It goes without saying that Hollywood has been rocked by scandals this year, but regardless of how many more actors, directors, producers, and executives go down, the movie industry will still make billions of dollars. Movies generate the kind of money that they do, no matter the genre, because they generally tell interesting stories which revolve around compelling characters, but there are indeed genres that are a lot more popular than others. For decades now, the science-fiction genre has been at the top of the list in terms of popularity, and a big part of that popularity can be attributed to the Star Wars franchise, which helped to revolutionize cinematic storytelling.
The franchise's first entry came out in 1977, and since then, it has become a global phenomenon that will soon have a dozen films in its catalog, mainly thanks to Disney who bought the franchise in 2012. There are those who believe that Disney has ruined Star Wars, due to the company's lighthearted nature and its tendency to make films for younger audiences, and although that is true to an extent, at least fans all over the world get to see more intergalactic adventures. Like all major film franchises, Star Wars has seen its fair share of scandals, both on and off the set—scandals that Disney would prefer to keep under wraps because they would help to tarnish their perceived squeaky-clean image simply through their association with the franchise, and this article will bring light to 15 of those scandals.
When the original trilogy came to an end, there were many fans who wanted to see how Anakin Skywalker transformed into Darth Vader after being a skilled and accomplished Jedi. That backstory was the entire premise of the prequels, and in The Phantom Menace, we got a glimpse of Vader as a young slave boy, and it was child-actor Jake Lloyd who got what should have been an opportunity of a lifetime. In truth, the role ruined Lloyd's life, a fact that no one associated with Star Wars wants to admit because they know that it is true. Lloyd received A LOT of online hate for his performance in the movie and was constantly bullied in school because of it—experiences that he blames George Lucas for not meeting the standards that fans expected. In 2015, Lloyd was arrested in South Carolina following a high-speed chase with police, and after spending some time in prison, he was transferred to a psychiatric hospital after being diagnosed with schizophrenia.
When the new trilogy was announced, the world went crazy, especially when they learned that the original trio of characters were all set to return. And so far, each and every one of them have done a great job in reprising their roles. Last year, though, we lost Carrie Fisher who will still be in the next two films, and it was a death that shocked everyone due to how sudden it was. She died as a result of cardiac arrest, but when the autopsy report was released, we learned that she had traces of coke and other substances in her system. Fisher had battled drug addiction throughout her adult life, and in one of her books, she admitted to using cocaine on set while filming Empire Strikes Back. Granted, this is not the first time that an actor has used drugs on a movie set, but no one likes the idea of an iconic princess getting high, especially Disney.
The original trilogy ended on a very good note, which is why fans still say that they are the best. But even with that ending, fans still wanted more Star Wars stories, which is how some authors made names for themselves. Karen Traviss was one of those authors, and by the time 2009 came around, she had more than 15 books and short stories published, some of which were acclaimed bestsellers. Although she was considered to be one of Star Wars' greatest creative minds in terms of lore, she was forced to retire from writing due to changes she made to some established lore. The Mandalorians are a warrior race who have always been villainous, but in one book, Traviss made them the heroes while making the Jedi the villains. This change did not sit well with fans, to the point that some petitioned George Lucas to make her stop writing while others threatened to kill or s*xually assault her.
Despite being forced into retirement, Karen Traviss gave a lot to the Star Wars universe, but she was just one of several writers who managed to expand the universe in a variety of ways. Thanks to this Expanded Universe, we were brought to new planets where we got to see our beloved characters from the original trilogy take on new adventures and adversaries; and we were also given completely new characters who had absolutely nothing to do with the original movies. For decades, the Expanded Universe was beloved by fans and for good reason, because all the new stories and characters were great and deemed to be canon, until Disney bought the franchise in 2012. Shortly after the purchase, Disney declared that virtually all of the Expanded Universe was no longer canon, effectively erasing everything that fans had loved for years—an act that the company received a massive amount of hate for.
It is true that Star Wars has given the world some of the most iconic characters in both movie and pop culture history, but none of them are as popular as Darth Vader, who is literally the face of the entire franchise despite being a bad guy. Aside from his appearance, Vader is known for his amazing voice, which is provided by James Earl Jones, but he was not always the voice of the powerful Sith Lord. The original man behind the mask was an actor named David Prowse, but he did not get to enjoy being the character at all because George Lucas replaced his voice with Jones' without his knowledge. This obviously did not sit well with Prowse, who was later replaced by someone else, meaning that he could not even wear the costume anymore, which really got to him and caused him to dislike Lucas. In the end, though, Prowse got the last laugh because he intentionally spoiled the ending of Empire Strikes Back during an interview two years before the movie's release.
The prequel trilogy did a lot of things wrong, which is why so many lifelong Star Wars fans still have bitter tastes in their mouths whenever they even think of that trio of movies. If you were to ask fans what they hated most about the prequels, many of them will probably give the same answer—Jar Jar Binks, a Gungan who was made entirely out of CGI, and who is considered to be the franchise's worst canonical character. Jar Jar was made to appeal to kids in order to sell more merchandise, which would have been fine if the character was not scrutinized for also being a racial stereotype. As it turns out, Jar Jar has been accused of making fun of Rastafarian, Caribbean, and Asian ethnicities, allegations which George Lucas has vehemently denied. However, it is hard to believe him considering he also introduced the Viceroy in the same movie, a character who blatantly pokes fun at Asian accents.
Jar Jar may cause many Star Wars fans to go blind with rage, but at least he did not destroy an entire portion of the canon. That is something that George Lucas managed to do all by himself. When A New Hope debuted in 1977, we learned about The Force, which was supposed to be this mystical thing that only a very select few could use to varying degrees, which is why the Jedi and the Dark Side were so unique. But when The Phantom Menace was released, Lucas showed us that he did not care about contradicting himself. In the 1999 film, Lucas introduced us to Midi-chlorians, microscopic intelligent lifeforms that inhabit the cells of every living thing. A person would be able to use The Force as long as they had a certain number of Midi-chlorians in their body, which basically meant that there was absolutely nothing mystical about The Force. This angered A LOT of fans, and when Disney bought the franchise, they hoped that Midi-chlorians would be erased from the canon. They were not.
No matter what Disney tries to do in the romance department with all of their upcoming Star Wars films, they will never be able to duplicate the relationship between Leia and Han, partly because they cannot have another princess fall in love with an ex-criminal. Fans of the movie got to see the characters fall in love on screen, and by watching the actors' chemistry on screen, some of those fans could not help but speculate that there was some kind of relationship between the two in real life. In 2016, Carrie Fisher released her memoirs, and in it, she shed light on a couple of things, including the fact that she had an affair with Harrison Ford while filming A New Hope. This occurred when she was 19 and he was 33, and Ford did not even acknowledge the affair until a GQ interview earlier this year where he said that he did not want to go into any details. This should not be that much of a scandal, but it is, thanks to the fact that Ford was married at the time.
It is true that the Star Wars franchise has made billions at the box office, but it has also made boat loads of money via merchandise, mainly thanks to George Lucas who essentially put out as much merchandise as possible. With the release of The Force Awakens, fans were expecting to see a brand new wave of merchandise, especially in the action figure department. But when the new toys got into stores, there was a very surprising omission. By now, most of us know that Rey is the primary focus of this new trilogy, which means that she should have had her own action figures, but she did not at first, which caused the small #WheresRey controversy. According to Disney, they did not want to release any Rey figures because they wanted to preserve story elements, but when HASBRO was asked, the toy manufacturer said that they were told to not make any Rey figures because Star Wars figures are mostly aimed towards boys who do not tend to play with female figures.
Although Han, Leia, and Luke were the Big Three of the original trilogy, the case can be made that Chewie is just as important and iconic—a statement that is validated by the fact that he has been a part of all three trilogies. In A New Hope, Chewie was an integral part of rescuing Leia and destroying the first Death Star, but at the end of the movie, he had to stand there and watch as only Luke and Han received an honorary medal. Fans have criticized this scene for a long time because it makes it seem like Chewie did not contribute at all, but this is not the only time that Chewie has been neglected in the movies. In The Force Awakens, when our heroes return from destroying Starkiller Base, Rey and Leia share a moment following the Death of Han, while Chewie, who is Han's best friend, just walks by and fades into the background.
Over the course of four decades, nine movies, and two shows, we have been introduced to a lot of different Jedi. But no matter how many we see, Luke will always have a special place in our hearts. Mark Hamill brought Luke to life, and he is so beloved within the franchise that fans went nuts on opening weekend when they finally saw him at the end of The Force Awakens, even though he did not say a single word. Leading up to Episode VII, Hamill trained for six months to prepare for the role, which is why he was disappointed when he learned what his role in the movie was so minimal, but at least he plays a major role in The Last Jedi. With that being said, Hamill did not like the direction in which Episode VIII's director was taking his character, he even told the director that he fundamentally disagreed with every choice he made for Luke. Actors and directors have always butted heads, but Disney does not like the idea of having one of their movie's main attractions questioning their choices.
It is true that George Lucas did a very bad job with the prequels but he is also the man who gave us the original movies, which are universally loved, so he does deserve the respect of fans. Although The Force Awakens managed to divide fans, they could not blame Lucas for creating the division because when he sold the franchise to Disney, they made sure that he would not be involved in the production process at all. When he finally watched Episode VII, he was quick to point out that he was not a fan of it and not just because he was left out of the creative loop. He felt that the movie offered nothing new to the franchise's mythology, that it was too "retro," and that they failed to make it feel like something different. Granted, he sold his baby to Disney, but the company does not like word getting out that the guy who created the franchise thinks that their movie is subpar.
If you watch the older movies, it is pretty easy to see that the majority of the Star Wars cast was made up of white actors, with the exception of Billie Dee Williams and Samuel L. Jackson who played Lando and Mace Windu, respectively. When the first trailer for Episode VII was released, we got our first glimpse of John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Issac as Poe Dameron, and although the trailer's release was a joyous event, it was still met with minor backlash due to the two actors. Boyega and Issac are of African and Hispanic descent, and the fact that they were portrayed as major characters in the trailer did not sit well with certain white people. These racist trolls believed that the movie was engaging in a type of "white genocide," which led them to create the BoycottStarWarsVII movement, a movement that was luckily squashed before it could gain any real traction.
It is true that there were some who did not like the idea of John Boyega being a major character in Episode VII because of the color of his skin, but that did not stop Disney from marketing the movie the way they wanted to in North America. In order to market a movie, you need two main things—an enticing poster and a gripping trailer; both of which Disney managed to pull off. Star Wars, though, has always had great posters, which feature great artwork and all the necessary characters, and rarely do they get changed. But with Episode VII, Chinese promoters decided that the poster needed some alterations. In the standard version, Jon Boyega's character takes up a good portion of the poster, but in the Chinese version, he is drastically smaller and can barely be seen, while all of the other characters are relatively the same size. This was apparently done because Chinese audiences were not too thrilled about a black man being THE Jedi of the film.
Many people will say that Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie, which it is, but there are also those who say that A New Hope is the best, which is completely understandable, seeing as it was the movie that introduced us to the entire universe. In it, we have the iconic cantina scene, which is where we first meet Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and shortly after meeting him, we see a confrontation between him and an alien named Greedo. In the original version, both characters sit at a table and exchange words, then we get a closeup of Greedo's face followed by the sound of a blaster firing and some smoke, which then leads to Greedo slumping over the table. This implies that Han shot Greedo without being provoked, which is part of what made Han a bad-a*s. However, George Lucas felt that he needed to change things, so in the 1997 re-release, the scene was altered to show Greedo shooting first, an act that created a bunch of memes and which angered A LOT of purists, and up until now, Disney has not mentioned which version is truly canonical.