Sunday, January 19, 2014

What Is Star Wars Canon and Does It Matter?

I see the news that Lucasfilm, with their move to Disney and with Marvel about to take over the license on Star Wars comics, has officially put together a Story Group to establish what elements of the many derivative works are canon and what aren't. A lot of fans were excited by the announcement, but I just kind of shrugged it off. If you enjoy the works themselves, does it matter if they're officially anointed? Or is it just a matter of needing validation?

I ask because, when it comes down to it, I simply don't care about the Expanded Universe. I was excited 20-odd years ago when Heir to the Empire came out, but I never really got into the whole thing because I just never thought it was very good. To a lot of fans, though, it became more the preferred version of Star Wars than the Prequels. I liked one or two novels here or there, but I stopped reading them pretty early on because a lot of them seemed like the same thing over and over. Same with the Dark Horse comics. I would read a good story here and there, but mostly they just seemed repetitive and too concerned with being "cool" rather than really expanding the universe in an interesting way.

But, as I said, there are a lot of fans who love that stuff and are genuinely worried that the move to Disney is going to erase that work. But I've often felt like, you know, if you deeply enjoyed that work and it enhanced your enjoyment of Star Wars and it became integral to the way you enjoyed the Star Wars universe, does it matter if Lucasfilm proclaims it official?

I guess for a lot of fans, it does. I just can't bring myself to care about Mara Jade or Grand Admiral Thrawn or any of that stuff. It's not that I'm jaded or too above it or anything; it's just that I don't enjoy it. That said, I do enjoy The Clone Wars and the old Marvel comics. You have Mara Jade? I have Plif the Hoojib. You have Jaina and Jacen Solo? I have Jaxxon. I have Ahsoka Tano. I have things that are integral to me and my enjoyment. 20-odd years ago, no one cared about acknowledging anything David Michelinie or Mary Jo Duffy wrote in the 80s as any kind of canon. But you know what? I'm fine with it. The boy who made sure his Luke Skywalker action figure also had a little bunny rabbit from a pack of farm animal toys so he could say it was Plif didn't grow up to be someone who took it personally when Lucasfilm chose not to acknowledge it. I could still enjoy them without official approval.

What I'm saying is, it seems like the works based on Star Wars are so vast, and there's such a deep well to draw from, that it's transcended its origins and can now become whatever you want it to be. Let's be honest: a great deal of the anger at the Prequels comes from the fact that George Lucas almost completely ignored the Expanded Universe and did what he wanted to do with his story. EU fans needed validation then, and they're demanding it now. I've had too many conversations with fans that were angry at me for not giving a shit about the X-Wing novels in my life to really want to be someone who takes continuity and canon very seriously. It's tiresome.

Just enjoy what you enjoy. Not everyone thinks Boba Fett is cool. Not everyone wants every SW story to be about how yet another person had a run in with Han Solo, Center of the Galaxy. And me personally... I really don't care about canon tiers and whether or not a story "counts."

Not everyone gives a shit about Hoojibs or Lahsbees or Iskalonions or Zeltrons or even Ewoks or Gungans, but I do. And it doesn't affect my enjoyment if you don't. And it shouldn't affect your enjoyment if I do. Star Wars is big enough for the both of us, and I do not envy the guys who have to parse through two decades of Expanded Universe in a possibly misguided attempt to be all things to all people.

Whatever movie you make next, people are going to complain about it, anyway.


The Flying Dachshund said...

I'm sure a lot of what I loved from the expanded stuff... Jaxxon, the Ewoks movies/cartoons, and even Ackmena (Bea Arthur in a Star Wars project?!? Who WOULDN'T LOVE that?!?) will probably be ignored... But that's okay... They still happened in MY Star Wars Universe... ;^)

SamuraiFrog said...

YES! What is a Star Wars Universe without Ackmena? Not a Star Wars Universe that exists in my heart.

Nathan said...

I'm not up the Star Wars Expanded Universe myself, but I do sometimes ponder the canon question with other fictional universes. A guy I know from Oz fandom has both a Star Wars and an Oz timeline at, and since the latter has some stuff I wrote, I'm inclined to approve of it. It apparently doesn't matter to many fans, though, and that's okay.

Jaxxon is the big green rabbit, right? I can't say I know anything about him, but he looks cool, so I'd want to see him in a movie. After all, what isn't better with giant rabbits?