No, I’m Not Worried About Star Wars Oversaturation
On Investor’s Day 2020, Disney dropped some major Star Wars content news as part of their new DTC (Direct to Consumer) focus: nine new shows and two movies over the next four to five years. This is on top of Season Three of The Mandalorian, which is already in production. These newly announced projects, along with the books and comics dropping in 2021, make it an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan. One concern coming out of the Investor’s Day announcements is oversaturation. Is there too much Star Wars content coming? Will this dilute the brand and divide the fan base and their desire for Star Wars? I don’t think so for various reasons, which I will detail below.
The Disney+ factor
Disney is shifting to a Direct to Consumer approach when it comes to content, and Disney+ and its early success are the main reasons. Over 86 million people have subscribed to Disney+, with more signing up every day. Disney has decided, at least in part due to the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down the theater experience, to focus on releasing as much content as possible directly to Disney+. Why have an intermediary when you can get shows and movies directly to almost 100 million households? It’s no coincidence that nine of the eleven projects announced at Investor’s Day are releasing on Disney+. If you’re signed up for their streaming service, you will have access to these shows at no extra cost. That’s huge. You do not have to pay to watch them at a movie theater. Disney released five Star Wars movies in a four-year period from December 2015 to December 2019. They were asking a lot of the fans and their wallets with that release schedule. This will not be the case with the Disney+ shows. You’re already paying for the service. If you want to watch The Bad Batch, great! If not, also great, and it will cost no extra money either way.
There is something for everyone!
Everyone doesn’t have to like everything, a crazy thought I know! I love music, but I pretty much hate country music. I don’t trash country music or those who like it, however. It’s just not for me, and that’s okay! There is so much variety coming with these projects, and that means there’s something for everyone. In addition, projects like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, and Lando seem to be one season-limited series. They will tell one story from beginning to end in one season, no long-term commitment. The Rangers of The New Republic and Ahsoka are direct spin-offs from The Mandalorian, and it appears they will be connected and have crossovers. Visions is a collection of short anime-inspired films. The Bad Batch is an animated successor to The Clone Wars. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor will fill in some of the gaps between the prequels and the Original Trilogy. A Droid Story seems like it will be a more lighthearted story. We don’t know much yet about Lando, but who doesn’t want more content from our favorite scoundrel? Rogue Squadron will be Top Gun in space and is inspired by the classic video games and novels that featured the titular squadron. We also don’t have much information about Taika Waititi’s movie, but the limited artwork (that sure looked like a Tho Yor-style ship in the released image) hints that it could be about the dawn of the Jedi Order over 20,000 years in the past. Finally, The Acolyte is a mystery-thriller set at the end of the High Republic era, still long before the Skywalker Saga. While I’m excited to watch these shows and movies, they might not be for everyone, and that’s okay! Watch the ones you want and skip the ones that don’t interest you. We love different types of stories, and that’s part of what makes the Star Wars universe so amazing; there really is something for everyone to relate to and love.
Star Wars is finally addressing its diversity and representation problem
Star Wars is my favorite fictional world. I love spending time in this universe, and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you love Star Wars too. As great as it’s been for over 40 years, there’s been an issue right from the beginning: the lack of diversity on screen and behind the camera. There’s a reason the hashtag #StarWarssoWhite trends from time to time on Twitter. The original Star Wars trilogy is a cultural touchstone that has changed the world, but there is almost no diversity on screen or behind the scenes. Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia is the only woman in the entire trilogy, other than brief appearances from characters like Mon Mothma in Return of the Jedi. There is also a glaring lack of people of color, which is often written off as a “sign of the times” when the films were made. Behind the scenes, the crew and filmmakers were skewed on the white male side.
The Prequels tried to do better when it came to diversity and representation, but those movies were plagued with racist tropes. Whether George Lucas meant for this to happen is besides the point when people were hurt by perceived racial stereotypes. But, things have started to change. Shows like Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Mandalorian have made great strides, and this is the main (and most important) reason I’m not worried about Star Wars oversaturation. The eleven projects announced on Investor’s Day are incredibly diverse. Patty Jenkins, famed director behind Wonder Woman, is directing the Rogue Squadron movie. Taika Waititi, of both Jewish and Maori descent, has already directed for The Mandalorian and is working on his film. Leslye Headland, a young female creator, is writing and directing The Acolyte. Ahsoka will feature Rosario Dawson, a woman of color, in the lead role. Lando will be written and directed by Justin Simien, a black man, starring a black man. Japanese artists and filmmakers will create the 10 short anime films for Visions. Obi-Wan Kenobi will be directed by Deborah Chow, a woman of Asian descent, and written by Hossein Amini who is of Iranian descent. Andor will feature Diego Luna in the lead role, who is a Mexican actor and director. This talented list gives me hope.
There’s still a long way to go, but these are huge steps in the right direction for Disney and Star Wars. Representation is so important, and having more diversity on these projects will bring new and needed perspectives to the Star Wars universe, which is exciting going forward. Each show or movie will have a distinct vision, while also feeling like Star Wars. Star Wars is a worldwide phenomenon, with a fan base that is wonderfully diverse. That fans of different backgrounds are starting to see themselves represented in this universe in a meaningful way is fantastic.
One last thing...
Another example I’d like to throw out there: Many movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were of a different genre and felt different from the other MCU movies (while still feeling like Marvel movies). And they were often the most popular films, like Black Panther or Guardians of the Galaxy, or Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. Branching out and trying something new can revitalize a popular world like Lucas’s galaxy far, far away. The new Star Wars shows will have diverse voices that differ greatly from project to project, which makes the number of announced projects exciting, not tiresome. I cannot wait to see what these talented people create.
The future of Star Wars is so bright and exciting right now, and I for one can’t wait to consume all of it. May the Force be with us all!