I am one of the few people who saw the new Star Wars preview for Episode 7 and did not get all that excited. My daughter and I were at the Barnes and Nobel at Newport on the Levee as she was catching up on the New Jedi Order books and we were talking about the new preview which saw millions upon millions of views depending on where it was seen on YouTube in just 24 hours. Some sources had 24 million views in that time frame whereas the official Star Wars site had over 8 million. I’m not that excited about the new story because for one, Han Solo will likely be killed and unless Lucasfilm follows the story line they have been on for over twenty years with their expanded universe I will not be able to accept a new story canon—as I’m too invested. It just won’t work for me. Once Han Solo is out of the picture, there won’t be anything for me in Star Wars any more. Even if there are the planned Han Solo stand alone films, if they do not follow the storyline of the six novels I have read about the origin of Solo, I will likely reject the movies and stick with the books. The whole thing will only work if Lucasfilm keeps everything in continuity with each other.
I told my daughter to get the New Jedi Order books and continue reading them, because there is some great stuff in that series. It is quite possible by watching the trailer that the Daisy Ridley character is Jaina Solo and that the X-Wing pilot is Jag and that the Sith story line that was built up in the Legacy of the Force novels will be the jumping off point for these new movies. It would make sense. But she reminded me that most franchises—particularly Marvel are mixing and mashing story lines with revision and under those circumstances, Star Wars would be making a huge mistake. I told her that I didn’t think they were that stupid—and I don’t think they are. I think most of the story lines leaked out are false ones meant to keep fans in the dark and in doubt. But, there is the part of me that has been so let down by bad decisions made by other people in the past, that it wouldn’t surprise me if my daughter was right. In that case this next Star Wars film will likely be it for me—and I’m sure I’m not alone.
I just don’t see Lucasfilm isolating all their long-term fans with revisionist history in the overall Star Wars mythology. Scrapping the stories of several New York Times best sellers just doesn’t make any sense for anybody. There are many fans who have been with Star Wars through the lean years so taking away the story arcs that they fell in love with would not give the franchise the fuel to carry the kind of numbers Disney needs out of this mythology. Without question the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens will do great initial numbers—but realistically—it needs to be a two billion dollar money-maker at the global box office to hold up to the aims that Disney has for it—and if people like me jump off the ship—I don’t see how they get there. There are obviously a new generation of people who will enjoy them but Star Wars just doesn’t benefit from having a split fan base of people who liked Star Wars before Disney took ownership and those after.
There was nothing in the new trailer that told me that my thoughts weren’t the case, so I am still hopeful. But from the new preview I wanted confirmation that Lucasfilm didn’t decide to take the revisionist route in the story arc. They didn’t give me that assurance—so anxiety toward the new film was my reaction. In many ways my concerns stem from the new cartoon Rebels—which is alright, but you can certainly tell that George Lucas is not a part of the stories anymore. The content in the new Star Wars cartoon is good, and fun—but much too light. The program is being made by fan boys essentially—like myself and that’s fine so long as it doesn’t screw up the overall story lines of the greater mythology. If it does, and these new filmmakers stray off the path—then there is trouble ahead for Star Wars.
It is possible that Rebels will come around once these filmmakers get their teeth deeper into the story and become more comfortable with the characters—but so far I see Lucasfilm and Disney painting themselves into a corner they don’t need to. Without George, I have my doubts that the whole thing will work because of what I’ve so far seen in Rebels and what they didn’t show in the new Force Awakens movie trailer.
Pablo Hildago who is part of the new story group said in his book The Essential Guide to Star Wars that it was possible that Lucas might revise the canon around the films—that the movies were the establishing parameters. Yet Pablo is the essential guide to the expanded universe and with him a major member of the story group—I just can’t see them making decisions that ruin years of publishing from the guide books to the novels. To do that would be a disaster for the Star Wars franchise. For families like mine where we own every single Star Wars book that there ever was—making them suddenly irrelevant would isolate our investment. So from a business perspective, I just don’t see a rejection of the expanded universe canon. It would be the dumbest thing to do in entertainment. I am a die-hard Star Wars fan and the prospect of a change in canon from what I’ve invested twenty years into to suddenly accept something a bunch of fan boys came up with second-hand is not possible. I would lose my enthusiasm for the upcoming films instantly.
But for now the new film looks great from the preview. Basically, if the female lead is Jaina Solo I’m good for a new generation. If it isn’t, then my love of Star Wars essentially stops now and it will become like a James Bond franchise for me which I’ll watch for fun, but cannot buy into the character since Sean Connery stepped away from the movies. Sean Connery was James Bond canon whether or not anybody likes it. Accepting someone else in that role just never worked. Star Wars is even more sensitive to this issue.
So we’ll see. I told my daughter to stick with Star Wars, read New Jedi Order and all the other books because they perfectly set up another movie by the time a reader comes to the end of the Legacy series. But the new preview didn’t do anything personally for me because I wanted to see assurance that Lucasfilm didn’t screw the pooch. In some ways they gave cryptic indications, such as the Ridley character with a lightsaber mounted to the side of a strange vehicle, and the X-Wings flying in formation with someone who could easily be Jag leading. But if those characters aren’t present—then it would be impossible for me to accept a substitute. It would just be too much to kill off the most beloved character in the series and accept a bunch of new characters not part of the twenty plus year canon formed by the novels. Until that confirmation is materialized, I will be skeptical and not all that enthusiastic to see something very good come to a bitter end.