Could Different Media Save Star Wars?
Let’s not beat around the bush here, the third trilogy brought forth by Disney has been a massive disappointment for most of us. I’m sure some people enjoyed it, and good for them. Taste, after all, is relative.
Back when the Phantom Menace was released, we (and the internet) had a similar conversation, and many thought Lucas had lost his mind. An infamous song was even born called, “George Lucas raped my childhood,” which I thought was pretty extreme. It also shows how vicious fans can be when their needs or expectations aren’t met.
Put yourself in George’s shoes and read that statement or “song.” How would it make you feel? Probably shocked, annoyed, and willing to distance yourself from such toxic fandom, and you know what, he did. The result has been three sub-par movies, with one absolutely taking the cake in utter stupidity, lore breaking, and sheer disrespect to the established universe as far as I’m concerned (Ep. 8 obviously).
I’m not gonna make the apology for Lucas’s direction in the prelogy. While they felt like pretty toys with little soul back then, they were still Star Wars. George should have just let a more competent director handle their transition to the big screen. He’s proven you can take CGI to new levels never thought possible, and since then, that bar keeps rising. Still, if it weren’t for George Lucas, there wouldn’t be Star Wars, so I still think he did his best, and I prefer the prelogy films over episodes 7 to 9, especially 8 and 9. Episode 7 was mostly a retelling of A New Hope but was still an okay entry into this new generation of films. It’s not great, it’s not mind-blowing, and JJ Abrams really loves to invent new things to get that wow factor. Is it a bad thing? Well, ask a die-hard Trekkie what he thinks of JJ blowing up Vulcan in the first film he’s been handed and then decide.
We must ask ourselves if Star Wars can still be saved? I’ll say that there’s always a chance to bring it back to its former glory. Though, at the moment, this looks bleak. I think the extended forms of media can be its saving grace, at least for the old-guard fans like me.
I, for one, loved the expanded universe of books. You know, those that were not deemed canon the moment Disney grabbed the license. Yeah, well, they’re ten times more canon than the colorful puke thrown into the cinema screens, but I digress. I’ll say this, if you were disappointed and want to read a good follow up to Return of the Jedi, then read Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy. You won’t regret it, and, if anything, you’ll be mad at Disney for not trying to adapt these as the new trilogy.
Right now, the only place a Star Wars fan such as myself seems to find some redemptive fun in our beloved universe is through additional content. So, shows might do it, and The Mandalorian may indicate that first step in the right direction we’ve seen to date. But video games, while nothing new even in the heydays of the license, are where the most interesting, fan-jubilating fun can be found today.
Star Wars games are nothing new. In fact, I’ve played so many that I can’t remember all the names of these games. Highlights have been KOTOR (Knights of the Old Republic) and the Force Unleashed games, which were great fun. Battlefield, obviously, both old and new, is a well-made game with the latest iterations looking mighty beautiful too. I’ve had a lot of fun with the VR Vader series, especially the training dojos for a quick and fun workout, but even the quest mode is all great fun.
Electronic Arts is now coming with Squadrons this October, and not only did the title alone get my attention but also the gameplay trailer. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCcfJ9uEwvs
My all-time favorite science fiction games still remain the Wing Commander games. I grew into adulthood with these games, and they’ll always have a special place in my heart.
So, it’s no surprise I’m excited about Squadrons. Sure, I’d love to play Squadron 42 (or Star Citizen for that matter) from Chris Roberts, the creator and mastermind behind Wing Commander, but he keeps pushing his release dates to a point where the vaporware rumors are taking root in the minds of some players. Mind you, I’ve given money to them from day one back in 2013. Seven years later, still no single-player game and the company has raised over $300 million. The demo looks fantastic, and it seems the company changes tech and ideas to make the game better and better, but at one point, you may want to consider releasing it and fix it with extensions because that’s not what I and many others signed up for when we crowdfunded this thing. Sorry for the Wing Commander hyperbole, I just couldn’t help myself.
I seldom have time to play games, but it looks like Star Citizen could have a very negative effect on my book productivity because, like most MMO’s, it sucks you into this universe and it’s hard to stay away from it for too long. That’s why I’m actually more interested in games that have a single-player campaign and why I’m looking forward to Star Wars Squadrons. It looks and feels like Star Wars of old, its graphics look brilliant, and the gameplay seems closer to the Wing Commander style than the old X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter at least in the footage I’ve seen. Perhaps that won’t be the case and it will work in VR, and there alone, you sold me.
Just take my money. I want to step into that cockpit on October 2, 2020.
So yeah, it’s also telling when I’m more excited about a game, even though I rarely play (I will play this game!), than a movie in the franchise. While I didn’t play EA’s last game set in the Star Wars universe, Jedi Fallen Order, I hear only good things about it.
Why is it that game developers seem to have more reverence toward this massively beloved IPs than Hollywood and Disney do? Might it have something to do with a certain Kathleen Kennedy, or so I hear. But that’s not the topic for today’s blog post. I’ll quote Babylon 5: the truth will attend to itself. I’m hoping the universe course corrects its trajectory as far as good Star Wars movies are concerned, but this time, I’m not holding my breath (fool me once…).
Even if the disappointment from the new crop of movies still lingers, I, for one, am thankful we’ll see other projects, more Mandalorian, more similar TV shows, and fun games to play in a galaxy far far away.
Find Christian Kallias's space opera novels here