Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Future of Star Wars

Perhaps my twitter feed reflects the greatest selection bias in my life as it became instantly obsessed with the next Star Wars movie(s) with Disney's purchase of Lucasfilms.  Of course, Howard the Duck 2 jokes also occurred, but now I have to ponder the American Graffiti remakes or do I?  Hmm.

Anyway, the discussion online focused mostly on which parts of the expanded universe canon would provide the stories for the new movies: the stuff that happens long, long ago, hundreds if not thousands of years before the Skywalkers that we have come to know and love or hate; the stuff that happens before, during, after the prequels (a reboot would be lovely, yes?); the stuff immediately after Return of the Jedi; or the stuff that happens after that.

Alyssa Rosenberg reviews some of the possibilities, arguing that the Thrawn trilogy would be best, that Rogue Squadron would be second best (with her so far), the Yuuzhan Vong would be good too (wrong); Legacy of the Force would be fine (ick), and the various non-series would be of mixed value. 

Ok, spoilers below if you have not read the books:

The Timothy Zahn series and sequels featuring Luke, Han and Leia, and new characters such as the very smart and very blue Admiral Thrawn, the amazing Mara Jade, and the others is clearly the best series with the best spirit of SW.  Sure, no one major dies, but that is not a bad thing.  Not as dark as some of the others, but who needs darkness for the sake of darkness.  Yes, Empire was the darkest and best, but that is because it had the best mix--"I love you ... I know", a good betrayal by Lando, Yoda, and all the rest.  It was not great because it was dark, it was great and it was dark.

The Rogue squadron stuff was a fun series, but perhaps not quite the focused epic of central characters with conflicting missions.  I also didn't find the bad guy in this to be all that interesting.  But the books were still pretty fun and could be mined for some good stuff.

Yuuzhan Vong, the luddites of the galaxy?  Yuck cubed.  In this series, not only did the enemy really suck in terms of complex characterization (they were nasty folks who hated tech--big whoop) but the series started by killing Chewie!!!  And then it killed the youngest child of Han and Leia--Anakin.  For what?  The books were just not that interesting, and it really did not have quite the same feel as Star Wars. 

Legacy of the Force?  I stopped reading a few books in.  I just got tired as the Jason Solo (son of Han and Leia) got pulled into unrecognizable directions.  I just didn't have any interest.

Some of the side books are interesting, but hard to do much with beyond a one-off movie.

I also did not read too many of the books that go way back in time. 

What would I really want is a re-boot of the prequels.  They can be good, they can be faithful to the original three.  Or we could get a post-Return series, Zahn-ed or not about the challenges of building a new political order and new Jedi collection.

The key is that interesting times lay ahead.  Disney has done good stuff with Marvel and with Pixar.  I hope they do as well with Star Wars.

"Don't tell me the odds."

1 comment:

Dale Smith said...

I'm less optimistic about Disney, but I've been down on them for years.

That said, I'm not sure the Thrawn books would be doable using the original cast unless they did it animated, "The Clone Wars" style, and I'm not sure how much the fans would stomach a re-casting. The X-Wing series was a fun read, but I'm not sure how well it would translate to film because the scope would be too far-ranging for the limited scope needed for a film script. I've only read the first couple of Vong books and haven't yet read the Legacy series (I'll get to them next year).

That said, I would much prefer something that explores the universe outside of the Skywalker dynasty - there's some 25000 years of Old Republic history to mine that could be more effectively mined. The "Knights of the Old Republic" comics could be really great on screen, IMO.