Say it with me, Disney. It's the Jedi.
You probably think I'm going to bash Star Wars, don't you? I mean, I did it when The Last Jedi came out, and I did it again when Rise of Skywalker came out. The new trilogy not fond of, am I. This isn't a rant, though.
Let's call it an informative look at what Disney can create to capitalize on their investment in Star Wars, which both our own Jonathan Yanez and Scott Bartlett have discussed. It's evident that to date Disney doesn't quite grasp what created the legions of super fans that people the globe.
The image you see up there? That's from Star Wars The Old Republic, one of my favorite videogames of all time. Hundreds of players could make whatever type of character they liked, and all visit the same cantinas, and fight on the same battlefields. People could make their own Jedi, and did, and loved it. The game is still doing pretty well, many years after I stopped playing.
I chose that particular screenshot for a reason.
I have a lightsaber on my mantle. That obsessive piece of fandom cost me $200, and I consider it well spent. It gets trotted out on Halloween, or the occasional Star Wars themed party. Why? Why that specific artifact from Star Wars? Why not a replica of Han's blaster, or a Star Destroyer?
Because of what it represents.
The original trilogy introduced us not only to Luke Skywalker but to the concept of the Jedi. We glimpsed in Obiwan what a Jedi might have been in their prime, and in Darth Vader the implacable will of the Sith.
The kids I played with wanted to be Jedi. We wanted lightsabers, and blasters. We wanted both, but if we had to pick...we picked the lightsaber. That's continued to adulthood. See this chart? In Star Wars The Old Republic people pay hundreds or even thousands of very real dollars to open very digital packs in the hopes of getting a rare color.
Jedi are a call to our mythological roots. They represent the nameless archetypical hero character so often glimpsed in the source material that inspired Star Wars. My friends and I wanted to be Jedi Knights. The second word is almost as important as the first. Kurosawa might call it Samurai, but the meaning is the same, as Lucas knew.
At the end of the Last Jedi, when the little boy uses the force to grab the broom, I thought they were finally beginning to understand. But they don't. Disney thinks Star Wars is Empire versus Rebels. It isn't. What makes Star Wars into Star Wars is the Jedi versus the Sith. That is the central conflict of Star Wars.
Anyone who can stand against a Jedi is worthy of note. You've got your Mandalorians, and occasionally your droids, but most people just get cut down unless they also carry a lightsaber.
So where am I going with this? Think back to the prequels. Think about how many Jedi you saw in the old republic. There were everything from younglings training to a full council of masters to all sorts of knights.
Jedi were special and rare, but they were not singular. Anyone could have the force. In my what if version of Star Wars Finn, Poe, and Rey all had the force. Rey was by far the strongest, which showed us that some Jedi are really strong, and some are Finn. It was a golden opportunity to establish a new order of Jedi.
A new order of toys. A new order of video games. A new order of young Jedi and Sith eager to snap up merchandise that deepens the lore for the character we all secretly create in our heads. A generation who already loves Clone Wars and Rebels.
At the same time it would have been an easy vehicle for a cinematic universe to rival Marvel. Most stories could be about different Jedi, or some other heroic character in the universe. Instead of retreading there are no Jedi and now we have one we could have had dozens, and Disney could have grown from there. A climactic battle could be three Jedi hunting one Sith, and winning at great cost. The possibilities are endless.
If by some chance The Mouse is reading this...put the Jedi back in Star Wars and your profits will soar. An iconic Jedi like Ahsoka Tano. Or new people we haven't heard of. It doesn't matter...give us Jedi. Give us, the fans, lightsabers. Then give us a stage to play with them. Create a universe, not a panic response to fan backlash.
Where is our Jedi Temple (sold separately)? Where is our Kyber Krystal?
Write a hero's journey at a Jedi academy, where Jedi are about to become knights, and a few people are going to fall to the Dark Side. Boom, instant Game of Thrones level political intrigue as the force users spread out across the galaxy.
Empire versus rebels is window dressing. It's bread. Put the meat back in the Sandwich.
The Mandalorian tells us directors exist who know the universe. Now give those people some lightsabers, and you can breathe life right back into Star Wars.
Chris Fox is the author of The Magitech Chronicles, The Void Wraith Saga, and many other fantasy and science fiction novels. You can find download free stories, artwork, and other goodies at Chrisfoxwrites.com