We need to talk about Star Wars. The latest entry in the Star Wars universe, Solo: A Star Wars Story, opened in theaters a few weeks ago and promptly failed to live up to box office expectations. Almost immediately people began to blame this on backlash against the franchise because Disney has ruined it.
And the "Disney ruined Star Wars" sentiment isn't limited to Solo. It shows up in people harassing The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran until she left social media. It rears its head in calls for Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy to be fired -- or worse – because of new characters or storylines. It's reached the point that one can barely mention Star Wars online without hearing about just how terrible Disney is.
But here's the thing: Disney hasn't ruined Star Wars. If anything, fans have. Please hear me out.
There are plenty of reasons to not be a fan of the post-Disney Star Wars offerings. I, too, thought General Leia Organa's weird Force-powered space flight that let her somehow survive being blasted into the vacuum of the universe was a step too far. Rey makes me roll my eyes sometimes, too. But just because I don't like a creative choice doesn't mean something's ruined. It just means it’s different and that, honestly, is probably helping Star Wars, not hurting it.
What is hurting Star Wars is the way fans are reacting to things they perceive as different or new within the franchise. One of the biggest issues I've found that people have with Star Wars post-Disney are the new characters. There are hundreds if not more articles on the internet talking about how Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, Holdo, even Kylo Ren are the worst. How dare Disney tell a Star Wars story that isn't all about dudes or all about the Skywalker family!
Because that would be boring, that's how dare they. Star Wars has always been diverse, just not in a way people would ordinarily see as "diverse". Yoda. Chewbacca. Even Jar Jar Binks, irritating as he is. In a galaxy where a little green guy with giant ears is one of the wisest beings in existence and a fur-covered giant might be the most loyal of friends, it's pretty arrogant to think that only predominately white men hold roles of significance or importance. By adding more female and diverse characters -- and by giving them prominent, important roles -- the Disney era of Star Wars is simply adding to an already diverse world. As for the importance of the Skywalker family? The Jedi and Sith existed long before the Skywalkers did, but more than that, Skywalkers are still pretty important to the story. Kylo is one by way of being Leia's son. We haven't yet seen where his story will end.
This is where someone will try to counter me by complaining that even this is an example of Disney ruining things with bad characters because Kylo should really be Jacen Solo, but Disney went and got rid of the Extended Universe, thus ruining canon. Yep, Disney did declare the EU non-canon but honestly? That was a favor. I love the Extended Universe, or the Star Wars Legends continuity as it's now known. There are some great stories there, but it's not like George Lucas even really considered those sacred himself. Lucas has said himself that he's never read any of the novels and knows nothing about the world. He even told Starlog that he mostly just checked the Star Wars encyclopedia to make sure someone else hadn't already used a name he was considering. Lucas had the ability to use the EU as canon, ignore it, or completely contradict it at his whim.
And yes, Lucas would have likely contradicted things had he not sold to Disney. He often contradicts himself, having gone on the record to say that a sequel trilogy never, ever would happen back in 2008 only for him to later elaborate on some really odd choices for one – namely a “microscopic” trilogy. Those ideas also didn't center around the Skywalkers, by the way. If anything, the Disney era of Star Wars is doing what Lucas never would have by giving us pieces of the old EU in continuity. For those of you who saw Solo, you'll know that there were two major, deep cuts nods to the old EU: Teräs Käsi and the Maw, thus making them canon. The EU lives – and that’s far more than Lucas would have given us.107comments
New characters that are in keeping with the Star Wars we first fell in love with while also weaving in the beloved extended universe are both things that fans fundamentally want and Disney is delivering. And it's far from ruining or destroying the franchise. Those are the things that are going to keep fans coming back. It's going to keep people talking about the universe. That, not pointing fingers and being nasty to others, is going to inspire fans new to the world to check out the old EU and keep Star Wars alive for generations to come.
May the Force be with us.