Let's talk about Star Wars
I fu.. freakin' love Star Wars. It is what started my love of both Sci-Fi and Fantasy, being both genres in one. Thanks to my older brother I came into a household where Star Wars was already ever present, leading to my claims that I have been a fan since birth.
I recently celebrated my 39th birthday with a small gathering of friends. At which I played a game of the X-Wing Miniatures Game with my good friend Chris. I've had a collection of the models for some years and have played the odd game here and there but never had much opportunity to play regularly. Chris had never played and was eager to. So we dug out my collection and played a quick game, making a complete hash of rules but having a great time in the process. This one game threw fuel on my Star Wars fire and I have been doing nothing but consuming Star Wars content since, whilst also updating my X-Wing game collection to the current Second Edition and learning all the new rules. (I even watched some of the World Championships from 2019 and decided I have absolutely no desire to get that deep into it.
So, like I say, I have just been living the Star Wars life, binging the movies (even those ones). Revisiting classic video games and current ones, trying to pick one to replay, from the X-Wing series, to the more recent Jedi: Fallen Order*, as well as Empire at War and Knights of the Old Republic.
I got to thinking about the current state of Star Wars, since the Disney takeover. We are getting so much more Star Wars content and admittedly it's all a bit hit and miss. Rogue One is still the best of the new generation of movies and I'll not go into depth on any of the others here, and that is what I want to talk about.
Many things have been said about the recent swathe of Star Wars releases since The Force Awakens in 2015, and a lot of people like to complain and criticise, admittedly I've been one of them. However, I've decided to stop that. Was I disappointed with the new movies and series? Yes, very much so. They didn't live up to my expectations and were far from perfect in their execution. But people other than me have enjoyed them, and love them, and who am I to say they're wrong. Their Star Wars experience is different to mine and they get something different from it than I do. This is where I had a realisation how it's all about a choice.
I'm a child of the Expanded Universe (EU), which I recently learned has been redubbed "Legends." If names such as Corran Horn, Kyle Katarn, Mara Jade and Dash Rendar, among others, are familiar to you then you know what I'm talking about, and are probably right there with me. The EU set my standards for what I expected from a series of sequels, and the root of my disappointment in the new films is partially down to the fact little to nothing was taken from the EU.
And I do find this annoying.
The EU is mainly rooted in the novels that were released throughout the 90s and 00s starting with Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, and developed into a massive collaboration between writers, ensuring there was a continuity between all the novels, regardless of who wrote them. This continued into comics and video games as well as other media, developing an established and accepted canon. Which was then shat all over by the film makers, starting with Attack of the Clones, where they changed the origin of the Death Star design. (In the EU a man named Bevel Lemelisk designed the Death Star, but in Attack of the Clones it was the Geonosians).
Okay, I know I said I'd decided to stop being critical and complaining about the new movies etc, but this is something that majorly irks me. Two decades of hard, dedicated work by a multitude of writers all working together, was ignored and rendered null and void. Not even acknowledged or represented in any way in any of the new movies. Now I'm not saying they should have made direct adaptations of the novels (although I wouldn't have complained), but at the bare minimum make movies that work in conjunction and keep the already established canon intact, not erase it and negate the years of work people have put into those stories. This is the only thing I will continue to be critical and vocal about. I can forgive a movie being poorly executed, even badly written or generally unenjoyable. In which case I can simply choose to not watch it again.
There is a rabid fandom out there that feel a level of activism is necessary when they don't like something, rather than simply choosing to not give their time to it again and let those that do enjoy it, do so. (Recently appalled to find that a large number of so called fans led a campaign to get the new Obi Wan Kenobi series cancelled by bombarding Metacritic with negative reviews out of nothing but spite and bitterness).
I'll not complain about the quality of the films or their execution, but I will be vocal about the lack of respect shown toward the writers and creators of the Expanded Universe.
Thankfully there are some small elements of the EU that have made it into the current media, but mainly animated series such as Rebels' inclusion of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
The Special Editions of the original trilogy, released in the 90s, added an easter egg of Dash Rendar's ship The Outrider in a blink and you'll miss it shot.
The elements of the EU that have made it into the movies have been minimal and barely notable. In the new trilogy they are non existent (although I will concede there are some small details that could be attributed to the EU, but I think these are more a coincidence than anything).
Rogue One is an exception, a movie that doesn't contradict the EU and sits within it easily.
This brings me to the choice I mentioned earlier. That choice being I can, like anyone, enjoy Star Wars in my own way. I had, admittedly, let the new films sour my enjoyment of the EU, feeling that it had been rendered obsolete, but I realise that was foolish. The Expanded Universe will always be my canon, and there is nothing to stop me from continuing to treat it as such. Look on Star Wars as now having alternate timelines maybe. Either way, I can choose to accept and enjoy the storylines that I want to. Because that is what something like Star Wars is meant for - to be enjoyed, not continually focusing on what we dislike about it. There's enough negativity in the world as it is (the internet has a lot to answer for.
So I'm now re-reading the first book in the X-Wing series "Rogue Squadron" by Michael A. Stackpole. What a book! What a series! I'll play more and more X-Wing Miniatures Game, which joyfully caters to the Expanded Universe in great detail and I think I'm going to spend the rest of today playing Star Wars video games.
*Bonus Travis Willingham points.