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Keep calm and jedi on

by Andrea Shea / Pop Columnist • November 15, 2012

Screw the Mayans — if you ask many a nerd for a sure sign of the impending apocalypse, it was Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm on Oct. 30. News of the 4 billion dollar purchase, coupled with the announcement of Star Wars Episode VII, sent the Internet into a vitriolic tailspin in the days that followed. Fans of the franchise expressed their outrage through lengthy blog posts, rousing forum discussions, and many a tweet and Facebookstatus. “Disrespect for the established universe was inevitable,” they cried. But although I’m far from a mega fan of the series, I feel like it’s time someone said it: Everyone needs to take a step back and chill for a second.

I’ll admit that, at first, I could kind of empathize. After all, it was a little over three years ago that my beloved Marvel Comics was lured under the Disney umbrella. Similar online outcries arose then, too. The fanbase hive-mind had my junkie-in-withdrawal level anxious.

Despite Marvel’s multiple rousing successes in theaters, I wasn’t entirely convinced it had anything to do with Disney itself. After all, Iron Man was already a summer blockbuster by the time the deal was finalized. And Iron Man 2, along with Thor and Captain America, were already well on their way to pre-production before Disney ever came on the scene. Sure, they chose Joss Whedon to helm the now beloved Avengers movie, but that could’ve easily been a fluke.

It wasn’t. Whedon is a self-professed and prolific comic aficionado, and there’s not a shred of doubt in me that Disney was well aware of both his talent and devotion when they brought him on board. And now the powers that be have rightfully handed him the keys to the kingdom — Whedon is on point for the Avengers spin-off television series S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers film sequel, as well as the go-to consultant for all future Marvel Cinematic Universe endeavors, including Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Disney’s relinquished creative control of Marvel’s  live-action counterparts to more than capable hands, which is the best thing they possibly could’ve done given the circumstances.

Meanwhile, Marvel’s print comic content remains largely untouched, if not better off in some instances (as with the recent announcement of a new all-female ongoing title The Fearless Defenders, the first of its kind for the company). Not a single pair of Mickey Mouse ears in sight. Decisions like this were no accident, but rather shrewd business moves to appease a rapidly growing fanbase.

Star Wars fans are grossly overreacting to perhaps the best news their franchise could’ve ever received. While there’s something to be said for letting well enough alone, there’s absolutely no denying that Disney knows what they’re doing when catering to the built-in fanbase of an acquired franchise. They will likely find a writer and director who truly, madly, deeply care about the Star Wars universe and the characters in it. 

Besides, Disney and Lucasfilm have been partners for years — lest we forget Disneyland’s Star Tours and Indiana Jones rides. And as for the kid-friendly censorship concern, allow me to direct your attention to Miramax films; between 1993 and 2010 it was a Disney-owned film distribution company. Its filmography includes a slew of gritty R-rated flicks, including one called — I kid you not, Farewell, My Concubine. Disney is so much more than its G-rated content, and it would do these single-minded, foaming-at-the-mouth superfans some good to remember that.

When it comes down to it, Disney is a business, and it’s in a business’ best interest to appease its clients — in this case, the fans — in hopes of maximizing revenue. No one makes  any money if a beloved series gets bastardized. And considering Star Wars’ enormous, outspoken fanbase, Disney has ample motivation to prove naysayers wrong. Besides, George Lucas himself already made The Phantom Menace of his own accord.