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Star Wars: Why Gen Z no Longer Cares About it

How Disney took the biggest franchise in the world and somehow made it irrelevant.

The Skywalker Saga. Credit: Disney

Do you even think about Star Wars anymore?

Be honest. Your answer is probably no.

The once-dominant franchise is losing its grip on our generation. If you told someone 30, 20 or even 10 years ago, that Star Wars was dying, they’d laugh at you (for a long time). But here we are in 2024 and most of us couldn’t care less about the former pop culture phenomenon.

But why?

The State of the Franchise

Following the sale of creator George Lucas’ company to Disney for £2.5bn, there was huge excitement with a sequel trilogy of the Skywalker saga in the works. After 10 years, Star Wars would FINALLY be back. The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker were created.

Rey wielding Luke Skywalker's lightsaber in her fight against Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens the first of Disney's Star Wars sequel trilogy.
Rey wielding Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Credit: Disney

Each film was a global box office success earning $2.06bn, $1.3bn and $1.077bn respectively. However, the numbers don’t tell the full story. Disappointment derailed the fanbase. There was huge backlash to the last two films particularly, with a large majority feeling alienated by the decision-making.

Whilst creating their trilogy, Disney also produced Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Rogue One was popular and has aged well, with many perceiving it as Disney’s best Star Wars film. Solo was enjoyed but wasn’t hugely successful. Ultimately, with the disaster of the sequel trilogy and the spin-offs not serving as enough of a redemption, Disney quickly built up a reputation for having ruined Star Wars.

The Strategic Switch

In a change of plan, Disney focused on producing TV shows based on characters in the Star Wars universe. This led to the creation of series’ like the Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett (TBoBF), Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka, and Andor. These were distributed on their streaming platform Disney +.

The Mandalorian

When the first two seasons of The Mandalorian came out, there was hope that Disney may have finally turned a corner. The show was immensely popular and created a huge buzz around the fanbase. This was accentuated in the S2 finale of the show, with the return of Luke Skywalker. The fan reaction was fantastic!

@theconvorcall

SPOILER ALERT! Our reaction to Luke Skywalker in #TheMandalorian Part One! Full reaction is on our YouTube. #starwars #lukeskywalker #fyp #foryou

♬ original sound – The Convor Call

The finale reached number one on Nielson’s Top 10 TV show list (ranked by TV streams in the US). It was also rated 9.8/10 on IMDB making it the 25th highest TV episode of all time. S3 however, didn’t live up to expectations. On IMDB, it had an average rating of 7.7. This compared to 8.5 in S1 and 8.8 in S2.

Disney’s Other Star Wars Shows

Likewise, many of Disney’s other ventures struggled. Obi-Wan Kenobi, TBoBF and Ahsoka all disappointed. Fans could forgive Disney for not delivering with Ahsoka or TBoBF but the failures of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series were unforgivable. Blessed with the ability to use fan service through beloved characters like Kenobi and Darth Vader, it would be hard to go wrong. But Disney did.

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader duelling in the Obi Wan Kenobi show.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader duelling. Credit: Disney

The focus of the show felt off, with one of the greatest villains in film, treated like a measly side character. In an already short six-episode format, they used an overwhelming amount of filler content. Fans were left baffled by the writing. If there was any hope left in Disney’s direction of Star Wars, it was rapidly fading.

The creation of Andor was a positive for Disney though, receiving a great fan reception. But due to the failures of the other shows, the circulation of the series just wasn’t that high. Similarly, The Acolyte, Disney’s most recent Star Wars show, hasn’t reached the heights expected of one of the biggest franchises in the world.

Jedi with their lightsabers out in Disney's Star Wars show The Acolyte.
Jedi with their lightsabers out in The Acolyte. Credit: Disney

From the failures of the films to the mediocracy of a lot of the shows, fans have well and truly lost faith in Disney and Star Wars.

But it can be saved.

How Can Star Wars be Saved?

Disney must focus on quality. In recent years, their relentless schedule has led to them pursuing a quantity-over-quality approach. This has detrimented Star Wars massively. But a simple change of focus could be instrumental in kick-starting the franchise again.

Mini-Series Mess

The biggest example of this is the decision to produce short six to eight-episode series’. Shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi or TBoBF, have left us feeling underwhelmed due to the lack of real depth they can delve into. Whereas Andor, a series which has gone down incredibly well amongst fans, had 12 episodes, over double Kenobi’s.

Tie Fighters flying in a big battle in Andor.
Tie Fighters flying in Andor. Credit: Disney

In a world where competition amongst streaming platforms is at its highest and viewer attention spans are at their lowest, Disney needs to move away from rushing content out and begin to trust the fans again. While having a low barrier to entry with the short episode formats can entice people, it also leaves the majority of fans underwhelmed and disappointed. Disney would be better off having larger gaps between projects, than pushing out lots of shows in quick succession, with very little quality or direction.

Likewise, Disney must be driven in their approach. They need a clear strategy. Since the failure of the sequel trilogy, Star Wars has felt like it’s been in recovery mode ever since, like a boxer scrambling on the rings, just trying to stay up. But unlike a trembling fighter, Star Wars can start afresh. The Skywalker saga was just a fraction of the scope this sci-fi spectacle can really have. There are endless creative possibilities to explore.

A shot from behind overlooking General Hux giving his passionate speech before the attempted obliteration of the resistance in Star Wars The Force Awakens.
General Hux giving a powerful speech to The First Order. Credit: Disney

While better quality series’ will help, TV shows will never unite all fans, but a brilliant new trilogy could. Yes, some may dislike it because of their nostalgia for the previous saga, but the creation of a new era could be the breath of fresh air this franchise desperately needs. Hanging onto the success of the past will just push more fans away. Disney needs a new beginning.

Will Gen Z Ever Really Care About Star Wars Again?

If Disney begins to prioritise quality again, then absolutely. We grew up on the prequels, falling in love with Anakin Skywalker and Kenobi. We’ve just been disillusioned by the fixation on quantity. But if a new saga and better quality shows can be produced, then there’s no reason why Gen Z can’t fall in love with Star Wars again.

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Hi there, I'm a university student with a huge passion for Film and TV.

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