If we were asked to think of two incredibly popular franchises with several movies under their belts, the first two that would instantly come to mind are Star Wars and Harry Potter. While you might not necessarily be a fan of both (or either!), you’ll probably agree that each franchise has a lot of staying power.
Star Wars has been around a lot longer than Harry Potter, having started way back in 1977, but that doesn’t mean the franchise doesn’t get a bit frustrating from time to time, especially with the widely-panned sequel trilogy still fresh in our minds. Harry Potter, on the other hand, has enjoyed plenty of success without too much in the way of criticism.
So what could the Star Wars movies learn from Harry Potter? Let’s find out!
5. No More Trilogies
Ever since George Lucas followed up the original Star Wars films with three prequels, the franchise has been somewhat hung up on trilogies. And this is something that would continue with the sequels. While A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi do form the first-ever trilogy, that doesn’t mean that Star Wars movies always need to come in threes.
The franchise hasn’t followed this rule religiously, though, as we have had one-off movies like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but when it comes to storytelling that’s designed to span more than one movie, you can bet your bottom galactic credit that it will be a trilogy! This is one of the first things the Star Wars movies need to learn from Harry Potter.
While there are eight Harry Potter movies, there are only seven books. It would be naïve to assume that the last book was split into two for creative reasons alone, but a two-part movie did allow the story to breathe. The Star Wars sequels, on the other hand, were positioned as a trilogy before a story was even in place! As Luke might say, “It’s time for the trilogy to end”.
4. Meaningful Character Deaths
Just like the Harry Potter franchise, Star Wars has plenty of character deaths throughout the movies. But there’s a huge difference between both franchises – when somebody dies in Harry Potter, they stay dead. Sure, we see a handful of them as ghosts on one occasion – which are only those close to Harry, like his parents and Dumbledore – but that’s pretty much it!
In Star Wars, however, because the timeline is always jumping back and forth, character deaths have very little in the way of consequence, because we always end up revisiting them at an earlier point in time – like seeing Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian, for example. While it’s great to see our favorite characters return, it can leave their deaths feeling a bit meaningless.
This is of course the nature of prequels, and we’d be lying if we suggested that the Fantastic Beasts movies didn’t exist (and we mustn’t tell lies!), but another issue with Star Wars is the overuse of Force Ghosts – especially in the sequel trilogy. You could argue that Harry Potter is no different, but whenever we do see ghosts, it’s usually essential to the story.
3. More Emotion
It’s no mystery that movies have different impacts on different people. And while we’re not suggesting that every Star Wars movie lacks emotion, it’s still something that has troubled the franchise for some time. You might not agree, but as we’re comparing Star Wars with Harry Potter, we think there are some areas for improvement on the faraway galaxy front!
With that said, there are examples of Star Wars giving us the feels, with the likes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian Season 2 finale being strong contenders. But for the most part, it’s the movies that struggle. A great example is The Rise of Skywalker, whose trailer was so epic and moving it brought fans to tears, but the end result was a movie devoid of any emotion.
The Harry Potter series, however, is an emotionally-driven story, and we think this has a lot to do with the fact that the characters who inhabit the Wizarding World feel like real and grounded people. In the latest Star Wars movies – especially the sequel trilogy and prequel trilogy – writing, dialogue, and direction leave some characters feeling very one-note and impossible to relate to.
2. Direction and Solid Writing
Most fans would agree that the Star Wars sequel trilogy suffered from a lack of direction and solid writing. As such, this led to the films – mainly The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker – facing a whirlwind of backlash from fans and critics. What we love about Harry Potter is the fact that a roadmap was laid out from the get-go – even if it started out as a series of books.
J. K. Rowling had a clear vision of where she wanted the story of Harry Potter to go, and you only need to read the books – or even watch the movies – to see how tightly woven the whole thing is, and how ingenious all of its intricacies are. There isn’t a stone that’s left unturned in the series, and it’s thrilling to live the journey from start to finish, knowing that there’s a solid end in sight.
It’s a shame that the sequel trilogy has, for many people, dragged down the franchise. But it’s not too late to learn how to avoid these mistakes for future movies. We’d love to see a new series of Star Wars movies, whether it has three, eight, or even twenty-something entries like the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Much like the Jedi, Disney and Lucasfilm need to exercise a bit of patience!
1. A Bit More Magic
Watching Harry discover the Wizarding World for the first time is a truly magical experience. And even his peers – many of whom are from wizarding families and have therefore grown up around magic – are often awe-struck by new spells or fantastic beasts. So why is it that no one in Star Wars seems to care that much that they live and travel among the stars?!
There’s an argument to be made that the people who inhabit the faraway galaxy have always lived there, so why should it feel special to them? On the other hand, all we’ve ever known is Earth, yet we’re still fascinated by different destinations, wildlife, and natural wonders. So why aren’t any of the Star Wars characters captivated by the different planets they end up visiting?
With that said, this is touched upon in A New Hope, in which Luke wishes to become a starfighter and see the galaxy. And these themes are echoed in The Force Awakens with Rey, who has only ever known Jakku – she is awestruck when she sees greenery for the first time. Nevertheless, it would be great to see Star Wars characters chew the scenery a bit more!
What do you think Star Wars could learn from Harry Potter?