So, have you been watching Galaxy of Adventures?
The latest animated Star Wars micro-series is a collection of YouTube exclusive 3-4-minute shorts detailing key moments from the Star Wars saga. While the scenes, sound FX and even some of the dialogue is taken from the films in their entirety, the videos themselves are stylised, hyper-kinetic traditional animation with anime flair.
Check it out for yourself right here:
Galaxy of Adventures has been generally well-received by the fandom. But while the viewing figures have not been stratospheric, what’s more interesting than outright performance is that the series even exists at all.
As well as returning to the source material of Lucas’ films, Galaxy of Adventures has a wider target audience than the young girl demographic of Forces of Destiny. Regardless of the pros and cons of either approach, there’s no denying that this feels like a safer approach to the franchise for Disney. But since the Mouse can’t live off Lucas’ six films forever, what could the long-term strategy be?
Obviously, I don’t know what they have planned for sure; but this is how I could see Disney’s approach play out. And if it does go this way… I won’t mind that much at all.
With the directionless Sequel Trilogy still trying to find a story and making no narrative sense at two-thirds of the way through, Disney has needed to return to Lucas’ films to get the franchise back on track. But what if Galaxy of Adventures is not just a retrenchment (thank you, James Cameron) but a return to the franchise’s roots for a whole new audience?
This is where the future starts to get interesting.
As first-generation fans age out, Disney are aiming to create a new fan base on the understanding that there can be more than one version of the Star Wars story. The multi-generational success of Marvel superheroes and Transformers show that new iterations that supplement, rather than replace, the originals are the simplest way to keep everyone happy. Disney likely knows that this is the best way to go.
The signs have been building for a while. From the packaging art of the short-lived Star Wars Command toys to Forces of Destiny and now with Galaxy of Adventures, Disney’s visual experiments seem less like an individual vision and more like a brand in search of a style. And for what it’s worth, Galaxy of Adventures seems like the most natural fit yet for a kid-focused reboot.
In parallel to the above, the increasingly negative reaction to the Sequel Trilogy has lowered expectations ahead of December’s nominative Episode IX. With box office performance stuttering and the collapse of merchandise sales, it’s clear that the issue of legitimacy, as outlined by Wisecrack in the video below, is a genuine threat to the short-term future of the Star Wars franchise.
It’s worth a watch to understand a key challenge Disney faces.
With this in mind, the strategic play behind preparing the fan base for a reboot comes into much sharper focus.
A New Hope is a classic, yet it’s fair to acknowledge that it’s an increasingly dated film. After all, when it came out in 1977, 41-year-old films of the day included Modern Times and Mr Deeds Goes to Town. Star Wars is no exception to the evolution of film language and kids of today are native to a far more visceral lexicon.
Disney needs to make Star Wars more exciting to stay relevant. Galaxy of Adventures is their most transparent attempt at doing this yet.
It’s a cheap way to both revitalise the Original Trilogy for a younger audience and introduce new versions of the story – and if new fans see several variations of the saga from the very start, it removes a key barrier to remaking the films in the future. When Disney has its own version of the Star Wars saga, utilising as many or as few elements of Lucas’ films as it needs, then the question of legitimacy will no longer matter.
And if this does happen then I wouldn’t object.
The saga told from start to finish with a known road map and skilled execution would be excellent. Who wouldn’t want to see the Prequel Trilogy with sharper execution, incorporating the strongest elements of the Clone Wars series (and making Darth Maul’s original death a little less definitive)? Or the Original Trilogy with a more organic tying up of loose ends in Return of the Jedi – not to mention less incestuous lust?
Who wouldn’t want to see a Sequel Trilogy that makes sense in the context of the story that went before? Or even from episode to episode?
An undertaking like this would need to be devoted to the storytelling. By treating the re-telling as a second draft and changing the bits that don’t work, Disney could produce a single cohesive epic that retains the nuance and creativity of Lucas as filtered through the lens of modern filmmaking. Furthermore, and of highest import to disappointed older fans like myself, the delineation between Lucas’ original saga and the Disney canon would be clear for all to see.
This is a win-win. With a reboot, Disney gets to take the franchise anywhere in the knowledge that it has its own source material and organic fan base. The older fans can either go along for the ride or sit it out with the knowledge that “their” films are no longer being narratively abused. The biggest upshot is that the Sequel Trilogy would become nothing more than an odd and easily-ignored aberration.
As stated, the above is pure speculation – Galaxy of Adventures may just be a non-critical animated series that Lucasfilm is using to dampen the backlash to The Last Jedi. And if this year’s Episode IX delivers both at the box office and for the fans, then a reboot becomes moot. But it’s fair to say that few fans see that happening.
Disney does still have another hope, with Benioff and Weiss’ film series reportedly taking place in a different era and effectively serving as its own restart for the franchise. But without a built-in fan base, that’s still a gamble.
If any of the above rings true with the brand managers at Disney, the innocuous Galaxy of Adventures may be the first step towards total ideological control of the franchise.
What do you think – is Galaxy of Adventures part of a bigger brand positioning or just a simple cartoon? Do you like the style? Have your say in the comments below!