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I can’t help but feel excited any time a new Star Wars film arrives. Even if it turns out to be mediocre to say the least, any time the opening crawl appears with that iconic music from John Williams, it’s exciting. Perhaps it’s a symptom of the division in our society, but the most recent film garnered a shocking and frankly rather extreme reaction. I’m sure you read the reactions and reviews by now, and you either love it intensely, or you had such a visceral reaction the very thought of it almost gives you a coronary. However, this article isn’t about how good or how bad the last Star Wars film was.
There’s an expectation, and then there’s reality. It seems to me that we placed our expectations so high now, we cannot or will not accept the reality presented to us. This applies to films as well. With enough fan theories to write another Star Wars film, and lord knows how many books, expectations were obviously pretty high for Episode Eight. So high that even if the movie had fulfilled the fans’ expectations, it would still not be enough for a majority of them.
None of the films are perfect, and they don’t have to be. After all, how seriously are you supposed to take a space opera to begin with? And while yes, you should satisfy your fans' expectations, we as the fans should allow the filmmakers a little levity. We should be open to seeing something we haven’t before, and focus less on the flaws and more on the story being told. But after the seventh addition to the franchise, which was also met with both intense jubilation and hatred, the two years we were psyching ourselves out for the next movie left very little room for imagination.
And this is the point I’m trying to make. Our expectations as fans are way too high. Any time a filmmaker tries anything new or different, whatever it is, expectations for what you thought you were going to see are broken, and reactions are always going to be mixed to say the least. But because we’ve been relying way too heavily on fan theories, and speculation, we’re setting ourselves up for continual disappointment. Proving once again that people, especially diehard fanatics, will use any excuse to get angry and go insane.
I think that’s the danger of a franchise becoming too popular. When its creators try and expand or do something different than they had before, the fans almost become like Annie Wilkes from Misery. Unyielding in her love of the franchise so much so that she nearly killed its author when he tried something different. If you don’t get that reference, I suggest you check out the film. It has a way of describing diehard fans and the fear the creators have that their fans will leave them or even hate them for trying something different or unexpected.
People tend to forget that the Star Wars franchise was never intended to become as big as it has. Most of the cast and crew of the original film, scoffed at all the set pieces, were certain that it was going to fail, and almost nobody understood what George Lucas had in mind. Which is part of the reason he won’t leave the originals alone. Yet it became this worldwide phenomenon, and closely linked in one way or another to the very fabric of pop culture, movies, and the way we tell and listen to stories. Something that nobody, especially its creator, intended or bargained for.
I won’t deny that the franchise is full of glaring contradictions, missed opportunities, and questionable acting. But I think if people want to be impressed with anything, they must first set aside all their expectations of it. When you go into something with preconceived notions of how it’s going to be, you set yourself up for failure and disappointment. We must be willing to be ignorant about certain things, approaching things with a clean slate and no expectations. Because half of the wonder and half of the enjoyment, comes from the unexpected.