Defending Star Wars and Cinematic Universes


I did not grow up with the original Star Wars trilogy. I grew up with the much-maligned Prequels. And you know something… I maligned them, too. Hell… I maligned them not very long ago, twice, on this very blog. But I went back and watched them recently and… you know what? They aren’t actually as bad as I remember them. Hayden Christensen is still whiny, Jar Jar Binks is still annoying (he would have been such a better character if he had turned out to be a Sith Lord), Count Dooku came out of nowhere (likely to make up for the fact that Jar Jar was no longer a Sith Lord), and some of the CGI was bad even for the time it came out…

But Jake Lloyd actually did a pretty decent job with young Anakin, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi were awesome, Yoda was amazing, the turn of Palpatine into Sidious was incredible, Darth Maul was phenomenal, Queen Amidala was actually a good character and Natalie Portman played her really well, Mace Windu was just plain cool, and the story was really, really good over all.

Yes, I’ve seen the original trilogy, of course, but I simply don’t have the connection to Luke Skywalker that so many have. However, I am a Star Wars fan. Not a big enough fan to have read and collected the lore or seen the maligned Christmas special and that stuff, but a big enough fan to have watched (and enjoyed) both the Clone Wars and Rebels animated TV shows, and a big enough fan to have been excited by Force Awakens, Rogue One, Last Jedi, and Solo. And as I sit here today, people are still fighting over whether or not Last Jedi and Solo were good films.

You want to know what I think?

Both Last Jedi and Solo (and Rogue One and Force Awakens) were amazing films.

I know that Mark Hamill played Luke Skywalker, and that nobody knows the character of Luke Skywalker better than him. I think that if I ever want to know something about Luke, I would ask Mark Hamill first.

I also think he’s wrong about Luke’s story-arc in Last Jedi.

I absolutely loved what was done with him.

Why?

Because it made him interesting. People change when they get older. They don’t remain bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They grow to see reality for what it is, and some become more cynical. Young Luke Skywalker went through the hero’s journey an optimistic, hopeful youngling, ready to take on the world. But as he grew older, he saw more and more what reality really was. He became disenchanted with the Jedi, desperate to change things. And then his older self saw evil in his nephew, and for a brief moment resolved to end it before realizing the mistake he made… a mistake which created that which he sought to avoid.

I find this fascinating. It added a new dimension to the character… a growth. Last Jedi was entirely about failure. Literally everyone failed… even Kylo Ren. That was the whole damn point. This means that Luke Skywalker failed, as well. And that’s not a bad thing. It worked for the story. And it made Luke Skywalker human.

I didn’t want Luke Skywalker to suddenly appear in Force Awakens in Star Killer Base and superhero-save the poor, damseled Rey from big, bad Kylo Ren, because that would be boring. It would be useless, and would make Luke Skywalker a flat, boring, useless character who never actually grew up and went through things since Return of the Jedi. It would be horribly unrealistic for this older Luke Skywalker to be exactly the same as RotJ Luke Skywalker. Now I will admit that I sort of wish Luke hadn’t died at the end of TLJ. I understand why they did that, I just wish they had chosen a different route and he was still alive. But otherwise, I completely loved what they did with Luke. It made perfect sense for the story they were telling, and I loved the story they were telling.

I’m also glad that Rey was nobody. I love that she’s not related to Luke or Han or Palpatine or Kenobi or any other “important person”. I love that the Force doesn’t give a crap what your name is… it has different criteria for choosing you. Anyone can be Force-sensitive, and that’s awesome. I also love that Snoke was just a plot device… a reason to bring Rey and Kylo together. And I’m super glad Rey and Kylo did not “get together.” Kylo is evil. I want Rey to kill him, not shag him.

And I don’t care if Rey is a “Mary Sue”. I don’t care that she got so good with the Force so quickly. That doesn’t bother me at all because I straight up love her character. I think she’s a bad ass that I’d love to hang out with and even learn from. And all of that is in part because I think Daisy Ridley is an amazing actress.

Now, admittedly, I didn’t like Rose Tico when I first saw Last Jedi. But you know what? After seeing all the hate she’s gotten, she’s now one of my favorite Star Wars character, literally just to spite all of you assholes who harassed Kelly Marie Tran off Instagram because you couldn’t handle Rose’s existence. I mean okay… after thinking about it more, I think I genuinely do actually like the character of Rose Tico. I hope they flesh her out more, because right now there isn’t much to her, but there is potential, and I hope they run with that potential. And it helps that Kelly is a really good actress, as well.

I’m not saying Last Jedi was perfect. It has flaws. But no movie is perfect. Every movie has flaws. You show me a movie you consider to be flawless, and I’ll show you your own blind-spot. But Last Jedi continued the Skywalker saga in a way I loved, and a way I most certainly would have asked for had I known to.

And speaking of asking for a movie…

That is an argument I see thrown against Solo: A Star Wars Story time and time again. “Who asked for this? Nobody! That’s who!”

What a seriously pathetic argument.

The only movies that nobody ever asked for are the movies that don’t exist because nobody’s thought of them to begin with. If a movie was even conceived, at least one person asked for it. And if a movie’s reached the point that it’s in theaters, then, clearly, a lot of people have asked for it. Every movie ever made, good or bad, released and unreleased, has been asked for by far more than one person.

And…

Hello! Nice to meet you! My name is Nathan Hevenstone, and I asked for Solo: A Star Wars Story.

So you can’t use that argument any more. I asked for it, and (you may say I’m a dreamer, but) I know for a fact that I’m not the only one.

Now, I did say on Facebook that I was uncomfortable with this movie’s relationship to women, and that’s still true. But other than that, I thought Solo was awesome. And it did expand the Star Wars Universe.

How?

Honestly, it did so by giving us a little more to a character we already know so well. It also gave us new characters, new arcs, and even new locations. It showed us what else there was to the Star Wars Universe outside of the Skywalkers.

And you know what? That’s what I want. I’m sick of the Skywalkers. Their story is over, and it should stay that way. I want to learn about all the other inhabitants of the Star Wars galaxy. I want to know what those inhabitants call their galaxy. I want to learn about other Jedi and other Sith. I want to learn about other Force-sensitives and Force-users who aren’t Jedi or Sith. I want to learn about people who can’t use the Force. I want to know about what was going on in the rest of the Galaxy while the Jedi and Sith were warring with each other… all the little stories that were playing out that had almost nothing to do with what was happening between the Jedi and Sith.

I want a Star Wars Universe. And I want them to get experimental:

A Star Wars Universe horror movie.

A Star Wars Universe rom-com (between an alien and a human, both of the same gender, one force-sensitive and one not, that subverts ever rom-com trope there is).

An R-rated Star Wars film full of violence, gore (let’s be real, here… lightsaber deaths would be way messier than what we see on film), language, and… yes… sex and nudity.

A G-rated Star Wars Universe romp that’s fun for the kids.

A Star Wars Universe film noir detective story.

A historical film detailing the rise of the Sith, and another one detailing the rise of the Jedi.

How about a story about The Ones? Since Abeloth is no longer cannon, did the Son and Daughter have a mother? Or is Abeloth cannon after all (there’s a number of Star Wars fans who hate Abeloth, but I find the concept fascinating even if the execution of her leaves a lot to be desired; maybe Disney can execute her better)?

And hey! I know I said that I’m sick of the Skywalkers, but you know what? Let’s get really blasphemous… let’s explore, in live-action cinema, what Luke and Leia Skywalker got up to between Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi. Yeah, it means recasting a younger Luke and a younger Leia. I can hear the fan squeals now… and I’ll remind y’all of Alden Ehrenreich, who did a brilliant young Han, and Donald Glover, who pulled off a pitch-perfect Lando Calrission (and I don’t care if you don’t agree; you’re wrong). Maybe Mark Hamill can be the one who casts the new people? Would that make you feel better?

And Star Wars keeps taking place a “long, long time ago”… what does that galaxy look like today? Does the Force still exist? And is it localized only to that galaxy, or is it throughout the universe? And if it’s throughout the universe… is it here? On Earth? Have any Sith or Jedi or any other Force-users and/or Force-sensitives made their way to Earth? If the Force is here, how does it manifest? Are people who can “talk to ghosts”, or “see the future” just Force-sensitive? Did it manifest here on Earth as “God”, with it not being used in any way like in that galaxy far, far away?

Or, if it’s localized only to that galaxy… why? What makes that particular galaxy so special?

And why the heck are there humans out in that galaxy? How did Homo sapiens get out there? Or is it a case of convergent evolution? And if so, how similar are they? Could those humans breed with us, or are the similarities only superficial, with the internal body make-ups and genetics being vastly different?

And no, I do not want this stuff in books or comic books that only some are going to read, or in short-lived TV shows that are only available on Disney’s special streaming service. I want these questions, and others, asked and answered in live action, cinematic films shown in theaters. I am asking for all of them.

Why?

Because cinematic universes are awesome. There’s so much potential to explore. And not just Star Wars. I want to see what other stories there are in the Wizarding World, in the Marvel Universe, on Middle Earth, in the Matrix, in the world of Mad Max, in the world of Blade Runner, in the Underworld universe… I want to see a DC Cinematic Universe that’s actually good. I want to see other, new, inventive cinematic universes.

The age of the one-off film is over. Movies should be more sprawling, now… more exploratory. Movies should be open-world, with whole worlds of people, stories, events, histories, and futures to explore. I desperately hope Disney does this with Star Wars, branching out into every nook and cranny they can with Star Wars, introducing us to new people, stories, and ideas we’ve never imagined. And I also hope they explore those we already know, to find out what they did in the interims that we didn’t get to see.

I love the future of Star Wars. Rey is my Force-using hero. Disney’s new Star Wars films are incredible, and I can’t wait to see what they come out with next. And if you spend all your time judging people like me, and harassing actresses off of social media, all because you’re such a special, fragile little snowflake that Last Jedi offended you, then you should consider the possibility that maybe… just maybe… you aren’t actually a Star Wars fan.

Comments

  1. StevoR says

    PS. No Solo spoilers please!

    I intend to watch it sometime soon.

    Also know (as I guess you already do) these films have received a lot of hate and attacks of all sorts from Male Rape Apologist douchebags so there’s certainly that as well as much else in their favour.

    Couple of links that I think are well worth reading here :

    https://www.tor.com/2018/01/04/luke-skywalker-isnt-supposed-to-be-nice/

    On Luke’s superpower being compassion.

    Good review and analysis here :

    https://bittergertrude.com/2017/12/20/this-is-not-going-to-go-the-way-you-think-the-last-jedi-is-subversive-af-and-i-am-here-for-it/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

    Of its subversiveness plus :

    http://www.dorkly.com/post/85706/best-parts-of-star-wars-last-jedi

    Some funny stuff there that really doesn’t take things too seriously especially if you scroll down.

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  1. […] first place and so are making a point of redoing it to something that it really shouldn’t be. Nathan Hevenstone has written a post defending Star Wars Universes and defending the new movies. Speaking as someone who found TFA so bad that he hasn’t watched any of the following movies […]

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