An incredibly gifted and imaginative man, who caught lightning in a bottle with the original Star Wars, thanks to his own gifts and those of a fantastically talented team of people around him, who largely remained with him for Empire, and it shows. He's a brilliant filmmaker, but by all accounts not such a great director of people. It has been said of him that his ideal cast would be entirely CGI so that he doesn't have to work with any actual actors, and stories abound about his on-set direction (e.g. 'Do it again, only better', etc.
Lucas didn't make very much money from A New Hope as a film, but having been given the merchandising rights by an astonishingly short-sighted Twentieth Century Fox (who regarded them as worthless!) as part of a deal when he went to them and asked for a larger director's fee for making ANH, he made enough millions to fund TESB himself. And it was from Empire and the related merchandising that his wealth really skyrocketed. Famously, one of the most talented team members that had surrounded George on ANH and TESB, producer Gary Kurtz, parted company with him prior to Return of the Jedi, because, so some people say, George started to allow merchandising concerns (that's TOYS, to you and me; the reason this Forum exists!
) to adversely affect the script and direction of Jedi. Most people seem to agree that Jedi is not the equal of ANH or Empire, so perhaps there is some truth (and perhaps quite a lot) in this.
By the end of Jedi, George was ready to call it a day on Star Wars for the time being. He'd changed his mind numerous times down the years regarding how many episodes there were ultimately going to be in the entire saga (12, 9 and 6 have all been stated at various times), however one thing he has been consistent on is that he was not able to include everything he wanted to into the Original Trilogy due to the limitations of the technology. To pick just two examples, George wanted a working Dewback in Star Wars and a Wampa attack on Echo Base in Empire, but neither of these could be pulled off successfully with the technology of the day. Many people consider the OT to be all the better for George NOT being able to put everything he wanted to on screen, and that instead creative alternatives and script amendments had to be used which improved the films.
George's vision for the original three Star Wars films may have been constrained by the technological limitations of the day, but when he decided that the technology had finally caught up with what he wanted to do, he promptly made the Special Editions in 1997 and included many of the things he still wanted to (although wisely still omitted the Wampa Attack), much to the annoyance of many fans who liked the films the way they were. He then followed them up two years later with The Phantom Menace and the start of the prequel trilogy. With TPM, since he was once again paying for the whole thing out of his own pocket, he was able to call all the shots and make the film that he personally wanted to see, complete with many a merchandising opportunity to boot. Given he knew what he wanted, he quite understandably surrounded himself with 'Yes' men like the talented producer Rick McCallum, who helped bring George's exact vision to the screen. George made TPM and the other prequels largely the way he wanted them to be. I don't doubt the amount of Jar Jar was drastically cut back in AOTC and ROTS due to the enormous backlash over the character following TPM, and doubtless there will have been other 'forced' changes for one reason or another, but in most respects the films George made were the ones he wanted to make. They were therefore made primarily for him, not the fans, and I can actually respect that; it was his money paying for it, so why the hell shouldn't he make the films he wanted to see? The fact that many fans of the original trilogy didn't much care for them (at least in comparison to the OT) is neither here nor there. George made the films he wanted to see.
However, I believe the backlash that the prequels generated definitely affected him. They were clearly not loved as much as the Original Trilogy, and it must have been hard not to take the vociferous criticism of a million fanboys personally. True, he didn't help himself by constantly revising the OT with each subsequent video, DVD and blu-ray release whilst simultaneously refusing to allow the original unaltered trilogy to be released on blu-ray alongside them, but the criticism must have taken its toll, and was one of the reasons I believe why ultimately he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.
I think it would have been very interesting to see what the prequels would have looked like if George had been constrained in his ambitions for them in the same way that he had been with the OT, and especially if he had wise voices of reason like Gary Kurtz advising him throughout the process. Personally, I think the films made would probably have been a lot better if that had happened (and for the record, I don't hate the prequels [although obviously I hate Jar Jar], but I certainly don't love them either, certainly not in the way I love the OT).
And of course to bring us bang up to date, when George sold Lucasfilm to Disney, he also gave them his scripts for the sequel trilogy, and those are films I would LOVE to see! With George no longer at the helm, he would not have total creative control over them, and hence other voices could have offered their input and restrained the worst script excesses, if any, whilst keeping George's story and ultimate vision; the best of both worlds in other words. Instead, sadly Disney decided to largely throw away George's scripts and start over, and gave us The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, and those films certainly aren't what George had in mind whatever else you might think of them (personally, I think TFA was a reasonably good retread of much we had already seen, with some ridiculous and ill-conceived moments and some serious and inexcusable flaws, but also a tremendous amount of potential, and TLJ a dreadful, ludicrous, canon-breaking insult that not only killed dead all of TFA's potential, but also all-but killed the new Disney 'Episodes' for me full stop... but hey, each to their own).
In summary, George Lucas is a genius to whom each and every one of us on this Forum owes an enormous debt of gratitude. I don't owe him any more money though. He's had quite enough of mine over the years already