A Disturbance in the (Hollywood) Force

What's Up With Star Wars?

It seems like every few months we have to go back and take a look at Star Wars due to some news that indicates the franchise is still flailing around. I wouldn't say it's enjoyable to poke at the throbbing corpse of a series just to see what life might still me left in it, but due to the way Disney is running this franchise it's hard to do otherwise. The problems with the franchise are entirely of the House of Mouse's own devising and, one would think, they'd find a way to actually get the Sage Far, Far Away working properly again.

The recent news to come out from Disney was that a couple of recent projects were axed. One of the projects hardly feels like news at all: Rangers of the Old Republic was sent packing. That series, which would have focused on ally of the Mandalorian Cara Dune, played by Gina Carano, and if you've been following the hot gossip then you know the exact reason the show was axed: Gina Carano. Just about any Star Wars fan has to have heard about how carano got in trouble with the Mouse House for her far-right political postings on social media, and eventually these posts (and her unapologetic responses after) led Disney to cut her from the third season of The Mandalorian. It was really only a matter of time before her spin-off followed suit.

I don't want to pile on Carano, mind you. Before her social media posts I rather liked the MMA fighter-turned-actress in her few appearances. She was pretty solid in Haywire, a movie designed by Steven Soderberg to highlight her fighting prowess (which downplaying her limited acting ability). She's been in other projects where, by and large, she's able to beat the shit out of people really good. And the actress had shown some solid acting spark in her appearances in The Mandalorian. Up until her social media posts came out, Rangers was a show I would have been interested in. After all that, though, not so much.

Her posts, and then responses after, were pretty stupid, though. I get that not everyone in Hollywood is a bleeding0heart liberal, and I don't really care about the personal politics of an actor. You want to be a Conservative, that's fine by me. I disagree, but it's fine. That said, when you're a star you have a "platform", whether you want it or not, and if you make social media posts views by thousands (or tens of thousands) of people then those posts are going to be under a microscope. Don't act offended when someone reads your posts and judges you for it; hell, I only have an audience of a dozen or so people on social media and I understand that when I say something stupid that's on me. The larger your audience the bigger the microscope.

Carano could have turned it around. She could have done the expected apology tour, deleting the posts and then making a conciliatory statement instead. She didn't and Disney fired her for it. Then they wiped away her Cara Dune toys, and put her spin-off on the back-burner. To no one's surprise, since Carano still hasn't done the apology tour shtick, Disney finally just shrugged and axed her project. "Good riddance, time to move on." Oh well.

The other big news to come out recently was that Patty Jenkins's big project, the side-story movie Rogue Squadron, was also canceled. Well, that was one interpretation of the news, and it was probably unwarranted doom and gloom. Right now the project is simply "on hold" but still expected to come out in December, 2023. Depending on how you view this news, it's either an okay push to ensure a quality film or the end of Jenkins's involvement with the franchise.

So here's the thing: in the past, when Disney has put a Star Wars project "on hold", it's then later announced as canceled. You can see this, above, with Rangers, but it also happened with the David Benioff and D. B. Weiss trilogy of films that supposedly was in the development. That project was later scrubbed when D&D failed to stick the landing of Game of Thrones in spectacular fashion. There was also the trilogy of films that Rian Johnson was supposed to make, but then that, too, was scrubbed after an indefinite hold due to the "poor" performance of Johnson's The Last Jedi. Disney has more Star Wars projects on hold than actual media in development.

Does this spell the end of Rogue Squadron with Patty Jenkins at the helm? Maybe. It's certainly understandable if Disney has cold feet now about Patty's project. When it was announced, with a big teaser featuring Patty roller skating while she talked about her vision for the project, much was made about how this would be a new era for the franchise. But then along came Wonder Woman 1984 and suddenly a bit of the luster has come off of Jenkins's star. That's not to say anything against the passion she clearly has for the project, and making no judgments about how good (or bad) it might be. Simply put: the only metric in Hollywood hat matters is the performance of your last project, and Wonder Woman 1984 is viewed as a big, stinking turd. So we'll just have to see of Disney has decided it no longer want Jenkins at the helm.

Bear in mind that it's really hard to gauge what is going on with the Star Wars franchise as Disney and Lucasfilm are generally tight lipped until they have real things to announce. You only really know if a project is actually moving forward if a project is so far along that it can't possibly be canceled. I'm fairly certain The Acolyte, a show set during the "High Republic", is going to come out since the company announced the casting of the show's lead actress, Amandla Stenberg. The Book of Boba Fett is certainly a go as trailers are coming out for it now. And at least season three of The Mandalorian and season one of Ashoka are in the cards. Beyond that, though? Who knows.

Rumors certainly make it seem like the company is throwing everything at the wall out of desperation to get the franchise "back on track". That's a weird place to be considering each of the Sequel Trilogy films made over a Billion (with a B) dollars, putting Star Wars behind only the MCU (which Disney also owns) for the spot at the top of biggest franchises ever. But since both of the follow ups to The Force Awakens failed to make over $2 Bil, like that film made (to say nothing of the bomb that was Solo), Disney had been in damage control. So many follow-ups have been rumored, from a Sequel Sequel trilogy following Rey's kid, to bringing George Lucas back to do a new trilogy, to who knows what else. Everything now has to be taken with a giant pile of salt because it all could change in a week.

The thing to take from all of this is that you shouldn't assume that a new Star Wars film is coming out until you start seeing trailers for it. It's more likely that the shows in the franchise will happen (other than Rangers of the Old Republic>) because, unlike the movie side of things, the shows are humming along nicely. But, still, until something has a trailer don't buy into the hype.