Thoughts on Star Wars—Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (UNFINISHED)

NB (1/1/20): I started writing this two years ago and never finished it and now some of my thoughts and questions are irrelevant, but it has some good writing in it and I’m proud of the work, so I’m backdating it. ‾\_(ツ)_/‾

The Last Jedi has been thinkpieced to death already. I meant to finish this post, like, a month ago, but unfortunately I’ve been buried under an avalanche of work, and throwing away all of this work1 would probably kill me, so even if nobody reads it, at least I know it’s seen the light of day. I made a second post about my general observations and things I really liked or that caught my eye; check here for that stuff. Obviously, there will be spoilers for The Last Jedi and other films in the saga, but if you haven’t seen it by now, that’s sort of your fault, isn’t it?

The Last Jedi in the Context of the Star Wars Canon

The Last Jedi has been a massive critical success (91% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes), but the fanbase’s opinion on it seems to be more divided (48% positive).2 One of the major complaints I’ve seen regarding this installment has been about the characterization of Luke and the purpose he serves in the plot. Some people, including Mark Hamill, felt that it was out of character for Luke to give up and go into hiding after Ben Solo was turned to the Dark Side—and if that weren’t bad enough, then the filmmakers went and killed him off! I would have been surprised if there weren’t backlash, honestly.

And I totally get it. A lot of these fans are old enough3 to have seen the Original Trilogy in theaters, or grew up in the 80s and watched the OT when it came out on home video. This is a character that has been with people for a long time—for some, it’s been forty years. But for those of us who were born in the late 80s, or were first introduced to Star Wars through the Prequel Trilogy, or just plain didn’t give a damn about Star Wars until late in the game, our experience with and feelings about Luke are most likely going to be very different. The old school fans have been living with and idolizing characters like Luke, Leia, and Han longer than I’ve been alive—which also means that, naturally, they’re looking at Star Wars through the lens of nostalgia whereas younger or newer fans don’t have that kind of… I guess institutional memory is the best way to describe it? In addition, filmmaking technology has improved by leaps and bounds since 1977, and audience expectations of media have skyrocketed in response. But those expectations aren’t solely about the special effects and cinematography and art direction; I think we demand a lot more from storytelling these days: nuance, realism, representation. It may seem like I’m going off on a tangent, but bear with me—I just want to give some context about where I’m coming from and how that has impacted my response to The Last Jedi and the Star Wars franchise at large.

I was what you might call a reluctant convert to the Star Wars fandom. My dad was a huge fan of the OT—he was in his early 20s when the first installment came out and saw the trilogy in theaters during its original run—so when prequels were announced and Episode I was released, he was super jazzed. Unfortunately, yours truly (then age 10½) was roped into this excitement and was dragged against her will to see The Phantom Menace. I still remember sitting in the theater watching the scenes with Boss Nass and the Gungans, looking at my dad and thinking to myself, “I can’t believe you like this garbage.”4

Cher Horowitz in Clueless: "That was way harsh, Tai!"

Terrible direction and screenplay aside, that may seem sort of unfair. But in 1999, my main concerns in life were monitoring the Beanie Baby market; waiting for the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; making plans to marry Taylor Hanson, Justin Timberlake, and/or Nick Carter; being the very best like no one ever was; and keeping myself up at night freaking out about our impending deaths due to Y2K.5 At the time, my only experience with fantasy was Harry Potter,6 and I didn’t know any girls who were into sci-fi. Star Wars was just one more weird guy thing my dad liked, along with Star Trek, seven-card stud, and the NFL. I never even bothered to see the OT until sometime around 2003 or 2004, when my high school boyfriend (who, if I recall, was shocked when he discovered this gap in my cultural knowledge) made me sit down and watch it. I was actually interested this time around because in the summer of 2002 I became fanatically obsessed with The Lord of the Rings (another post for another time), so I had much more of an appreciation for Star Wars‘s fantastical premise and good vs. evil quest narrative. Still, I never felt the same slavish devotion to Star Wars as I did to Tolkien’s oeuvre. It was nice to finally understand the cultural references and quotes and what we would term memes today, but I didn’t feel the same kind of emotional investment.

Now, maybe that’s because I like history and swordfighting and elves a lot more than I do spaceships and aliens and robots. And as much as I like the hero’s journey–type stories, I don’t think Star Wars‘s narrative ever felt as rich to me as those of Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. That has a lot to do with the world-building in Star Wars compared with that in LOTR and HP as well as the natural gulf between what works in print and what works on film—hence the existence of the Extended Universe, I guess.7 This could just be a pet peeve of mine, but it seems like one of the primary conceits of the Star Wars saga is that we are constantly dropped into the story in medias res, with very little exposition other than the opening crawl and whatever essential tidbits we’re served up by the main characters to set up the plot. I think that particular quirk is what makes the barrier to entry a little harder to bypass.8

Then, for a millennial audience that grew up in a time of rapid special effects technology advancement, you have the added problem of the stylized “antique future” art direction. The story is set “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” in a universe where traveling by spaceship is the norm, communications can be sent via hologram, and ascetic space monks fight each other with laser swords, yet it’s incredibly shabby and campy, which isn’t unexpected for a series filmed at the dawn of computer-generated special effects, many of which were created specifically to meet the needs of that film. If you’d never seen anything like that before, of course it would seem amazing! Again, this isn’t a criticism—I bet seeing that star destroyer chasing down the Rebels at the very beginning of Episode IV knocked people’s socks off. But the contrast between the ’70s- and ’80s-era SFX and that of movies coming out in the new millennium was incredibly stark, and was further exacerbated to the trilogy’s detriment after George Lucas decided to remaster the OT for the special anniversary DVD release. Chucking late ’90s computer animation into movies that a) were 15–20 years old at that point, and b) had largely relied on practical effects and matte paintings9 made them look even more dated, and Lucas’s changes and additions didn’t exactly endear him to fans. (I’ve only ever seen the remastered versions, but I completely agree: Han shot first.10)

Needless to say, when I saw A New Hope for the first time, I was understandably put off by these aspects of the film. But I liked Princess Leia and Han Solo and the droids11 enough to keep with it, and after I saw The Empire Strikes Back, I was definitely on board. I have my complaints about the OT’s narrative and characterization and internal logic, of course,12 but I like the message and I love the characters. Contrast that to the trade-off of the prequels: they certainly fell in step with their contemporaries in the sci-fi world on a visual level, but the script and direction were so terrible that I find them nigh unwatchable.13 So, to get back to the sequel trilogy, one of the main points in its favor is the fact that it has both a compelling story and characters and is visually stunning. That is what I—and I imagine many others—crave from films of this magnitude, which more often sacrifice story in favor of spectacle.14

With that said, let’s move on to what seems to be the major point of contention in The Last Jedi.

Luke Skywalker: Hero or Hermit?

“He’s not my Luke Skywalker.”

This Mark Hamill quote from an interview with a Spanish movie site was being thrown around a lot (and often out of context) last month, and I see why it would lend credence to the argument that this movie sucks and that it should be erased from the canon. If the actor behind one of the most beloved and well-known characters in cinema history says he doesn’t agree with Rian Johnson’s characterization, who are we to disagree? Well, if you couldn’t already tell from the 1,300-word15 preface (thanks for humoring me, if you’ve made it this far), I think the context in which this statement was made is pretty important, and it definitely plays into why I respectfully disagree with Hamill and other critics.

At the end of The Force Awakens, we discover that Luke has been laying low on the planet of Ahch-To ever since Ben Solo destroyed the Jedi Temple, killed all of his fellow trainees, and left Luke for dead before turning to the Dark Side and allying himself with Supreme Leader Snoke. At the beginning of The Last Jedi, Rey presents him with the lightsaber given to her by Maz Kanata and implores him to come out of his self-imposed exile to help the Resistance, but he is not having it. He says no, continually ignores her, and even goes as far as chucking his own lightsaber over his shoulder and off a cliff. “It’s time for the Jedi to end,” he says, but after witnessing her raw, untrained skill in using the Force16 he does eventually agree to give her lessons—even if they’re only to show her just why the Jedi need to end. The first lesson is that the Jedi were arrogant and vain in believing that they essentially owned the light side of the Force, when nobody owns the force—it’s there in all things. The second is deeply cynical yet fascinating: The legacy of the Jedi is failure.

He’s not wrong, and he’s not the first Jedi to have failed in such a major way. The Jedi Council was asleep at the wheel and neglected to see that Chancellor Palpatine and Darth Sidious were one and the same until it was too late; Obi-Wan Kenobi insisted on training Anakin Skywalker after Qui-Gon Jinn’s death in spite of Yoda’s advice to the contrary, thus leading to Anakin’s betrayal of the Jedi and murder of the younglings in the Jedi temple in Revenge of the Sith.17 Jedi bylaws forbid trainees from engaging in romantic relationships, yet another rule for Anakin to chafe at that would eventually led to Padmé’s death at his own hands—ironically fulfilling the very prophecy he had gone to such lengths to avoid! And then, just like Obi-Wan before him, Luke didn’t sense the darkness rising in his apprentice until Ben seemed too far gone to be turned—but unlike Obi-Wan, who had at least attempted to reason with Anakin and show him how he had been manipulated by Palpatine before resorting to violence in self-defense, Luke decided to attack first and ask questions later, thereby forcing Ben to attack in self-defense and inciting him to obliterate the temple and his fellow students in his uncontrollable rage.

A vocal population of fans are pissed off that Luke would selfishly leave the Resistance to go seethe on a remote, uncharted planet. But if your own flesh and blood—the son of your sister and one of your best friends!—turned to the Dark Side under your care and tutelage, wouldn’t you have a crisis of faith, too? I’m sure Luke felt guilty that Snoke was able to penetrate Ben’s mind while under the care of a freaking Jedi Master. Yoda certainly did after Order 66 was executed and the Jedi ranks, with the exception of himself and Obi-Wan, were massacred:

Into exile, I must go. Failed, I have.

So he went to Dagobah and Obi-Wan went to Tatooine—ostensibly to look into that whole “eternal consciousness” thing Qui-Gon decided to tell them about at the very last minute, but also to meditate on this failure to some degree, because ideally you’re supposed to learn from your mistakes. Mark Hamill’s response to Rian Johnson’s characterization was that Jedi never give up, but there is such a thing as knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. Packing it in and taking a couple of decades to regroup was the only way to keep the Jedi Order from going into complete extinction, and someone had to be around to keep an eye on Luke and Leia. And besides, there’s definitely some precedent for Luke giving up or not wanting to start in the first place:

I hate the Empire, but I can’t do anything about it!

I can’t [move the ship], it’s too big! … You want the impossible.

I can’t do it, R2. I can’t go on alone…

Heck, he never even finished his Jedi training.18 I’m not saying he didn’t show any character development or personal growth over the course of the OT,19 by any means; he’s definitely not the kid we saw whining about power converters in Episode IV that everyone likes to rag on. But if you already have a propensity for negative self-talk and then you suffer a blow like, oh, I don’t know… your nephew murdering a bunch of your pupils and blowing up your temple before joining up with one of the most heinous figures in the galaxy? It’s only human nature to be knocked on your ass for a while.

But he’s a Jedi! you might say. They’re supposed to take it on the chin! Well, try as they might to rise above our silly, painful, conflicting emotions, the Jedi are still just as flawed and human20 as the rest of us. I think that Luke is the only Jedi who made it to Master status with his empathy left intact, possibly because he was so old when he was trained—not unlike his father, whose repressed emotions played a large part in his becoming Darth Vader. It’s as if by not tapping into those emotions that they completely lose the ability to empathize, which is pretty evident in the whole “If you act out in anger you’re a terrible person” thing. Of course acting rashly and reacting rather than assessing the situation and taking decisive action is dangerous. But I would argue that the Jedi’s continued denial of natural emotions like fear and anger is what constantly lands them in hot water when young trainees with raw power, little restraint, and a lot of complex feelings start to lose control and feel like they have nowhere else to turn to but the people who will let them feel those emotions: the Sith.

Emperor Palpatine sitting on his throne telling Luke,

There’s also the issue of Luke trying to kill Ben before he could do any harm, which I’m sure rubbed people the wrong way. The Jedi are supposed to use the Force only for knowledge and defense—never attack. But this isn’t the first time Luke has let his fear drive him to violence. During the confrontation with Darth Vader and the Emperor at the end of Return of the Jedi, he attacked both of them in anger—for a totally valid reason, considering they were threatening the lives of his friends—but that’s the point: The Jedi are constantly putting things in terms of black and white. Dark and light, good and evil, right and wrong. But reality is rarely that clear cut. We love stories where the unequivocally good side defeats the unequivocally evil side. It’s why the Disney canon has remained popular for decades. But the best stories, the ones that reflect real life, are the ones that explore that space in between and the lengths to which people will go for the greater good—because no one has ever been entirely good or entirely evil, and sometimes no matter what decision you make, somebody gets hurt. It’s why series like A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter are so beloved. Jaime Lannister’s first major act in A Game of Thrones is to push Bran Stark out of a window, but he also selflessly gives up his birthright (i.e., a castle and a boatload of gold) to continue his service as a Kingsguard because he is almost universally despised for breaking his vow and killing the Mad King—even though he did it to protect all of the people who hate him. Albus Dumbledore is one of the most brilliant wizards who ever lived and is a dedicated teacher and mentor, but it’s all penance for aiding and enabling his best friend to start a fascist regime that killed thousands, including Albus’s own sister. So, with this in mind, I would argue that the most compelling and relatable aspect of the sequel trilogy (not to mention Rogue One) is that Luke Skywalker and many other characters are situated in a similar gray area. Daisy Ridley did an interview on Good Morning America at the end of November 2017 and was asked whether Rey was going to go to the Dark Side, and I liked her answer:

The thing about this film is that the lines are less clear as to who’s good and bad. Rey’s trying to find out about herself and the universe, and those questions don’t entirely fall to the good nor do they entirely fall to the bad. She’s just trying to do her own sort of personal growth and I think what’s amazing is that by the end of the film […] it’s more rich. Because […] if it’s always good, the outcome isn’t as important.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend theme song:

So I don’t really think that what Luke did was out of character or un-Jedi–like at all. It was a rash, fear-based response to something really dangerous, and it was an entirely human action. But I can see why looking at it through the lens of where he is at the end of ROTJ—the last time we saw him, and the last time Mark Hamill played him—would make people feel otherwise. The important thing is that he realized in that moment he was doing something horrible, much like he did when he was beating the crap out of Darth Vader and realized he was playing into the Emperor’s hand. It was just unfortunate that Ben happened to wake up before Luke could put away his lightsaber and leave.

Overarching Themes

Star Wars Has Always Been about Politics

It appears that some fans are just joining the rest of us on this one, because I’ve noticed that a certain faction really hate what they believe to be Disney/Lucasfilm pandering to the so-called “social justice warriors” of the world (i.e., women and people of color, among other groups). I googled around for some references to “social justice propaganda” but was too disgusted to read much beyond the first paragraph or two. A lot of talk about reducing white male heroism to nothing because a “little girl” is our new protagonist and whining about diversity and how all the bad guys are played by white men (never mind that the bad guys in the OT were also white men…).

They’re right about one thing: there has seemingly been a concerted effort by the studio to open up the Star Wars universe to a more diverse group of people, and that’s wonderful. The sequel trilogy has a woman protagonist (Daisy Ridley), a black male lead (John Boyega), a Latino Resistance leader (Oscar Isaac), and a CGI character voiced and performed via motion capture by a black woman (Lupita Nyong’o), plus the new installment introduces a character played by a Vietnamese American woman (Kelly Marie Tran).21 Compare that with the original trilogy, where literally everybody is white except for Billy Dee Williams. Sure, James Earl Jones is the voice of Darth Vader, but he doesn’t physically represent the character. And in the prequels, there’s Samuel L. Jackson and Ahmed Best (who played Jar Jar Binks, which… yikes) and that’s pretty much it.

So, until now, Star Wars wasn’t what most people would consider an inclusive franchise. But even though it may not have concerned itself with identity politics specifically, politics is certainly at the heart of the original trilogy. I mean, the entire trilogy takes place during a civil war that is largely informed by the Vietnam War, which was extremely recent history at the time the OT was filmed. George Lucas has said that he was inspired by the Viet Cong when he created the Ewoks, who likewise managed to outwit a technologically superior invading force. The word “stormtrooper” is derived from the German word “Stoßtruppen,” which refers alternately to World War I soldiers specializing in infiltration tactics and to the Sturmabteilung, the paramilitary division of the Nazi Party. Emperor Palpatine represents alternately the rise of Adolf Hitler or that of Richard Nixon. Politics and history have been extremely pervasive influences from the word “go.”

Identity Crisis

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past couple of weeks is the thing that ties Rey, Finn, and Ben Solo together, and that’s their lack of a strong sense of identity, and how that struggle to belong informs their behavior and relationships. This seems to be a unique quality of the sequel trilogy; although Anakin and Luke grew up not knowing their fathers22, their childhoods were spent with people who loved them and looked after them—Shmi Skywalker, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan for Anakin, and Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru for Luke. In the sequel trilogy, this doesn’t seem to be the case—for Finn and Rey, at least.

Rey was abandoned by her parents at a very young age and has stuck around Niima Outpost in the vain hope that they’ll come back for her someday, never mind that it’s been well over a decade since they left her with Unkar Plutt. She’s had to become self-sufficient in order to survive: teaching herself how to fight with a bowstaff to protect herself from the numerous unsavory figures living around the outpost, learning how to pilot a speeder and make repairs to it23 because it’s her only mode of transportation and probably the most valuable thing in her possession, and trawling the desert as well as dangerous shipwrecks to scavenge for literally anything she can sell for the merest amount of food. I mean, the poor kid lives in a rusted-out starfighter half-buried in a sand dune. But despite this hardscrabble existence, she still maintains a sense of hope and optimism (if only to stave off despair a little while longer) that one day she’ll be reunited with her family. That said, she still has no real sense of identity because she believes she can’t find herself or know who she is without knowing where she came from and who her parents are. She shows up on Ahch-To and tells Luke, “Something inside me has always been there. Now it’s awake, and I’m afraid. I don’t know what it is or what to do with it. I need help. I need someone to show me my place in all of this.” She’s desperate for external validation, for someone to sit her down and tell her exactly who she is and why that matters. The problem is, who you are isn’t who other people say you are. You have to look inside of yourself to find your identity, and that’s a lot easier said than done.

Finn, meanwhile, was kidnapped from his family as a child to be raised as a faceless, nameless stormtrooper for the First Order. But where Rey wants to stay put and needs someone to tell her who she is, Finn desperately wants to get away and shed his unwanted identity in favor of a new one. On his first real assignment, a comrade dies in his arms and he lets a villager escape because he can’t find it in himself to kill her, even though those are his orders. He won’t fire on the villagers, even knowing that his fellow stormtroopers as well as Captain Phasma are watching. He doesn’t fit the mold he’s been forced into.

Ben Solo, however, is a curious case because both of his parents are alive and well (if estranged) at the beginning of The Force Awakens. I hope that his break with his family will be explored more in Episode IX, but I’m not optimistic. However, if you extrapolate the direction of Han and Leia’s career and life trajectories from the end of Return of the Jedi, it makes sense that Leia would stay in politics as she always had, and that Han might not be cut out for the role of super-involved family man. So Ben is possibly a kid who grew up playing second fiddle to his parents’ careers and lifestyle and who had the added stress of possessing extremely volatile Force sensitivity and experiencing a pronounced pull to the Dark Side.24 Then, sensing this inner turmoil, his parents sent him away to train with his uncle, thinking it would help him but possibly fostering even more resentment and feelings of abandonment in Ben, however inadvertently. At some point he must have discovered his true heritage, whether it was his parents or Luke or even Snoke that revealed it: that his mother’s parents aren’t the Organas but rather Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker. I can’t imagine that being the kind of secret Luke and Leia would want to let the entire galaxy in on, but Ben seems like the kind of person who would take this lie of omission as a huge betrayal. So he maybe he found out his grandfather is Darth Vader and believed that revelation to be some kind of sign, like of course Ben’s supposed to continue his legacy (and was probably manipulated by Snoke into feeling that way). And then the whole thing with Luke happens and it justifies his mistrust of his family and the decisions he’d already made.

These are all very lonely people.

Kylo Ren

"Who is Kylo Ren, and why is he so angry?"

dfsfsd

The Strange Connection between Kylo Ren and Rey

blah

Questions

New Questions from The Last Jedi

  1. When Kylo Ren turned the lightsaber on Snoke, was it merely a play so he would become Supreme Leader, an attempt to atone for murdering his father, a desperate move to save Rey, or a combination of the three?
  2. Is Snoke human? It’s kind of hard to tell because he is mostly humanoid; however, his head is shaped oddly (the giant gouge in his forehead notwithstanding) and he has the same sunken eyelids and eye shape as Maz Kanata. Are they of similar descent, or is he human and something really horrible happened to him somewhere along the way? I guess the Dark Side of the Force does make people age in a terrible way (see also: Sheev Palpatine).
    • Also, where did Snoke come from? I guess the Sith couldn’t be wiped out in all corners of the galaxy—another mistake by the Jedi? I guess it’s like how there wasn’t nearly enough backstory about the Emperor until the prequels came out.
  3. How was the First Order able to initiate the active tracking in the first place? Is there some kind of starship lo-jack? I remember something about there being a principle to active tracking and that it’s controlled by the main ship in the fleet, but how and when did they develop this technology for hyperspace tracking?
  4. Follow-up question: Is each plot happening on the same timeline?
    • It seems like Rey is following Luke around for days, but the Resistance plot transpires in 48 hours or less.
    • At the very end of The Force Awakens, Rey only seems to be in hyperspace for seconds before arriving at Luke’s hideout. How big is the galaxy, how far is Luke’s planet from wherever the Resistance base was, and how long does space travel take at hyperspeed? (This sounds like a lot of math, yikes.)
    • How can you tell when to leave hyperspace without hitting anything on the other end? Is there a special jetstream for hyperspace travel? Is that what Han’s talking about in A New Hope when he says he’s doing the calculations for the jump to lightspeed?
  5. Why on earth are those bombers so vulnerable to attack? You’d think a ship carrying that much ordnance would be more heavily armored to prevent just such a catastrophe.
    • Also, what did they hit on the Dreadnought to make the thing blow up in its entirety? Is there a gas main? Oxygen tanks?
  6. Where did Kylo Ren get his name? Has the “Darth Whatshisname” construction been retired? I know he’s the “master of the Knights of Ren,” so that explains the last bit, but Kylo?
  7. How are they going to kill off Leia in Episode IX? (Ugh, I’m dreading it. I cried my eyes out when the First Order blew up the bridge on the cruiser, thinking that would be the end of her.)
  8. Who is going to teach Rey the ways of the Force if Luke is gone and she’s the only (adult) Jedi in the galaxy? She has a lot of raw power and that makes her as vulnerable as Ben Solo was, which is worrisome.

Unanswered Questions from The Force Awakens

  1. How long ago did Ben Solo turn to the Dark Side? Follow-up questions: How long has Luke been in his self-imposed exile? How long were Han and Leia estranged before TFA?
  2. How did the First Order come to possess Darth Vader’s helmet and mask? I just watched Return of the Jedi, and Vader is wearing both of them when Luke has him burned on the pyre in the Ewok village. Did Luke rescue them from the ashes? If so, I wonder if Ben snatched them up after he destroyed the temple and left to join Snoke.
  3. How did Maz come to possess Luke’s lightsaber? (“Another question for another time,” she responds when Han asks her about it in TFA.) She’s in TLJ for about twelve seconds so we still don’t know.
  4. What the heck happened to Threepio’s arm, anyway? (This isn’t important but I’m still curious.)

notes

  1. It’s a lot of work. My notes alone clocked in at five thousand words.
  2. This is partially due to trolls spamming the website with negative reviews.
  3. This isn’t a dig, it’s just a fact.
  4. I don’t actually remember whether he liked it or not and, due to unfortunate circumstances, I can’t verify either way.
  5. Just one of several reasons why literally no one was surprised when I was formally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in 2006.
  6. Which, if you’ll remember, was still mostly about a boy learning how to do magic and getting up to hijinks with his friends—not the dark, depressing battle between good and evil it would become at the close of Goblet of Fire—but I’ll concede it had certainly started to lean that way by the end of Prisoner of Azkaban.
  7. I’ve never read any of the Star Wars novels and I don’t intend to. I mean, from a certain point of view, the EU was just Lucasfilm-sanctioned fanfiction that the studio could invalidate at any time (according to Lucas Licensing, anyway)—and that’s exactly what they did when the sequels were announced. And frankly, I think that’s how it should be. Star Wars is a franchise that started on film, so if there’s something in the novels that doesn’t happen in the films, it shouldn’t be considered canon. That said, I know the EU is what kept interest in Star Wars alive for so many years, and that in turn inspired the new movies and other IP, so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  8. Again, I may just be asking too much of this series, but isn’t it sort of Storytelling 101 that a character with a decent amount of lines and screentime should be properly introduced? I have to wait for the credits to roll before I find out three-quarters of the characters’ names! And there’s almost no context for in-world history, which, being a Tolkien fan, absolutely makes me insane. Like, damn, Lucas, pick up a copy of On Fairy-Stories!
  9. Practical effects are, in my opinion, the best way to make special effects look real. The more CGI you add, the more it sticks out and the less believable it is. I’m so glad the sequels have utilized practical effects as often as possible.
  10. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same if a scuzzball like Greedo was threatening to drag you off to a crime lord space slug who would invariably feed you to a Sarlacc. From my point of view, it ain’t murder if the Rodian is already pointing a blaster at you.
  11. God, do I love the droids in this franchise. How can something without facial expressions be so sassy and adorable??? Those little beep-boops convey so much. :’)
  12. Like, why the hell would the Empire build a second Death Star when the first one met its end so disastrously???
  13. Qui-Gon Jinn was the only part of The Phantom Menace I liked, and look what happened to him. Honestly, I still have no idea how a trade dispute eventually led to the destruction of the Galactic Republic and the (near) extinction of the Jedi. And don’t get me started on the scenes between Anakin and Padmé in Attack of the Clones
  14. Paraphrased/cribbed from a GQ interview with Adam Driver from December 2017.
  15. 1,700 with footnotes! (Somebody stop me.)
  16. Which, in light of what happened with Ben, he must find somewhat terrifying to behold
  17. That said, I did think it was unfair of Luke to pin the blame for Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side wholly on Obi-Wan. There were a lot of other adults in the room (literally) who could have nipped that in the bud and had Anakin sent back to Tatooine.
  18. He went to go save his friends and all he got out of it was some psychological trauma and a lousy bionic hand, which was almost immediately fried by a stray blaster bolt on the Khetanna. Nice.
  19. I do find his characterization in Return of the Jedi to be somewhat unrealistic, though, considering how closely that movie follows The Empire Strikes Back—nobody becomes a calm, serious badass like that overnight, Jedi or not. Although I just found out there’s a year-long gap between ESB and ROTJ… you jags left Han in carbonite for a whole year?!?!?!
  20. Well, most of them are, anyway. Humanoid is maybe a better word.
  21. Rogue One had a similarly diverse crew. I would note, however, that Jyn Erso was the sole woman included in the mission.
  22. heck, Anakin doesn’t even have one ’cause he’s the baby Jesus of the Force
  23. which probably explains why she’s comfortable-ish in the Millennium Falcon—she is pretty handy, after all
  24. His struggle with the Dark Side is possibly because he’s been targeted by Snoke—turning Ben would theoretically wreck his parents, which would be a huge blow to the Resistance’s morale.

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