by Daniel Dennis
It is a huge joy to be a Star Wars fan at the moment; the amount of time and money that Disney seems to have invested into the franchise to ensure it’s never out of the global conscious is commendable. With the latest releases, shelves at comic book stores overflowing with the latest Star Wars stories every week, a brand-new book exploring the different time eras every few months, and another movie installment annually, there has been a saturation in the market which hasn’t really been seen before. Whilst most argue that for fans, the only thing better than Star Wars is more Star Wars, these multiple avenues have already started to create confusion in the fan base on topics concerning canon and important plots that aren’t in the movies. So, with all of these avenues for distribution, is the Star Wars brand being strengthened or weakened?
Firstly, I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to eating up all things Star Wars. I love the comics, I’m a sucker for the games and reading the books is always a great way to spend free time. These stories are helping flesh out a universe that is as large as it is enticing; the Force, space battles, and lightsabers are only a small part of this home to scruffy looking nerf-herders, soldiers, bounty hunters, Mendo and moisture farmers. Every new story is a chance to be introduced to your next favorite character and an opportunity for the creators to flesh out the backstory or finish off the story of a previously introduced character. I have a fondness for the new Marvel Star Wars comics as they finally explained how exactly the Empire came to know that it was Vader’s son who had destroyed the Death Star. The moment when Boba Fett delivered the news to the sinister Sith Lord was gut-wrenching if only for the fact that it helped plant the seeds in Vader’s mind that The Emperor lies; he had told him that his children had not survived but yet there is proof that this was not the case. Did this seed of doubt help him make the decision to throw The Emperor down the shaft? Probably. It’s moments like this that help justify the constant expansion of the universe as they tend to provide deeper meanings to the stories that came before.
With the rapid rate at which the story of Star Wars is growing, is it possible to keep George Lucas’s creation under control? Due to the swiftness that stories are being pumped out, is the new canon any better than the last? When Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars back in 2012, they decided to scrap most of the old stories, as it provided too much confusion and was preventing casual fans from jumping in due to a lack of clear point of entry. At the time of the wipe, a lot of fans were upset that with the purging of the old EU as they were losing fan favorites like Thrawn and Darth Bane, along with countless other heroes and villains. Since then, Disney has implemented their story group to ensure that everyone who is working on a Star Wars property knows what everyone else is doing and that when a character is used, it’s not contradicting any other stories. This appears to have eliminated most of the problems that Star Wars had faced previously, but it doesn’t seem to have addressed the issue of crucial plot points being scattered across different mediums. Due to this, there is still an imbalance within the fandom with those who are getting the whole story about their favourite characters and those who aren’t. This is an issue that the story group needs to fix.
An excellent example of stories being lost throughout the various Star Wars media is the Chosen One plot. This idea was first brought into the cannon during Return of the Jedi, when Yoda implies that Luke is the Chosen One but if he fails, “there is another”. Had the franchise ended with this movie, there would be no doubt on who exactly was the one that was prophesied. However, in 1999, George Lucas decided to shake things up a bit by revealing that a young Darth Vader was in fact the Chosen One. A decision that can be best described with the following Douglas Adams quote, “this made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move”.
This has remained a point of contention for fans ever since; a line in the sand over Team Luke and Team Anakin (insert “I hate sand” joke here). There have been great points made for both; through Luke’s actions, Vader decided to destroy The Emperor and himself; or that technically Vader was the one who brought balance by destroying the Sith.
Whilst fans can choose for themselves, the story that provides us with the most clarity is in Dave Filoni’s The Clone Wars. If you’re reading this, there’s already a good chance you know about the Mortis arc (if not, DarthBoylan wrote about the arc just the other day); it’s a 60 minute story where Anakin is specifically referred to as the Chosen One by the Father (aka the being that brings balance to the Force) and then asks Anakin to take over as he is dying. Taking it one step further, the Son (dark side of the Force manifestation) shows Anakin what he becomes, but the Father then wipes his memory on the argument that Anakin needs to become Vader in order to bring balance to the Force.
To muddy the waters further, in the recent Rebels episode, “Twin Suns,” Obi-Wan states that Luke was the Chosen One. After that aired, Pablo Hidalgo tweeted out that just because Old Ben believes it, doesn’t necessarily make it true. The identity of the Chosen One is arguably a very important part of the Star Wars canon and yet it’s buried in the middle of a television show that isn’t really watched by the causal Star Wars fan; to them it’s still a confusing mess that’s never been cleared up and is just another great disappointment in George Lucas’s inconsistencies. Deciding where to release stories is a big role for the story group but deciding on the significance of the stories should be an even bigger part. The EU has always succeeded in telling fun, new stories that don’t cause any major changes on the movie canon but when parts of the story are going to have a huge effect on the franchise, maybe hiding it in a medium for super fans isn’t the best idea.
The multiple avenues has allowed Lucasfilm to experiment with the stories they tell, though. Back in 2012, Darth Maul came back to life- robotic spider legs and all. This was something that never would have happened in the movies, as he was last seen falling into a pit after being split in half. Granted, the explanation of how he survived (the lightsaber cauterized the wounds as it sliced him) was a bit of a stretch. However, if it meant we got to see him take over Mandalore, fight The Emperor and eventually meet his end on Tatooine, it was definitely worth it. All throughout The Clone Wars we got to learn more about the clones and what it meant to fight for people who only ever saw you as disposable. It showed that they were just as human and deserving of life despite the way they came into creation. In the comics, we’ve been introduced to Doctor Aphra, an Indiana Jones-esque character who helps Darth Vader on a variety of tasks and has now branched into her own series. We also got the heartbreaking limited-run that was Lando, which gave us the origin of Lobot and some of the tensest scenes in the franchise until the final five minutes of Rogue One happened. This is what the EU has been good for; fleshing out and making the galaxy far, far away seem a little bit closer to home. It shows that this isn’t just a place for heroes and villains but a place for people just trying to make a living and get by, despite who’s in charge. It’s fleshing out the characters we already know, establishing new ones that we’re yet to discover, and experimenting with stories that may not fly when you’re spending $306 million to make a movie that needs to be a hit.
Whilst the multiple mediums have led to confusion among st the fans and isn’t the most succinct way of telling a story, it’s still telling a story that people are going to enjoy. By expanding the Star Wars experience past the screens and into books, games, and TV shows, the fans now have the option to allow even more Star Wars into their life. They can pick and choose the stuff they want to take in or just be happy with the Skywalker Saga. At the end of the day, the EU and all the mediums it encompasses, even though it may be messy, is just more Star Wars, and, like I said earlier, what could be wrong with that?