How Following Kevin Feige’s Vision For MCU Could Have Helped Star Wars
There is no doubt that Star Wars is one of the biggest and the most popular movie franchises around. Its time-tested themes, loveable characters and exciting adventures have kept generations of fans enticed with the goings-on of the galaxy far far away. However, the Star Wars franchise could do well to take a leaf or two out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s book, especially when MCU has proven to be ahead of Star Wars in popularity in recent times.
A lot of the credit for MCU’s success can be attributed to Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios and the mastermind behind the whole of MCU. Reestablishing Marvel Studios from the rubbles of past cinematic failures despite the studio having given away the rights of its most famous characters to other studios, Feige planned and oversaw the production of 23 movies forming a never-before seen story and character arc in cinema.
Superhero movies or even franchise cinema, in general, were content enough to expand within the limitations of the genre or characters. MCU proved that the extended universe so common to superhero comics can be emulated in movies and can be relied upon as a self-sustaining business model.
Watch: Kevin Feige Talks Marvel and Star Wars Crossover Movie
Kevin Feige has made a name for himself as one of the most impactful producers under the Disney umbrella, and therefore it is no surprise that he would be producing a Star Wars movie alongside Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy. There had been rumours that he’d also be taking the reins of Star Wars shows. However, Feige has brushed the rumour aside saying, “No. That’s all Kathy Kennedy. I’m involved in as much as I stay up until midnight L.A. time to watch new episodes of The Mandalorian when they drop.”
Nevertheless, Feige producing a Star Wars movie makes one wonder how Star Wars would turn out if he took control over the franchise.
Although the Stars Wars’ universe was rich and engaging and pretty much fleshed out, Lucasfilm took too long to build up the momentum needed for a cinematic universe exemplified by MCU. Of course, when the first six movies came out, there was no MCU. So, had Lucasfilm created an extended universe, Star Wars would have probably never been bought by Disney and we might have had more Star Wars titles. But as it is not the case, we do not look to George Lucas for answers anymore, but Disney. And Disney did and is still doing a pretty good job. But could it have been better if it followed Feige’s approach to MCU?
Feige had a roadmap, Star Wars an empty space
The most impressive thing about MCU is its connected storyline. It not only helped create a semblance of a connected universe but also gave fans a chance to appreciate each movie as a milestone in a decade-long journey, making them invest in the story and really care about the characters.
When Feige started the MCU, Marvel had a handful of characters that were not licensed to other studios and he knew that he would have to create a franchise out of those characters. So from the beginning the picture was pretty clear to Feige. To ensure that they were able to keep making movies and sustaining the franchise, a roadmap was needed.
Although Feige might not have planned out the finer details of the roadmap, there was a structure and they followed it to the book.
When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they decided to continue with the Skywalker saga. However, they began doing things that were very different from what George Lucas had planned, and that resulted in a bit of disconnect. While the sequel trilogy very much relied on nostalgia, it chose to distance itself from the prequel trilogies and ignored some of the plot points — for a franchise it does not bode well to lack a singular vision.
MCU worked better than the recent Star Wars movies because Feige had a vision for the franchise and it was all meticulously executed under the supervision of Feige. Star Wars sequel trilogy, on the other hand, tried to do different things with each movie. A singular vision like Feige’s would have helped the sequel trilogy not divide its fans and create a smooth storyline without unwanted surprises.
Focus on a mostly linear storytelling
Another thing that worked in MCU’s favour was its uncompromising approach to linear storytelling across the movies. By linear storytelling, I don’t mean how each movie approached its narrative structure but how the end of each movie set up the stage for the next movie. Star Wars could have simply gone ahead with completing the trilogy without any spin-offs set between the release dates of the main trilogy.
While Disney might have expected to provide fans with something to enjoy between the trilogy, what the spin-offs really did was needlessly punctuate the audience’s anticipation of the next movie in the trilogy. Following the footsteps of Feige, Kathleen Kennedy could have maintained the trilogy’s momentum and used the spin-offs to somehow connect with the main storyline at hand, even if just thematically.
Ingenuity vs inconsistency
One of the major reasons the Star Wars sequel trilogy seems so disconnected is because different directors were given control over the storylines of their respective movies. So when J J Abrams introduced plot lines and character arcs in The Force Awakens, he was literally dumping his vision on Rian Johnson, who had a completely subversive take on the franchise.
Hence, when J J Abrams returned to direct the Rise of Skywalker, he too just ignored a lot of Johnson’s ideas and plot points, resulting in an incongruous and unsatisfying story at the end.
Feige’s MCU model ensured that the focus remained on story and the stylistic tendencies and genre preferences of each director remained secondary, complementing the story and not supplementing it. This approach would have worked wonders for Star Wars.
The way forward for Star Wars
As of now, Star Wars is more focused on shows. And if the success of The Mandalorian is any indication, the focus seems to be back on telling the story and not on who is telling it, but that’s not saying much as shows have always been the showrunner’s baby and not the episode director’s. It remains to be seen how Feige’s success with the MCU is going to influence Star Wars, now when he is himself getting into producing Star Wars movies. Perhaps Disney has already started to realize the importance of a singular vision, and hence, it has given Rian Johnson the responsibility to develop an entirely new Star Wars trilogy.