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It's the return of the Lucas

For nerds everywhere, it was a moment not unlike the Apollo moon landing or Kirk Gibson's World Series home run. A moment in which we later would ask: "Where were you when you heard the news?"

My story? I was sitting at my desk when this announcement hit the Internet: Disney was buying Lucasfilm. And not just that—in addition to George Lucas' production company, Disney was buying the rights to properties such as the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" franchises.

Twitter was abuzz because buried within the news release was the promise that a new "Star Wars" film will be released in 2015. Yes, the long-awaited Episode VII. In less time than it takes the Millennium Falcon to make the Kessel Run, social media exploded with tweets from "Star Wars" geeks declaring everything from "YAY, Episode VII!" to "BOO, George Lucas stinks—I hated the prequels!"

For the folks who don't reside in Nerdville, this is a big deal because Lucas previously has said there would be no more "Star Wars" films—and many people were so put off by the last three films, they were OK with that.

While I can understand the feelings of those who felt let down by "The Phantom Menace" in 1999, and the films that followed, I believe these new movies will live up to the promise unfulfilled by the prequels.

Look at it this way: Lucas has said he won't write or direct these new films like he did the prequels. In fact, he's going back to the model he followed when creating the original trilogy nerds and non-nerds have come to know and love ("A New Hope," "Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi"), which is simply providing the story for each episode and letting other writers and directors bring them to life.

One of the most common complaints among "Star Wars" geeks about the prequels was that Lucas wasn't a very strong writer or director. (I'll admit that the love story in "Attack of the Clones" was about as convincing as the special effects in an old Godzilla movie.) But now Lucas is handing "Star Wars" over to the next generation of filmmakers to create something new.

This should be heartening to geeks and non-geeks! Consider that Disney has the creative minds of Pixar and Marvel Comics in its stable. Can you imagine what joyful noises would emanate from Nerdville if Disney announced that "Avengers" director Joss Whedon were going to head up the newest "Star Wars" movie? Twitter would crash faster than you could say "Jar Jar Binks."

When you think about it, this whole development is very much like the story of Darth Vader himself. As young Anakin Skywalker, Vader would be seduced and corrupted by power until his son, Luke, came along to help him redeem himself.

After creating this powerful entity that has generated billions of dollars in film and licensing revenue, Lucas is betting that his own "offspring" can keep "Star Wars" going for years to come, in a way that is accepted by fans both new and old.

Some will say the odds of success are equal to surviving a flight through an asteroid field. Well, as Han Solo would say, "Never tell me the odds." I believe that with this new trilogy, "Star Wars" will finally redeem George Lucas.

Elliott Serrano is a RedEye special contributor.

 

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