Note: Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen “The Rise of Skywalker”
When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, they quickly made their intentions for the universe as a whole very clear. A new Star Wars film every two to three years and further adventures into television as well.
Great news right?
Then a monumental change came in 2014, when Disney declared all of the books, comics, video games, and several television series taking place in the Star Wars universe as non-cannon. This was done in order to free them from any constraints the extended universe might have placed on future Star Wars movies or TV shows.
While this step is somewhat understandable, especially given Chewbacca’s death in a 1999 novel, Disney didn’t stop there. As a result, the sequel movies became one recycled plot after another. Consider the following regurgitations:
Episodes IV and VII: Orphaned lower class denizen of Tatooine gets off the desert planet on the Millennium Falcon and discovers he or she has magic powers on the way to blowing up a planet-destroying space station.
Episodes V and VIII: Young Jedi seeks out reclusive master for training, only to rush off to confront a Sith and save her friends.
Episodes VI and IX: Young Jedi works to redeem the second strongest Sith while massive space and land operations continue to destroy an even bigger planet-killing threat. Oh, and the Jedi and redeemed Sith work to overthrow Emperor Palpatine again.
Ridiculous plot rehashing (aka plagiarism) aside, the sequel movies have committed a far graver sin. With these three movies Disney has effectively undone the canon of the original trilogy for their own financial gain.
All of the accomplishments of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, and Chewbacca are completely wiped away by J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, Chris Terrio, and the rest of the writers. Killing off the extended universe was in part intended to save Chewbacca, but he then ends up being the only main character from the original trilogy to survive the so-called “Skywalker Saga.”
There is not a single member of the Skywalker family, by birth or marriage, left alive at the end of the saga that takes their name. Rae, the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine, may claim the Skywalker family name for herself at the end of “The Rise of Skywalker,” but this hardly qualifies.
These accomplishments were wiped away via a series of deus ex machinas, unexplained phenomenon, faulty introductions of new force powers (some of which would have been very useful to resolve situations in previous Star Wars films). All of these were done in a poor way that makes us doubt even the outcomes of the new films.
George Lucas declared that Emperor Palpatine was dead in “The Return of the Jedi,” which was released in 1983. Thirty-six years later new heroes had to kill him off again. What’s to prevent his return a few decades from now?
Besides that, the script writing of the whole sequel trilogy was simply lazy. Character development was utterly lacking. Personally, I could barely remember any of the new characters’ names before going to the theater to see “The Rise of Skywalker.”
The problem of Disney’s takeover and disassembly of Star Wars is emblematic of a culture that places financial gain over any sort of other values. In this case, the great loss is not a degradation of morals, personhood, or the family, but a story.
One would be forgiven for saying, “Well it’s just a story.”
But stories have power. The items in a culture that its people hold most dear say a great deal about its values. Damaging those stories, pulling them apart and putting them back together to earn a quick buck, or to recraft something to fit fleeting contemporary cultural views, does a disservice to the original material, as well as to society’s shared cultural identity.
“I am defenseless. Take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!” says Emperor Palpatine in the “Return of the Jedi.”
Luke resisted Palpatine’s instructions, overcoming the temptation to kill Palpatine for a faster, less painful victory. Unfortunately, Disney couldn’t resist killing the series’ original canon for a fast, easy buck.
[Image Credit: YouTube-Star Wars, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | Final Trailer“]