What Star Wars Can Learn from Wynde


I recently had the pleasure of reading Tricia Barr’s first installment of the Fireheart series called Wynde. Some of you may know her from articles written for Star Wars: Insider or read her FANgirl blog. From the Amazon description the book sounded like a Star Wars type of story but it turned out to be an impressive display of everything I’m looking for with the future of Star Wars. I must admit that after mostly reading Star Wars books this year I was a little intimidated to be reading a new author’s work of almost 800 pages. It has been awhile since I’d picked up a book that long (probably Martin’s A Dance With Dragons) and so I timidly opened the book to begin. What unfolded has the potential to become my new favorite series. I am emphasizing “my” because I am somewhat of a special case. It is difficult for me to combine two passions in my life: Star Wars and horses. Tricia Barr manages to do that and so much more. The future of Star Wars can learn from this promising new author.
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What Star Wars Can Learn From Marvel

I confess that I am not a Marvel comics reader. I did not grow up with Iron Man, Thor and Captain America as my heroes. However, they are now. MCU has fully captivated my inner child since I first saw Iron Man in 2008. I did not jump on the bandwagon right away as far as the other movies. I didn’t see Thor or Captain America in the theaters (something I regret) but when Avengers was coming out I decided that I needed to see the others in order to fully appreciate the movie. I’ve been kind of obsessed ever since.

tumblr_static_loki-1The first thing that I find important is to have the right casting. One of the main complaints from the Prequels is that some of the casting decisions were off and that hurt the movies. The casting for MCU has been really well done. They went out and found the right actors for the roles. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. His ability to fully embrace the character makes the movie more believable and enjoyable. Chris Hemsworth initially lured me in to the Thor movie but the chemistry between him and Tom Hiddleson is what keeps me coming back. I understand from the comics perspective that Hiddleson’s portrayal of Loki doesn’t always match up but I think it is easier to forgo that for fans because of how well the two actors fit together. Chris Evans’ ability to be a humble down home sexy is the perfect combination for what I want to see in a Captain America. Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury continues to show the brilliance of the casting decisions. MCU also had the guts to admit to a bad casting decision with the Hulk by recasting until they found the right fit for the series.

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A New Writer for Episode VII: Disappointment or Continued Optimism?

For anyone that read my article The Future of the Female Star Wars Fan knows that I was pretty excited about Michael Arndt’s involvement in the script of Episode VII. Ever since watching Padmé’s character destruction in the Prequel Trilogy I have been pining for a redo of female character roles in Star Wars. As the writer for The Hunger Games’ Catching Fire, Arndt made me more than a little excited about he upcoming Star Wars movie. He had the perfect experience of working closely with a strong female character as the main character of a movie.

Now with the knowledge that Arndt’s been replaced I am a little apprehensive about the movie. I have heard various reports on how they are proceeding. Some are saying that the new author is writing a completely new script and scrapping everything Arndt worked on. Other sources are saying that they are going to build upon the foundation of the story that Arndt created. I’m going to remain optimistic that they are going to build upon his story and hope he has laid the foundation for a female character centric story. Now I’ve mentioned before that J.J. Abrams also has experience writing strong female characters and he is still going to be involved in the script so there is still hope for a non-male centric story. It was interesting to see the reactions of people across the internet over the news that Lawrence Kasdan was taking over responsibilities as writer for Episode VII. This is the same man that brought us Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Let’s look closer at those movies, specifically from the female character perspective.

Empire Strikes Back


Leia’s characterization on Hoth is one of the best strong female roles I’ve seen in a Star Wars movie and the fantasy genre. She is shown as being a strong leader and concerned for her people. She throws Han’s assumptions back in his face and says the classic line of “I’d rather kiss a Wookiee.” She is also one of the last to leave as the Rebels evacuate Hoth making sure everyone else has the best chance to escape before barely escaping herself. The romance on the Falcon as they make repairs is cute and not cheesy. Leia still manages to remain independent despite Han’s best scoundrel efforts and stealing kisses. Then on Cloud City we see Leia standing up to Lando and having to be held back as she watches Han become encased in carbonite. She takes charge of their rescue as soon as Lando breaks her free and directs the Falcon back to find Luke. Again, I can’t say enough about how much I adore how Leia is written in ESB.

Return of the Jedi

In ROTJ Leia knowingly walks into Jabba’s palace undercover in the hopes of being able to rescue Han. She knows she has a slim chance of making it out without being caught (thus the backup plan of Luke coming in) and she goes anyways. Leia, who is one of the main leaders of the Rebellion, puts her own life on the line to save the one she loves. Then we get Leia wearing a slave costume…that’s all I’ll say about that. She does kill Jabba the Hutt, but ultimately is still rescued by Luke and Lando. Again Leia asks to go on the mission to Endor risking her life in order to help their cause. She takes off after Luke on a speeder bike through the forest and forms an alliance with the ewoks. She helps to save Han, Luke, and Chewie from being roasted at the paws of the ewoks and enlists their help in the battle for the shield generator. Leia takes a shot and still manages to shoot the stormtrooper and save them. She is consistently written as a strong female up to the end of the trilogy, something we didn’t get with Padmé in the PT.

Raiders of the Lost Ark – analysis provided by Jay Shah

Indiana-Jones-and-Marion-Ravenwood-indy-and-marion-3014709-360-285Marion Ravenwood was an entirely unexpected sort of character for the adventure genre. Though Indiana Jones was conceived by George Lucas to be a cross between adventure serials and the James Bond movies, Marion emerged to be more than just Indy’s girl — she was her own character. Indeed, Marion put it best herself: “I’m your god-damned partner!” From the very first time the audience sees her, Marion was written as a woman of action. She quite famously drinks a man under the table in her opening sequence. Before agreeing to help Indiana Jones on his quest, she gives him a verbal lashing for the cruel way he treated her when she was a young girl in love with him. She handles herself well in the fight to come, and though she eventually has to be rescued by Indy at the end of the film, she shows that she is clever and resourceful when required to fend for herself. Though Indy’s rival Belloq sees her as a prize to be won, she proves herself to be a full-fledged action counterpart to Indy. She wasn’t just a tough-girl stereotype either though, as the audience sees her wrestling with personal issues with Indy through the course of the movie. Through well-written dialogue and action sequences, Marion Ravenwood shows herself to be a character of courage, resourcefulness, and will who is nobody’s lesser. It’s something the writers of the second Indiana Jones film should have kept in mind.

Thanks Jay! I know, I know, I should be more familiar with the Indiana Jones movies but unfortunately I am not.

Kasdan also hasn’t had anything of significance in 20 years. 20 years. Think about that for a minute. How much has changed in the movie industry in 20 years? How much has changed in the sci fi/fantasy world in 20 years? The answer to those questions is enough to make me concerned for Episode VII’s fate. Kasdan’s last movie writer credit is about a woman who loves her dog more than her husband and then the guy loses the dog and she forces her family to stay and try to find the dog. I am a little apprehensive about his involvement because he hasn’t been consistently writing movies in the genre when geek movies are ‘in’. One would think he would’ve been a catch for one of these companies to pick up, so why not him?

I like how he has used female characters in the past. He gave us a strong heroine in Leia many years ago before it was ok to have girls really be a focal point and a hero on the big screen. We know he knows how to make a movie feel Star Warsy since he pretty much invented the feeling in ESB which is often touted as the best Star Wars movie. It is my hope that the team of Abrams and Kasdan will give us a what we’ve been asking for. The talent is there, the experience is there and hopefully the foundation is there.

Last Stands and Final Moments: When Killing Your Hero Works and When it Doesn’t

Character deaths have been part of Star Wars from the very beginning. We, as fans, don’t always like that our favorite character is no longer present in universe, but we can learn to accept them and objectively look at what works and doesn’t work for character deaths. Today we’ll look at movies vs. the EU and I look forward to your comments afterwards!

The Movies:

 Jinn: “Obi-Wan. Promise…Promise me you will train the boy.”

Kenobi: “Yes, Master.”

Jinn: “He…is the Chosen One. He…will bring balance. Train him…

Qui-Gon Jinn in the mentor role of the Prequel Trilogy is one of the first character deaths you’ll come across chronologically in the movies. To be honest I’m a little on the fence about his death. I hate to start off on the fence and I promise to not be on the fence on the others. Ultimately I feel like Jinn should’ve waited for Obi-Wan Kenobi. Why would you take on a Sith 1 on 1 when you could take him on 2 on 1? That’s not logical to me and is what puts me on the fence. I think his death did much to boost Kenobi’s character. We know that Kenobi is supposed to be special and it takes a special Jedi Master to train the chosen one, Anakin. Having Jinn die and Kenobi beat the Sith that took out his master 1 on 1 does quite a bit to help the viewer believe in Kenobi. So while I think Jinn’s death is necessary I don’t like how they made him quite stupid in the end and not wait for Kenobi.

 “I don’t know you anymore. Anakin, you’re breaking my heart!

You’re going down a path I can’t follow!

Padmé Amidala’s death isn’t even one I’d like to discuss. In the first two movies she is such an amazing and strong heroine that the gross misuse of her character in RotS makes me ill. It was so frustrating to watch her utter the quote above and know that it meant they were going to have her die in a silly way. I think I would have even accepted Anakin killing her when he choked her over having her give birth and hearing the medical droids saying that she is perfectly healthy but dying of a broken heart. It is an unbefitting death for your heroine to die from a broken heart.

“You can’t win Darth. If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death is exactly how I imagine a hero’s death. He distracted the bad guy so that the future of the galaxy could escape from the Death Star. Kenobi achieves the ultimate victory over the Sith because he robbed Vader of actually killing him as well as figuring out how to remain behind as a force ghost and continue to influence the events of the galaxy. He also got to rub it in Vader’s face with the quote above. Kenobi’s death after a life lived to its fullest was the right way to kill off a hero.

“You already… have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me.

Tell your sister… you were right.”

Vader/Anakin Skywalker is arguable to be included here but I am going to include it since it is one of my favorites (along with Kenobi’s) from the movies. Despite not being able to show facial expressions, one can clearly tell how conflicted Vader has become over Luke and the Emperor killing Luke. He steps in to sacrifice himself and succeed at what every Sith aspires to do: kill their Master. But in the process he also saves Luke and ultimately the galaxy, so was he redeemed? Was he acting still as a Sith with their desire to take out their Master or was he rejecting the Sith and acting out of love to save his son? It is so deliciously ambiguous in the moment that I love it. Obviously we see Vader proclaim he was redeemed and he shows up as a force ghost with the other Jedi later in the movie, but in the moment it is completely up to the viewer to decide if Vader died as a hero or not.

The Expanded Universe:

I love you, Chewie.
I should have told him that myself! He saved my children! He was always there for them, he died for them! And I never told him.” ~Han Solo

Chewbacca’s death is very unpopular in the EU. He was the first major movie character to be killed off and I loved it. I understand my opinion is not really on par with how others feel, but I can’t help it. Star Wars became exciting again with the thought that someone could die. There is also no better end for a hero than to sacrifice oneself for someone else. I will grant that it seems a little strange since we know Wookiees have a bit of jumping ability to think that Chewie couldn’t have tucked Anakin Solo under his arm like a running back and leapt aboard the Falcon. However, I appreciate what the authors were trying to do and how they gave Chewie a noble, hero’s death by having him complete his life debt to Han and making the ultimate sacrifice for Anakin Solo, who was supposed to be the future of the Jedi. A last stand that includes bellowing in defiance at a moon as it comes down upon you is the right way to kill off a hero.

I witnessed the death of perhaps the greatest of them all, the one called Anakin Solo, who gave his life so that the ones he loved might live.” ~Nom Anor

Again the EU gets a hero death right. You can whine all you want about how Anakin Solo shouldn’t have been killed off and I’d probably agree with you, but I am looking at how it was done and it was done well. I love the concept of Anakin’s death: to sacrifice himself for not only the lives of his friends and the girl he loved but the Jedi around the galaxy. During the Mykr mission at least four of the Jedi members were killed and multiple Jedi were wounded, including Anakin. He stayed behind to delay the Vong so that the others could complete the mission to kill the Voxyn queen and escape. Anakin fully immersed with the force and truly became the light of the Force in order to defeat the Vong but was unable to recover from such an immersion of Force energy. What happens to the Jedi he sacrificed himself for cheapens that sacrifice but in the moment Anakin Solo was awarded a hero’s death.

“I am Ganner. This threshold is mine. I claim it for my own. Bring on your thousands, one at a time or all in a rush. I don’t give a damn. None shall pass.

Ganner Rhysode may have the most epic death in Star Wars. I challenge my readers to find a more epic last stand for a Star Wars character. The quote is a bit of a rip off from LotR and Gandalf, but I’m willing to forgive that because once again the Star Wars EU killed off a hero correctly and gave them a spectacular last stand. While reading Traitor I was actually frustrated that Ganner was given such an awesome death. I really felt like another Jedi who was more fully developed should’ve been given this death. I think it would’ve been close to perfect for it to have been Kyp Durron instead to finally atone for his wrong doings in the destruction of Cardia to sacrifice himself so Jacen could kill the world brain and the Jedi could finally start to retake the galaxy. Instead the EU once again kills off one of the younger generation characters. Ganner takes out thousands of Yuuzhan Vong warriors with Anakin’s lightsaber becoming a legend and nightmare the Vong tell stories about for some time. Definitely the right way to kill off a hero.

You think…you’ve won, but Luke will crush you…and I refuse…to let you…
destroy the future…for my Ben.

Legacy of the Force begins a terrible downturn for hero deaths in the EU. The death of Mara Jade is arguably one of the worst in the history of Star Wars. The “logic” of Jacen’s sacrifice was so far off that even the apologists have a hard time with her death. Just the fact that Jacen felt the need for a sacrifice to truly become a Sith didn’t work for me. At the time of LotF we’ve had over a hundred books as well as numerous comics. We also had the PT where we experienced Anakin Skywalker’s fall and his transformation into Vader. At no point do we see Sith dwell on the concept of a sacrifice in order to become a true Sith. Usually the Sith are so self-involved that there would be nothing to sacrifice. So to begin with, Jacen needing a sacrifice is flawed and then choosing Mara as his sacrifice makes no sense. I acknowledge the argument made that Ben’s admiration is the sacrifice but that could have been accomplished in a different way. There was no reason to kill off a hero for Jacen to be a Sith.

Her death was brought on by the elimination and underdevelopment of characters Jacen’s age along with an unwillingness to kill off Tenel Ka for some reason. Luke, Han and Leia were out of the question. Jaina as well since they can’t kill off all the Solo children. They made the right choice by not killing off the next generation of Allana and Ben. So again, why the need for a killing sacrifice? Jacen was already believable as a bad guy and one turning Sith. The authors had Jade make the mistake of feeling like she had to do this alone which also isn’t logical. She has a literal army of Jedi to use and she decides that she alone can take out Jacen. If you’re going to use her Hand of the Emperor’s training as an excuse then you can’t have her fail. She was too good at what she did for the Emperor to have her taken out by a poison dart, because Jade would’ve thought of that trick herself.

Mara’s death and attempt to save Ben’s life also almost cost Ben his life. After her death he plotted to kill Jacen himself and if he had continued down that path he would have taken Jacen’s place as a dark Jedi at the very least. Given what we’ve seen from the direction of Star Wars after LotF, Mara’s death seems like a horribly executed way to get Luke free from him wife in order for him to retire. Yup…that makes total sense…

I had originally intended to discuss Kenth Hamner as well, but the more I wrote and the more I thought about it this one question kept bugging me. Hamner is known as a Jedi who is bland but does his duty with honor, grace and strength yet in the end is written as almost traitorous to the Jedi order so much so that they decide to do something uncharacteristic of Jedi and kill him instead of capturing or disabling him. Hamner believed he was doing the right thing and trying to keep the Jedi from treason. So I’m going to instead pose that question to you. Can we consider Hamner’s death the death of a hero?

How the Expanded Universe Can Benefit from the Sequel Trilogy

Our new contributor, Alexander, wrote an article the other day about a case for starting over and my opinion piece kind of piggybacks off of that. I had not read his piece before writing my own so I apologize if some of this overlaps.

To use a well known phrase, the EU has jumped the shark. Sometimes I feel like I am one of the only fans out there who still actually reads the majority of the books being released. I’m not a continuity buff. I don’t ask for much out of the EU except for the books to feel like Star Wars and a semi-decent story. I’m more of a character girl. I like to fall in love with characters in the books I read. For the most part that is why I can read just about anything since the majority of authors can at least write one character well enough to make me feel a connection to them. This is something I crave in life. So I can overlook minor errors in the books though I do admit that with the current plethora of sources the current authors have at their fingertips these errors really seem like laziness to me.


I generally liked the death of Chewbacca and mourned his loss alongside Han Solo while enjoying feeling closer to Han’s character through the depth at which he was written during that time. It was a different side of Han that we hadn’t gotten before and I ate it up. As I continued through the NJO I liked wondering if characters I’d grown attached to were going to make it through the series. The different author’s characterizations didn’t always fit together  seamlessly but each did something to further the main story. NJO worked in the Star Wars universe and provided a much needed change to the EU to shake up the universe for the characters and provide more depth than we were receiving before then.

I no longer feel like I am reading in the Star Wars universe when I pick up a book in what I’ll refer to as the current time period: the place where Han, Luke, and Leia are in the Legacy era. Crucible really solidified this feeling for me and I now believe the best think that can happen for the EU is to have a reboot from the Sequel Trilogy. I’d still like to see the ST keep certain characters, for instance, if Luke has a wife her name should be Mara Jade), but giving us a new set of circumstances from which to launch new stories would hopefully bring the Star Wars back to the EU.

I will mourn the loss of my beloved Corran Horn, but his story has been told and is still there for me to read whenever I feel like curling up with a good book on a rainy day. The EU has not a good enough job of developing characters for the future. The current EU is unable to successfully move on from Luke, Han, and Leia. Crucible was the goodbye from the spotlight for the big three and what do we have left?

Jaina Solo is the most developed character to take over but the cast of characters surrounding her are in name only and that is terrifying. Ben Skywalker is also a little developed, but characters around his age are even more sparse. He never received the same treatment as the Solos. There are no books about his early days at a Jedi academy like KJA’s Young Jedi Knights series which introduced us to what should have been the next generation of Jedi to take over the EU. So many of these characters were destroyed mentally or physically. They were seen as expendable and no one was created to fill the gaps left behind by the loss of these characters. I remember when people got excited to see Seha Dorvald in the Legacy of the Force series, but even she is 6 years older than Ben. So while Jaina and Ben should have well fleshed out peers, the mishandling of the younger characters has left the EU with a major hole that is going to be difficult to dig out of.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with killing off characters or having them go through a hard time. The mishandling comes from not creating new ones properly to replace the characters that have been sidelined with such issues. I can’t figure out why the EU authors have had such a hard time creating new characters. It isn’t just the heroes since we’ve seen this with antagonists coming back from the dead as well. Star Wars is an amazingly vast universe and we seem to continually get the same characters we’ve been getting for 22 years.


The Sequel Trilogy is the perfect excuse to start over. The authors can have the chance to do things right. They can develop more nonhuman characters. They can develop and use black, Chinese, Indian, pink skinned and green skinned humans. With the hopeful diminished presence of Luke, Han, and Leia from the ST, the authors can successfully expand on the next generation and properly surround the main characters with a compelling and fleshed out supporting cast. The EU was so successful as a story initially, not because the movies were successful, but because authors like Stackpole, Zahn and L. Niel Smith gave us books fleshing out new or smaller movie characters. Mara Jade, Wedge Antilles and Lando Calrissian really came alive in the series released by these authors. Each of them were surrounded by their own set of supporting characters who have shown up in the EU for many years following because the early authors did such a good job of creating compelling characters.

A new start is necessary because the EU has firmly entrenched itself into a hole that it cannot hope to climb out of. I look forward to seeing the Star Wars feel return to the books with the next generation of characters’ stories.