Monday, 12 November 2012

Whedon the Franchise Fixer

Last week the internet collectively lost its shit, as is its wont, upon the news that Disney has bought Lucasfilm and is subsequently responsible for the fate of the Star Wars franchise.  News of this nature was on a par with the 2012 Election Campaign in terms of significance and was treated with the appropriate level of deference by trending like a motherfucker on Twitter and creating a string of memes faster than a whole bunch of animals photo bombing each other at the same time.  

The response fell broadly into two camps; you either had a bad feeling about this or you cried yub nub at the top of your lungs and celebrated, Endor style (which is a bit like Gangnam Style but you need have just blown up a Death Star).    

It’s fair to say that the latter opinion is motivated by the delight at having the franchise wrenched from George Lucas’ greasy, money grabbing fingers which he has used to repeatedly defile and violate that which we hold so dear.  The question on everyone’s lips was “Well, it can’t be any worse, right?”  And you would be right.  Disney is, in fact, not a bad captain to have at the helm.  Sure, they’ve made mistakes but who hasn’t?  I am still sore about the aggressive Henson takeover which resulted in us getting wrong sounding Muppets but they have more than made it up for it with 2011s The Muppets.  It was, true to form, Muppet joy from start to finish.  

As with most endeavours, the success of The Muppets was a result of the creative team assembled; a group of people who understood, and most importantly, loved the source material.  And that’s what is key to whether or not Disney take Star Wars to a new and better place; it comes down to who they select to be in charge and that persons passion for the original movies that make loving Star Wars so deeply satisfying.  

Which leads me to the second frothing internet response that came off the back of this news, a substantial faction of geek population collectively shouted “Give it to Joss Whedon” and called for Whedon to be handed the keys to the ranch with little to no debate.  I mean shee-it, there's a Facebook Group calling for the appointment to be made.  

I can see why.  It’s a safe call and that’s what Joss does.  He makes us feel safe.  When it comes to Star Wars, we’ve been wandering the dark and cavernous halls of Lucas Towers trying to punch the ghost of Hayden Christensen and we keep turning corners and running into a melty, shouting Anakin Skywalker with no legs.  By this point we’re tired, hungry and just plain scared.  Joss represents Emergency Aid, parachuting in to perform an immediate evac from this relentless nightmare.  

There is little he turns his hand to that doesn’t turn out great; fantasy, horror, science fiction and even the musical.  And we know he has a more than capable hand when it comes to navigating space, as proved with Firefly and then Serenity.  Disney recognised his ability to not only skilfully move between genres but also the fact that he can be trusted with a script and most importantly, character development.  So they handed him the biggest comic book movie blockbuster of the decade.  

Another vote of confidence for Disney; they acquired Marvel, gave the green light to The Avengers and promptly didn’t give the job to Bryan Singer.  Points! 

Having said all that – and aside from the fact that it’s a moot point anyway because Joss is committed to the world of The Avengers for the foreseeable – I think everyone needs to cool their jets.  As much as I love Joss Whedon (and I really, really love Joss Whedon) that doesn’t mean that we should just crown him King of Popular Culture (he kind of already is, come on).  

There are many Directors out there that could be considered for the job because their track record dictates they can handle themselves.  What about JJ Abrams as a fairly obvious choice?  He lovingly breathed fresh life into the Star Trek universe.  Jon Favreau should get his propers after a none too shabby revitalisation of Iron Man.  And no one can say Christopher Nolan did a bad job with Batman.  And call me crazy but I wouldn’t mind putting it in the hands of younger director such as Josh Trank and seeing what happens.  I thought what he did with Chronicle was damn snazzy.  And WHY has no one called Edgar Wright to see if he is free in 2015?  

I am not acting as cheerleader for any one of these dudes in particular (except for maybe Edgar Wright), nor would I be pissed if Joss found the time in his busy schedule of being awesome to take on Star Wars.  I would gladly take his hand as he led me to my happy place in a galaxy far, far away.   

All I am saying is that less popular opinion is probably right, let’s not rule out all the great new Star Wars directors in potentia.  We are fortunate enough to be in a position where there are a few knocking around.  The days of X Men 3, The Fantastic Four and Daredevil are now far behind us.  

Ah fuck it, tell you what, I’ll do it.  I’m just going to go text Joss and see if he will edit my script. 

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