Star Wars is Suffocating!
I am a HUGE Star Wars fanatic. I love it all (well, maybe not the Christmas Special, let’s be real here). But I have noticed that with the recent track on which the Star Wars Universe is headed, there is a foreseeable doom that lies in the near-future, and I am not going to stand by and let it happen without putting in my two cents on how to prevent it.
The Star Wars Universe is dying…again. The first time was because it was really only able to move forward from Episode IV and there’s really so much you can do with rehashing “galactic conquest” over and over. (It was revived with the release of The Phantom Menace.)
While the first time was due to lack of fuel to drive stories forward, this time, the universe is suffocating, being smothered by new content that doesn’t necessarily expand the universe. Now, new stories are only contained within the timeline of the movies, and/or with the intention of tying into the upcoming movies. Although it’s fine now, there’s only so much space in between the movies to stuff new content into.
I have concluded that there are two reasons for this: #1 being a story-based reason for the lack of flexibility of expansion, and #2 being a reality-based issue:
#1 George Lucas wrote the prequels into a corner. Now, from the standpoint of “this is supposed to be an epic space opera”, that’s fine. I don’t think he wanted to expand the canon past Anakin. But Star Wars has grown much bigger than that.
Unfortunately for those who want a large ever-expanding universe, a bunch of poor choices were made that clotheslined retroactive growth, in terms of expanding the past. Here are a few of them:
The Clone Wars spanned across the galaxy, making everyone and everything directly involved.
The Jedi order has 2 major holes: A) The age at which they can be accepted, and B) The “Jedi forbid love” rule. Fortunately, this can be fixed, as I will expand on later.
The Sith “Rule of Two”. Again, we can fix this and I will expand on that too. The Sith are the only villains that pose a threat to the galaxy as a whole and the Jedi. Yes, there used to be more than two, but we need new villains so we can have new story lines (and new toys!)
Recycled characters and plot points. There’s always a low-class planet, a young prodigy, a droid, and a rogue. They always fight bounty hunters, and always oppose a huge government. Now, I know that Star Wars is a “Space-Western”, but there’s got to be new themes and archetypes to explore. Yeah, I am aware of the “Ring Theory”, but that only applied to the episodic movies.
…I think four points are enough.
#2 When Disney bought Star Wars they erased the existing canon. For better or worse, it created a huge vacuum in content. Disney essentially has all of the movies, between-episode parts, and future on lockdown, because they are working on expanding those, specifically with Rebels and the upcoming Rogue One movie (and future upcoming movies).
The only way “3rd party content”/ “brand-new content” can exist is up until Attack of the Clones. No one wants to expand on Episodes I and II, but why not? I understand that most people don’t particularly want to touch the “prequels” with a ten-foot pole, but why not? Retcon the stuff that people criticize about them. Personally, I want to see the adventures of Qui-gin and Obi-Wan rewritten into canon. But also, why not expand on each of the members of the Jedi Council and their adventures? Or hey, how about an inside look at Palpatine’s rise to power? Between the end of The Phantom Menace, I’m sure there were a lot of attempts to replace Palpatine or discredit him, like politicians now, and it can really highlight how evil and resourceful this “Galactic Emperor” was supposed to be. If you don’t like how George Lucas wrote the prequels, you fix it. He only wrote 5 hours-worth of a handful of plot lines before including the entire galaxy, why not fill in the other stuff to make the entirety of Star Wars more enjoyable for you/others?
*Example of this already working: most criticize the concept of “Clone Wars”, as depicted by Episodes II and III as boring and unengaging (as a viewer not being sympathetic about the lives or deaths of clones). But then the 6-season Clone Wars series came along and introduced us to a bunch of characters that were very engaging. It turned that throw-away scene in Revenge of the Sith between Obi-Wan and Cody into something of actual meaning. The series retconned what it meant for the Jedi to entrust their lives to these clones. (On a side note, I can remember a couple of very humanizing episodes essentially depicting “Clone-Rights” activism). In fact, this initial lack of sympathy to clones was addressed by Yoda in one of the first episodes.
There are a lot of big problems I foresee only a few years down the line. The current timeline (from Episode II to Episode VIII) is just too bloated. Eventually, they’re going to run out of interesting ways the Rebels can combat the Empire (I mean, how many Death Stars is it going to take?).
Do not fear though, because I have a solution! In the form of another list!
(1) Branch out. Why does every new series have to directly tie in to the Original trilogy’s characters? Yes, there are a few expanded stories and a few series of games (I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I know about) where we don’t talk to or hear about anyone tied to the main cast, but not enough. (In the first of the Jedi Knight games, there’s Mon Mothma. Great! Someone who needs expanding! And in the last one, there was Luke, but it was fine there.) It made the universe feel bigger while retaining everything Star Wars.
(2) New Character classes. I’m sick of everyone being a bounty hunter, smuggler, Jedi, ambiguous crime lord, pirate…etc. (hell, “Moisture Farmer” is overused, and they are farmers who HARVEST MOISTURE!) this is a GALAXY! Entire frontiers are out there to explore! How about space pioneers, Tomb Raiders, Explorers, Excommunicated Warriors, capitalists, inventors, species relocationists (like Ender Wiggin), space ecologists…etc. While some of these might be a little too Star Trek-ey, the Star Wars universe contains infinite aliens, planets, and environments. The new “Freemakers” series has a cool idea of “space scavengers”, but it’s a spinoff and not canon (as of now, at least).
--> In the very least, add Tomb Raiders, because that will naturally add mystery and mythology to the world. Also, these guys are potentially independent of a specific time placement and are small enough of an operation to exist anywhere in the timeline.
(3) A bit of retconning. A few rules need to be made/understood and it will open up tons of the prequel restrictions I have mentioned earlier:
1. Ever since Palpatine took control of the Galaxy, they have ushered in a technological Dark Age.
--> Now we can excuse the low tech of the original trilogy (i.e. lack of e-mail, phones, wheeled vehicles…etc.)
--> Now we can increase/introduce new technologies even though we are technically in the past (like how in Rebels, Rex comments that Clones had “armor” while Stormtroopers have “suits”, or even why Battle droids were essentially radio-controlled)
2. The Sith needs to branch out. There have already been exceptions to the “Rule of Two”: Grievous, Ventress, Starkiller (Force Unleashed) …etc. The Sith, like the Jedi, are first and foremost a religious organization; arguably a cult, even. The “Rule of Two” has been in place a long time ago, but what if the Sith (back then) had defectors and those defectors went on to do their own things?
--> Maybe they left to create their own following? And maybe the new faction researched new force powers and used new, different badass weapons? Maybe their research inspired Darth Plagueis to do his on immortality?
--> This new faction (or factions) will have their own brand new motives (Galactic Conquest is sooo overdone, and from their perspective, too massive to control), while also hiding from the true Sith lords.
3. The Jedi really are too powerful for their jobs, but more importantly, the way they have been written in the prequels made them really boring. The Jedi can’t really grow (let alone be relatable to the audience), mainly because of the choices made with the prequels. So let’s amend the Jedi Order a bit. If we do it correctly (AKA, my way), then it’ll open up for new possibilities and stories.
1) Let’s begin with one that just about everyone can agree on making canon: nullifying the concept of Midichlorians. Even I, a public defender of the prequels, hate the idea of Midichlorians. In fact, only Qui-Gon Jinn seems to have any idea as to what the hell they are or how they work. Obi-wan barely understands it, Yoda doesn’t use it to explain the force to Luke, and no one outside of The Phantom Menace uses the term. Hell, the Sith don’t even count Midichlorians, and you’d think they would if it indeed defined what the force is. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: The Jedi Council made it up. Why? Simple. From a political standpoint, they needed to provide the Senate (who fund them) with a logical, tangible, and quantifiable explanation of their powers (remember when Darth Vader was mocked by the imperial officer, swiftly before choking him? Well, the Jedi don’t tend to choke people), so why not use this arbitrary “power level” explanation which gives them quantifiable data to base their funding on? For the Jedi, it is a good way to begin to introduce a metaphysical concept to children while also keeping them humble, when they are compared to the levels of their own masters. Qui-Gon Jinn obviously believed in this whole-heartedly and Anakin’s score just cemented it for him, even making the Jedi Council members questioning this concept’s true validity.
--> Maybe Qui-Gon Jinn (or his master) introduced the theory of Midichlorians to the Jedi Council and he has been fighting to prove this theory, denying that the concept of Midichlorians are more than just an elaborate hoax.
2) The Jedi’s “forbidden to love” rule. Let’s make it a recent institution. There are plenty examples of Jedi who have loved and bore children (Anakin, Luke (Legends), Leiah, Starkiller’s parents (Force Unleashed) …etc.). In the EU, it was put into place 4,000 years before Episode IV, when the Jedi Order was solidified. But that’s kind of lame, and Love is a major theme in Star Wars, even before Episode II. Isn’t that why Vader was ultimately redeemed; the LOVE for his son? I don’t think I need to go further with this point, but love can make one stronger and press on, and (as seen explained in Interstellar) transcends time and space… like the Force. So, the Jedi must have only made this rule as a safeguard/ precaution, as many religions do. The movie-based justification for this is that one, Jedi aren’t castrated, and two, even after learning that Anakin was in love (the Jedi knew he was in love, they’re not stupid), they allowed him to continue to be a Jedi. Maybe it reminded the council of the times before this decree, and they allowed it, partly maintaining the belief that he is the “Chosen One”, or their admittance of the rule being baseless in reason.
--> Here is a great possibility for a new story line. What if there was some kind of Jedi-Bonnie and Clyde or something, where because of their love, the Jedi went on some un-Jedi-like killing spree or something. Something big enough for the Jedi to have to address it to the Senate and be forced to institute this rule as a political decree to keep their Order.
3) This amendment can also go for the Jedi’s ridiculous “age limit” rule, too. Ezra Bridger (Rebels), Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Kyle Katarn (Jedi Knight), Mara Jade (Legends) Starkiller (Force Unleashed), and most recently, Rey >surname withheld<! …etc. It seems that every Star Wars main protagonist is a Jedi who would have been “too old” if the Jedi Council had their way. What if there was another incident and the Jedi needed to enforce an age restriction because of that too. Maybe the two are connected and too many kids left home to stay with their parents or something. Remember, the Jedi Order is like the Church; some of their rules could have been political-based. (And comparing the Jedi Order to the Church could prove as symbolic as comparing the Empire to the Third Reich, and open up more parallels and real-world connections, especially when most people/fans consider the Jedi Order to be “infallible”.)
4) The Jedi are “Keepers of the Peace” and they have an image to uphold. But some things need to be done in order to “keep the peace”. Let’s give the Jedi Order a secret order within, like a Jedi Black Ops team (like the ANBU from Naruto), kept off the books, even from the Jedi archives. They do the dirty work that the regular Jedi Order just cannot be seen doing. Its head could double as a lesser known member of the Jedi High Council (I vote Even Piell). The council itself may even have purposely kept the head’s identity a secret so as to not have to report them, or so they could openly discuss what the Jedi Black Ops should do and it gets done. (Like the round table in Death Note, where none of the businessmen knew who the real Kira was among them).
--> The Jedi would be recruited by personal invite only and they would have to go through a new initiation process with harder trials and stuff.
--> Maybe they too experiment with new powers and weapons, maximizing efficiency over order. (I’m assuming that all Jedi have lightsabers, regardless of practicality of the user wielding it (i.e. Kit Fisto, as mentioned by Mr. Plinkett’s Reviews), because it represents order and uniformity.).
--> Perhaps they seek out the aforementioned “Sith defectors”, and there we have the initial basis for a new series: The Jedi Black Ops vs. the faction of sub-Siths.
--> Maybe Palpatine gets wind of this and sends Darth Maul, and other apprentices to hunt the Jedi Black Ops, eliminating them as a threat to his rising to power (i.e. secret assassinations or whatever), and also testing their abilities.
Alright, that was a lot of points and sub-points, so I will recap all of this very simply into bite-sized nuggets:
The Jedi have a secret Black Ops organization.
the Sith branched out into smaller goal-oriented factions and since grew.
All the recent Jedi rules that Many Star Wars fans disapprove of are now just recent institutions: The Midichlorians concept, the age limit to admittance, and the forbidden to love rule.
We understand that technology was better BEFORE the prequels than they were after/during the movies (a space Dark-Age, if you will).
New classes of professions for new main characters to explore new areas of the universe. At the very least, let’s have “Space-Tomb Raiders”!
We don’t need to always tie in to the main cast. If the characters are good enough, then they won’t need to tie it to existing ones to create legitimacy to their initiation into canon (just look at the popular demand to rewrite Thrawn into canon!).
The Star Wars Universe is a rich mine full of potentially epic and amazing stories, but it seems to me that with the way it is going now it will dry up sooner than anyone would want. As I’ve been writing, I think that these solutions are a great compromise between the original ideals that George Lucas had in mind, and the fans, who yearn for more than just those six movies. And while I’m sure that Disney and company have plenty in mind for the future of the Star Wars Universe, I feel like no one is tapping into the opportunities to expand on the past.