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Analyzing the Emotional Response to the Great Reboot, Part I

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Statement from the Editor: I don’t like seeing people get shouted down. Regardless of my own feelings, if I perceive a reasonable opinion as being forced out of the conversation, I will generally go out of my way to give it a fair hearing—I mean, broadly speaking, that’s what this whole site is for.

So a couple months back, I reached out to the #GiveUsLegends people.

“Open letter to the ‪#‎GiveUsLegends‬ campaign: while your cause is not abundantly interesting to me personally, I do admit that there is a fair case to be made here. That being said, ETE has an open submissions process, and I pride myself on a willingness to engage unpopular opinions. If anyone associated with #GiveUsLegends wants to pitch me a piece making the case for continuing the Legends universe in a way that meets our format and tone guidelines, it would be given fair consideration.”

Well, I didn’t hear back from them. About a month later, Anger Leads To Hate arrived—Eric Geller’s compelling, exhaustively-researched, and vital exposé on the movement for TheForce.Net. As the backlash against this, frankly, childish campaign of hashtivist harassment against Del Rey (of all people) reached its height, one person did express a desire to speak up: two-time Eleven-ThirtyEight guest contributor Lance Henning, who sympathized with #GiveUsLegends’ cause while nevertheless lamenting their methods and public image. Read More

The Case for The Common Man

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The future of Star Wars is currently a place of vast creative possibilities and storytelling opportunities. To make the most of this new era those who chart the course of the franchise through this undiscovered country must remember the importance of ordinary characters. They form an integral part of Star Wars’ past but can also become an important part of its future.

Enjoyable as the pre-reboot Expanded Universe was, it’s clear to see that in its final days it had become a “Jedi only” club. A place where ordinary characters were pushed to the periphery in favour of Force-sensitive antagonists. Indeed in some cases those without Force powers were seen as utterly incapable of facing let alone defeating the threats being faced by their midi-chlorian-endowed comrades. Now can be the time to change all that and show that ordinary characters can be not only as compelling but as capable in a fight as any Jedi. To see an example of this done well we need only look back to an earlier time in the EU, and to the character of Jagged Fel. Read More

Everything Disney Needs to Know, It Can Learn from Greg Keyes

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This is an unprecedented era of change for Star Wars, with whole new vistas of storytelling possibilities opening up in every medium. One author who needs to be at forefront of this brave new world is Greg Keyes.

With the new sequel trilogy and the slew of books, comics and TV shows sure to be produced as a result Disney seeks to tap into a new audience while appealing to the core fan base. They seek to elevate a whole new generation of heroes to the pantheon of our film and ‘legends’ canon favourites. To achieve this Disney need only look to the blueprint set out by Keyes in his Edge of Victory series and The Final Prophecy. Read More

The Case Against Mara Jade Skywalker

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When Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire hit the shelves in 1991, it brought us out of a long drought of Star Wars material and gave us an idea of what the post-Return of the Jedi Empire might have looked like. It also gave us two characters that grew very popular over time: Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade.

Mara was introduced as the “Emperor’s Hand”, who could hear his voice anywhere in the galaxy and did his bidding. She was tough, ruthless, one not to be crossed.

This characterization is good. Star Wars has always done well with strong female characters, was in fact one of the first franchises to do so. Lucas took a lot of criticism in 1977 for giving Leia strength, sarcastic wit, a feisty attitude; for making her into a person who would rip the blaster out of her incompetent rescuers’ hands because “someone has to save our skins” instead of just saying “Thank you, you wonderful men, for risking yourselves to rescue me off this battle station.” Read More

Star Wars: for all ages, all of the time?

Star Wars is meant for kids. George Lucas agreeing to take the rights to sell T-shirts and lunchboxes and plastic snowtroopers in lieu of a pay hike is proof of that. Star Wars has always been meant for kids. But it was its ability to draw in everyone else that made it one of the most commercially successful films in history. Adjusted for inflation, only Avatar and Gone with the Wind fare better. Despite its monolithic cultural influence, no other Star Wars movie comes close to beating A New Hope.

Far more intelligent people than I have tried to explain why the prequels were seen by so many as a disappointment, but it was never really the children that it disappointed. There’s a complicated discussion to be had about whether that’s because kids will accept anything as long as it’s shiny or whether adults are just cynical and greedy, but I think it’s fairly uncontroversial to say that the prequels focused more sharply on that younger demographic. The Phantom Menace, in particular, set the tone, with its Roger-Roger tin-can comedy bad guys, a nine-year old protagonist and everything to do with the Gungans. But even Revenge of the Sith, the only movie in the trilogy not to be granted a fully family-friendly rating, spends its opening see-sawing between Artoo’s slapstick cargo bay antics and Anakin’s adventures in dismemberment and beheading. Read More