Well here’s another unfortunate twist.
For those not in the know, a few years ago there was the big “event” of Shadows of the Empire. A book was being commissioned that was going to be officially canon according to Lucas. It would fill in the all-important gap between ‘Empire’ and ‘Jedi.’
(Yes, you’re right if you’re currently thinking “What gap? Like, two weeks passes between those movies! Wouldn’t something set between ‘A New Hope’ and ‘Empire’ make more sense?” The first task in the book was to make everyone NOT go to Tatooine, where they’re all headed at the end of ‘Empire’. But I digress.)
The book came out along with a comic book miniseries (telling almost, but not quite exactly the same story as the book - between the two of them you got the full story), toys, games, a soundtrack, the whole works. Everything except a movie. Since Han Solo is out of commission for this period, we brought in a different character, Dash Rendar, who was a cocky freebooter with great piloting skills, a fancy ship, and okay, it turned out it was just Han Solo with a different name.
Now the thing was pretty laughable, to be honest. The book is supremely awful, rating just above fan-fiction. There are one or two interesting ideas in it, but the rest is a wankathon. The funniest part in the comic book series is when our beloved new Han Solo stand-in, Dash Rendar, has reached the end of the story and is not needed anymore, so he’s killed – off-panel! Thanks Dash, we’ll mail you your check! But the experience taught Lucas one thing - I can do everything except actually make the movie and people will buy it!
Fast-forward to the present. Now the news is out that the Clone Wars, which SW fans have been wondering about for twenty-five years, will largely take place off-screen. There was talk of a cartoon series, but that seems to have stalled. Toys and video games are still coming out, and no doubt Dark Horse Comics will grind out whatever it can (which is fine with me - it makes sure they have enough cash to keep paying Mike Mignola to write Hellboy comics).
So what’s the point here? The point is, Lucas doesn’t have to make episodes 7,8, and 9. He doesn’t even have to make Episode 3. Not just because he has more wealth than you can imagine (even if you can imagine quite a bit), but because even without the movies there will always be the merchandise.
It kills me to say that, because I’ve defended him for so long (and still do to some extent.) I feel Star Wars gets unjustly maligned as existing only to sell toys - I certainly didn’t see anyone complaining about Shrek toys, and they were ALL over the toy stores. Nobody pitches a fit when any other summer movie has toys and games come out (and they ALL do) but yet Star Wars is seen as strictly marketing. So it bugs me to say it, but it’s true - even if Lucas never picks up a camera again, the franchise will live on. Not in any kind of quality way - most of the books seem to be crap (yes, including the Zahn books. Do those feel even remotely like Star Wars to anyone?), the comics are, largely, crap, I don’t know much about the games, and let’s face it, the prequels themselves weren’t so hot.
I’m a Star Wars fanboy, and that’s been harder and harder to maintain. Nothing can ever take away the sense of amazement and joy I had when I first saw Star Wars in 1977. I’m still blown away by that movie. I’ve seen it hundreds of times and yet every time I get a sense of excitement and joy when Han shows up at the end and takes out Vader’s wingman. I still love it when Yoda raises the X-Wing in Empire. But it’s become diluted.
As a fan of the movies, I don’t WANT an episode 7,8, and 9.