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November 16. 2012 12:48AM

Ian Clark's Pop Culture Club: 'Star Wars' won't become a Mickey Mouse operation


 

No, you won't be seeing Darth Vader with Mickey Mouse ears or Pluto replacing Chewbacca as co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon.

While Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm (and thus, the entire "Star Wars" brand) happened a couple weeks ago I thought I would write about it this week, since readers continue to email me asking for my opinion on it, plus there was new information this past week.

First up, the new info. It was announced last week that Michael Arndt will be writing the screenplay for Episode VII, set to release in 2015.
This was met with a favorable response from the Star Wars fan community, myself included.

Arndt's resume is impressive and includes an Academy Award for the screenplay for "Little Miss Sunshine" in 2006. He also wrote the excellent "Toy Story 3" and is working on "The Hunger Games" sequel adaptation "Catching Fire."

That's a great start to the new Star Wars trilogy. Up next will be the naming of a director. We do know that one fan favorite is out of the running. J.J. Abrams ("Star Trek") took his own name off the list last week.

Other names that have fans buzzing are Christopher Nolan (fresh off the Batman trilogy) and Joss Whedon (who directed the mega-hit "The Avengers") but I think ultimately it may not be a big name that lands the gig.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. "The Empire Strikes Back" is considered by many fans (myself included) to be the best of all the Star Wars films. That one was directed by Irvin Kershner, who had a solid but not overwhelming body of work before George Lucas tabbed him for the sequel to Star Wars.

The biggest question readers have had for me regarding the Disney/Star Wars news is: "Is this a good thing?"

Yeah, I think it really is. Disney didn't become the huge entity it is by making dumb decisions. There won't be any fiddling around with the movies to add in Disney characters or new movies tying them together.

Disney bought Marvel Comics a while back and that merger has worked out beautifully. I see the same thing coming here with Star Wars. Disney also knows marketing and it knows fans want the original (meaning not the altered special edition versions) of the original trilogy released on Blu-ray and I think we will get that soon.

Disney also knows fans want to see the original characters (and the actors who played them) involved in the new movies and I think we will. How great will it be to see older versions of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo on the screen with Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford playing them?

I think ultimately we will get the best of both worlds here. It remains the world that Lucas built and will utilize some of his notes and visions for the future of the story beyond "Return of the Jedi" while bringing in strong storytellers like Arndt to make it even better.

The bottom line is, we're going to get a whole new Star Wars trilogy with new voices telling the stories and that should have everyone excited.

There have been very few pop culture phenomena like Star Wars and it's never going to go away. So to have something new and different to look forward to is exciting.

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Ian Clark's Pop Culture Club appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Check out his podcast "Nerdherders" on iTunes or at www.3nerds.us. His e-mail address is iclark@unionleader.com.


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