George Lucas should be in the middle of a well-deserved victory lap right now.

The creator of the “Star Wars” empire is doing press presumably on behalf of the seventh film in the series, “The Force Awakens.” Yet the tone of his comments, and the headlines from his new Q&As, reveal something more melancholy than an artist raising his fists in triumph.

The Lucas interviews sound deflated, defeated even. Is this any way for a man who scored a $4 billion deal in 2012 to sell the franchise to sound?

So, what have we learned in recent weeks?

  • Lucas, the maestro of digital filmmaking, hasn’t gone online in 15 years. Why? In part, so he could avoid criticism of his “Star Wars” films.
  • Lucas’ treatment for a seventh “Star Wars” film wasn’t embraced by Disney, which now oversees the space saga.
  • The filmmaker compares the current situation between his former film franchise as a divorce. He’ll go along, and play along, but it’s bitter all the same.
  • What one “Star Wars” character would he like to be if given the chance? Jar Jar Binks, Lucas said, the saga’s universally reviled figure showcased in “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.”

Consider the latter point a purposeful stick in the eye to the “Star Wars” faithful. One need only look at “The People vs. George Lucas” to understand why. The 2010 documentary captures the unease “Star Wars” fans have with Lucas in recent years. They’re furious for his tinkering with the original trilogy and, more importantly, delivering three underwhelming prequels.

In short, Lucas brought on much of the problem himself. Had he released the original, untouched “Star Wars” trilogy on Blu-ray, rather than hide them away in favor of his souped-up versions, he would have faced far less acrimony.

He also should have hired different directors to helm the prequels, as he did with the second and third films in the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

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Artists dating back to the dawn of man have drawn some level of scrutiny about their work. It comes with the gig, and even the giants in their respective fields faced their critics.

The huzzahs for Lucas’ faux empire far exceed the brickbats. What other filmmaker can say their product has engulfed a culture for more than three decades? Walk through any schoolyard today and you’ll see tiny homages to Chewbacca, Darth Vader and other “Star Wars” characters via their backpacks, notebooks and jackets. Every mall in America this month teems with “Star Wars” merchandise, lovingly displayed for kids compiling their Christmas lists.

Lucas built that.

What a shame he can’t revel in his achievements, especially at at time when “Star Wars” is consuming our culture all over again.

photo credit: George Lucas | Red Tails | Lucas Films via photopin (license)