Like the film or not, it’s a fairly value-neutral statement to note that J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens is a deliberate throwback. Between all the destiny-laden youths living on crappy desert planets, the space fascists with giant laser fixations, and the various mentors crawling out of the woodwork to offer up advice (then die), the 2015 movie did everything it could to evoke the feel of “classic” Star Wars. Which is, apparently, what made it kind of a bummer for the guy who first created said classic Star Wars feel to watch.
George Lucas has been very careful, in the seven years since he sold his space opera opus baby to Disney, to avoid saying much of anything negative about the movies the entertainment mega-giant has pumped out in the galaxy far, far away. (Say what you like about Lucas’ various storytelling decisions over the years, but the man seems to sincerely love the franchise and have no interest in harming its reputation.) Disney CEO Bob Iger is under no such limitations, though, and he opens up about Lucas’ private thoughts on The Force Awakens in his new memoir, Iger’s The Ride of a Lifetime. Per Comicbook.com, that includes fielding complaints from Lucas about Abrams’ film.
Lucas “Didn’t hide his disappointment,” Iger writes. “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.’”
Iger doesn’t elaborate on what, exactly, an inveterate tech obsessive like Lucas found lacking in Abrams’ movie—maybe he was just annoyed that the film simply does the “desert planet, cold planet, jungle planet” thing all over again, while giving rain planet, lava planet, and city planet short shrift—but the Disney CEO does write about it as though he found the whole thing vaguely annoying:
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.
Which, again, none of us would even know about, except Iger decided to share it in his book. That being said, The Force Awakens is the franchise’s biggest box office success to date, so he’s probably not sweating Lucas’ (very quiet) critiques too much, either, slightly passive aggressive book details or not.