George Lucas' Star Wars is one of the most popular movie franchises of all time. The epic space opera has enthralled generations of moviegoers, dominating pop culture for the past few years thanks to Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm. J.J. Abrams kickstarted the property back up with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, introducing new characters, and allowing them to interact with franchise favorites like Leia, Han, and Luke. But it turns out that Lucas wasn't a big fan of Disney's first big screen outing with the franchise.
It was George Lucas' vision that brought the Star Wars franchise to life, and captured the attention of countless moviegoers. Lucas directed the original movies and prequel trilogy, before handing over the creative reigns to Disney once the House of Mouse purchased Lucasfilm. Disney CEO Bob Iger recently revealed that Lucas wasn't a big fan of The Force Awakens, claiming it was too similar to past installments of the franchise. As Iger wrote in his new book:
Just prior to the global release, Kathy screened The Force Awakens for George. He didn’t hide his disappointment. ‘There’s nothing new,’ he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, ‘There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.’
Yikes. George Lucas knows the Star Wars franchise better than anyone, and the powers that be obviously wanted to impress the visionary filmmaker with the new installments. Unfortunately, The Force Awakens failed to do that.
Bob Iger revealed this story in his new book The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned From 15 Years As CEO Of The Walt Disney Company (via Screen Rant), and I've got to wonder if he and the powers at Disney were panicking in the wake of George Lucas' reaction. If Lucas wasn't a fan of The Force Awakens, one would assume that the fans might follow suit. Luckily, Episode VIII made a ton of money at the box office, with sequels and standalone movies hitting theaters over the proceeding years.
While The Force Awakens was definitely a hit, there are some fans who shared George Lucas' negative feelings about J.J. Abrams' Star Wars debut. Some moviegoers took umbrage with the movie's similarities to A New Hope. The dessert setting of Jakku closely resembled Tatooine, while Kylo Ren was a masked villain similar to that of Darth Vader. Additionally, the conflict between The Resistance and First Order felt almost identical to The Rebels Vs. Empire. Plus, Starkiller Base felt like an updated version of the Death Star.
I'd be interested to know George Lucas' feelings about Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi, especially in comparison to The Force Awakens. Johns took the opposite approach to his movie, taking a ton of big risks and liberally changing the canon of the franchise. But just like fans were mad about about The Force Awakens being too close to A New Hope, others were just as mad about Johnson's subversive approach to the property.