40 years ago today a trumpet fanfare heralded the arrival of not only a new movie, but a completely new movie-viewing experience. As the big yellow letters scrolled up the screen and then a space battle then replaced them, the galaxy was changed forever. Viewers watching Star Wars on that opening night not only found themselves exposed to a new world, but an entire new living breathing galaxy! This galaxy brought to life characters that seemed both real and relatable. Where aliens and robots once just seemed the pipe dreams of imagination, they suddenly appeared completely believable, huggable, and even adorable! A whole new belief system came to the public consciousness as the Force made sense as the galaxy hung on a precipice between good and evil. This epic space opera felt real and the world was hooked on George Lucas’ creation.
4 decades later, Star Wars is bigger than ever. With the purchase of Lucasfilm by The Walt Disney Company, the legacy of Star Wars seems to be assured and the future of it is brighter than ever! It hasn’t always been like this though. Just as the movies have their brighter and darker moments, so has the Star Wars story. While there were high points like The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, the expanded universe books, and some really entertaining video games through the years. There were also some low points as the galaxy far, far, away was revisited for three more movies. Perhaps they were too ambitious. Perhaps it was giving the fans too much of what they thought they wanted. Perhaps it was just less than perfect implementation of a generally decent story idea. Whatever the reasons, the prequels weren’t received as well as Star Wars fans would hope for. However, the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney led to a whole new and exciting era!
A New Era For Star Wars
In 2012 The Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm from George Lucas. It was the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. Out was the Expanded Universe. In was a new definition for what would be Star Wars canon moving forward. This new canon now included books, animated TV shows, video games, comic books, and new movies! With a story group overseeing all elements of the Star Wars universe, everything was now cohesive and connected. This new canonical Star Wars borrowed from the now called Star Wars Legends (formerly Star Wars Expanded Universe) and is taking things to a whole new level. The animated television shows are doing an absolutely fantastic job with this, bringing fan favorites like Grand Admiral Thrawn officially into canon. This new era also has brought in new films. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a critical hit with audiences and fans alike. Last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars story, the first stand-alone film for the franchise, was also a hit. The Walt Disney Company and Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy has shown that they are fantastic caretakers for George Lucas’ creations.
The Next 40 Years
Looking forward the future is very bright for Star Wars. This winter we will get to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The following year will be the yet untitled Han Solo film. The next year will wrap up this new trilogy that continues to tell the story of the Skywalkers. While old characters are being revisited, there is also a strong emphasis on new ones. It’s a beautiful blend of old and new moving forward. The galaxy continues to expand. As it does that there will be countless new adventures to draw in both old and new fans. Where these adventures will go remains to be seen. And really, that’s half the fun of it. Seeing these stories fleshed out is part of the experience. The other part of the Star Wars experience is all of the anticipation, speculation, and discussion about what is going on, what already went on, and what will happen. The Star Wars galaxy is bigger than its ever been and it has more possibilities than ever before. With new stories being worked on and released all the time, it is perhaps the best time to be a fan since this day 40 years ago when it first came to theaters. I, for one, am incredible excited to see where this all goes in the next 40 years!
What are you most looking forward to in the Star Wars universe in the coming years? What was your favorite moment from the last 4 decades? Let us know in the comments below!