Arts Opinion: Formulaic approach of producer may strip Star Wars of originality

Kevin Feige (pictured above) is a film producer and the president of Marvel Studios. Feige is now working with Kathleen Kennedy—president of Lucas Films—to create the latest Star Wars movie (courtesy of gage skidmore on flickr).

There’s a reason that Marvel movies are successful. Besides its ties to properties that have by and large been popular for several decades, Marvel has developed a formula that audiences know, expect and love. In more recent years, this formula has become a point of contention for many viewers and critics alike. Now, Marvel’s formula may be jumping studios.

Kevin Feige— long-time president of Marvel Studios—is developing a new Star Wars film with current president of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy, according to the Hollywood Reporter. This news comes as a surprise to many and begs several questions, most pressing of which is this: is Kevin Feige’s creative vision the best option for the next generation of Star Wars? 

Similar to Marvel, Star Wars has been a creative force in the entertainment world for decades. Also like Marvel, Kevin Feige is admittedly a huge fan of the property, which could be a major plus. 

Feige understands the worlds with which he and Kennedy are playing and can therefore build off what he knows the viewers want. But if Disney gives one of the most powerful people in Hollywood a chance to play around in two of its biggest sandboxes, a dangerous precedent might be set.

There’s no denying Feige’s extremely high success rate. Between his exhaustive knowledge of the Marvel world and his ability to decipher what world-wide MCU fans want, he’s made the production of more than a decade’s worth of successful films look easy, but that brings us back to the pesky “Marvel-Movie-Formula.” 

Perhaps Feige was brought on to distill some of the negative feedback that The Last Jedi garnered from fans, as suggested by Indiewire. Either way, Feige is poised to push his vision of the Star Wars universe. While there’s no doubt his vision would pull in more money, there’s exceeding doubt that Feige’s Star Wars movie has the creativity to push boundaries or create new methods of storytelling. 

The biggest issue with Feige is that Disney wants to recapture that same wild, unprecedented success of Marvel Studios in its prime by bringing the president in, according to The Guardian. This emulation, however, could spell a much worse turn of events: the so-called “Disney-ification” of Star Wars. Allowing Feige to produce and develop a Star Wars movie might bring financial success, but also almost certainly promises to muddy the unique realm of Star Wars. 

Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even films with a twist or with boundary-breaking elements like those in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel formula remains visible. Feige will bring the same formulaic restrictions with him to Lucasfilm, and to the new era of Star Wars stories that go beyond the desert farming and Empire look-alikes. 

Certainly, on occasion, Marvel has allowed directors a clearer vision by stepping back from the creative forefront. This is best showcased in Black Panther, a film that was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Unfortunately, examples like these are few and far between. With Feige at the helm, he can pick and choose creative choices, cast and plot details as the producer of the film. He can choose which boundaries to break and which to make in every new Star Wars movie as the franchise moves forward. 

Star Wars has always been about the unexpected. Maybe Feige’s magic will work a different way with this franchise, maybe new life will blossom into the Lucas Films under his care, only time will tell. As a story built on cinematic breakthroughs and redefinition of the modern world’s view of film, Star Wars deserves more than to become another cookie-cutter, uniform adventure story from the Disney-makeover-machine.