The galaxy far, far away is one of the most recognizable settings in cinema history. Star Wars is such a behemoth of pop culture that it has pretty much reached the entire world. Go anywhere on the planet and people know what Star Wars is. The saga has brought so much joy to people’s lives and has sparked the imagination of millions of children and other creatives over the years. It’s no wonder the franchise can so easily enjoy billion-dollar box office takes every time a new movie hits theaters. Star Wars is a money machine.
Of course, that is what makes these movies so difficult to make in the first place. Not only does Lucasfilm have a very demanding standard of quality for each installment, but fans also have their own opinions about what types stories filmmakers and writers should tell and how they should tell them. It’s no wonder there have been so many controversies over creative decisions over the years. Hell, Star Wars fans have been at war with George Lucas, the man who created the galaxy far, far away in the first place, since he made the less than stellar Prequel Trilogy. And there are plenty more controversies just below:
15. GEORGE LUCAS CALLS DISNEY “WHITE SLAVERS”
Let’s face it: Star Wars creator George Lucas isn’t a big fan of the Disney version of the beloved franchise he created in 1977. It comes down to the fact that the House of Mouse decided to focus on nostalgia with The Force Awakens instead of making something brand new, which is what Lucas says he always strove to do (for better or worse). When Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, they also purchased Lucas’ ideas for Episode VII. But they decided not to go with what Lucas had planned.
Just a few weeks after the release of The Force Awakens, Lucas did an interview with Charlie Rose in which he compared Disney to “white slavers,” referring to the way the company was treating the franchise as a product of nostalgia instead of a story. Lucas later apologized to the company that paid him $4 billion for Star Wars.
14. HAN SHOT FIRST
“Han shot first” is one of the many controversies that have risen in the years since George Lucas decided to make tweaks to the Original Trilogy. One of the victims of Lucas’ constant tampering with the trilogy was Han’s showdown with Greedo, who surprises the smuggler at the Mos Eisley cantina with a blaster. In the original scene (and as it’s written in the script), Han shoots Greedo before the Rodian bounty hunter can fire.
Lucas decided to change the scene so that Greedo would shoot first and Han would move his head at the last second. The director felt that Han shooting first made the character look like a “cold-blooded killer” instead of a character who is ultimately on the side of good. Star Wars fans don’t really like change, so getting rid of Han’s moral ambiguity in A New Hope caused a bit of an uproar.
13. VISCERAL’S STAR WARS GAME CANCELED
When Electronic Arts acquired the exclusive license to make Star Wars games, one of the studios that was tasked with creating a new adventure in the galaxy far, far away was Visceral Games. The studio had already cut its teeth on the Dead Space trilogy, which fused science fiction with gruesome survival horror. The games were cinematic and the level design was stellar, plus Visceral knew how to tell a story. Giving them a Star Wars game seemed like a no-brainer.
Former Uncharted creative director Amy Hennig was brought on to lead Visceral in creating a linear action-adventure game about a ragtag crew of scoundrels committing heists across the galaxy. But the project went silent before fans got a really good look at the game. Due to manpower, resources and low morale, Visceral was unable to see its vision through. EA canceled the project and shuttered the studio for good.
12. REY IS CALLED A MARY SUE
While it made $2 billion at the box office, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was met with a few criticisms from fans. One critique was lodged directly at the film’s protagonist, the mysterious Rey, who grew up as a scavenger on the junkyard planet of Jakku and therefore had no training in the Force (that we know of). Some fans felt that once the action got started, Rey was too competent and powerful to be a plausible character.
Fans began to call Rey a “Mary Sue” — a female character who is impossibly perfect. People criticized Rey’s sudden Force abilities (the movie is called “The Force Awakens,” though) and her ability to fly the Falcon (it’s explained in the prequel book Before the Awakening that Rey spent hours in an old flight simulator on Jakku). This all caused a clash between fans of the character and more cynical fans.
11. PREQUEL TRILOGY RUINS STAR WARS
Where to start with the Prequel Trilogy? In 1999, the world was about to explode with anticipation in the days before the premiere of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, the franchise’s return to the big screen after 16 years. What fans hoped would be an action-packed movie about Jedi vs. Sith ended up being a dull film about galactic trade laws, but that wasn’t even the worst of it. There was also the agonizing presence of Jar Jar Binks.
Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith didn’t help the trilogy’s case much either, especially when it came to the portrayal of a young Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi who would one day transform into Darth Vader. Many fans feel to this day that the Prequel Trilogy irrevocably damaged one of the greatest villains in movie history by making him a whiny boy in the Prequels.
10. HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN REPLACES SEBASTIAN SHAW
After George Lucas released the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition remasters in 1997, he just kept on tweaking the Original Trilogy. One of his most controversial changes came in a later re-release of the films. In the original cut of Return of the Jedi, Sebastian Shaw portrays an older Anakin Skywalker. We first see him as a horribly scarred Darth Vader and then as Anakin Skywalker’s Force ghost during the celebration on Endor.
But after Hayden Christensen was cast as a young Anakin Skywalker in the Prequel Trilogy, Lucas decided to replace Shaw with Christensen in the final shots of Return of the Jedi. The result is… well, if you hated Christensen in the Prequels, you won’t be too happy about him in Episode VI.
9. CHEWBACCA IS KILLED BY A MOON
The New Jedi Order remains one of the most controversial entries in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe. Not only did it introduce a polarizing new alien enemy that was immune to the Force, but the book series started off by killing one of the most beloved characters in the entire Star Wars saga! In the first novel of the 19-book series, Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore, fans were forced to say goodbye to Chewbacca, who died during a heroic rescue attempt.
How did poor Chewie die in the old EU? When a moon is about to crash into the planet Sernpidal, Han and Chewie decide to help as many people evacuate as possible. Chewie dies saving Han’s youngest son, Anakin, before the moon collides with the planet. Chewbacca is basically crushed by an entire moon!
8. REBOOTING CONTINUITY
There was a time in Star Wars when the only way to get new adventures was to read the books and comics and play the games. By the time Disney bought the rights to Star Wars in 2012, this Expanded Universe had grown into a rich collection of stories. Basically, if you wanted to know what happened to Luke, Han and Leia after Return of the Jedi, all you had to do was pick up a book.
That all changed when Disney decided to reboot the post-Return of the Jedi continuity and start from scratch. All of a sudden, the Thrawn Trilogy had never happened and the return of the Sith had never come to pass in the Legacy of the Force series. This did not sit well with some fans, who felt that all of the stories they loved had been thrown into the sarlacc pit.
7. THE TERRIBLE HOLIDAY SPECIAL
The Star Wars Holiday Special is so bad that it’s never been re-broadcast or released on home video since its original airing in 1978, just a year after A New Hope first shattered our universe. The TV special, which was produced for CBS, wasn’t created by George Lucas. Instead, it was written by a series of TV writers who wanted to turn Star Wars into a variety show with musical acts and funny skits. The result is awful.
The story, which basically exists to connect the different musical performances and skits sprinkled throughout, takes place on Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld. Chewbacca is going home to his family to celebrate Life Day, but finds resistance from the Galactic Empire upon his arrival. When Chewie and his friends get themselves in trouble, it’s up to Lumpy, Chewie’s son, to help them. It’s really, really bad.
File this under “Answers We Never Asked For.” In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, George Lucas decided to explain how it’s possible that certain people can use the Force. It comes down to the midi-chlorians, microscopic lifeforms that can communicate with the Force. If an individual has high enough a midi-chlorian count, he is capable of manipulating the energy field.
Anakin Skywalker was known to have the highest midi-chlorian count ever, which made Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn believe he was the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force. Also, Anakin might have been conceived by midi-chlorians? Needless to say, this bizarre addition to the canon annoyed fans a lot. It’s probably the reason why no one tried to measure Rey’s midi-chlorian count in The Force Awakens.
When John Boyega was cast as a main character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there were some “fans” who felt that the new movie was spewing “anti-white” propaganda, a racist notion that was taken very seriously by a group of trolls on Twitter. One user even wrote, “#BoycottStarWarsVII because it is anti-white propaganda promoting #whitegenocide.” Of course, the movie did no such thing; in fact, the only thing it did was present a more diverse Star Wars universe than the predominantly white version of the past.
As if almost a jab at these Twitter trolls, the opening shot of the first The Force Awakens trailer featured Boyega in stormtrooper armor. This only angered the #BoycottStarWars people more. Of course, their boycott didn’t do much to affect the film’s $2 billion box office take.
4. LORD AND MILLER FIRED FROM HAN SOLO MOVIE
When Lucasfilm announced a standalone Han Solo movie, the studio tapped Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors behind 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, to helm the project. While things seemed to be going smoothly at first, the relationship between the directors and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy soured. Lord and Miller’s directing style didn’t gel with what Kennedy wanted, as they often went off script, improvising scenes that veteran screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon had written.
Eventually, Kennedy decided to part ways with the directors and hire Ron Howard to take over. Howard reportedly re-shot most of the film, bringing it back to Kennedy’s original vision. It remains to be seen how the final product will turn out. Solo: A Star Wars Story is out on May 25, 2018.
3. ROGUE ONE RESHOOTS
It seems that the standalone Star Wars films are doomed to have tumultuous production cycles. Godzilla director Gareth Edwards was tasked with bringing the first Star Wars Story film to the big screen. His film was to be a war movie about the group of Rebels who went on a daring suicide mission to steal the Death Star plans. Apparently, his vision was not up to Lucasfilm’s standards, though.
In the summer of 2016, a few months before the movie was released, several outlets reported that Rogue One was to go through intensive reshoots under the watchful eye of veteran filmmaker Tony Gilroy. It’s unclear how much was changed in the reshoots, but the finished product turned out to be a hit. Still, there were a few months last summer when a lot of people thought Rogue One was in big trouble.
2. COLIN TREVORROW OUT, J.J. ABRAMS BACK IN
The firings have continued at Lucasfilm in the past few months. After Phil Lord and Chris Miller were ousted, Kathleen Kennedy set her sights on Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, who was reportedly very difficult to work with. Some reports described Trevorrow as an egocentric director who spent too much time trying to do things his way instead of working with Lucasfilm, which didn’t like his draft of the Episode IX script. Eventually, Kennedy decided to fire Trevorrow.
In no need of anymore director turnaround, Kennedy brought back J.J. Abrams, who previously directed The Force Awakens, to helm Episode IX. Along with screenwriter Chris Terrio (Argo), Abrams will develop a new version of the final installment in the Sequel Trilogy. Hopefully, the staff changes are over.
1. JOSH TRANK FIRED
We were pretty close to getting a Boba Fett standalone movie (don’t worry, it’s probably still going to happen at some point). In fact, Lucasfilm was preparing to announce the movie at Celebration Anaheim in 2015, but then news started to come out about Josh Trank’s many issues with 20th Century Fox during the production of 2015’s Fantastic Four. Rumors spread like wildfire about the nightmare of working with Trank. Apparently, Fox eventually had to wrestle the movie away from the director.
Kathleen Kennedy, who you already know suffers no egos, decided to nip a potential problem with Trank in the bud. Lucasfilm parted ways with Trank before the Boba Fett movie was ever announced. As of right now, no one has stepped in to replace him. It’ll probably be a few years yet before we finally get that Boba Fett movie.
What other things from the Dark Side almost destroyed Star Wars? Let us know in the comments!
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