Gary Whitta. He’s controversial in the Star Wars fandom to be sure. He’s positioned himself as “not one of us” in so many words. In message board posts, he’s said to “F” George Lucas, he dispises the work done to Episodes IV-VI beyond their theatrical versions, and he thinks Episodes I-III are complete garbage, even calling III “fan fiction” and Star Wars: The Clone Wars “tiresome.” His language was more colorful than that, for the record.
Does it matter? Yes and no. It matters he doesn’t respect the legacy of Star Wars. It matters he said to “F” the creator of everything and doesn’t respect his vision. In fact, it isn’t so much his opinions as the outright disrespect expressed in his posts. He acted like the worst part of message board culture. He also, even if he meant to or not, said he doesn’t think anything from Star Wars from the last twenty years has been viable or worthwhile. *Note: those saying George Lucas doesn’t matter because he doesn’t own the films anymore need a lesson in professional courtesy and politics. Lucas matters.
I continually hear we would be hard pressed to find prequel fans out there that are great professional writers and he just represents the realities of the situation. There’s Darabont. There are others too. That’s bogus. I’ve been at enough tables with creative types, even moderately famous ones, that enjoy the prequels. Even those that are less than fans might say XYZ worked really well but ABC was really off, for instance. Being critical means evaluating all the various facets of success and failures in a work. Whitta has not expresed any such words from what I’ve seen (and he very well may have).
I would truly be afraid if new Star Wars writers were not somewhat critical of Star Wars. Writing is not only a creative process, it is a critical one. However, I don’t want someone that’s just critical of I-III. I want someone that’s critical about all six films and has valuable analyis of their various successes and failures which will aid them in continuing the Star Wars legend. Nothing in Star Wars was ever perfect. There is no perfect Star Wars film and never will be. We all have had perfect Star Wars viewing experiences, but that’s a whole different thing than a perfect work, which no Star Wars film has ever been. That said, what worries me is Whitta might be unaware what did work in the prequels, at least in his hyperbolic expressions about the films so far.
My buddy Dion (honorary contributor to MakingStarWars.net), from Star Wars Always, made a great point about what Whitta said. He said culture matters. The culture of that message board might have been why Whitta used those words in that way. I agree to an extent. His messages might have been in response to past discussions, feudes, and points made on the board. I would like to build on what Dion said and say that all writers have an intended audience. When Whitta made those comments, he was addressing a very specific audience that probably doesn’t pertain to you, most likely, especially if you’re reading my site.
I would have huge problems with Whitta if he were writing Star Wars: Episode VII. That film tells the story of the Skywalker family. Whitta has made it clear he has no love for fifty percent of that story. If someone dislikes fifty perscent of a story, they’re not the right person to continue that story. But you know what? He’s not telling that tale. So it kind of doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t view the Skywalker Saga in that context.
I suggest we try and look at the positive side of Whitta. For starters, he’s making a film with an intended audience, just like those infalmatory message board posts. His take on Star Wars might appeal to a portion of the broader audience that doesn’t feel like their needs are fulfilled by the direction Star Wars has undergone in the last twenty years. Is it so bad those people have a voice, or a writer that respresents them? Or that he depicts the kinds of Star Wars stories that audience wants?
I think not. I think Star Wars is forever and for everybody. So as long as Whitta knows that his film should be enjoyed by families, and is enjoyed by families, I have no problem with his take being gritty, or whatever the opposite of the prequels were. Star Wars has many different spectrums and I think someone like Whitta probably prefers some outlets in that universe over others. Just like all fans. Someone of us like all the various aspects of the stories, others just want the space western parts, or the Jedi stuff.
My greater point is, I think we should see what Whitta does. While he expressed his opinions in a disrespectful manner, lets respect his opinions and hope he turns in good work. As a Star Wars fan, I’m a little let down someone that dislikes something I love so much is making more Star Wars. But someone that gets so angry about Star Wars surely loves it like I do, only differently. On the other hand, it probably doesn’t matter because of the type of tale he will be weaving won’t be one appropriate for Jar Jar, political intrigue, or CGI up to our eyeballs. It is also worth noting he might not be working from his own first draft, he might be continuing Lawrence Kasdan’s work on the spin-off film he was writing before he jumped ship to Star Wars: Episode VII. His work will also probably be filtered through the Lucasfilm Story Team, and then told by a director that is also a writer himself. So lets not over state Whitta’s power in this context.
Good luck, Whitta. I don’t know if you would like me as a Star Wars fan, but I’m wishing you luck. I’m enthusiastic and I hope your enthusiasm for Star Wars takes you and us to great places in the Galaxy, Far, Far Away. Being a passionate Star Wars is certainly a plus for the writer of the 8th theatrical live action film.