The Force Awakens, and the End of the Star Wars Cannon

On October 30, 2012, George Lucas announced he was selling Lucasfilm to Disney for over $4 billion.  Many fans, unhappy with Lucas’s recent management of the franchise, met the news with relief and excitement.  The prequels were always going to hang over his head.

Shortly after the acquisition, Disney announced they were continuing the core film series (no surprise).  They also declared the Expanded Universe was no longer considered cannon (meaning part of the official Star Wars story) in any way.  For those not in the know, the Expanded Universe encompassed all the licensed books, comic books, and games set in the Star Wars Universe.  This was met with outrage by fans of said books, comic books, and games, but, frankly, the Expanded Universe stories were never cannon.  Lucas had made that clear many times.  Fans of the EU derided Disney keeping things like Jar Jar Binks, but disregarding the cool stuff they’d invested in.  The thing is, determining cannon has nothing to do with quality.  Trust me, I would rather read Heir to the Empire five times in a row than sit through The Phantom Menace again, but only The Phantom Menace counts.

Disney shortly announced a new series of books, comic books, games, spin-off movies, and TV show (Rebels) that would be part of the Star Wars cannon.  If they produced a book about what happened between Episodes V and VI, it was something that officially happened.

This has been more or less accepted by fans of the series, including those who felt their love of the Expanded Universe had been dismissed.  The thing is, none of it is cannon since Lucas parted with the property, including the main films.

Now, Lucas was never the sole author of Star Wars.  Film is a collaborative medium, after all, and even the films he wrote and directed himself (Episodes I-IV) had input from others.  That said, he was the final decision maker on the six original films (and the Clone Wars TV series), and nothing went into those movies without his thumbs-up.  He may not have been the sole author, but he was the final decision maker on what was and wasn’t going to be the characters’ stories.

Fast-forward to pre-production on Episode VII (The Force Awakens).  Lucas had given the new creative team his outline for the film, but they decided to go with another approach and tossed it aside.  Now they were well within their rights to do this.  Lucas sold the property to Disney without any requirement to use his outline.  Also, Abrams and company were probably correct in determining that Lucas’s story wasn’t the best direction for the series.  The ramification of this decision, though, was that the new films will now be in the same category as the Expanded Universe.

Imagine thirty years from now, Disney has a crisis and has to sell Lucasfilm to another company.  That company announces they have Lucas’s outline for Episodes VII-IX, which they’ll use to make new films.  Also, all the Disney supplementary works will be set aside, like the EU, and they’ll be putting out their own spin-off films, comics, TV shows, etc.  Since they’re working from Lucas’s notes, they’ll declare their Episodes VII-IX will be the real entries in the core film series, unlike Disney’s.

But that won’t be ironclad either.  Lucas’s original outline for The Empire Strikes Back involved Luke finding his father and sister in exile.  During the pre-production process, the whole thing was simplified into making Darth Vader Luke’s father and writing the sister out (before making her Leia for the third film).  Those changes were made while he worked on the script with others.  The filmmakers of the hypothetical films would still have to hammer their own scripts out, probably making similar changes without Lucas’s sign off (I’m assuming he’ll be gone).  That would be enough to claim that they’re not totally in-cannon either.

At the end of the day, the rock-solid, cannon story of Star Wars will be Episodes I-VI and the Clone Wars TV show.  Everything else will be elements future owners of the property can use or ignore based on their own plans.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad Disney’s material is.  We may all have a great time watching it, but it’s all fan fiction from this point forward.

 

Don’t forget:  My book, Gina Beale: Into the Fire, is on Kindle now and can be purchased HERE.  It’s a great read, but only if you like great reads.

 

 

A Hiccup in the Force

Here’s a little something I wrote to amuse myself…

Jedi Master Danjo Troodoa walks down a tall hallway in the Jedi temple.  He arrives at a large door and before he can press the button next to it, it opens.  He steps in to find Yoda sitting on a round cushion chair, in deep concentration.

Danjo:  Master Yoda.
Yoda:  Master Troodoa.  Expecting you today, I was not.
Danjo:  I’m sorry for coming unannounced.  Do you have a moment?
Yoda:  Always. 

Danjo sits on a cushion across from him.

Yoda:  Troubling you, something is?
Danjo:  Yes.  Ever since the start of the Clone War, I’ve had some concerns.
Yoda:  Speak freely, you can.
Danjo:  Thank you.  Anyway, my concerns mostly revolve around the clone troops.
Yoda:  Performing well, they have been?
Danjo:  It’s not their performance that concerns me.  If I understand things correctly, they were ordered more than ten years ago, correct?
Yoda:  Correct.
Danjo:  And though the Kaminoans believed a Jedi commissioned their creation, it was actually a bounty hunter, right?
Yoda:  Also correct.
Danjo:  We then found out the bounty hunter worked for Count Dooku, who is now a Sith Lord leading the Separatist army.
Yoda:  Known to me, these facts are.
Danjo:  So we’ve placed the entire security of the galaxy into the hands of clone troops created by a Sith lord we’re now fighting.
Yoda:  Yes.
Danjo:  (pause) And you’re okay with this?
Yoda:  I am.
Danjo:  You said I could speak freely, right?
Yoda:  Always, Master Troodoa.
Danjo:  Are you out of your green f****ing head?
Yoda:  Not necessary, this language!
Danjo:  Well, sorry, but I can’t be the only one who sees how screwed up this is.
Yoda:  Making great gains against the Separatists, we are.
Danjo:  Yes, with the army created by their leader.  You haven’t, for one moment, considered the idea we’re being screwed with?
Yoda:  Sensed nothing amiss, have I.
Danjo:  Aren’t the clones created to follow orders without questions?
Yoda:  They are and have.
Danjo:  Then how do we know they haven’t been programmed with secret instructions to, I don’t know, wipe us out the moment their leader sees an opening?

A quiet moment passes.

Danjo:  That hadn’t occurred to you, had it?
Yoda:  Of course it had.
Danjo:  Because when I said it, you looked surprised.
Yoda:  Surprised, I was not.
Danjo:  Then what was that look?
Yoda:  Matter, it does not.
Danjo:  Whatever.  I’m just saying, don’t turn your back to them.
Yoda:  Under advisement, I’ll take this.
Danjo:  That’s all I’m asking.  Maybe by the time they make their move, it won’t be such a big deal anyway.
Yoda:  What is meant by this?
Danjo:  The first batch of clones were complete bad asses.  Have you seen Commander Cody in action?
Yoda:  I have.  Very impressive, he is.
Danjo:  Right but the new ones just arrived and aren’t looking so great.
Yoda:  How so?
Danjo:  To begin with, they can’t hit a target to save their lives.  I was doing a sweep on one of those Outer Rim planets and we ran into a handful of battle droids.  These bozos open fire and hit everything but the droids.  If I wasn’t there with Skywalker, they would’ve been hosed.
Yoda:  That bad, they are?
Danjo:  The only creatures that shoot worse are Tusken Raiders on Tatooine.  Compared to those things, even the troops are precise.  And have you noticed the new ones don’t have the same accent as the first ones?
Yoda:  I had not.
Danjo:  I’m starting to think they lost that bounty hunter’s DNA and used some janitor’s instead.

The door opens again and Mace Windu steps into the room.

Mace:  Am I missing something?
Yoda:  Just sharing some concerns, Master Troodoa was.
Mace:  Is he complaining about the clone army again?.  I told him to stop making this into an issue.
Danjo:  Why am I the only one who understands the problem?
Yoda:  Made your case, you have.  Follow Master Windu’s advice, you should.  One of the greatest Jedi ever, he is.
Mace:  I even have a purple lightsaber.
Danjo:  You know, I’ve always wondered about that.  Is it because you’re the most skilled warrior or an indicator of rank or what?
Mace:  (pause) I have a purple lightsaber.
Danjo:  Great.
Yoda:  Get going, you should.  Anakin Skywalker waits for you to join him on a sweep.
Danjo:  Skywalker again, huh?
Mace:  Is there an issue between you two?
Danjo:  Nothing major.  He just broods all the time and goes on and on about how much power he should have.  It’s irritating.
Mace:  You feel he has issues?
Danjo:  Duh!  The other day I asked him how things turned out with his mother situation and he blew a gasket.
Yoda:  Speak highly of him, Senator Amidala does.
Danjo:  No shock there.  You know how it is with girls like that.
Mace:  I don’t follow.
Danjo:  Oh, come on.  I know we don’t have lady friends but you guys can’t be that dense. 

They stare at him blankly.

 Danjo:  She’s a rich girl who grew up on the straight and narrow.  They’re suckers for bad boys.
Mace:  You think Skywalker is one of these bad boys?
Danjo:  Hell yes.  He’s always pissed off and breaking the rules.  He’s got that angry look except once in a while when he gives that devilish smirk.  A princess like Amidala sees him and thinks “he’s nothing like the guys my parents want me to date.”  A couple years later, everyone else is telling her he’s bad news and she’s all, “you just don’t understand him like I do.”  

They again stare at him blankly.

Danjo:  I know what I’m talking about.
Mace:  We’ve heard your concerns.  If we observe anything to back them up, you’ll be the first to know.
Danjo:  Alright.
Yoda:  Feel down, do not.  These are dark times but the light of a new day will follow.

Danjo rolls his eyes and leaves.

Mace:  He bothers me.
Yoda:  A point, do you think he has?
Mace:  Hey, we’re Jedi Masters.  If anything like that was going on, we would’ve sensed it.
Yoda:  Correct, you are.  Meeting with Palpatine, I am.
Mace:  You’re passing along our secret attack plans for the next campaign?
Yoda:  I am.
Mace:  Good.  This war is finally starting to go in our favor.

Danjo Troodoa was killed by clone troops after Palpatine issued Order 66.  His dying words were, “I frigging knew it.”