I’d like to say I have a long history with Star Wars, but frankly, we all do at this point. It’s not even really nerd-culture anymore, but just a cultural touchstone. Maybe it’s fair to say that my history with Star Wars is more up and down than most; maybe not. It certainly feels that way, sometimes, with every movie from The Phantom Menace either causing someone to leave the franchise behind, more or less for good, or just being another entry in the saga for a rabid fan.
I’m about four hours away from seeing Rise of the Skywalker. I hadn’t planned on seeing it opening night, but I have a buddy who just orders masses of tickets for big movies and I’m on his list, so I’m going. I don’t, honestly, know what expectations to have for it. Is it going to be a loogie to the face, like The Last Jedi? I doubt it. Soul-less cash in, ala The Force Awakens? Probably. I want to be excited, and I want to be cynical, and I can’t manage either. I expect to be entertained for 2.5 hours, I guess, have some warm fuzzies, and then the sinking realization that it just doesn’t hold up to any sort of temporal distance from that viewing.
There’s still good in him.
The problem with Star Wars right now is that it’s just good enough to make a complete disconnect hard to accomplish. When the prequel films came out, and torpedoes large chunks of what we now call the “Legends” EU, introducing the idea of levels of canon, it was easy to ignore Star Wars. Lucas had betrayed what we thought was a canon by shattering it. I felt betrayed by the origins of the Death Star, the wussification of the Jedi, Vader’s lame origins, a version of the Clone Wars that was just kind of lame, rather than the horrors hinted at in the novels. When Disney announced they were relegating the EU to a “Legends” status, I was actually okay with that. Lucas had already done it. Disney was just admitting it. I was excited for a new canon; it’s not like we couldn’t rescue old characters from “Legends” status and recanonize them.
The fantastic Star Wars: Rebels did just that, re-introducing Thrawn to the Star Wars universe. They didn’t quite pull him off, not like they did with Vader, but there was nothing about the attempt that made me angry. They tried, it didn’t quite work, that’s fine. I can respect that. Rebels-Thrawn isn’t quite as intimidating as the original Thrawn, not quite as competent. But lightning can be hard to be recapture.
It’s things like Rebels that makes it hard to just shrug and say “Hey, man. I’ve got Galaxy’s Edge now, I don’t need Star Wars. KTF!” It’s The Mandalorian, a show that succeeds largely because it’s about competent people doing competent things, rather than trying to prove a point. I want to be done with Star Wars, but every time I think I’ve hit that point, something that deserves to be experienced comes along.
Tainted by the Dark Side
At the same time, it can be hard to embrace the utterly fantastic The Mandalorian— because it carries the taint of this new, dumb cannon. It’s hard when I remember that the abominable Star Wars: Aftermath takes place in that universe. Everything is a little dirty now, a little tainted by awful writing and two hour long virtue signals. Even the good stuff.
Should I stop giving Disney money? Probably. At the same time, I’m exhausted by trying to remember what I’m allowed to like and what I’m supposed to hate, and I’m just done with keeping track of that. So I guess I’m off to see how JJ Abrams thinks Star Wars ends, and how he backpedals on The Last Jedi. Should make for a decent review post, at least.
May the Force be with me. I’ll need it.