Liam Neeson was a guest on the “Watch What Happens L!ve” show recently. A short clip from the after show (with Paul Rudd as the second guest) was released on the show’s YouTube channel on Friday and Liam Neeson didn’t hold back when he was asked if he would be interested in having his own Qui-Gon Jinn spin-off series on Disney+. This is what Liam said in reply to the question:
No, I’m not. There’s so many spin-offs of Star Wars, it’s diluting it, to me, and it’s taken away the mystery and the magic in a weird way, you know.
Does Liam has a point here? Let’s discuss his statement and examine whether or not Star Wars has been diluted since the Disney takeover! Click through for more!
Liam Neeson didn’t mince any words really in his reply to the question, it’s certainly something Lucasfilm and Disney won’t be too happy to hear from him. Star Wars is being diluted? The mystery and magic has been taken away?
To debate this is quite difficult in this day and age where people often either turn to quite irrational hate about literally everything or they uncritically love everything, in short, everything is either a “1” or a “10”, just look up any movie or series rating on IMDB and you can see it for yourself. Nuance has been lost, but you can say that about almost any debate in the modern day and age. But let’s try a nuanced approach here!
All that being said, the question needs to be asked: did we need a series about Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi? The way these series were made? Did we need to see Boba Fett escape the Sarlacc? Did we need to see how he gives the Tusken Raiders speeder bike driving lessons? Or how he becomes the most benevolent crime lord in the entire universe who never even commits any crimes?
Did we need to see how Kenobi is depressed and then saves little Leia from evil cartoon villains? Did we need to see yet another duel between Kenobi and Vader?
On the one hand it is perfectly understandable why a studio would want to make more content about fan favorite characters and why fans would like to see more content with their fan favorite characters.
On the other hand though this nostalgia focused entertainment adds nothing really new. And in a certain way, yes, it may even take away some of the mystery and magic. Was Boba Fett a better character before we knew that he is the most benevolent crime boss in the history of the universe? Was Kenobi a better character before we saw what we already guessed anyway, that he had some severe psychological distress on Tatooine following Order 66?
Purists may argue that Star Wars was always meant for the big screen. That it needs to be epic, bombastic, grand and dramatic. And in a way this is not wrong, tv/streaming shows are much more focused on characters and thus usually have a much smaller scale. Andor is the prime example here. It’s pure character drama and some were entirely put off by this approach, while others loved it. Viewership numbers for Andor were ok-ish, but far removed from the more action focused Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
I would argue that Star Wars can work on the small screen too, that movies and shows can both co-exist without diluting the franchise. But maybe it would be best if Lucasfilm made series based on new characters. The Mandalorian is a very popular show, and while it has guest appearances by iconic heroes like Luke Skywalker, it’s about entirely new characters: Din Djarin and Grogu. But as soon as you make shows about characters first seen in the original or prequel trilogy you enter dangerous territory. Fans have certain ideas and concepts, their own head canon, after decades and decades of knowing these characters from the movies (and books), chances are you will always make some people very unhappy with your take on the character.
And I believe Liam Neeson refers to this: did we need to see how Boba Fett gives driving lessons to Tusken Raiders? Did we need to see Obi-Wan all depressed in the desert? You may call it an attempt at fan service, and it certainly is, there’s nothing wrong about fan service at all, but for it to work you need really, really good writers and the chance to mess it all up is pretty high.
So in my opinion it would be best if Lucasfilm moved on. No deep fake Luke Skywalker series, no more series about characters from the original and prequel trilogy (I include Ahsoka from Clone Wars here), actually, I believe things like the cancelled Rangers of the New Republic with Gina Carano should be the way forward: shows about all new characters, with no built-in preconceived ideas or head canon, a blank slate, a fresh canvas for Lucasfilm to paint on. It kind of works with relatively new Disney Star Wars characters like Andor, because fans have no 40 or 50 year old memories of him, he’s a blank slate for the most part. But even here I would argue that creating shows about all new characters would be preferable.
You may argue that George Lucas himself removed some of the Boba Fett mystery by showing us his origins and some people were indeed unhappy about that back in 2002. They say much of his original appeal was the mystery behind the character. Modern day Lucasfilm doubled down on this and certainly pulled back the curtains on Boba Fett in ways many people certainly didn’t like so much. You can say the same about Obi-Wan Kenobi.
So maybe it would be better to focus on new characters entirely. And it’s not as if Lucasfilm doesn’t have some blueprints for that. The Mandalorian is kind of a hybrid model here, it’s new in many ways, but deeply rooted in nostalgia. Rangers of the New Republic would probably have left much of that behind. Then there are things like the Visions short The 9th Jedi (among other shorts) that could be adapted to a full series (or movie) immediately.
So maybe shows about all new characters like the upcoming Skeleton Crew are the way forward. To add some mystery and magic, instead of showing us what Boba Fett had for breakfast or how Kenobi met force ghost Qui-Gon after 10+ years in the desert.
And: when is too much of a good thing a bad thing? Do we want three or four Star Wars series in a year? Or would one or maybe two event series be better here? This is not about “fatigue”, but more about the feeling of something being special, instead of an everyday experience. I believe Marvel is feeling just that in recent times, with way too many movies and way too many series all released in too short a time, about 2nd or even 3rd tier characters few people really care about. Marvel is no longer an event, it’s something you can see almost every week either in cinemas or on Disney+. It’s no longer special. So maybe Liam Neeson is right, maybe things are diluted by too many spin-offs and perhaps it would be much better to create original and new things instead and to make these things feel special, and not just “yet another series”.
Then there’s also the toy collector angle: less content that feels more special would also give Hasbro a chance to give each new series and the old movies the spotlight these things deserve. But when you have to support three, four or even more new things per year this will become increasingly difficult, when you only make something like 20-25 actual new characters in your toyline per year.
But what do you think? Do you agree with Liam Neeson or do you think he’s off the mark here? What Star Wars content do you want to see on Disney+, and how much of it? Would you rather have shows about fan favorite characters or shows about all new characters with an all new setting that no one knows anything about? And how many series do you want? One? Two? Three? More? And let’s try to keep the “it’s all trash” comments to a minimum maybe, a constructive debate would be much more fun and informative.
You can watch the clip with Liam Neeson here, the relevant bits are at the 2:09 minute mark:
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