Why Disney Can’t Make A Good Star Wars Film To Save Their Soul

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Disney just can’t do Star Wars. They don’t understand it. And there’s a big reason why—they’re a soulless monolithic corporation trying to recapture nostalgia in a property that is really about intense spirituality. You can’t create spirituality if you have none.

Star Wars really fell off my radar after The Last Jedi, which I found not only to be a bad movie, but an insult to everything that Star Wars was. On the spirituality front, the whole message was a slap in the face to the religious, the spiritual. No matter what you do, evil will rise anyway, it’s pointless. You will fail. Nothing you do matters. Nihilism.  Those were everything we got not just from the movie universe all around, but from Luke Skywalker, who as a character in prior films, was all about being wide-eyed and child-like in his thirst for enlightenment and the spiritual. It’s a big 180 to the point where it doesn’t’ make sense from a character perspective, and that’s a big reason why the film comes across as such garbage. I know they technically explain it in the interactions with Kylo Ren in the past, but it’s thin, and Luke’s not shown as being very heroic in the past example either—he pretty much lies about the encounter. It’s all very messy, and anti-spiritual.

And the problem is you have an entire Hollywood who doesn’t understand spirituality. Nor do they understand religion. They act like the imperial officers who mock Lord Vader in the first film, calling it superstition, a hokey religion, etc. Vader just responds through action. Look at the power of faith. He says by choking them with nothing other than the force.

While Disney doesn’t understand faith from a business-side, the directors and their nihilism come at it from an even worse vantage, as mentioned before. The combination is a complete train wreck when it’s dealing with mythology. The Force Awakens sucked the soul out of the series, and The Last Jedi took that soul out back and beat it in an alley and left it for dead.  It’s frankly a worse mishandling of the properties than the prequels ever were.

But that perspective doesn’t understand Star Wars at all.

What brought this to my attention was a tweet by author, Scott Lynch, who is a very solid writer, but definitely comes from the dark-fantasy nihilism perspective, one that very much isn’t Star Wars. Someone mentioned “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” being an iconic line, but didn’t pay off—a person who doesn’t understand spiritualism. Lynch’s analysis is this (source, twitter):

I think it did, but you have to bear with me for a moment here. When Obi-Wan says this (IMHO), he’s not talking about anything he’s going to do himself. He’s not even talking about becoming a Force ghost and an afterlife tour guide/apologist. He’s talking about Luke, and he’s maneuvering himself quite specifically so that Luke will have a clear view of everything when Obi-Wan lowers his guard, closes his eyes, and gets cut down by Vader. Note the meaningful sideways glance before he gives in.

Let’s dissect this. One, he is talking about becoming a Force ghost, though putting it in accurate humanistic terms like that is missing the point of what he’s really becoming there. He is attaining pure enlightenment, becoming one with the force, or one with God as you will.  His concerns are not about Luke beating up Vader in a human sense. Those things are below enlightenment, below anything Obi-Wan or any Jedi is trying to accomplish. It’s off the mark because it ignores spirituality and religion as important to the movie’s messaging and subtext, which is because those aspects of life are not understood by Mr. Lynch.

It’s very similar to how Rian Johnson approaches these subjects, and it misses the point so far that it creates films that just feel completely wrong in the context of the originals.  Obi-Wan is not concerned about being an afterlife tour guide/apologist, this is true. He is becoming more powerful than ever because he’s removing his temporary earthly shell. If one can’t understand that basic premise of religion, of ascending, of complete transformation and glorification, one can’t understand the soul of what makes stories like the original Star Wars so great and resonate with so many.

The Guardian put out an article today saying there’s red flags on the new Han Solo movie. I could have told you that from the minute one was announced, because though Han plays the skeptic in the film, he deep down understands truth and righteousness, and comes to admit that to himself over the course of the trilogy – through the help of Luke and Leia guiding him and forcing him to reconcile that with himself. It’s a beautiful arc, but a new movie making him devoid of that spirituality is going to only end in disappointment, unless the people producing the film have a very real come to Jesus moment themselves.

If you like my perspective on character and story, you’ll probably like my books. Check out The Stars Entwined, a space opera that has characters who will grip you throughout the story.

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11 thoughts on “Why Disney Can’t Make A Good Star Wars Film To Save Their Soul

  1. Jon
    And they’re culturally as well as spiritually shallow. They think goodness the true goodness our Lord incarnates is like the opening scene of the Sound of Music with Julie Andrews singing that song. Sticky sweet and no substance but it’s not true. Nobody lives, dies and even sacrifices themselves for superficial frivolty.
    They’ve deceived themselves to think being dark edgy is more real than being wide eyed, childlike but as wise as a fox.
    Since culture,popular culture especially, is too important to be confided in such unworthy hands, we need to talk it back and make our own content.
    xavier

  2. Didn’t Luke sacrifice himself at the end of TLJ to save the rebellion? I’m not sure which movie you watched.

    Also, why would a 60 year old man who failed miserably be “wide-eyed and child-like”?

  3. Also, your comment about the new Solo movie doesn’t make sense. You say that he starts out in ANH as a skeptic and finishes in TFA as a believer. You are correct that it’s a beautiful arc, but why would you expect him to be spiritual or a believer in a story that comes before ANH (where he’s a jaded skeptic, remember?).

    Yeesh.

  4. Agree very much on the spiritual stuff – granted, Lucas did a number on that with the prequels. Before those, I always felt the Force was something greater than ourselves that anyone could attain if they tried hard enough. But no, it’s biological and inherited, and now we’re talking genetic overlords, bah!

    There’s also some other stuff behind this as well. Forces at Disney wanted to appeal to a new young audience, so they brought in some new young characters – so far so good. Only they wanted it to be all about the new characters, and realizing the old ones would completely overshadow the new ones, they destroyed the old ones (just like Marvel comics).

    And, of course, they went with the Chosen One shtick, where newbie has never trained on anything before, but picks up the magic sword and-POOF-is beating masters without ever having to work for it. Luke struggled and suffered, but even after three movies, he still couldn’t take down Vader, much less the Emperor.

    • “I always felt the Force was something greater than ourselves that anyone could attain if they tried hard enough.”
      It was made very clear in the OT, that only certain people are force sensitive.

  5. 1. Considering that the original SW was a clean lift of Kurosawa’s “The Hidden Fortress,” it is of little surprise that it carried his mish-mash of Buddhism & Shinto, as well.

    2. My future history of Machine Civilization is shot-through with my Catholicism. Generally in the background, but always there.

    3. Having (forgive me, Jon; I’m an awful person) not read your books, I don’t know how much, if any, Christianity is there. I’m honestly curious.

    PS I’ve tried to imagine GK Chesterton in a 2nd gen Steampunk world. I got nothin’.

  6. Rogue One should have been the tip-off that the current Lucasfilm team doesn’t know faith…any faith. Practically no psalms or sutras are as basic as “I am with the Force and the Force is with me.”

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