Bob Iger's Recollection Of The Creative Differences With George Lucas

We are coming up on a year since Bob Iger published his memoir Ride of a Lifetime, which included information regarding what went down between Iger and Lucas during the making of the Disney-era Star Wars films following Lucas’ selling of the franchise in 2012. During these times when people are throwing around misinformation, it is worth reminding people what we actually know. In Iger’s book, he talked about Lucas’ reaction during the early development of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens after he had submitted his own story ideas:

“Early on, Kathy [Kennedy] brought J.J. [Abrams] and Michael Arndt up to Northern California to meet with George at his ranch and talk about their ideas for the film. George immediately got upset as they began to describe the plot and it dawned on him that we weren't using one of the stories he submitted during the negotiations.

“The truth was, Kathy, J.J., Alan [Horn, Disney's film chief], and I had discussed the direction in which the saga should go, and we all agreed that it wasn't what George had outlined. George knew we weren't contractually bound to anything, but he thought that our buying the story treatments was a tacit promise that we'd follow them, and he was disappointed that his story was being discarded.”

It is understandable that Lucas would be upset that some ideas for the very world that he created would not be used. In November 2015, Lucas actually spoke to Vanity Fair about the situation:

"The issue was ultimately, they looked at the stories and they said, 'We want to make something for the fans.' People don't actually realize it's actually a soap opera and it's all about family problems – it's not about spaceships. So they decided they didn't want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing so I decided, 'Fine.'

“They weren't that keen to have me involved anyway. But at the same time, I said if I get in there I'm just going to cause trouble. Because they're not going to do what I want them to do. And I don't have the control to do that anymore. All I would do is muck everything up. So I said, 'Okay, I will go my way, and I'll let them go their way.'"

It sounds like Lucas took a diplomatic approach, taking a step back knowing that he would try to be hands-on, something that has had mixed results with the fans. In Iger’s book, the then-CEO of Disney went on to describe how Lucas felt when Kathleen Kennedy screened The Force Awakens to him prior to its worldwide release:

“He didn't hide his disappointment. ‘There's nothing new,’ he said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, ‘There weren't enough visual or technical leaps forward.’ He wasn't wrong, but he also wasn't appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars. We'd intentionally created a world that was visually and tonally connected to the earlier films, to not stray too far from what people loved and expected, and George was criticizing us for the very thing we were trying to do. Looking back with the perspective of several years and a few more Star Wars films, I believe J.J. achieved the near-impossible, creating a perfect bridge between what had been and what was to come.”

Whether or not The Force Awakens was an effective bridge between the original trilogy and the sequels that followed is ultimately subjective. To some, The Last Jedi (which Lucas himself ended up describing as a beautiful film) felt like it undid and subverted certain things about The Force Awakens. While many still feel this way, some have mellowed out in regards to those opinions, though similar feelings came about when The Rise of Skywalker felt to some like a sharp turn from some of the ideas presented in The Last Jedi.

For what it is worth, Iger seems to be honest about the whole situation. His book does not hide the fact that The Force Awakens was intended as a throwback film, something that many viewers had surmised as soon as the film was released. Arguably, it felt like a step back in terms of newness when compared to the prequel era as it was presented in the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars.

Though the sequel trilogy go with all of Lucas’ ideas, it did run with his ideas of the films focusing on a female Jedi, and Luke Skywalker being somewhat of a hermit in exile. J.J. Abrams did eventually talk with George Lucas about the Force when The Rise of Skywalker was being made. While Lucas’ involvement with the sequels was very limited, he did visit the sets of Rogue One, Solo, and The Mandalorian. Plus, Lucas was present at the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. So it seems that there is no bad blood between Lucas and Disney, or at least not enough conflict to keep him away from Star Wars for good. Some things get exaggerated by certain reports, but we must remember what we know to be true.

Source(s): Bleeding Cool