Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Eternal Conflict

This Wired article discusses the very thing I have come to uneasily suspect: Star Wars is going into overdrive. Meltdown. Super-hypetrain, off the rails. We are going to see a new Star Wars movie ever year until "...people stop buying tickets." We literally may not live long enough to see the last Star Wars movie. Add in all the toys and merchandising and whatnot, and it feels like a truly massive marketing juggernaut is poised for the attack.

Part of me loves the idea. Another part of me cringes.

Not to say that Star Wars hasn't always been about marketing toys, etc. It has, since the very beginning. But this is a different thing entirely, without historical precedent. I guess the closest thing in terms of quantities of movies would be the Bond franchise; perhaps the closest thing in recent times to the cross-platform movie tie-in bonanza is that other very successful Disney property: the Marvel movies.

What does this mean for Star Wars, the story? The canon? The saga? I fear it means a cheapening of the central tale of fall and redemption. For one, the new canon requires a state of perpetual war, against which movie after movie after movie can be set. The First Order and the Resistance. I suspect both are of approximate equal size and strength, ensuring a bitter and contested future: forever.

Another pitfall is the re-use of known tropes and themes. Please don't tell me that Episode VII's movie poster has a third Death Star on it.

In this new Disney era, there will never be a post-RotJ happy ending. The Republic, and a new era of peace, is not coming back.

The Star Wars saga is the tale of Palpatine/Sidious, working in secret to come to power, coupled with Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side and eventual redemption.

To my mind, the Empire, which was formed and maintained through the active effort and arm twisting and conniving of a Sith Lord, would crumble within a decade of his absence. He cultivated aggressive top advisers and high ranking military personnel who hated each other and, powered by naked ambition, worked to back-stab each other in a constant jockeying for position and the Emperor's favor. The big bad guy dies...and all that infighting would descend into chaos. The Emperor isn't there to forsee and plan. Vader isn't there to enforce the Emperor's will. Tarkin and the superweapons aren't there to help instill fear. I'd give it about a decade of decay before the last remnants of Imperial controlled space are isolated and dealt with, either militarily or via political agreements. Much like how Zahn et al. version of the Expanded Universe played out.

A Star Wars where, as the book "Aftermath" claims, the fall of the Emperor is "...just the beginning of the war"?

Uhhhhhh....I don't like it.

I hope "The Force Awakens" proves me wrong. I hope it brings back that awesome Star Wars feeling, and that the new story is fresh and exciting, but with ties to the past. We don't have long to wait before the new era dawns.

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