Star Wars. That is all I need to say and most people in the United States instantly think of arguably the single most successful film franchise of all time. Of course depending on your age and Star Wars experience, you could say that it was the most successful before Disney almost ruined Star Wars.
Spoiler Alert: I hate what Disney has done to Star Wars. Yes, I realize Disney owns the world…well both they and Apple do…however that doesn’t mean we have to subscribe to the new “alternate universe” they’ve created.
Why do I say “alternate universe?” For anyone who is my age and a little older, we grew up reading the Expanded Universe novels. We grew up with games like Dark Forces, Jedi Academy, and Shadows of the Empire, just to name a few. The story lines for all of the major characters have changed. If you don’t want to know what has happened through the Episodes VII and VII films, I’d stop reading now.
Here is my humble opinion of what Disney has brought us in the new Star Wars universe and how those of us who are purists can deal with it…
What Disney Got Right
Clearly, they haven’t completely blown apart the Star Wars franchise. I admit that there are a few things they got right with their current set of movies. Again, this will contain spoilers.
1. They brought back the original trilogy cast.
One of the best things they could have done was to bring back Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher. As we know, both Han Solo and Luke Skywalker have made their respective exits from the triology but what remains to be seen is what will happen to Leia. Carrie Fisher’s untimely death changed things drastically for the story line. Rouge One: A Star Wars Story brought us a very lifelike CGI version of Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin has also made an appearance in CGI. Tarkin was portrayed by Peter Cushing in Episode VI: A New Hope but passed away in 1994.
I am by no means advocating for using CGI to resurrect either past stars or to “de-age” current ones (see Rachel in Blade Runner: 2049) but I am curious as to whether or not this will play into any kind of continuation of Leia’s role in Episode IX. The CGI rendition of Princess Leia in Rogue One was both amazing and emotionally-charged as the film had been released shortly after Fisher’s death. It was reported that Fisher knew of the recreation and approved of it wholeheartedly. It was a brief cameo, however, and I don’t believe that a leading role should be purely CGI so it remains to be seen what will happen with Carrie Fisher’s legendary role.
2. Disney hasn’t killed Chewbacca…yet.
Again, spoiler alert! Did you know in the Expanded Universe that Chewie actually dies? Yes, it is true. The lovable Wookie is killed off in the book Star Wars: The New Jedi Order – Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore…a book that was extremely controversial when it was released as no other Expanded Universe (EU) book had ever permanently killed a main character before. Chewie is still figuring prominently in the new films and has been a nice tandem with Rey, Daisy Ridley‘s lead character. I’m thankful they didn’t do away with him as the books did, even though I much prefer the EU timeline. In defense of the EU book, it was set very far into the timeline After the Battle of Yavin (ABY) so it isn’t like it happened right after Episode VI or anything.
In the book, Chewbacca dies saving the life of Han’s youngest son, Anakin.
3. They kept the humor.
While the stories of Star Wars can be pretty serious (Episodes III, V in particular) humor is always something to be counted on in the galaxy far, far away. It is said that Carrie Fisher herself helped to script much of the humor in newest films. Of course she did, she was known as one of Hollywood’s premier script doctors!
You could always rely on any of the Star Wars films to have a tension-relieving one-liner or a just plain silly part to get some laughs. It is part of what makes these films ageless and appropriate for all ages!
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
After The Force Awakens came out, some fans weren’t too happy. Then along came Rogue One and it surprised a lot of people. Me included! I was amazed at how well it stood apart from the series but also fit in so well. For anyone who doesn’t like Episodes I-III, you can begin with Rogue One and go right into A New Hope seamlessly. They really got this film right. Perhaps knowing it was a “one off” story helped everyone get into it, I don’t know. What I do know is that it is the perfect precursor to Episode IV.
What Disney Got Wrong
Below are a few things that I, and many other Star Wars fans, have seen as failures in the new movies or major departures from the established Expanded Universe…spoilers ahead.
1. They killed Han Solo.
Actually I’ll say more. Full disclosure, he is by far my favorite character aside from Leia. In the EU, Han is not killed by his son. In fact, Han and Leia get married and have three children, all of whom become Jedi themselves.
I’m not sure why the filmmakers decided to go this route or whose idea it was. All I know is that I almost didn’t come back to see The Last Jedi because of it. Maybe Harrison Ford wanted to be done with the role, totally possible. Whatever the reason is, it is one of the main catalysts behind my adhering to the EU. Besides, its just plain weird to see someone else piloting the Millennium Falcon.
I’m wondering if the latest film to be released, Solo: A Star Wars Story, is to placate fans like me. I haven’t seen it yet myself but I’ve heard good things so I’ll reserve judgement.
2. Han and Leia do not end up together.
I’m sure you’re thinking “well obviously because Han died.” No, that isn’t why. In the latest films, it is clear that Han and Leia were together but separated for various reasons. Throughout the original trilogy, Han and Leia were the only love story we had and it was a good one…despite George Lucas’s inability to write a decent love story for Episodes I-III. The smuggler and princess had defeated the Empire and survived separation by carbonite– didn’t they deserve to be together? The authors of the EU books agreed and in The Courtship of Princess Leia (by Dave Wolverton), Han and Leia do indeed tie the knot.
You know what I think? Nerf-herder!
3. Luke Skywalker is dead.
In Episode VIII, Luke Skywalker makes his exit. While an epic end, it is another drastic departure from the timeline built by the Expanded Universe. In the EU, Skywalker is tantamount in the rebuilding of the Jedi Order. With him gone now from the story, I’m unsure of where they plan to go from here. I suppose maybe that is why Episode VIII is called The Last Jedi.
Whatever the reason, and I guess I can see that with the cast being the age that they are, it was inevitable at some point. It makes me wish they had created a new story line without the original cast to spare us from having to kill them all off. Did you know that Luke gets married in the books and actually has a life? Yep. Something else we’re missing here!
4. Too many attempts at humor.
Yes, I know. Above I said I liked that about Star Wars. But too much of a good thing is a bad thing. I felt that there were too many cheap laughs and too much goofiness forced on the audience. This was especially evident in The Last Jedi when fans and critics did not see eye to eye on the film, especially in the area of comedy.
Many, including myself, felt that they had started to depart from making at Star Wars movie and were trying to be too funny at the expense of overall quality.
I don’t like where Star Wars is going…what can I do?
Thankfully, all of the Expanded Universe books, games, etc. are still available and in print. LucasArts made a plethora of video games that you can still obtain. Below is what the avid TRUE Star Wars fan can do to keep the original universe alive.
1. Invest in the Legends books.
Star Wars Legends series is what the Expanded Universe is now called. Books like The Han Solo Trilogy, The Thrawn Trilogy, and the X-Wing series are just a very few in a long list of EU books still available and being printed. It is helpful to look at a timeline list if you like to read things in order or if you like a specific period of time in the Star Wars universe.
Most of the Legends books can be found at places like Barnes and Noble but also on Amazon for a cheap $7.99 for a brand new paperback copy. Not bad at all! Do not fear, while the back of the book has the Disney logo on it these books have not been reprinted to fit the current narrative…so they’re the originals in all their glory!
Here are a few of my personal favorites: Darksaber, The Courtship of Princess Leia, The Han Solo Trilogy, Tatoonie Ghost, The Dark Apprentice, Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, and The Truce at Bakura.
2. Buy the old games.
Did you know that a lot of our favorite Star Wars PC games are available to play on our current rigs from Steam? Well they are! Some of them require some tweaking to be able to run them correctly on our “modern” computers but it is worth the effort. Often the games are sold on sale for a package deal so you should be able to pick up more than enough to satisfy your cravings!
If you still own a Nintendo 64 and it still operates, you have some gaming options too! The Battlefront games are being released for Xbox One and PS4 so new material is still coming out. Below are a few of the top games that you can still play either on your computer or on your gaming system:
- Dark Forces and Jedi Knight: Dark Forces 2 (PC)
- These take a little work to get them to run appropriately on your computer but you can find them on Steam for $5.99 a piece.
- Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 (PC/Xbox)
- $9.99 on Steam for each…made by Bioware so Mass Effect fans, you’re in for a treat in ME’s predecessor games!
- Shadows of the Empire (N64)
- You play as Dash Rendar in the time period between Episodes V and VI. Classic third person shooter…watch out for the wampa!
- X-Wing Alliance/X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter (PC)
- Again, can be found on Steam for a nominal price. CLASSIC games!
3. Take each film as they come along, watch the ones you like.
I’m not saying I don’t go to the new movies. I do. But I’ve also learned that I must take each one individually. I may not be completely enjoying the new trilogy but so far I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the anthology films that are coming out. So far, Rogue One and Solo fit nicely into the original and prequel trilogies. Here is the recommended viewing order:
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (my personal favorite)
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
If you’re enjoying the new ones, obviously they’d follow immediately after the original trilogy unless they make additional “Star Wars Story” films in the future. If you hate the prequel trilogy…skip it! Why suffer through Jar Jar Binks or Anakin’s whiny complaining?
As I looked into this further, it became evident that others have done some research on the perfect way to view any and all of the Star Wars films. I had no idea that there was more than just chronological order and release date order available to me…check this out!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that you just need to find what works for you. I know what I like, you might like something a little different. My point is, no matter what kind of Star Wars fan you are, there is something for all of us to enjoy. Stick to the old or embrace the new, maybe a little bit of both. May the Force be with you!