I actually did not see the original Star Wars in May of 1977. I didn’t see it until the following summer when it reached the late, lamented Idol Theater in Lodi (out on the fringe of the Cleveland area). I’d read the book Alan Dean Foster ghost wrote under George Lucas’s name, but I didn’t see the movie for a year. And when I did…
Wow. Just wow. We’d never seen anything like this before. Ships that moved fast. Droids. Light sabers. Space battles. Wookies! (OK, a Wookie.) And then came The Empire Strikes Back a few years later, then Return of the Jedi. Oh, man, what a roller coaster ride.
And then it was done. Oh, there was the Holiday Special (Let us never speak of it again!), a couple of Ewoks specials, and Droids, featuring R2D2 and C3PO off on their own adventures. But it all fell by the wayside. We wanted more Star Wars, not filler.
Then came the Expanded Universe (from which Thrawn has blissfully survived and stepped into the new continuity.) Star Wars existed once more in books, comics, and audiobooks. All of it was canon! Thus spake George Lucas.
Then there were the prequels.
Yeah. About those…
OK, Phantom absolutely sucked. It could have been about an hour shorter with most of Jar Jar’s scenes cut. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith were better. But still, I enjoyed the prequels partly because of Ewan McGregor channeling Alec Guiness as Obi-wan and for Palpatine. If there’s any reason to watch the prequels, it’s Sheev’s smarmy, double-dealing as he transforms from charming, fatherly senator and chancellor to the Emperor, cackling with glee as he corrupts Anakin, chews scenery, and battles Yoda. But the prequels left a bad taste in many people’s mouths. Still, you need to understand. The original trilogy was for the fans, even if there were none in the beginning. The prequels were for Lucas.
And so we contented ourselves with the Expanded Universe. Distant prequels about the early Sith and Jedi orders, Luke and Leia and Han as they grew old and shepherded a new generation. The literal specter of Palpatine looming over it all. Eventually, there was news that Disney had bought Lucasfilm.
So it was more goodness with the Expanded Universe to come to screen. Right?
The Expanded Universe got tossed. Okay, no problem. We saw Luke at the end of The Force Awakens. Leia was still in charge. So maybe they would parallel the Expanded Universe. Rogue One bridged Rebels and A New Hope. So The Last Jedi would be this trilogy’s Empire. Right?
I actually liked TLJ, but the hate against bugged the hell out of me. I’m all for not liking a movie. I’m not a fan of the post-Aliens Alien movies. And pretty much every Superman movie after II sucked harder than a black hole. So the hate was assanine to me. And then Kathleen Kennedy said, with a straight face, “Well, we had nothing to work with when we started.”
Um… Nice. Way to piss off your core audience. I don’t think it would have been so bad if they paralleled the old EU. But the changes in Luke flew right in the face of fan expectations. Sure, I’m all for subverting fan expectations. I hung through eight seasons of Game of Thrones almost expecting to have my expectations subverted every week. Then I got the hate. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it now.
So, after 44 years, we get to see the end of the Skywalker saga. Even if it disappoints, it will be satisfying to call it a series. Sure, there’s The Mandalorian and rumors of an Obi-wan series with McGregor. And the new expanded canon is probably better than the new movies.