George Lucas Always Saw Star Wars As A Series Meant For Kids

As someone who has been a "Star Wars" fan since I saw the first film as a little girl, I've been part of many debates about the original series. Years before the first prequel, "The Phantom Menace," came out in 1999, I was arguing for and against characters with my friends, defending the Ewoks (I was just the right age), and trying to figure out why so many characters couldn't keep their arms attached to their bodies. 

The Ewoks were a big argument, though, which has often led to a debate on who exactly the films were made for. Were the "Star Wars" films for children? I'd always thought so — at least for the first trilogy. Often the argument was that the idea of a murderous father was too awful for kids. My defense was always that "The Hobbit," assorted fairy tales with parents who leave their children in the woods to die (Hansel and Gretel), women who cut off their own toes to marry a prince (Cinderella in some versions that I read as a kid), and witches cursing baby princesses to die because they didn't get invited to a party (Sleeping Beauty) were for children as well. Kids can handle more than we think they can. 

George Lucas weighed in on the topic in a 2002 interview on "Good Morning America" (via ABC News) right before the release of "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones." He also spoke about not catering to fans with his storytelling. 

'These older fans ... all went berserk'

In the interview, a voiceover mentions that "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace" had disappointed some fans despite making close to a billion dollars. The voiceover added, "Lucas says he's heard this before." The "Star Wars" creator weighed in: 

"What happens is the older people that see the movie get very upset with this sort of younger — you know, I won't say we're on the 'Barney' level, but on the younger aspects of the movies, and they're in all the movies. And in 'Empire Strikes Back,' the same thing happened to 3PO. They hated 3PO. They said that that jabbering — if that robot talked anymore, it's so irritating. And then I did the next film, which had Ewoks in it, and these older fans, and the older adults, all went berserk. And then in 'Phantom' it was about (the character) Jar Jar."

I remember hearing older kids saying that the movie sucked because the Ewoks were originally going to be Wookies, and Ewoks were for babies. While I absolutely love Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) with my entire heart, I was exactly the right age for cute, and murder-y teddy bears fighting against evil. (I actually really liked C-3P0 as well.) I think the issue was less about whether this was made for children or not, and more that the series and the overarching story had such mass appeal that people of all ages loved it. That is always going to lead to people wanting the next one to be for them specifically. It's always been so in fandom. 

Jar Jar Binks ... well, he was a disaster. That was never about an age group. My sincerest apologies to Ahmed Best. Truly.

'The audience wants all different things'

In the interview, an earlier Lucas quote was brought up when he said, "I can't make a movie for fans." He responded: 

"Well, I can't. The audience wants all different things. I definitely am not a guy who markets my — that's market testing on my movies and says, 'Oh, this is what the audience wants, so I'm going to give it to them.' In the end, it really has to do more with storytelling than anything else."

What he said about the audience wanting different things has never been more apparent than it is in the age of social media. Look at the backlash any little change gets. Think about DC fans getting angry about which cut of Zack Snyder's films are out there, or Marvel fans not liking a specific version of M.O.D.O.K., or debates about the importance of having Grogu in "The Mandalorian." In the end, if you have a story to tell, tell it the way you want to. A little fan service can be fun, but ultimately a creator is telling their own story — and what an epic story it is, nitpicking aside.     

All the "Star Wars" films and TV series are currently streaming on Disney+.