Preserving the Mystery of In-Universe History

Preserving the Mystery of In-Universe History(2)

There’s been a lot said about the consumption of spoilers, specifically around The Force Awakens, and how the knowledge you gain from them may or may not affect you and your viewing experience. But as this article’s title suggests, it’s not going to be about spoiling TFA, instead it’ll be discussing the advantages of keeping the in-universe history which leads up to TFA a mystery. Because if the 30-35 years post-Return of the Jedi stays a mystery until the opening crawl and even after the credits roll for TFA, the film has a chance to emulate a feeling similar to when viewers were first introduced to the galaxy far, far away (be it 1977 or their first viewing of the films). Who doesn’t want that?

New Jedi OrderThis is the first time a new Star Wars film has a chance to recreate that atmosphere, because even though The Phantom Menace was the start of a new trilogy, we already knew the general heading the prequels would take, though just not the specifics. It’s past wasn’t as important as its future because the truly big galaxy changing events were yet to come. But the 30-35 years between RotJ and TFA are rife with possibilities and very important happenings, which the old EU/Legends showed could be full of exciting adventures and conflicts, while the future beyond TFA is one giant question mark.

The Force AwakensIt’s kind of nice not knowing ‘everything’ for once, which is what I discussed in my previous article on how the EU reboot changed how I view RotJ, and I’d prefer to keep it that way for awhile. We are on the cusp of so much new Star Wars material, with TV shows, comics, games, novels, trilogy and standalone movies (oh my!), it’s almost mind-boggling when you think about it. It’ll be so much material that I’ll likely be dead long before they run dry with ideas and just decide to reboot the whole thing. In the mean time, the wait for just TFA alone has been aggravatingly slow (even with the awesomeness that has been Star Wars Rebels), especially with so many questions that we all had (Legends) answers for but now are left tantalizingly open: Are Han and Leia married? Did Luke re-start the Jedi Order? Was the post-RotJ years just one really long Cold War that’s finally reached a tipping point? Will there be another Waru? (There better not…)

The Clone Wars 1There are currently and thankfully no answers to those questions, because there’s been no attempt to inform us of the state of the galaxy. Knowing we’ll have our entire futures for those answers to be found makes it easy to wait patiently for them, at least in my book. Seriously, what’s the rush? Because several years ago, with the knowledge that The Clone Wars wouldn’t be on-air forever and the then latest novels, the Fate of the Jedi series, being lackluster disappointments, I was beginning to question and worry about where Star Wars could possibly go to keep fans satiated. It is certainly an evergreen franchise, but it was beginning to dull out on everything but the TV show back then. Then came the Disney buyout and I’ve never again worried about or wondered just what Star Wars could do to keep itself alive. Now it’s time to sit back and relax, because whether we like it or not, the new material is coming. I mean, it kills me not knowing what Ahsoka has been up to since TCW (and it looks like we might have answer very soon on Rebels…), or what the Big Three have been doing since RotJ, but I’m sure it’ll be well worth the wait. It’s tough to go from knowing all the happens to having little to no info again, but this is how it felt before the EU started expanding in the first place. The new EU is already expanding though, and as much as I’d like for none of the state of the galaxy material to be released prior to TFA, there’re already hints we’ll be getting some background info.

Star Wars NovelizationA few months back there were listings for young reader’s books which would fill in the state of the galaxy surrounding certain characters leading up to TFA (though they might be pushed back till after December 18th) and now there are rumors Star Wars Battlefront will be featuring moments before and after TFA, but that’s only been uncovered by fans so far. The less we know about the post-RotJ era the better, as it allows the film to surprise and inform new and old fans on the GFFA’s latest happenings much like 1977 Star Wars did. Because back then, besides the novelization hitting shelves before the film, SW was a brand new property and the world-building was just done in the film. However world-building might not be the correct term, simply because the film did more to make the GFFA feel lived-in, where everything felt like it had a story to go with it, as opposed to completely building the rules and background of its fictional universe. But the strength of the world-building (or whatever you want to call it) in A New Hope is arguably one of the biggest reasons SW went on to become such a popular franchise and if the TFA wants to emulate that strategy of in-movie universe building, it would harken back to the original trilogy feel that it has been so hell-bent on recreating and hoping to capture. It would also help bring potential new fans in.

Helping new fans join the franchise by disabling the barriers to entry, which was some 30+ years of material expanding all eras of the saga, was one of the many reasons behind the Expanded Universe reboot. Making any of the new canon content essential to knowing what to expect in TFA would go against that initiative and keep potential new fans from enjoying the ‘restart’ of the saga. So yes, I’m all for a lack of content in the post-RotJ era for the foreseeable future, not only because more people can be brought into the SW fold (just imagine how many significant others who weren’t fans are going to be dragged to the film), but we have an infinite amount of content and quite a long time to enjoy it all.

On top of all that, the longer we have to wait for new post-RotJ material, the more of a chance the wounds from all the beloved material in that era becoming Legends has to heal (for some). Many a fan’s fondest memories were the EU novels throughout the years, including the ‘first sequel trilogy’ The Thrawn Trilogy, the X-Wing series, and the hard to ignore New Jedi Order (only to name a few). There are so many memories tied so closely to the pains of growing up, it’s not to easy to let those things go. But if Rebels and some of the new canon novels have already thought us, that which has come before is being honored in new and exciting ways.

So let’s hope they preserve the mystery of in-universe history (and future) for as along as they can, not only as a way of building suspense in places we had thought run out of it a long time ago, but to help bring in new fans, heal old wounds, and recreate the experience of seeing a Star Wars film for the very first time. And while you can do what you will regarding spoilers for the film itself, their just a small drop in the bucket that is the ever newly expanding universe of Star Wars. Let’s just not rush into it.

UPDATE 3/17/15: Within the past week or so, nearly two weeks after this article was originally posted, the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing initiative has been revealed. It includes nearly 20 books, with several YA novels re-introducing us to classic characters and bringing new ones to the franchise, some comic prequels, while the first adult novel set post-RotJ, Aftermath, has been announced. All these books won’t cover a huge chunk of the 30 year time frame, but instead will contain hints and clues as to where the story goes to get viewers to TFA. As my above article wanted and hoped, they are (at least for the time being) keeping the mystery strong for the post-RotJ era and not uncovering too many secrets in regards to all of that which could unfold. We’re certainly taking our time and I’m extremely happy about that.

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth and you can follow the website @MynockManor.

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Choice Isn’t an Option: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 1)
Always On The Move: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 2)
A Good Blaster At Your Side: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 3)