Star Wars Needs to Learn Three Things From Marvel's Comic-Con Triumphs

Star Wars Needs to Learn Three Things From Marvel's Comic-Con Triumphs ...

The celebrations of Marvel Studios at San Diego Comic-Con have yet to settle, as fans expect them to enjoy the entire convention package. Company CEO Kevin Feige presented a sneak peek into Phase 6 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including two Avengers titles.

Marvel outdoed themselves once more to keep fans happy during the D23 convention in September. MCU devotees will have their fix through at least 2025, and almost certainly beyond.

It's hard not to be a little jealous of Star Wars films. The faraway galaxy that's Marvel Studios is a far cry from the well-oiled machine that's been built by the Disney umbrella from the start, and the reaction to the stories that have seen the light of day ranges from pleasant praise to outrage.

Lucasfilm had the opportunity to do their own Hall H event, called Star Wars Celebration, only to be disappointed by Willow and Indiana Jones 5, who both received equally as much, if not more, attention.

Indy's only hint, according to the company, was dragging Harrison Ford out to announce the release date, which will probably stay in place after a series of setbacks and delays. Obi-Wan Kenobi was naturally highlighted while understandably glossed over, as it was scheduled to premiere that night - and Lucasfilm provided an unforgettable experience for those in the audience.

With Andor and a brief check-in with the Mando crew, the rest of the talk was left. Although John Williams was brought onstage to conduct a few songs, The Maestro's appearance was more likely to distract from the panel's lack of substance than anything.

Marvel Studios put an hour-long program dedicated to Star Wars to shame, thereby wreaking havoc on the future of the galaxy far, far away. It is without doubt the most popular franchise in the world right now, easily surpassing Star Wars' popularity. Lucasfilm must find a way to bring Star Wars back into the spotlight.

When Marvel Studios has demonstrated, it's not that hard to lay the groundwork. The MCU's Hall H triumph was a win for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and perhaps, Lucasfilm and Disney executives were taking notes. There are three key takeaways from Marvel's Hall H triumph, and, if followed in at least a broad manner, the Star Wars blueprint would prevail once more.

Having a Plan

Disney Star Wars has been winging it since the contract confirming the sale of Lucasfilm expired. It became evident when The Last Jedi released and abandoned several plotlines established by The Force Awakens. It became evident when The Rise of Skywalker retconned the entire saga. JJ Abrams' assertion that a lack of a plan was the wrong approach for the sequel trilogy.

Lucasfilm might learn from the mistake. Forget about the unfathomable narrative and character choices made across the trilogy, as it is surely something no production company wants to repeat.

Kathleen Kennedy, the franchise's president, announced in 2019 that Star Wars would be off from filming for a short time following Episode IX, presumably because of "oversaturation." The major Disney+ projects have all been unrelated and stuck in the same period, with Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, and The Bad Batch as the most recent examples.

The natural assumption was that Lucasfilm would begin filming a different time frame for the next wave of films, whether set in the distant past or far beyond the future. The window would be open for storytelling less restricted by the fleshed-out 70 years that fans know best. Supposedly there is a roadmap for what's to come, but there aren't many people aware of it (assuming it exists).

Marvel Studios has already pulled off a huge, interconnected story with the Infinity Saga, which culminated in Avengers: Endgame. As was revealed at Comic-Con, the studio is already considering doing it again with the Multiverse Saga, and Kevin Feige is already thinking beyond those stories. While there's still a lot of work to be done, having years' worth of TV series and theatrical films planned and scheduled builds trust in those who are putting them to the test.

The concept of a Star Wars story isn't exactly unusual. Over the years, George Lucas has altered a few details on how much he had planned ahead of time, but the overall structure of several Star Wars films was established since the early 70s. The original trilogy was always meant to be Luke Skywalker's Hero's Journey, culminating in him becoming a Jedi Knight, but the sequel trilogy was developed much earlier than most people realize.

Lucasfilm needs to have a massive white board that organizes everything, including the script for each project, as stories evolve during the creative process, but a starting point to aim for that will give the company a target to reach and something to anticipate.

Executing the Plan

The next step in the puzzle is actually executing the plan. A flurry of announcements is enjoyable, but they're ultimately useless if the projects in question never get implemented. A number of the projects announced are already in jeopardy, like Rangers of the New Republic, which have already been canceled. Patty Jenkins' Rogue Squadron is less likely to be released with every passing day.

The MandoVerse is the only visual Star Wars media that seems to have a strategy, although whether or not that is clear from the start is a stretch. For everything relating to Mandalore, though, the Book of Boba Fett served more as a partial season of The Mandalorian rather than as its own narrative doing something unique with the titular character.

If the rumors are true, The Mandalorian's entire storyline will not be completed until 2027, so there's still a long way to go. Skeleton Crew has too broad a premise to even consider how it fits into the narrative overall, though, if there's already a conclusion in sight (albeit five years down the road). It's almost identical to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done on a smaller scale.

The MandoVerse will be continued until its completion, and it's not uncommon to screw up a two-season project spearheaded by one of the industry's leading writers. The Acolyte, by Leslye Headland, is likely to be in a similar boat, as it's a win on its own, and Amandla Stenberg will be able to take on some of the other dark side legends.

All of these planned series are fantastic, and it's fantastic that Lucasfilm is giving them a shot, but there's one major flaw: they're fairly small projects that individual teams are working on separately, and they don't fit into a larger picture; currently, there doesn't seem to be a bigger picture. It's not a major intention to approve low-budget shows when they're just filling vacant slots on the calendar in more subtle ways.

Star Wars is a film franchise, first and foremost. It always has been and always will be. The most significant developments for the franchise are reserved for the big screen, and every other storytelling format relies on the movies as sources of information.

Kathleen Kennedy is well aware of the significance of theatrical releases, but for some reason, things aren't moving along.

The Rogue Squadron is probably over, and Taika Waititi's film is rumored to be on the way, although there have been mixed messages on the development and release dates for the project. On the Marvel side of things, Kevin Feige's film will happen sometime, but he's busy dealing with 30 other stories over. And those three films are what are planned to fill the Disney Christmas slots for Star Wars in 2023, 2025, and 2027.

There have been a number of instances in which filmmakers were hired early into the planning process, and they were later dismissed. Rian Johnson's trilogy is still in the "we're talking about it" phase five years after it was announced, and while Kennedy said it's still on the table, it's doubtful the project ever will happen (and that may be for the best). J.D. Dillard was supposed to be attached to a Star Wars project as well, but... crickets.

Nike has a lot of ideas, so please devote time to them. Some may argue that it's beneficial that projects be halted before they become problematic, but most of the time, they've had problems. There's a serious problem if every person hired to produce a Star Wars movie fails to deliver a decent narrative.

Kennedy has had a challenging time in locating people willing to commit to Star Wars films. What world is it that so many writers and directors are unwilling to do it in? Perhaps the audience's perception of previous movies plays a role, too. However, the Vegas odds are very high on the absence of structure and willingness to support a plan for Lucasfilm's end.

When the publishing department is organized more efficiently than the visual media front, that's not a knock on the High Republic books by any means. If anything, that's a model the rest of the company should follow. The concept is derivative of how the Marvel Cinematic Universe approaches its storytelling phases, and it has worked till this point.

Lucasfilm has a lack of confidence in going into unknown waters. The MCU is exceptional in terms of execution, and the projects are usually delivered on time. There's a sense of wonder in this film. When done correctly, Star Wars is special and has a unique quality.

Improving Fan Engagement

Lucasfilm's greatest and most disappointing departures has been the way the company interacts with its supporters. He provided regular updates on the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars, giving fans an inside look at his productions while doing so.

Everything has been extremely secret since the Disney acquisition. Part of the fun in being surprised by what happens in a story is being surprised by what happens. But Lucasfilm has an incredible way of revealing virtually nothing about an upcoming release, to the point where it sneaks up on the calendar, and it's suddenly here without fanfare. A huge fanbase who wants to get excited for something is stuck in long droughts, then returns to hunger for a while without any updates on what's next.

Interestingly, this wasn't always the case in the new era. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi's marketing campaigns were excellent. Expect a teaser around the spring during Celebration, wait a bit until the fall, and floodgates open with Monday Night Football trailers, television spots, magazine features, and massive Force Friday merchandise drops. By the time December came along, fans were counting down the days and planning their tickets months in advance.

With Solo, everything changed for some unknown reason. The marketing was hampered six times over Sunday, though Kennedy and Bob Iger have attributed the reason for the film's failure to other non-issues. The Rise of Skywalker had a similar poor marketing campaign, despite the fact that it was destined to fail in its release slot, too.

Three years later, Lucasfilm's fan engagement remains stale. The Disney+ shows usually get about a month's worth of promotion; Star Wars is basically dumping out endless amounts of content; either make it a film, or market it like one.

The streaming numbers for Disney+ were decent, and ultimately, Disney doesn't care about selling a service to people who are already going to see it. However, one can imagine how many more people would have dropped everything to watch Kenobi if it had been treated like it was. It's a shame that so many fans were unable to see the first two episodes in a similar situation.

Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni were the two artists that received the most outpouring of support throughout the weekend at Celebration. They've created a narrative in a small part of the timeline that fans appreciate, while remaining true to George Lucas' vision and maintaining suspense. The Mandalorian Season 3 extended trailer and a teaser for Ahsoka gave us a lot of pleasure.

Is this the finest thing they did? Favreau and Filoni packed up practically every costume from the MandoVerse (that's been seen onscreen so far) and put on display at the convention. It was a love letter from the series' creators to their passionate fans, and there were undoubtedly youngsters walking through the exhibit who will eventually develop Star Wars projects in the future.

Dave Filoni is a legend. People in the audience were ecstatic when he appeared on a stage for Mando, Tales of the Jedi, a brief introduction for The Bad Batch team, or a short Q&A following the screening of The Clone Wars finale.

When Feige takes the hall H stage, it's essentially for individual projects rather than massive unveilings. If Lucasfilm can get it together on the film front and incorporate that into their streaming efforts, fans will be ecstatic. Do a massive reveal like the MCU events, get everyone excited for the next decade of Star Wars.

The longer Star Wars fades from the public eye on the silver screen, the harder it will be to entice a fresh generation of fans. But other than The Mandalorian, there isn't much investment in the six Lucas films and Clone Wars.

The kids deserve their own slice of the Star Wars pie, and right now they're mostly missing it. Marketing isn't what it used to be; at least the Episode VII kids had some decent stuff, though. They're not going on r/StarWarsLeaks for breadcrumbs of information and lone stills from a program. They've got to get Star Wars in front of them.

Get it in front of all of us, because we're all big kids who want to see Star Wars. It's part of the enjoyment. Prepare a big project, plan it out with care, and sit back as Star Wars is restored to the way it should be. Right now, the galaxy far, far away is missing out.

But if these lessons are learned, it will not always be.

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