Ask anyone what they thought triggered The Beatles’ downward turn and most will universally refer to Yoko Ono’s influence over John Lennon. Even the band Barenaked Ladies sang about Yoko “breakin’ up The Beatles.” Now, turn to Star Wars. Many question just what happened to George Lucas creatively for Star Wars to seemingly take such divisive turn with the prequel trilogy. It turns out that George Lucas may have had his own reverse Yoko. It wasn’t the influence of Marcia Lucas that affected the franchise, but rather the lack of it.

Maria Lucas
George and Maria Lucas work on the Star Wars Original Trilogy. (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Reelz recently aired the documentary Star Wars: Behind Closed Doors again, to fans’ delight. For two hours the programs dives deeply into the Star Wars franchise and what transpired behind the scenes. Much of the content we’ve already known or seen. But… it did reveal something interesting about George Lucas. Importantly, it also sheds some light on why the prequel trilogy seemed such a departure from the original trilogy. Marcia Lucas was right at the center of it.

Marcia Lucas responsible for George Lucas losing focus?

One thing the documentary reveals is the influence that Marcia Lucas, first wife to George Lucas, had over the father of Star Wars. She is a talented film editor, and was part of the editing crew for the original trilogy. Others in the documentary described her as George’s sounding board. Often Marcia would tell George what didn’t work, or questioned why he did certain things. Though her influence was significant, it was also subtle. She never directly steered Lucas to an end, but guided him towards finding his own way. That all ended in 1983.

Jar Jar Binks; George Lucas; Lucas prequels; Marcia Lucas
Was Marcia Lucas’ departure to blame for Jar Jar? (Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

Marcia unexpectedly left George Lucas after the release of Return of the Jedi. Creatively, George Lucas lost that grounding force that perhaps kept Star Wars relatable in story and scope. Without Marcia Lucas to reel George in, we got Jar Jar Binks, excessive use of CGI and often insulting and offensive racial stereotypes. For many, Episode I: The Phantom Menace was the beginning of George Lucas’, and Star Wars’ decline.

Perhaps it’s not coincidental that criticism of Star Wars began to grow following Marcia’s departure from the franchise. What do you think?