Taika Waititi Knows What’s Going Wrong With ‘Star Wars,’ And May Hold The Key To The Franchise’s Future

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‘Star Wars’ is at a key moment in its evolution. They know it at Disney and they trust Taika Waititi (Disney’s almost infallible asset after directing two Thor movies for Marvel and, within ‘Star Wars’, one of the most memorable episodes of the first season of ‘The Mandalorian’) so that give new air to the saga. But before we discuss his plans, let’s review how ‘Star Wars’ has gotten to the point where he is right now.

A misguided trilogy. At Disney they know perfectly well that ‘Star Wars’ is going through a crisis stage with regard to its film incarnations. The plans that were drawn up when Disney returned to the franchise, which included annual releases and a series of films outside the main plots, failed miserably. If not entirely commercially, at least at the image level: Disney conveyed the image that it was smothering the goose that lays the golden eggs, and decided to stop.

It seems incredible, but it’s been two and a half years since the conclusion of the JJ Abrams trilogy and we still haven’t agreed if that was an unmitigated disaster or an interesting reboot. For example, opinions about the second and most controversial of the saga, ‘The Last Jedi’ oscillate between two extremes: that it is the lowest point of the franchise and that it can be measured with Lucas’s classics. It is clear that this latest trilogy is, to say the least, controversial.

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It is logical that Disney decided to let the saga rest, especially when it has the Marvel movies under the same roof, which they achieve almost unanimously, installment after installment, with critical successes and blockbusters. That is what the saga wants to aspire to, or at least, to have a reception like the ‘Star Wars’ series on Disney +, praised more unanimously… or not?

The nostalgia trap. ‘The Mandalorian’ is possibly the most unanimously praised Disney proposal in recent years. The appearance of a series that repeats many of its constants, ‘The Boba Fett Book’, is clear proof. But not even she gets rid of the great problem of ‘Star Wars’ products of recent times: the firm attachment to a glorious past, and using nostalgia as a narrative resource of greater depth than any other.

It is an ingredient that is also reaching controversial extremes with ‘Obi Wan Kenobi’, which with the presence of Darth Vader and Princess Leia is destroying a good part of the initial proposal of the series, in a product that many consider a successor not very worthy of one of the classic confrontations of the saga. And all due to the total dependence of the fan service and the nostalgic element.

Taika Waititi’s plan. The director of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ wants to end it when he takes the controls of a new trilogy of films. In a recent interview with ‘Total Film‘, the director stated that he does not want to make films dependent on previous ones, expand plots or tell origins: “I don’t think it would do any good in the ‘Star Wars’ universe to make a movie where everyone says: ‘Oh, great, well, those are the blueprints for the Millennium Falcon, oh, that’s Chewbacca’s grandmother’ (…) I would like to create some new characters and expand the world, otherwise it seems like a very small story”.

That is the key to the matter: paradoxically, ‘Star Wars’ feels, for some time now, like a constrained and limited franchise, when the feeling should be just the opposite: that there are hundreds of stories left to tell. Waititi has realized that this continual tail-sniffing does more harm than good, and the return of Darth Vader in ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ is proof that even such a seemingly indestructible icon has its limits.

But… will it work? Taika Waititi is also not an absolutely safe bet: among the fandom it is a controversial name, because Marvel’s hardest-line fans are not very satisfied with the systematic and irreverent demolition of icons that he carried out in ‘Thor: Ragmarok’ and that possibly repeat with ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’. His sense of humor may not marry too well with one of the fandoms most closed to radical changes.

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For this reason, this Waititi project, if it really confirms itself as a new series of films definitely outside the pressure of continuous accountability with the franchise’s past, has a double test before it. On the one hand, to demonstrate that a radical change of direction can interest fans (the irregular results of films that tried to take a turn like ‘Han Solo’, ‘Rogue One’ or the aforementioned ‘The Last Jedi’ did not quite succeed ). On the other, confirm that ‘Star Wars’ is alive enough to function without the comfortable crutches of nostalgia.

‘Star Wars’ is at a key moment in its evolution. They know it at Disney and they trust Taika Waititi…

‘Star Wars’ is at a key moment in its evolution. They know it at Disney and they trust Taika Waititi…

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