be anything I want it to be. I love that freedom.”

He sees what we see online. We can’t play nice. We can’t let Rian Johnson make a rad movie if that rad movie deviates in the slightest fashion from the movie we imagine in our heads. But then, someone did ask him to make a Star Wars. And he couldn’t say no, right? Rodriguez continued:

“That changed with Boba because he was a character that was always underserved. It was a character way more popular than he should have been, based on [his limited screen time]. So it’s almost like starting with an original character. You can kind of do anything you want, so long as you make him cool and don’t make him a buffoon.”

Maybe we should take him at his word. Maybe the only Star Wars he could make was a Boba Fett Star Wars for the reasons he mentions. But, you can talk yourself into anything, especially when they’re fantasies dangling within reach. All it took was a few mental gymnastics, and Rodriguez was onboard.

He’s still not going to please everybody. Whatever he does on The Book of Boba Fett won’t jive with everyone watching. And, yeah, you can look at that very loud, disgruntled wail as a wall of aggression surrounding the franchise. Keep out. No trespassing. Mine, mine, mine.

Rodriguez is not wrong when he calls properties like Star Wars “a losing game.” They’re a no-win scenario; you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. But if you’re damned if you don’t, then screw it, you gotta do. Get your blocks and mutes in order. Be prepared by tending your Twitter garden, and make your damn Star Wars.

George Lucas Says Star Wars Doesn’t Belong to Us

If you need inspiration, look no further than George Lucas. This week, Return of the Jedi was added to the National Film Registry. Like A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back before it, Return of the Jedi was deemed a significant work and worth preserving alongside other masterpieces like Citizen Kane and Jaws.

However, Lucasfilm has never supplied the National Film Registry with the original prints. Lucas only wants to offer them the 1997 Special Editions, or their updated versions, but those versions are not the ones the Library of Congress wants. Too bad, so sad.

Now, you can walk away shaking your head at Lucas. You can call him selfish or stupid or whatever. We fell hard for those movies when they came out, but for whatever reason, Lucas sees them as flawed or incomplete. His true Star Wars are those he continued to tinker on throughout the years. He sees our moaning, and he shrugs.

George Lucas does not care what we think Star Wars should be. And that’s kinda rad, too. I may disagree (I do disagree), but he’s the creator, and he’s seemingly the keeper of the original trilogy. It’s his prerogative.

If Lucas can drown us out, so can Robert Rodriguez and Rian Johnson and anyone who comes next. Either they tricked the universe into making a Star Wars or the universe tricked them into making a Star Wars. Either way, when that opportunity knocks, you answer. Some folks who populate that universe with them will get grumpy, but they’re just mad they’re not making their Star Wars.

And the Rogue One promise is still out there. More Star Wars are coming. It’s unstoppable (cuz even the most snivelingly upset show up for these things). Sooner or later, we all gotta get used to the sensation.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)