I suppose I’ll throw my two cents in for what it’s worth.
A lot of people echo the sentiment that this current era of Star Wars is no more divisive than the prequel era. I think that’s a misrepresentation of the situation and the only people I see claiming that are those who vehemently defend any and all ST-era content. That’s not a dig at those who do, just to be clear, but I’m yet to see the opposite…
I think that ever since ROTJ, the Star Wars franchise have been running out of steam.
Lucas had this grand epic he wanted to tell, but he felt like he’d only get a crack at it with ONE film. So he smushed this 9-part story into 1 film. Unlikely hero Luke Skywalker ends up saving the galaxy! The end.
Wait, what? This cheesy space movie because a huge box office hit? Great, we’re rich!
We can get even richer by making a sequel!
So they make another film that pretty much ignores the ending of “A New Hope,” and ends with a cliffhanger, purposely so they can squeeze more money out of the audience for the obligatory third sequel, which will (hopefully) have a proper ending. This film is more depressing, everything ends badly.
But that twist! That keeps people talking. And what about “there is another”? Cheap tactics, but they work. It’s a hit.
Wait, how are we going to wrap this up? They don’t know what to do, so they recycle some of the stuff from the first one, Tattooine and the Death Star. What about “the other” Yoda spoke of? How are we going to explain that? Ummm, do another soap opera twist and have Leia be Vader’s kid too. And Leia can be “the other.” Lets just finish this thing up, because Lucas is tired.
Film’s a hit because moviegoers wanted to see a proper ending, and plus, big budget space fantasy is still a novelty to the public.
With the prequels, it made sense to tell the story of Darth Vader when he was a Jedi, and his rise and fall. But Lucas pulled the same cheap tactics, to guarantee audiences would watch three MORE films.
-1st film about Jedi Anakin Skywalker, and instead it stars some dude named Qui-Gon Jinn and his comedic sidekick Jar Jar Binks. Lucas Film gets your money, and they didn’t even deliver what you wanted.
-2nd film promoted as the film where Anakin turns to the dark side.
People think we’ll get to see Anakin hunt down and kill the Jedi.
NOPE! And we STILL don’t get to see Anakin as a Jedi.
But Star Wars as a franchise is shown to be vulnerable, when Spider-man and Lord of the Rings are shown to be the true champions of the summer box office. We see Star Wars is not invincible, it can bleed. It’s not a machine.
-3rd film promoted as darker, and hey, Spielberg directed a scene!
Okay, thinks audiences, yeah the last two sucked. All the stuff that we heard about in the OT about Anakin/Vader didn’t come to pass, but it has to happen in this one. It’s the last film, right?
Three films later we get to FINALLY see Anakin as a Jedi. But that stuff about hunting down and killing the Jedi? Nope! Only an implied massacre at the Jedi pre-school.
By this time, big budget, fantasy epics are the norm, whether it be in video games, or in film. Star Wars is a drop in the bucket in that respect.
For TFA, Disney needs another novelty, and that’s bringing back the original cast, Hamill, Fisher, and Ford.
But the first film doesn’t even do that. Han and Leia are together for like a minute, Han is killed, and we see Luke’s face at the end for 10 seconds.
TLJ is coming out. We’ll get to see Luke in this one though. And misinformation about “The Knights of Ren” showing up and battling Luke and Rey is put out there, just to create more hype. Do we get any of that?
Nope! They’re saving that for the 3rd one. And once again, recycled elements from the OT.
So yeah, it’s no wonder that Star Wars is losing some of its luster.