I am seriously considering boycotting the new Star Wars trilogy.
I love Star Wars. I’ve loved Star Wars ever since I was a little kid. And so have a lot of other people.
Star Wars is a pop culture phenomenon that has survived, nay, thrived, in spite of George Lucas’ embarrassingly awful dialogue. (“I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and irritating and it gets everywhere. Everything here is soft…and smooth.”) The movies only make us want MORE, which brought us action figures, comic books, novels, video games, a T.V. series, and even a tabletop role playing game (which is totally awesome, by the way).
The Expanded Universe is incredibly in-depth and sweeping, fleshing out and introducing dozens of memorable characters. Some of my favorites are Mara Jade, a force sensitive assassin trying to kill Luke Skywalker, Talon Karde, an honorable thief a lá Han Solo, and Jaina Solo, daughter of Han and Leia, an expert pilot and Jedi.
And there’s Thrawn. Basically he’s the awesomest (technical term) villain in the Star Wars universe. Darth Vader is iconic, but not terribly fleshed out (teenage Anakin is just obnoxious, and not especially interesting). Emperor Palpatine is creepy, but is similarly one-dimensional. Darth Maul has some sweet moves, but I’m pretty sure that’s all he has.
Thrawn, on the other hand, is delightfully complex. Thrawn belongs to the species of Chiss, with blue skin and red eyes. He is so brilliant and talented that even the xenophobic Empire promoted him to Grand Admiral (in fact, he’s the only non-human Grand Admiral)’ Want to know just how brilliant he is? He deduces the weaknesses of his enemies by studying their art. Yes. Their art. By studying human art, he learns how humans think, and how to outmaneuver them, etc. In intellect, there is no better comparison than Ender Wiggin, of Ender’s Game. (In fact, parts of Heir to the Empire have much the same feel as Ender’s Game, but in reverse.) He also does that calm-and-quiet-when-he’s-angry thing that is so much scarier than yelling and throwing a hissy.
When Disney and Lucasfilm announced that the next Star Wars movies would take place after the original trilogy, I was sure they would be doing the Thrawn trilogy. I was devastated to find out that they are, instead, chucking the entire Expanded Universe and making up new stories altogether.
Seriously? I marathon the original trilogy, read the novels, play the video games, dream of a Force Unleashed movie, and even play tabletop, and this is how my loyalty is rewarded?!!!?!!?! Nothing in the Expanded Universe is guaranteed a spot in the new Star Wars movies.
Talk about heartbreak.
The excuse Lucasfilm gives is to allow the creators of the new films maximum creative freedom. They want to tell a new story instead of one their fans already know.
But, really, that’s what the die-hard fans want. We don’t want a new trilogy that’s going to erase the Expanded Universe we love. Honestly, a lot of us like the Expanded Universe better than we like the movies. A friend of mine even told me once that his favorite episode of Star Wars is Force Unleashed, the video game. (Admittedly, the die-hard Star Wars fans also insist that there are only three Star Wars movies.)
Imagine that book you really, really loved, then being all excited to see that it’s getting made into a move, then the movie completely destroys everything that the book was about. That’s what abandoning the EU is like. (Though, come to think of it, the prequel trilogy was a lot like that, too.)
I don’t know how many Star Wars fans will cave and go see the new trilogy. I’ll probably end up seeing them, too, but if there really is a descendent of Obi Wan Kenobi in it, I’m going to throw popcorn at the screen then go get a refund.
The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn (and other Expanded Universe novels)