Disney, Galaxy’s Edge, and the End of “Canon” Being Relevant in Star Wars

I haven’t written about Star Wars in a looong time.  When I began blogging, Star Wars was a regular topic for me, whether writing about it here or for Jeff’s site The Imperial Talker.  But it’s been almost an entire year since I’ve written anything about Star Wars.  It’s not like I’ve stopped thinking about Star Wars or talking about Star Wars (as the countless hours I’ve spent in conversation with Jeff discussing the galaxy far, far away can attest).  But I haven’t been inspired to write anything (save a few discarded drafts) about Star Wars since last July.  Well, lately I’ve been thinking about how Disney’s use of “canon” in regard to Star Wars has neutered the term of any shred meaning. The final nail in canon’s coffin comes care of Disney’s new Star Wars theme park, Galaxy’s Edge.  With this evolving revelation, I’ve found something Star Wars-related worth writing about again!

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I can’t define “canon” in six million forms of communications…but I can use a definition that uses three languages at least! / Photo Credit – A New Hope

To begin, let’s define our term.  I first encountered the word “canon” during my undergraduate years.  My bachelor’s degree is in Religious Studies and, as one of the texts from my freshmen scripture course would explain, canon is “a term derived from the Greek kanon, which may be related to the Semitic qaneh, a ‘reed,’ perhaps used as a measuring rod.  In modern usage, a canon is a standard of measure by which a religious community judges certain writings to be authoritative, usually of divine origin.  The Hebrew Bible alone is the canon of Judaism, where as Christianity accepts both it (sometimes including the Apocrypha) and the Greek New Testament.  The canon is thus an official list of books considered genuine, worthy to be used in teaching and liturgy, and hence binding in doctrine and morals.  The adjective extracanonical refers to books not included in the official canon or list.”[1]

For example, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are canonical and, thus, found within the Christian New Testament.  Years of theological debate solidified them as officially part of the Christian story, carriers of the Christian truth.  However the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene – to name but a few – are not.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are canonical whereas the Gospels of Thomas, Judas, and Mary Magdalene are extracanonical.

In a move originally meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, the term “canon” was first applied to fictional works in Ronald Knox’s 1911 paper, “Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes,” to contrast the stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle with those written by other authors.[2]  From there it’s usage has grown to encompass all manner of fictional worlds where multiple authors/creators play.  From Star Wars to Star Trek to Doctor Who to Marvel and DC and beyond – everyone from academics to passionate fans enjoy knowing (and debating!) what counts as canon in their favorite universes.  In this sense, the term is essentially used to distinguish works which are officially part of the story from works which aren’t.

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…siiiigh, I probably do. / Photo Credit – Marvel Comics

For example, what I read in the pages of Deadpool is canonical within the Marvel Universe.  What happens in the movies Deadpool and Deadpool 2 is canonical within Fox’s X-Men Universe but not within the Marvel Universe (the term used for the shared universe in their comics) nor is it canonical in Marvel Studio’s MCU.  And what happens in the story Kalie and I wrote where Deadpool finds himself within the plot of Nightmare on Elm Street helping Nancy take on Freddie Krueger in our superhero/horror mash-up isn’t canonical anywhere (even though it’s AWESOME (and you should totally read it (which you can do here if you’d like (you’re welcome)))).  Make sense?  At least a little bit?

Now Star Wars always had layers to its canon.  As explained on Wookipedia, “the internet’s foremost comprehensive source for Star Wars canon information,” originally anything George Lucas worked on himself – the Original Trilogy, the Prequel Trilogy, and the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars – were “the immovable objects of Star Wars history…to which all other tales must align.”[3]  Material from the Expanded Universe – the dozens of novels, comic books, video games, etc. produced after and around Lucas’ work – was a tier down.  The EU was always considered canonical unless Lucas decided to tweak or discard it outright in one of his own narratives.  The EU often influenced the official story as well.[4]  Two of the most popular examples of this lie in Coruscant being created by Timothy Zahn in his novel Heir to the Empire and the Jedi Knight Aayla Secura first appearing in the Dark Horse comic Star Wars #19 written by John Ostrander and illustrated by Jan Duursema.

After Disney purchased Lucasfilm and acquired the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas in 2012, this approach would change.  On 25th April 2014, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy announced the original Expanded Universe would no longer be considered canonical (being recategorized as “Legends” (or extracanonical)) thus making way for new creators to tell new stories in this new era of Star Wars.[5]  This new Disney Canon of Star Wars stories would be overseen by the Lucasfilm Story Group and all new stories were to be understood to exist within “a connected, ‘one universe,’ continuity…[where] all officially-licensed Star Wars storytelling from this point forward stands on equal canon footing.”[6]  What this means, essentially, is the events happening in Marvel’s Star Wars main title comic or the cartoon show Star Wars: Rebels are seen as being as canonical as the events in A New Hope.

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The adventures of Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren on Star Wars: Rebels are seen (as far as official statements go) to carry as much canonical narrative weight as those of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca within the Original Trilogy. / Photo Credit – Star Wars: Rebels

Disney really leaned into this and the “canonicity” of their Star Wars stories was a central piece of their marketing in the lead-up to The Force Awakens and beyond.  Again and again and again fans were told that everything connects now and everything would be as relevant as everything else now.  The thing is, that’s just not true.  It wasn’t true then.  It’s not true now.  And I can’t imagine it being true in the future.

From the outset, the Disney Canon was riddled with continuity problems.  As someone who read everything in the beginning, I found myself wondering if one author was ever even asked to read let alone incorporate the ideas in the other canonical stories in their own.  For example, the picture of the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk presented in the Chuck Wendig novel Aftermath: Life Debt couldn’t be further from the one given in the Chewbacca comic miniseries by Gerry Duggan (as Jeff explores here).  The character of Captain Phasma, as developed with brilliant depth and detail in Delilah S. Dawson’s novel Phasma and Kelly Thompson’s comic miniseries Captain Phasma was NOTHING like the character we saw in The Last Jedi, with nearly all of her actions conflicting with what we learned of her in the novel/comics (as I discuss with more detail here).

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Rey, Finn, and Han discuss how to get BB-8 back to the Resistance with Maz Kanata in her castle on Takodana. / Photo Credit – The Force Awakens

My personal favorite example though comes from The Force Awakens.  In Alan Dean Foster’s novel, Unkar Plutt tracks Han Solo, Chewbacca, Rey, and Finn to Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana, seeking vengeance and the Millennium Falcon.  When Rey fails to take the safety off on her blaster, Chewie steps in and rips Unkar Plutt’s arm off and throws it across the room.[7]  In the film, this never happens.  Unkar Plutt never even shows up on Takodana, his part of the story concluding on Jakku.  Logically Unkar Plutt can’t be both at Maz’s and not at Maz’s.  He can’t have his arm ripped off and not have his arm ripped off.  Only one can be the official story.  Only one account can be canonical.  We intuitively know this.  To suggest anything else is madness.

And when these discrepancies arise, we naturally know to defer to the film – just as it always was when George Lucas was at the helm as opposed to the Story Group.  In any issue of contention, the films always come out on top.  Despite declarations about a new era of connectivity and canonicity within Star Wars stories, nothing has changed.  (I’d argue the EU had faaar less continuity errors (at least in the beginning) then we’ve ever seen in the Disney Canon but that’s the story for another post).  Honestly though, I don’t think Disney ever really cared about the narrative.  Rather it’s use of the term canon was driven by marketing.  They bought Star Wars and immediately began producing Star Wars stories at an unprecedented rate and stamping the Star Wars logo on more products than Lucas ever dreamed of doing (incidentally, I hope every fan who ever complained Lucas “sold out” and was “only doing it for the merchandizing” has rallied against Disney with an exponentially higher degree of ire lest they find themselves wrapped in hypocrisy).  So, with this barrage of new stories to sell, how do you distinguish them from the old EU?  How do you immediately grab people’s attention and, by extension, their money?  Why would someone read a new Disney Canon novel or comic as opposed to rereading one of their favorite EU novels or comics?

Well, you make it “all canon” and you really underscore that fact as often as you can in as many ways as you can.

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Captain Phasma leads her Stormtroopers as they search and burn a village on Jakku. / Photo Credit – The Force Awakens

I’ll admit, they sold me.  It had been years since I read a new Star Wars novel and even longer since I picked up a new comic book.  But in the fall of 2015, as Disney’s “Road to The Force Awakens” roll out began, I bought and read everything.  I read the comics.  I read the novels.  I read the YA books.  I read it all, eager to find any clues about what may happen in The Force Awakens and intrigued by what this new generation of Star Wars stories would look like.  I will also freely admit, I bought all these titles not on a case-by-case basis, looking at which stories appealed to me, but rather because they were “all canon” and I wanted to see how they’d connect in this new era.  I’d wager I am not alone among Star Wars fans in this.  While it happened incrementally at first, I eventually stopped buying and reading any Disney Canon stories after my frustration peaked over their blatantly incongruous treatment of Captain Phasma in The Last Jedi.

However, again, I don’t think Disney ever really cared about canon as it applies to the actual narrative structure of their stories.  They utilized this term, this idea of what is officially part of the story – an idea fans LOVE to embrace and debate anyway – as a marketing tool.  Basically they weaponized the idea of “canon” for profit.  This is obvious from their very definition of the term.  It is “all officially-licensed Star Wars storytelling” that counts as canon in the Disney era.  It’s not the content, quality, or continuity of the story that is considered when they look at its place within the canon of Star Wars stories.  It’s the officially-licensed nature of the story.  And while it has been profitable, I’d argue the end result has robbed the idea of canon within Star Wars of all meaning.

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“Yeah, sure, okay, that’s canon…whatever.” / Photo Credit – Return Of The Jedi

Nowhere is this point more clear than with Galaxy’s Edge.  As defined by Wookieepedia, Galaxy’s Edge is, “a themed land developed by The Walt Disney Company.  It is set in an outpost on the planet Batuu.  The events portrayed there take place between the films The Last Jedi and The Rise Of Skywalker.”[8]  The Wookieepedia article goes on to say, “During the ‘Star Wars and Disney Parks: A Galaxy in the Making’ panel at Celebration Orlando, Asa Kalama of Walt Disney Imagineering stated that what they were building would be canonical.”[9]

Matt Martin, a creative executive on the Lucasfilm Story Group, was asked about this on Twitter, “The events that happen in Galaxy’s Edge attractions will be canon, right?”  He replied, “As much as a Park experience can be, yeah.  But the crying child in the stroller next to you while you eat lunch is not canon.”[10]  So “the events that happen in the Galaxy’s Edge attractions” will be canon even if “the crying child in the stroller” next to me isn’t.

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Galaxy’s Edge (minus the child crying in the stroller) / Photo Credit – Lucasfilm Ltd.

As with the example I cited from The Force Awakens above, we all know logically this doesn’t work.  For example, the central ride in Galaxy’s Edge is Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.  In it, you can enter the legendary cockpit and fly the Falcon – on loan from Chewie – to help notorious schemer Hondo Ohnaka with one of his projects.  Would I like to live out the plot of dozens of childhood fantasies where David and I pretended to fly the Falcon on an ACTUAL RIDE??  Yes – 1,000,000%.  Do I think, for even half a second, my time on this ride “piloting” the Falcon is in any way, shape, or form as “real” to the Star Wars Saga as Han and Chewie flying in to shoot Vader off Luke’s tail so he could blow up the first Death Star?  No – 1,000,000%.  No one who goes on this ride would!  I rode the old “Star Tours” like a zillion times when we went to Disney World when I was a kid.  I loved it!  I loved feeling like I was inside Star Wars!  But I never felt I was literally living in the story because, and this is one of those so-obvious-you-can’t-miss-it things, I am not a fictional character created inside a fictional world.  I was a real person in a theme park going on a ride while on vacation.  I also loved eating at the Toy Story Pizza Planet restaurant (which, incidentally, had a GREAT Star Wars video game) but I never thought I was canonically inside Toy Story either.

While confusing in a narrative sense, marketing Galaxy’s Edge as canon certainly increases the need to go there for a certain type of fan.  It also adds a weight to the Galaxy Edge tie-in merchandise Disney’s putting out, like the novel Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire, the YA novel A Crash of Fate, the middle-grade novel Star Wars: Myths and Fables, and the Marvel comic Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.[11]  (Hasbro is also creating toys out of some of the Galaxy Edge attractions.[12])  As per the new approach to canonicity, all these stories (advertising a theme park), being “officially-licensed Star Wars storytelling,” are now seen to stand “on equal canon footing” with The Empire Strikes Back.

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Oga’s Cantina, in Galaxy’s Edge / Photo Credit – The Disney Blog

Another example of this problem of attraction-based canonicity in Galaxy’s Edge comes in the form of Coca-Cola products being served in Oga’s Cantina.  Coke even has it’s own entry on Wookieepedia now![13]  For real!  But does anyone really think Han and Chewie could’ve bought a Diet Coke to help fight the brutal Tatooine heat as they sat in the Mos Eisley cantina?  No, of course not.  You can also purchase a “classic” lightsaber in Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiques or create your own at Savi’s Workshop.[14]  Obviously the latter isn’t canon.  The creation of the lightsaber is a deeply spiritual practice for the Jedi, intrinsically tied to their training.  It’s not a vacation souvenir.  Galaxy’s Edge isn’t fundamentally altering the nature of the lightsaber in Star Wars.  Nor is the former canon.  No one believes there were multiple let alone regularly restocked copies of both Luke’s lightsabers as well as the lightsabers built by Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Mace Windu, Ahsoka Tano, and Kylo Ren.  Each lightsaber, narratively, is unique – a special relationship between wielder and weapon.  Going to Galaxy’s Edge doesn’t really change this, no matter what’s advertised.

As I’ve argued throughout, we all intuitively understand this.  Unkar Plutt not going to Takodana is canon while Chewie ripping his arm off in Maz’s palace isn’t.  Han Solo completing the Kessel Run in the Millennium Falcon in less than twelve parsecs is canon, my success or failure flying it in Smuggler’s Run isn’t.  Obi-Wan giving Luke his father’s lightsaber on Tatooine is canon, me buying my own version of it in Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiques isn’t.

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Rey holds the broken pieces of her lightsaber, like so many shards or what once was the relevance of “canon” in Star Wars storytelling. / Photo Credit – The Last Jedi

Yet Disney markets all of it as canon.  Canon within the Star Wars universe is now officially defined as “all officially-licensed Star Wars storytelling” and that is used to sell books, cartoons, video games, comic books, and now even a specific land within Disney’s Magic Kingdom.  Are they the ones selling this individual story?  Then it’s canon!  Canon no longer has anything to do with what adheres and aligns to the “immovable objects of Star Wars history,” namely what George Lucas himself had a hand in writing and creating.  It’s just a label, one more dimension to Disney’s marketing program.

I don’t begrudge Disney this, even if I resent what it does to the narrative integrity within this universe I love.  As a corporation, Disney is there to make money.  I grant the cleverness of this marketing move too – I bought a lot of novels I’ll never read again because I was hooked by this idea.  So clearly, it worked.  However, while we can all enjoy this onslaught of Disney-produced Star Wars products as much as we’d like, we shouldn’t pretend their use of “canon” doesn’t cheapen the nature of the idea.  In labeling things we can logically and definitively recognize as not canon as canon, Disney has robbed the word of whatever meaning it once had in regard to Star Wars.  Within the current Star Wars landscape, “canon” is just another word for “brand.”

 

____________________________________________________________

[1] Stephen L. Harris, Understanding the Bible Fifth Edition, (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 2000), 541-42.

[2] “The Ronald Knox Myth, The Sherlock Holmes Journal, Summer 2011.  Accessed June 28, 2019 https://www.bsiarchivalhistory.org/BSI_Archival_History/Hard_Knox.html.

[3] “Wookieepedia: Canon policy,” Wookieepedia.  Accessed June 28, 2019, https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Wookieepedia:Canon_policy.

[4] George Lucas, introduction to Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye, by Alan Dean Foster, (New York: Ballantine Books, 1994), i.

[5] “The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page,” StarWars.com, April 25, 2014.  Accessed June 28, 2019, https://www.starwars.com/news/the-legendary-star-wars-expanded-universe-turns-a-new-page.

[6] “Wookieepedia: Canon policy.”

[7] Alan Dean Foster, The Force Awakens, (New York: Del Rey, 2015), 164-66.

[8]Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” Wookieepedia.  Accessed June 29, 2019, https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Wars:_Galaxy%27s_Edge.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Matt Martin, Twitter Post.  November 17, 2018, 4:52 PM. https://twitter.com/missingwords/status/1063958128411074560?s=21

[11] StarWars.com Team, “Step Into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with New Books, Comics, and Fables,” StarWars.com, January 31, 2019.  Accessed June 29, 2019, https://www.starwars.com/news/new-star-wars-galaxys-edge-books.

[12] Dan Brooks, “SWCC 2019: 7 Things We Learned from the Hasbro Star Wars Panel,” April 12, 2019.  Accessed June 29, 2019, https://www.starwars.com/news/swcc-2019-7-things-we-learned-from-the-hasbro-panel.

[13] “Coca-Cola,” Wookieepedia.  Accessed June 29, 2019, https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Coca-Cola.

[14] Charlie Hall, “How fans will make their own lightsabers at Disney’s Star Wars land,” Polygon, April 16, 2019.  Accessed June 29, 2019, https://www.polygon.com/star-wars-celebration/2019/4/16/18410525/star-wars-galaxys-edge-lightsabers.

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18 thoughts on “Disney, Galaxy’s Edge, and the End of “Canon” Being Relevant in Star Wars

  1. You lost me at “the theme park is canon.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen an instance where a company suggested that merchandise or a theme park is canon. I suppose, perhaps, you could argue that an action figure is what a character must “really” look like, if it came down to that, but, in general, I think fans have typically preferred to (attempt) to separate storytelling from marketing (which is not always, if ever, possible).

    And, as you say, I don’t think anyone would actually believe that the theme park is canon. Because what does that actually mean?? Even if they had characters walking around interacting with you, clearly everything they say to every person can’t be canon. If they tell you and me the same joke over the course of the day, or ask you and me both to help them on a quest, we can’t both be the recipient of the joke or the heroes of the same quest. (I’m thinking maybe it would be like Renaissance Faires, except no one pretends those are “canon” of anything.)

    To me, it would make more sense for Disney to stop trying to canonize everything they do. It could be like Marvel, where you have various canons like the comics vs. the movies. You could have the Disney Star Wars universe and the Expanded Universe and no one has to comment on anything and act like theirs is better than the other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?? There is no way a theme park can be canon. Nothing about that sentiment even makes sense! We’ve had fictional worlds and characters tied to theme parks for years without anyone trying to muddy the waters like this. And that was perfectly fun! But there is no way, logically or narratively it can work with a park being canon within a story.

      Their marketing move to be so specific about what is and isn’t canon, I think, has backfired. It’s painted them into this weird corner where they’ve ruined the term in regard to Star Wars.

      I LOVE your point about the park and the logical impasse it brings us to, canonically, if you and I have the same conversation with a character/staff member. I will be thinking about this all day. And what happens when the park opens in Disney World? Then we take that problem and not just stretch it between the people in one park but between all the people in both Disneyland and in Disney World. It just doesn’t work.

      You’re right; fans are smart enough to balance different canons too. We do it all the time anyway, with Marvel, as you cited, being a great example. I knew once Disney bought Lucasfilm they were going to move the Expanded Universe stories to the side. Why wouldn’t they? Of course they want to tell their own stories! And that’s exciting because now we get a different version of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie’s life after the films! But in using canon as they have and, perhaps more frustratingly, sticking to this usage it’s all become a mess.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It really seems like they shouldn’t have brought up the concept of “canon” at all. Just let fans enjoy the movies and the park! (And, really, a large part of the fanbase is children and I’m pretty sure a lot of them don’t care if the park is “canon” or not. They just love Star Wars!)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so right. I always thought the “everything is canon” was a dumb idea story-wise, but I guess as a marketing strategy it’s fine. I haven’t bought any new canon books, but I am planning to go to Disney next year. That crying toddler in the stroller at lunch will be mine!

    I think I understand that they meant that the things we see in Disney’s Black Spire Outpost also exist in the Black Spire Outpost of the Star Wars universe, but “canon” is a weird term to encompass that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if they marketed it exactly as you’ve said it here there’d be no problem. They just had to say, “Hey, we’re coming up with this cool new planet in Star Wars And do you know what else?? We’re making a new Disney World land that is JUST LIKE IT!!!!” Then there’d be no weird muddying of the waters.

      Also, if you’d like, I can do my best to make your crying toddler in the stroller part of my head canon. Anytime I read or see something about Black Spire Outpost I’ll do my best to remember to insert your crying child into the world XD. I’ll be excited to hear what you think of it too! And I hope to see some great pictures of Disney World posted to your site too. I love your photographic adventures.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Michael,

    As my pastor says, “He who owns the definition of the word, holds it meaning.” I think you nailed they Disney is throwing words around without understanding their meaning. It is branding, pure and simple. Cannon is the new buzz word that Disney wants fans to hear them use.

    I did sent an email to Disney a while back about slowing down the speed of these movie. Too much of a good things turns us off to it. There is a good balance of need and meeting that need that we all constantly work on with our creative work. We can learn a lot from this situation.

    Hope your summer is going great. Are you getting down time, creative time? I am getting one last spice and polish on my book so I can focus on publishing and marketing. Getting time with the family ad not thinking of school much.

    Thanks,

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great Gary. My summer’s been nice and quiet with lots of time for self-care and reflection. There are a few things I’ve been working on but I let it all take a backseat to time with loved ones and reading for pleasure. I’m living the dream. I’m happy you’re enjoying yours too!

      And I agree with you over the speed of their production. If they don’t have a tight understanding of the narrative and universe, all the stories just feel more and more sloppy. I can’t tell you the last Star Wars novel or comic I’ve read (something I used to love to do) because it just isn’t really worth it right now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Enjoy your summer. It’s always good hearing from you. Yes, you know the creative process has seasons of creating, editing, and marinating as you set it aside. That sounds like what you are doing.

        I am putting seasoning and subtle tweaks to Chronolocity after my beta readers did their job. The Lord is showing me how to craft craft and not hurry to make crappy craft. We are learning how to make quality product, right?
        Take care( Don’t think about school) let me know what’s coming up for do a podcast when you have a little time.

        Thank you,

        Gary

        Liked by 1 person

  4. So, cool little insider tip here…George Lucas canon is referred to as G-Level Canon or just G-Level. Now you can write blog posts with even more suave.

    Uh, so the term canon has never bothered me. I don’t get worked up about much Star Wars stuff anymore (unless it starts with The, ends with Jedi, and the middle word is Last) but I think what they meant was that they wanted a fresh slate so that there would be nothing interfering with Disney’s version of how they want the story/stories to play out. So it was easy to erase the EU and say, “everything will now be canon!”

    And now that you know me better – I think it’s totally a genius move on the business front and I tip my hat to Disney. Smart, imo.

    But what do you expect them to say? That’s the thing…of COURSE some super intense hyperfan was going to ask if the theme park was canon and they couldn’t say no because twitter is a very public arena. Just say it’s all canon, do a Jedi mind trick, and the really big fans that are immune to Jedi mind tricks and notice the cracks are a minority so, you know, “move along, move along.”

    We’re under Imperial rule now, or haven’t you noticed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ……….um, how have I NEVER HEARD of G-Level Canon?!? I’m shook! And I NEVER use that word but I don’t know what else to say!!!! I knew there were always layers to the canon, obviously, but I had NO IDEA there was an official name like this for Lucas’ stuff. Gah!!!

      So thank you for cluing me in and darn you for now making me wonder how I misspent my youth being unaware of something as awesome and insider-y as this :).

      I do agree it was a brilliant marketing move on Disney’s part. I mean it got me reading new Star Wars novels and comics as soon as they came out which I hadn’t done in years.

      BUT it still annoys me because I like to point out and/or gripe about those cracks. And you know, should the opportunity present itself, I’m always down for blowing up Death Stars to liberate ourselves from Imperial rule ;).

      Like

  5. Like you, I really liked the fresh canon idea Disney set up when they bought LucasFilm. I bought loads of books and loved the fact that it would all tie up. But then the movies didn’t really tie up with everything else as I had thought they would and I felt a bit let down and confused.

    My view is that this is because of the way many modern directors and producers go about crafting their story for a given movie. As far as I can tell, they have a script but it’s more of a “statement of intent” than the story which will actually be told. They never stick to the planned story. It’s bent and twisted and changed over and over again during production and then gets morphed into something more different still in editing. I think this is because the movie people think in terms of scenes and moods and pace whereas book people think more in terms of characters and story. This is why, I think, the films never link up properly with the books in most genres. Film Directors just don’t work the same way as authors.

    If I were ever in the position to make a request of Disney I would request that they work much harder on the story-telling. They could get a proper successful author to write the book first and then get Benioff and Weiss to tell that story in film, as it is, properly without sacrificing the story for the sake of mood, pace, visual effects or anything else. Or, alternatively they could stop fudging it and split the cannon into a film universe and a printed media universe.

    I think the last Game Of Thrones series shows how being good at making films (or high quality TV series) is not the same as being a good story teller. Martin’s story was the thing that really captivated people and once his story was absent, except in outline form, it didn’t work anymore. No matter how good Benioff and Weiss are at movie making it all falls down without good stories behind it.

    The same is true of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, The book was extraordinary, my favourite in fact. But the film was my least favourite because they moved the Wesley home to a totally different environment with no input to explain this in dialogue and then there was an attack which never happened and ruined the huge sense of foreboading which exists in the book that Christmas. On top of that they missed out so much of the tale of Tom Riddle as told through Dumbledore’s Pensieve. They went for effects and injecting some excitement in the middle instead of Rowling’s excellent story.

    Hmm, I seem to have ranted a bit there – apologies! Thanks for an excellent and thoughtful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh, no apologies necessary – I loved this! And I would like to add thunderous applause and a hearty “Amen!!” to your comment.

      I really think you’ve captured something about the difference in the approach to storytelling in films and novels, especially in modern cinema where SO MUCH is done after production in editing. Then there are reshoots and all that too. Any big summer blockbuster movie, the stars of the film tend to see it all put together for the first time in the theatre like we do because so much is added later.

      I think you’re absolutely right that this affects the story. How could it not? And if someone is looking at a movie script and trying to write a novel that feels like it BUT the finished film ends up being very different, that naturally creates problems. I like how you frame the approach between focusing on scenes/moods as opposed to characters/story too. That does feel right in many examples, especially modern ones.

      Game of Thrones is a perfect example! And it’s one of the reasons I’m worried about Benioff and Weiss being given the keys to a Star Wars trilogy all their own. They are great at adapting…but their original content struggles a bit. I hope, whatever they do, they have something solid to draw from.

      I’d like to second your request for Disney to focus on their storytelling. I feel like Marvel Studios has a bit of a tighter focus/hold with the MCU than there seems to be with Star Wars right now. There are so many brilliant characters, amazing world, and incredible potential for exciting stories. If they take a second, pause to take a breath, and bring on the right writers the future of Star Wars could be bright and wildly captivating indeed.

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      1. I’m glad my thoughts resonated with you. 🙂 I agree about the MCU having a tighter focus. My suspicion is that the management structures overseeing things at Marvel are in control and largely know what they’re doing. I think the new Disney managed version of Lucasfilm hasn’t really settled as an ongoing creative entity yet. Like many fans, I’m hoping that JJ’s new film really gets them back into stride again. It’s almost as though they’ve been out of step with themselves.

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      2. I think you’re right. I remember reading Marvel Stuidos was already a thing and they made ‘Iron Man’ on their own, before Disney bought them. So their creative vision and structure was already in place. Disney pays they bills (and collects the profits) but they seem to let Marvel do Marvel’s thing. But with Lucasfilm, George Lucas sold it to Disney and it doesn’t seem like there’s any sense of coherent vision or storytelling going on, at least not yet. It would be great to see them come together and maybe ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ will be the film to help serve as a guiding post.

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      3. Oh that’s interesting, it puts things into a new perspective. Given what you say about Ironman being made independently, it looks like Disney tried to use the same process for Lucasfilm as they did with Marvel but it didn’t work as well. I guess it makes sense since Lucasfilm lost it’s leader, George, in the process of transition. Kathleen Kennedy was taking that role but, as much as I like her as a person, I suspect that for some reason she hasn’t managed to grow into it. Given how good The Clone Wars animated series was, I still kind of wish Dave Filoni was put in charge. Oh well, we’ll see how The Rise of Skywalker does. I’m pretty hopeful that it’ll be good. Thanks for a really Interesting discussion!

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