I saw Rogue One and I was stoked!
The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens heralded a new age for space opera in the movies, unlike anything I’ve seen in thirty years (yes, I’m old). And even before the Star Wars primer, Marvel decided to get in on the action with Guardians of The Galaxy. Think about it, Marvel owns the rights to so many superhero franchises yet chose to make a film about space jockeys before Dr. Strange or any of a dozen other caped characters. So why revive a less popular space franchise first? My answer is, they wanted to get on the ground floor of a booming trend.
When Star Wars first came out in 1977, it inspired dozens of imitators. Hollywood saw the money and quickly shifted from a western and detective thriller factory to a rocket ship launching pad. The first notable attempts were frankly well, crap– like Starcrash and The Cat From Outer Space. However, as Hollywood improved its spacecraft, we got good stuff like Battlestar Galactica, Alien, and Battle Beyond the Stars.
Naturally, Star Trek jumped onto the gravy train, and that’s FINE by me. After the abortive Star Trek: The Emotional Picture, we got Wrath of Kahn, Search For Spock, and, who can forget, Star Trek “Saves The Whales.” I grew up in this time, and it’s pretty damn obvious I have yet to recover. Stories of spaceships that go “woosh” and laser guns that go “pew” are still my go to entertainment.
So, sure, I’m waiting with bated breath for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I think it’s great that they are playing with alternative possibilities and taking risks with the franchise. Star Trek is also doing some good stuff with its re-boot, and I really liked Star Trek: Beyond. But here’s the thing…where is the NEW space opera stuff?
The last time we got an original space opera franchise of any worth on the screen was Firefly. Granted, Firefly and its movie Serenity were AWESOME, but it’s been over ten years and I want more. When Star Wars made bank back in ’77, we got a slew of other space opera films with original content. Now we have…what? Folks, Guardians of The Galaxy is based on a thirty-year-old comic book; it’s as if risk aversion trumps creativity in Hollywood every time these days (and I can’t stand it when things are “trumped”).
I know that today there are some damn good writers crafting top-notch space opera (Yeah, besides me…but also me…uh, me too? Yes, not just me). I want these guys and gals to get their chance now while the iron is hot. And this is important, not just for our entertainment but for the growth of the genre of space opera.
Think about it, forty years from now, what are they going to bring back if they did nothing new in the early 2000s?
By Clayton J. Callahan