Over the past several years, I’ve chosen to celebrate Star Wars Day by watching at least one of the movies. This year, instead of working my way up to Return of the Jedi, I decided to start with it. Since the news of the Sequel Trilogy broke, and then the not too surprising announcement of the Expanded Universe being swept aside for new stories, I’ve had a strange hankering for watching RotJ. Over the past decade(s), I (and many other fans like me) have watched RotJ and had a subconscious and/or conscious knowledge of what was to come thanks to the EU. Now, with the slate wiped clean, watching RotJ feels like seeing it for the very first time.
As the Alliance celebrates with the Ewoks over the death of the Emperor and the second Death Star, there’s this finality to their immediate struggle, but a whole breath of uncertainty to what their next step will be. To uncover those next steps, the EU (now Legends) painted a picture to include over 30+ years of hardships and lack of rest for our heroes, which made watching RotJ not feel as happy as it once did before reading the books. Before the books, there was nothing really substantial besides a fan’s imagination to fill in the blanks, so maybe our heroes could actually settle down, be happy, and not have any of their children die or be forced to kill and/or manipulate each other. And watching RotJ this May the 4th, I felt that sense of having not a single clue as to what the next 30+ years of in-universe story would cover and it was refreshing like a cold glass of water after being out in the Tatooine suns.
Not only was it refreshing, but in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s what it would’ve felt like watching RotJ back in 1983. In ‘83, there were no books to run home to and read which contained the where and what your favorite characters did next. Instead, it was all just a blank slate and, as I mentioned earlier, your imagination was the limit. Sitting there after I finished RotJ this year, my imagination couldn’t help but go wild, and suddenly fan ideas like Reclamation didn’t sound completely crazy. Will Luke put together an academy and begin training new Jedi? How does the galaxy react to the Alliance taking over? How long before the Imperials sign a peace treaty? And in fact, my mind was doing its best to imagine the years after RotJ full of characters who could’ve actually lived through (and remembered) the events of the Prequels, the upcoming Rebels show, and the Original Trilogy and still be telling/making tales in some of the new canon novels…or even Ep.VII. And the idea of reading novels/comics and people aren’t stabbing in the dark about past events (thus kind of making up their own version of in-universe history) is extremely appealing.
However, I’ll always have the subconscious knowledge of everything I learned from reading nearly all of the EU/Legends novels. Which means that even though I was imagining a new version of post-RotJ events, I was occasionally throwing in assumptions with stuff like Luke and Mara get married, Han and Leia have three kids, etc. There’s a real possibility that when we get some story details on Ep.VII, it could be furthest from the preconceived notions all EU/Legends readers might just have.
After watching RotJ this year, and having a sense of wonder regarding ‘what can be’ washing over me, I’m feeling rather ready for whatever new tales will be spun. I urge you to give Return of the Jedi a watch and consider the fact that you know nothing about which follows this movie. To some of you, this’ll be easy because you actually saw Ep.VI in theaters and already know the feeling, but to those who always grew up with the EU/Legends in their lives, it’s great to feel like Return of the Jedi is a whole new experience. Either way, every fan has time to experience this up until the first post-RotJ canon novel/comics/video game is announced so hurry up and see if watching RotJ feels different for you. I guarantee it will.
Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth.
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The Great Reboot of 2100: Just How Evergreen is Star Wars?
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A Good Blaster At Your Side: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 3)
Always On The Move: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 2)
Choice Isn’t an Option: The Future of Star Wars Video Games (Part 1)
Chutes, Shafts, and Sinkholes: Star Wars and the Descent into the Underworld Mytheme
EU and Gaming: Thoughts on Their Relationship
Preserving the Mystery of In-Universe History