The acquisition of Lucasfilm by Disney was supposed to provide the simplest possible answer to the question, "What do Star Wars fans want?" That answer -- in case the explosion in films, tv shows, theme park rides and lord knows what else hasn't made it abundantly clear -- was assumed to be, "more Star Wars."
As ever, reality has proved to be more nuanced than corporate optimism. Episode VII: The Force Awakens grossed more than $2 billion at the global box office, while Episode VIII: The Last Jedi squeaked past $1.3 billion -- still a lot of money, but the kind of decline that will moisten the palms of Disney executives. The most recent film release, Solo: A Star Wars Story, didn't even make it to $400 million, raising legitimate questions about whether the film managed to break even, and about the health of the Star Wars IP as a whole.
One of those questions is about how tolerant the Star Wars fanbase is to the very concept of the universe they love getting bigger. The Force Awakens was easily the biggest box-office hit of the new films, but it was also safe, familiar and utterly reverential of George Lucas' holy trilogy. The Last Jedi received stronger reviews -- an 85 Metacritic average compared to The Force Awakens' 81 -- but it was iconoclastic, causing a distressingly vocal minority to propose remaking the entire film. Star Wars fans, it seemed, didn't want to be challenged, and judging by the weak performance of Solo, their appetite in terms of volume simply didn't compare to something like the Marvel universe.