Walking the Razor’s Edge – The Staff Revisits Infinities

The Infinities series of comics, recently highlighted here by Alexander Gaultier, was basically Star Wars’ version of Marvel’s infamous series What If? Each of the miniseries started with one of the Original Trilogy films, then changed one key moment to see what would happen. The end results were…varied, in this writer’s opinion, but the mere concept of deliberately altering movie continuity was unheard of before then, and it’s a premise that still holds, as Alexander said, unlimited possibilities.

Unfortunately, a few months back, writer Peter David revealed what I’d long suspected—that the series weren’t really as “unlimited” as it seemed. David was originally approached to write Infinities: A New Hope, but his idea was rejected for being “too dark” The story, according to Lucasfilm, still had to end with the good guys winning.

This makes a tiny bit of sense when viewed through Star Wars’ mythological lens; it was foretold that the Force would return to balance somehow, so to go against that would contradict somewhat the very premise of the overall film saga. Nevertheless, why bother with Infinities at all if you’re not willing to screw with things? On its face, the original trilogy is a nonstop razor’s edge, where the slightest tweak at almost any time could have brought ruin to the main characters and the galaxy at large. Giving too many alternate paths to ultimate victory, I believe, does a disservice to Luke, Han and Leia’s struggles—and even the role of the Force itself in the proceedings unfolding as they did. » Read more..

What Star Wars Can Learn From Disney

In case you weren’t quite sure, my piece a couple weeks ago on What Star Wars Can Learn From Glee was an April Fools gag. But buried within it were a couple nuggets of truth; it’s hard to craft a satirical argument like that unless at least a tiny part of you can see its way to believing it.

To wit: the Disney purchase really does mean a new era for Star Wars, in which the old rules don’t apply—or at least don’t need to. Just ask Marvel. The film slate exemplified by 2012′s The Avengers and continuing into the foreseeable future was hard for an independent studio to even imagine, but much like the Avengers themselves, Marvel’s vision combined with Disney’s financial backing brought about something that just couldn’t have worked otherwise.

I truly believe that this desire to take a successful property to the next level also motivated Disney’s purchase of Star Wars. There’s certainly an argument to be made that Star Wars can’t sustain a new movie every year, or every other year, or whatever the reality ends up being, in perpetuity, but if you’re willing to entertain the alternative (by which I mean a success rate at least on the level of the Expanded Universe’s storytelling), then at least in theory, the possibilities are greater than many realize. » Read more..

Go Figure: Casualties of the Canon

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It has been announced that Episode VII will occur approximately 30 years following Return of the Jedi, or around the 34 ABY date. This has several possible consequences. The most blatant is a complete reboot of all Expanded Universe material. This seems extreme, especially as certain EU properties are ongoing (The Old Republic) or are tie-ins to material that will explicitly be preserved (The Clone Wars tie-in novels and comics mostly).

There are three other scenarios, of varying likelihood, all are based on the idea of ‘break points’ in the timeline, wherein everything after a certain date loses canonical validity. Such breaks could be hard, absolute directives based on date in-universe, or soft, with an assumption that material will stand until some explicit contradiction arises in the future EU. Regardless, it makes sense to look at these potential break points and what they would mean for the EU overall.

Lucasfilm has long organized the EU into discrete ‘publishing eras’ of which there are seven plus the non-canon Infinities “era”. These eras are: Before the Republic, Old Republic, Rise of the Empire, Rebellion, New Republic, New Jedi Order, and Legacy. The dividing lines of these eras are, not coincidentally, where we find our break points. » Read more..

Fixing Wookieepedia: A Helpful Guide

Near the end of my piece on the Wookieepedia “breast” controversy earlier this week, I made the case that the best way to change the offending article is to change the culture of the site with an influx of exactly the kind of people who had been offended. Staying away from a community whose actions offend you is a reasonable response, and I would never tell someone to do something they weren’t comfortable with. But I’m kind of a confrontational person by nature, and I believe strongly in the “keep your enemies closer” philosophy. The last time I felt like a certain group of people was hostile to my concerns, I started my own discussion thread specifically for those concerns—and now, several years later, it’s made a huge difference in the tenor of that particular community. » Read more..

Wedge Antilles: On the Origin of Heroes

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As heroic journeys go, Star Wars has always stood out as a particularly memorable one in many ways. From its unique blend of science fiction aesthetics and fantasy themes to its focus on the perspectives of two utterly ordinary utility robots, inspired by the peasant-protagonists of Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, the saga has never been reluctant to take risks and experiment in ways that others would hesitate to even consider.

This willingness to gamble on the unknown carried over to the Expanded Universe, which, true to its name, recognized the potential profit in telling stories about more than just what Luke, Han, and Leia were up to between the movies. In fact, one could say that it has taken the concept of tie-in work to extremes, going to extraordinary lengths to craft detailed backgrounds for and make use of seemingly insignificant characters on countless occasions, most prominently in the case of the only rebel pilot to appear throughout the entire Original Trilogy: Wedge Antilles.

Unlike his initially more important comrade-in-arms, Biggs Darklighter, Wedge Antilles was not an old friend of the main character. Unlike Luke Skywalker, he was not blessed by the Force. Unlike Princess Leia, he had no royal or noble blood running in his veins. Unlike Han Solo, his transportation of choice was nothing more than a common starfighter, and he was no renowned figure in the galactic underworld. Wedge Antilles was, quite simply, a perfectly ordinary human being. And yet, despite his utterly unremarkable nature, he survived the attack on the first Death Star where so many others perished.

It would have been an extraordinarily simple thing for his role in the saga to end there, along with the likes of General Dodonna and Vanden Willard. It’s difficult to say whether it was by intentional design or mere whim, but the character returned in The Empire Strikes Back, and then lived to fight again in Return of the Jedi, where he enjoyed the privileged position of flying into the heart of the second Death Star alongside Lando Calrissian in the Millennium Falcon.

» Read more..

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