Star Wars Has Changed & That's OK
The Skywalkers have been featured in movie theaters and on television since 1977. 12 movies about the Skywalker family, one about Han Solo, those weird Ewok films, the Clone Wars film, Rogue One, and multiple television shows have been gifted to the fans from the science fiction gods that used George Lucas as their muse. There are people all over the globe that love this movies.
There are also people that love the idea that is Star Wars, but just absolutely hate any content that has come out since Episode 6: Return of the Jedi. Now, people are more than welcome to their own opinion. Folks will like what they like, same for music and food. The Star Wars saga, including the prequels, had a beginning and an end. With these more recent films, new characters and fresh plot-lines are just picking up speed.
Warning, some major spoilers below.
Star Wars in Safe Mode
The prequels' ending was no surprise.
- Anakin Skywalker had to turn evil, put on the suit, and become the cinema and cultural icon that is Darth Vader to set himself up as the villain for the original trilogy.
- Luke and Leia had to be born and separated
- Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda's are exiled to the boonies of the galaxy.
- Emperor Palpatine gains control of the galaxy after the Jedi are wiped out.
The huge twist of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke's father being Darth Vader, is now so widely known that my son, who can't sit through a movie he likes and has not seen any of the Star Wars films, knows the Luke/Vader twist. Empire is in my top 3 Star Wars movies and I remember being blown away by learning Luke's parentage. Mark Hamill's acting is so incredible and James Earl Jones' voice acting has become so ingrained in our culture; it's one of the best scenes in cinema history in my opinion.
Back on the Edge of Our Seats
Star Wars has become dangerous again. In the Force Awakens, Han Solo knew that there was a really good chance that his son would kill him. I knew Han would die as soon as Han and his son Ben, now Kylo Ren, were face-to-face. I knew it was coming and it still hurt.
Almost everyone I know hated The Last Jedi. If it wasn't Rey's story than it most definitely was what happened with Luke Skywalker. The "last hope" of the galaxy had quit the Jedi and had secluded himself to a mostly uninhabited planet to live out his days drowning in guilt and grief. I can see why fans would be upset. Even Luke Skywalker himself Mark Hamill has voiced displeasure in what happened in the movie. I really liked The Last Jedi and I thought that they way Luke's character was portrayed was unexpected and surprisingly realistic. He was conflicted and hesitant with what to do when it came to training Rey, the newest hope for the galaxy. Luke Skywalker may be a Jedi Master, but he's also only human. Mark Hamill's superb acting conveyed the result of being a failed hero with the weight of saving the Jedi religion on his shoulders. Luke's sacrifice at the end of The Last Jedi was hard for me as a fan of Star Wars but it was great for me as a fan of storytelling. If Luke had showed up in his X-Wing, beat Kylo Ren, and saved the day with lightsaber in hand, it would have been so cool. This is where the danger of new territory in storytelling becomes exciting and refreshing.
I love Star Wars. All of them. I hope that they keep making them. I hope that they make an Obi Wan Kenobi solo movie starring Ewan McGregor. I can't wait for my kids to be old enough to sit with their old man and watch a piece of my childhood.
If Star Wars kept with the same formula for every trilogy, it would lose something that this saga has become to the world. Star Wars is a story about wonder and excitement, hope and revenge, love and family. Star Wars makes you feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself.
You don't have to like them. You're allowed your own opinion. Let Star Wars grow up and gain the depth that we expect from every other movie. Nostalgia can only go so far and after that's all used up, the story and characters need to carry the weight.