Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The EU is Dead, Long Live Star Wars

Probably the most reposted picture on the internet today

Today the Star Wars website announced some big news, ending months of rumors and speculation. In addition to the returning, original Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, the seventh Star Wars movie would star John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow. Also returning would be famous suit-wearers Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, and Peter Mayhew.

In with the new, out with the old: today's announcement follows up on another announcement a few days ago that the Star Wars creators are setting aside the established "Expanded Universe" of Star Wars novels, comics, video games, etc, and relegating them to "Star Wars Legends."

I feel like I am still wrapping my brain around some of these changes, and clearly a lot is still left to be revealed, but I wanted to share some of my first thoughts.

I can understand if fans are worried about the announcement that the Expanded Universe is being set aside, but I remain cautiously optimistic. The EU has lots of great stories, lots of okay stories, and lots of lousy stories, and when you try to take them all together, you get a pretty jumbled mess. You only have to look at how many separate accounts there are of how the Rebels acquired the plans for the First Death Star to see how confused and contradictory the stories were getting.

Lucasfilm has now created a "story group" who will oversee all Star Wars stories going forward to make sure they remain consistent and integrated. While I'm naturally worried about what material from the EU the "story group" will choose to throw away, I am even more intrigued to see what they will choose to keep. I would be very surprised if they did away with Mara Jade, for instance, given her popularity with fans. On the other hand, we can be fairly certain Chewbacca's death will be tossed, since Peter Mayhew is returning to play the beloved Wookiee in Episode VII.

Which leads us to today's casting announcement. I am most excited about hearing that John Boyega will be in Star Wars. I really enjoyed Attack the Block, an independent sci-fi action/comedy where Boyega plays the leader of a group of inner-city London teens who find themselves battling an alien invasion. Also, it is good to know that there will be at least one major character who is black.

I think it is cool that Domhnall Gleeson, who played Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, was also cast, though to be honest I think I like him mostly because he is Brendan Gleeson's son (and Domnhall starred opposite Brendan when the latter played Mad-Eye Moody).

To round out the names I recognize (after some Googling in the previous cases), you can bet that in a Star Wars movie Andy Serkis will be playing a CG character, so I can only hope we are not getting another Jar Jar. And Max von Sydow must be taking over from Alec Guinness and Christopher Lee as the experience older actor who can lend some gravitas to the films.

Though I am excited by the casting news, I am still somewhat disappointed that there are not more women or people of color in the cast. Wikipedia revealed that Oscar Isaac is half Guatemalan and half Cuban, but the others I have not mentioned are all white men, with the exception of Daisy Ridley, who is picking up where Carrie Fisher and Natalie Portman left off as the single woman character in each Star Wars trilogy. (I said something similar in my blog post about Episode VII about a year ago.) Representation is important, and it is unfortunate that the new Star Wars movie seems poised to have only one major character who is black and one who is a woman, which is the same number The Empire Strikes Back had 34 years ago.

Despite some disappointment, as a lifelong Star Wars fan, I am full of excitement about the upcoming trilogy. Today is April 29, and we are moving quickly toward May 4, also known as Star Wars Day. I have to wonder, what do Disney and Lucasfilm have planed for the big day? Until we find out, may the Force be with you!

1 comment:

  1. I'm confused about why people are freaking out over the EU announcement. We've known about this ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm. Why are people acting like this is new? Perhaps this is because it is official now, but ever since they announced that the new film wouldn't follow any EU plot we knew what we were in for.