Why the Benioff and Weiss Star Wars Movies Will Transcend ‘Game of Thrones’
As the most popular TV show of the 21st century burns to the ground, the future of the Force is stronger than ever.
If you clicked on this article because you saw the proclamation that David Benioff and D.B Weiss will make a Star Wars movie that is better than Game of Thrones, there’s a chance you’ve already said, out loud, in the sarcastic style of Princess Leia: “That doesn’t sound too hard.” For better or for worse, the spring of 2019 is Game of Thrones backlash season, meaning the fantasy kings of the past decade are suddenly this year’s creative hacks. Now that a huge portion of the population seems ready to feed Benioff and Weiss to the dragons, what does it mean for the Star Wars movie of 2022? Will it suck because Benioff and Weiss are “actually” bad writers?
Maybe not. From a certain point of view, the fact that Game of Thrones has become disappointing for a ton of fans is actually good news for the Benioff and Weiss Star Wars movie. In order to become great at making Star Wars movies, everyone in the world must first accept that you are a hack. This is a time-honored tradition.
Speculative spoilers ahead for Star Wars in 2022, plus some aspects of Game of Thrones Season 8.
Just to get something out of the way, I don’t like Game of Thrones, and that’s not a recent thing. Without getting too in the weeds, let’s just say I prefer my speculative fiction to be a little less violent, and more often than not, set in outer space. I won’t get nasty, because I’m here to defend Benioff and Weiss, but basically, I find the narrative stakes of Game of Thrones to be fairly dull and centered mostly on murder.
If you need proof that I’ve disliked GoT for a while, I wasn’t happy about the announcement they were getting their own Star Wars movies at all, in 2018, and anyone who was within earshot of me at Inverse at that time can attest to me basically throwing a fit about it. When Lucasfilm first snatched up Benioff and Weiss, I worried it was a lame move meant to pander toward the mainstream of what people already liked.
But now, things are different. Benioff and Weiss aren’t popular. In terms of perception, they won’t be creating a Star Wars film from a place of confidence, but instead — maybe — from a place of having something to prove. If the ending of Game of Thrones ends up being objectively “bad,” then at least half the people who go see the Star Wars movie in 2022 will have this “fact” in their minds. Guess when this has happened before? Ever heard of J.J. Abrams? The guy who did Lost?
Outside of naturalistic shows like Mad Men or The Sopranos, the last big sci-fi fantasy TV series to get as much mainstream attention as Game of Thrones was, without a doubt, Lost. And, just like Game of Thrones, as that show went on, and eventually had its finale, the fanbase got cranky and wrote off Abrams as a hack. The same thing happened when he did the 2009 Star Trek reboot. But guess what? That movie was absurdly popular, and so was a 2015 film you may have heard of called The Force Awakens.
Now, if you want to get into a structural argument about how Abrams supposedly just “remade A New Hope” and that’s somehow bad, then I’m not going to get through to you at all, and you may as well stop reading now. Because the thing about calling J.J. Abrams a hack is that he probably is. But he’s a professional hack, and he’s way better at what he does than I will ever be at anything I do, ever. His 2009 Star Trek film makes no goddamn sense (Seriously? A giant space drill creates interference from beaming? What?), but it’s also a masterpiece that I can watch any day of the week. And, I’d argue the same is true of The Force Awakens. Is it brilliant? No. But, is it very good, when you consider it’s a Star Wars movie that isn’t part of the original trilogy? Big yes.
This gives us a neat parallel to what is happening with the GoT boys now. People who have written or directed other things often do their best work when they come and work for Star Wars. Everyone can go on and on about Rian Johnson’s movie Looper, but I’m going to go ahead and say the The Last Jedi is much better. The guy who directed Return of the Jedi — Richard Marquand— also directed a terrible Beatles biopic, but I think Return of the Jedi is pretty good, don’t you? How about that firebrand Irvin Kershner; the man who saved The Empire Strikes Back? Have you seen his other movies? Remember that James Bond remake Kershner did called Never Say Never Again? Oh, you don’t? That’s because despite having Sean Connery, it’s a really terrible movie and lost at the box office to a rival studio’s James Bond movie called Octopussy.
And then there’s J.J. Abrams, the guy who supposedly sucks because Lost doesn’t make sense and The Force Awakens had too much nostalgia. All of these arguments are crazy and simultaneously good news for David Benioff and D.B Weiss. If you want to make great Star Wars movies, at least half the population has to label you a hack or make it seem like you’re out of touch. At this point, it’s become a rite of passage. Just ask George Lucas.
The problem with worrying about Benioff and Weiss delivering a “bad” Star Wars movie mostly rests on the following fallacy: The supposed reason why GoT sucks “now” is because they no longer had “good” source material from George R. R. Martin, and when left to their own devices, proved that they are “bad” writers. This ignores the fact that they’re really good at what they do, and presupposes that George R. R. Martin is the greatest writer alive, which, honestly, if you’ve read his descriptions of food, is just not true.
The Star Wars universe is infinitely richer and more hopeful than the world of Westeros on Game of Thrones. For this reason alone, the Benioff and Weiss Star Wars movie already has nothing in common with the duo’s previous work, or, at least as much in common as Lost has with The Force Awakens. Like J.J. Abrams, Richard Marquand, Rian Johnson, Irvin Kershner, and George Lucas before them, Benioff and Weiss are professional craftsmen of pop narratives on screen. You can use the word “hack” if you like, but to me, it just means they get the job done. And once they’ve had a taste of the Force, they’ll probably make the best movie of their careers.
The first Star Wars movie from Benioff and Weiss hits theaters on December 16, 2022.