This is very likely the ultimate art versus commerce argument. Whenever Art battles commerce in a capitalist society…commerce wins. I am not sure if I am alright with that but it is starting to look like Disney aka The Mouse is running astray with its new Star Wars films, books, and Universe.
I am not saying that Episode 7 is going to be a bad movie. I have no idea what kind of movie it is going to be. However after reading the first book in the new Mouse timeline of the Universe everyone my age is a total fanboy for…I have a lot of concerns about where this story is, and even more so of where this story is headed.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. The Mouse already has our money. I will see this film in the theaters. I will take my son to see it, and more than likely I will spend the next few months buying Star Wars stuff for me and for him. I already bought the book, Aftermath: The journey to the Force Awakens (and based on the feedback it gets on Goodreads it does not seem like current Star Wars fans are really embracing this new story). The first page of which is the new Mouse timeline of Star Wars.
It tells me that the six movies, Star Wars the Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and a handful of books are the only things that are still cannon. My problem with that is I have spent much of the last twenty years reading books in what was then known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Let’s but that aside for a moment.
On the commerce side I get why The Mouse didn’t want to include those books in their timeline. Those books have already been sold. Lucas films, or Lucas books or whatever corporate entity that put those books out has already collected the profits on them. The Mouse paid four billion dollars for the Star Wars Universe so I understand the business side of them wanting to create something new, and milk us out of our money. Again, Star Wars is not a tough sell…as much as I may not like it, I will buy the books, see the movies, and buy merchandise.
However, I wonder if the direction they are taking is that great of a business decision.
The main problem I had with the expanded universe, as it dragged on and on, was the heavy reliance on the core characters from the original trilogy. It seems nearly impossible that a group of people could face that many life alerting things in a lifetime. Sure, the Expanded Universe introduced a number of new beloved characters, but at the center of every story, every tale, every threat to the universe was Han Solo, Leia, and Luke Skywalker.
My main problem with the prequel trilogy (beyond that ridiculous Jar Jar) was the inclusion of so many of the characters from the original trilogy. Beyond the fact that they were poorly written, the dialogue was at times awful, and in truth they just were not very good movies. Yet the still made a ton of money and introduced Star Wars to a whole new generation of fans. Commerce at its finest.
I firmly belive that The Mouse bought Star Wars as way to keep fans interested and invested it Mouse products as they grow up. They have a number of films and products that appeal to younger people, and to females, but they did not have a strong product for the teenage fans. So they made an investment, and I get it…they want to hook a whole new generation of fans. Being the parent of one of those they are targeting I already concede that they will get my money.
With all of that being said, I am starting to think that the new age of Star Wars is simply going to be more of the same. I am not convinced that will be good enough for the fans, or that long term it is the right business decision. Of course I am now switching the argument to one of art, but one of art which I truly believe would better serve the fans, which in turn would create the revenue streams that the Mouse is after.
Episode 7 will begin 30 years after the events of Episode 6. Or about the same amount of time that has passed since Episode 6 was in theaters. After reading the first book, and reading about episode 7 at length I think it is clear that in those 30 years, in the Mouse’s Star Wars chronology, we are going to see the failure of the New Republic, Not very surprising given that new governments fail all the time. However, we are going to see some version of the Empire rise from that and be the main antagonist going forward.
I do not think that it is going way out on a limb to say that even causal Star Wars fans have seen this all before.
My argument is why do that? Why give us something we have already seen? There is an entire universe of people, some good some bad, why not create something new? Why not expand the universe to something else? Why not create something unique? I promise if they did the return on their investment would be as good if not greater.
Maybe I am just jaded because i invested so much time and money in the expanded universe of the books. And while there is a lot of good in there, there is also a lot of crap. However, I think there is a way to keep a connection to the written works of that Star Wars universe while giving the Mouse plenty of room to create a newer updated version of this universe.
I think that because the Star Wars Clone Wars TV show is still cannon and that series is littered with references to things that happened in the now Mouse dubbed Star Wars Legends timeline. Most importantly the role of Darth Bane (a character that for the most part is only known to those that read his series of books) and how he constructed the ways of the Sith. If they are going to keep that part of the overall story why can’t they not keep some of the things that happened in the later expanded universe stories?
If it were up to me, I would not have Imperial elements being the main antagonist of the Star Wars universe. I would use the build up books, and comics to set up how the New Republic tried and succeed or failed at restoring Democracy to the Universe. The next trilogy of movies would deal with different themes. Something out side of the Empire and I think the most interesting thing would be how Luke rebuilds the Jedi order. That of course would keep the original characters as part of the story, but introduces new characters for the new generation to grow up with, to love, and to spend their money on. And I am not saying The Mouse’s version of this story is not going to attempt that.
The great thing about this idea is there is already a blueprint for that to happen. And while many Expanded Universe fans want to see Grand Admiral Thrawn to be featured on the big screen I would begin the new era of Star Wars with films based around the Jedi Academy trilogy that was one of the finest series in the expanded universe.
This would accomplish two things. It would serve as a bridge from the movies to the expanded universe where many of the fans are already invested in the story. It would also serve as a way to introduce new characters both good and evil. It would also evolve the story past he Rebellion versus the empire. We have seen the rise of the Empire in the prequel trilogy, we have seen the defeat of the Empire in the original trilogy…is it not time for something else?
For now I am keeping an open mind that these new books and movies will be everything a lifelong Star Wars nerd has wanted…however, I really think the Mouse is leading my favorite fandom in a direction I am not going to enjoy…yet they will still get my money, So does it really matter?