When the first Star Wars movie of the Disney era arrived in 2015, it was hugely successful and won over a lot of people, but many fans also criticized The Force Awakens for simply reheating the plot of A New Hope and trading on nostalgia for the Original Trilogy. It turns out that creator George Lucas is one of those who shared this opinion.
In his new book The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger recalls Lucas’ reaction upon first seeing Episode VII and it seems he didn’t mince words, as the filmmaker blasted Disney for trying “nothing new” in TFA.
“In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, “There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.” He wasn’t wrong, but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars,”
Iger explained that it was fully the intention to create something familiar for fans so it stung that Lucas was criticizing their approach to the material.
“We’d intentionally created a world that was visually and tonally connected to the earlier films, to not stray too far from what people loved and expected, and George was criticizing us for the very thing we were trying to do.”
To be fair to Lucas, it must have been hard to see another company make a new entry in the franchise he’d shepherded from the ground up. Especially as Disney had ignored his own story ideas for Episode VII. Iger’s book also reveals that the studio bought plot breakdowns for Lucas’ vision for a Sequel Trilogy but didn’t ultimately use them, something that further upset him.
We don’t know how Lucas felt about The Last Jedi, but there’s a chance he may have a more positive reception to The Rise of Skywalker. After all, J.J. Abrams is known to have consulted him over the best way to conclude the Skywalker saga, so if the director used some of his concepts this time, Lucas might be won over.
As for the rest of us, we’ll see what we think of it when the Star Wars franchise continues on December 20th.