Star Wars is a franchise unlike any other. It paved the way for other series to follow in its footsteps, with its heady mix of story of amazing special effects. In creating such a monumental and game-changing trilogy, little did George Lucas know the impact he would have on the fans. He was hoping but Star Wars fans have come to be unlike any other – die hard.
He was also the first to see the value of merchandise that would net him even more money than the films themselves. Everything from t-shirts, mugs, toys, shoes, costumes, place mats, ties, anything and everything was branded with the name and logo of his films and at no time could that be seen more than with The Force Awakens.
From plot holes to changes in characters to injustices, Star Wars fans demand a lot and get a lot. But who’s to blame them? The Force Awakens crossed the billion dollar mark just 11 days after it was released and at the time of writing, has just opened to a warm reception in China at $53 million, according to movie website BoxOfficeMojo. That’s not to say the fans are always right, in fact from trolling the new black Stormtrooper to Princess Leia gaining a few pounds and getting older, sometimes Star Wars fans and critics can be downright wrong and unjustified, throwing the debate wide open for the controversies of our time and in our galaxy. Here are ten notorious and stupid Star Wars controversies.
10. Race Relations
When the first Star Wars: The Force Awakens press pictures and trailer was released in October, it featured a black Stormtrooper played by British actor John Boyega. White supremacist trolls took to the internet with #BoycottStarWarsVII hashtag. They were seemingly shocked that the lead cast wasn’t all white and all male. The haters accused the franchise of “whitewashing” the film. But Boyega answered back. In an interview with V magazine he said: “I’m in the movie, what are you going to do about it?” The film’s director was also targeted by the trolls, some of whom mentioned “Jewish activist J.J. Abrams.”
9. Princess Leia “Too Old, Too Fat”
Some The Force Awakens fans weren’t all too pleased at the older, gravitationally-downward-pulled Princess and now General Leia. She sent many young boy’s hearts racing when the franchise began in the late 70’s, with her hair buns, and gold bikini in a svelte body. But that was when Carrie Fisher was in her early 20’s, a lifetime has happened between then and now. Fisher, the ever feisty princess off-screen took to Twitter, saying: “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately, it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. (Bleep) us.”
8. Stormtrooper Mask Lawsuit
It was billed as a David versus Goliath case, at least in court. David was British props designer Andrew Ainsworth and Goliath was the mighty George Lucas. Ainsworth was being sued by Lucas for copyright infringement and the case went all the way to Britain’s High Court, equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court. A judge ruled that the replicas were not covered by copyright law because they were not pieces of art. Ainsworth said he came up with the use of plastic in the design created by Lucas and ended up saving Lucas tons of money because he wanted it in a heavier, stronger material like aluminium. Ainsworth still has the Stormtrooper helmets in his studio and was allowed by the court to make replicas of them for fans anywhere but the U.S.
7. Chewbacca Not Honored
Injustice takes many forms but none quite like Chewbacca’s contribution getting overlooked at the end of A New Hope. While Luke Skywalker and Han Solo received medals from Princess Leia in front of the whole Rebel Alliance army, the furry giant received…. nothing, zero, zilch. Many theories arose as to why he got the shaft but one was that the movie ran out of money and giving Chewy the medal would’ve cost too much. Another theory is that Carrie Fisher was too short to put a medal on the statuesque hero. Things were somewhat righted when Fisher presented Chewy with a lifetime achievement award at the MTV Movie Awards in the 90s.
6. Luke and Leia’s Relationship
They were inseparable from the beginning, Luke and Leia seemingly did everything together in the first trilogy so it was perhaps only natural that romance began to blossom between the two. But this was not to be the case as it was revealed that they were siblings by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Return of the Jedi. Despite many fans wishing for Luke and Leia to get together, it was in fact Han Solo who won the heart of Princess Leia.
The fact that Luke and Leia kissed at the start of The Empire Strikes Back is a whole other story, though.
5. Han Shot First
It’s one of the most controversial re-edits not only in Star Wars but seemingly in movie history. In a scene in the original 1977 version, Han Solo comes face to face with bounty hunter Greedo in a bar. Both worked for crime boss Jabba the Hut but Solo had to get rid of the cargo to stop from being captured by the Imperial search party. A tense scene ends with Han firing at Greedo, killing him. In the 1997 special edition of the film however, a new version was re-edited showing Greedo shot first. George Lucas said he didn’t want Solo to look like a “cold-blooded killer” if he was to marry Princes Leia. Fans were outraged, even signing a petition calling for the original scene to be played out. In 2004, there was a compromise. A new version of the scene showed both shooting at the same time.
4. Original vs Prequel Fans
Star Wars fans are some of the most loyal in show business, with the franchise seemingly giving life to some moviegoers. Debates of the seemingly fictitious world a point of contention, arguments ranging online and in real-life about characters, plots, schemes, future plans, George Lucas, Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, ewoks amongst the hot topics. But amongst the fans themselves are seemingly a divide between the original trilogy released in 1977 and the prequel fans of the 2000s. Now, it seems, there will be a need breed of fans ready to take on the other two fan bases. As Rodney King said, “Can’t we just all get along?”
3. George Lucas vs Fans
The creator of Star Wars has seemingly said the franchise, despite its commercial and critical success, was a curse, because of the die-hard fans that didn’t want him to do certain things to the movie, namely, release the less-than-stellar reviewed prequel trilogy. The beef got so bad between the two parties that a documentary was released about it called The People vs. George Lucas, in 2010 that showcases this global phenomenon. Perhaps that’s why Lucas sold the franchise for $4 billion to Disney, having no creative involvement in the franchise whatsoever.
2. The Prequel Movies Themselves
The original 1977 trilogy was ground-breaking in scale and business venture. There was seemingly no child that did not see the movie growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. The prequels featured an entirely new cast including Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, and Samuel L. Jackson among others. These movies were almost unanimously panned for having bad writing and bad direction, with some extremists even going so far as to not acknowledge its existence.
Let’s see what the rebooted franchise will entail. With The Force Awakens already garnering the $1 billion mark after only 21 days – Avatar originally had that top spot and took 70-plus days to reach that milestone – as a magic 8-ball would predict: “outlook good.”
1. Rey’s Absence From Star Wars Merchandise
George Lucas’ mega fortune from Star Wars didn’t come from the original films themselves, as we noted earlier, but from the endless merchandise created about the characters and film. There doesn’t seem to be anything that hasn’t been Star Wars branded, and even more so for this latest film. Despite new characters BB8 and Finn have toy figures created in their likeness, so where is the heroine; Daisy Ridley’s Rey? Some speculate that her toy figurine wasn’t ready in time, others said she wasn’t created as it might ignite some spoilers for the film, but still others, said she’s on the way soon and will be among the next wave of toys to be released by the franchise. Let’s hope that’s true and she gets her cred!