Star Wars and the Weight of Success

Got too many racks on me/I can't even go to sleep/Just to get em out V.I.P/I'ma need to see I.D. (I don't trust you)/I'm suffering (I'm suf-suf-suffering)/I'm suf-suf-suffering, I'm suf-suf-suffering)/I'm suffering from success (I'm suf-suf-suffering)/I'm suf-suf-suffering, I'm suf-suf-suffering)/I'm suffering from success/ - Future and DJ Khaled, "Suffering From Success"



On this May The Fourth and Revenge Of The Fifth, it feels strange not to do something related to Star Wars. I've been a fan of the franchise since the Special Edition VHS tapes way back in 1997 and I've seen all the movies since. From the highs (Genndy Tartakovsky's Star Wars: Clone Wars in 2003!) to the lows (the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie from 2008...), I've still seen the movies, I've even dressed up as a character. I've always enjoyed the universe building of the saga, which is why I was so disappointed with the tired, formulaic approach Disney has had since 2012. This is partly a rewrite but much more of a restructuring, as there's a lot of ideas that work, but are in the wrong places.

 

To begin with, I think holding back on Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the best start. George Lucas was working on a Han Solo feature film in 2012, but writer Lawrence Kasdan was shifted to Star Wars: Episode VII. I imagine Solo being a weekly show in the vein of Marvel's Agents Of Shield. Watching the movie for the first time, it feels like a long TV pilot, not really a feature film worth $12-15. One of the major complaints with Solo is how lead Alden Ehrenreich didn't seem to fit into the role, with more seasoned actors like Woody Harrelson, Emelia Clarke and Donald Glover garnering more praise for their performances. But this isn't fair to me, two hours isn't nearly enough time to establish yourself as a character, much less a icon. Harrison Ford had three movies in order to make himself a legend, setting an impossibly high bar for any possible followers. Completely changing the game and giving Ehrenreich a chance to make his own mark would only help the cultural impact of Star Wars, the first generation of Star Wars putting Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford on the map, the second generation of Star Wars putting Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor in the mainstream. The third generation of Star Wars hasn't quite had the same impact, mostly because the latest saga has only ended in the last year and it takes longer than six months to see the ripples and reactions through time. It's widely accepted Solo takes place ten years before A New Hope. Ten years is fertile ground for a TV series, especially considering Agents Of Shield has gone on for seven years. We've seen the gritty space western that is The Mandalorian develop a side to the universe we don't see very often, and Solo could've preceded this.


Similar to Solo, I think the medium of Rogue One is incorrect. Star Wars: Battlefront was released in 2015 and Rogue One was released in 2016, meaning the development overlapped. To be clear, I like Rogue One. The casting was great, the universe was compelling, it was something I'd never seen from Star Wars before but it feels unnecessary, a cool story that doesn't change much. On the flip side, Battlefront was painfully lacking a single-player campaign, which Rogue One fulfills in spades. Each character is essentially a archetype of modern shooters: Jyn Erso is the heroic leader, a perfect player-character. Cassian Andor easily translates to a spy who can perform stealth and hacking sections. Chirrut Imwe, a Force-powered, non-Jedi warrior plays as a melee character with a very unique move set. Bodhi Rook plays well as a pilot for vehicle missions. Another chance to take the lead on licensed story-based games, which they ended up doing in 2019 through Jedi: Fallen Order.


The interactive aspect of Lucasfilm has always been lacking, with the incredible movies universe underserved in my opinion. We've had Battlefront and Knights Of The Old Republic, but aside from that, most Star Wars games have been cult classics, like Episode I: Racer or Republic Commando. It's hard to tell which class 1313 would have fallen into, but the fact an open-world crime game set in the Underworld of Star Wars never happened was very telling of the direction Disney would take. Playing as Boba Fett in the same time as the aforementioned Solo makes for a very unique dialogue and comparison between two opposing men on the same side of the law. If these three properties are released, judging by the time it took to develop The Mandalorian and the games that were released, we could see a timeline looking much like this:


2013 - Star Wars: 1313 (Video game)

2014 - Solo (TV series)

2015 - Star Wars: Battlefront (Video game)

2016 - Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (Movie)

2017 - Star Wars: Battlefront II (Video game)

2018 - Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (Movie)

2019 - The Mandalorian (TV series)

Jedi: Fallen Order (Video game)

2020 - Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise Of Skywalker (Movie)


This timeline doesn't include the animated series The Clone Wars, which ended last night. It began in 2008 pre-Disney, ending after a troubled final act twelve years later. This timeline fits very well as a tidy seven-year plan, leaving space for sequels and franchises. I only used properties that already existed rather than fantasy booking new ideas. By restructuring the time, it allows franchises to breathe, not crowding what should be massive events: a new Star Wars movie. By diversifying their approaches to their universe, Disney and Lucasfilm could've added depth to their universe rather than drying up the well.

 

The Sequel Trilogy, much like the Prequel Trilogy, was an impossible task. Trying to follow up the groundbreaking art that defined an entire generation's picture of science fiction would never measure up. But it didn't have to. One of the issues I have with the newer movies is that it rehashes the original, often in ways that don't make sense. By making the movies another version of the classics, they overlook history. If the Original Trilogy is the American Revolution, that would make the Prequel Trilogy the Intolerable Acts leading up to the war. Which leaves us with the Sequel Trilogy, which should have been their War Of 1812. These movies shouldn't be rehashing prior events, but act as the first major conflict for a young republic. Unfortunately, this is impossible considering Disney's view on the canonical status of the previous stories. Rather than going along the lines of "this is a reimagining of the stories we never had the chance to tell", Disney essentially said "ALLTHESTORIESYOULOVEAREDEAD". Telling a story that places the heroes as insecure leaders facing down the demons of their past, such as Prince Xizor or Grand Admiral Thrawn tells a more mature story that allows your icons to age gracefully along the future legends they're mentoring.


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