Fan vs. Canon

For someone who isn’t really a fan of Star Wars one way or another – although I do enjoy the story and like a nice movie full of Bright Shiny Things and googly aliens as much as the next guy – I suppose I have gone on at some considerable lengths about the films. And not just the films, and their up-coming sequels, but into full meta-review-levels and heck, even beyond.

Now, with thanks to my esteemed colleague Mister dreameling for this scoop, it looks like Disney’s plans for Star Wars not only involves making Episode VII, Episode VIII and Episode IX, it also involves formulating an official canon and throwing out a bunch of the Expanded Universe quasi-canon. Yes, some lucky Star Wars geeks have just landed the job of a lifetime.

This is pretty much a non-issue for me. I’m just not that hardcore. I don’t really care if they get rid of a bunch of stuff. It’s not like anyone seems to have much respect for Star Wars continuity anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, from what I understand of this it looks like they’re going to have a lot of choice about what they put in the new movies and thus into the new for-reals canon, and for my own sake I hope they choose to put in Grand Admiral Thrawn … but I’ve learned to live, one day at a time, without a canonical film version of Grand Admiral Thrawn and I will probably manage to live, one day at a time, in a continued absence of said canonical film version. But it would just be neat is all.

Grand Admiral Thrawn

In case you were unaware, that thing around his neck actually repels the Force, and yet doesn’t cause the systematic breakdown of the very fabric of reality. IN YOUR FACE, VADER AND PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE ELSE.

Shit, the opening text-scroll to Episode VII can just be the lyrics to I’m Blue by Eiffel 65. I wouldn’t even care.

Star Wars VII crawl

Just saying. Go here for full crawl effect.

Anyway, in my mind there are movies (or sometimes movies-and-TV-shows), and then there are books. Either can have canon. I can’t think of any creation that has a combined and synchronised canon, although I’m sure they exist. They would have to take the same format as the Star Wars stuff, I would think – since as soon as you have a book, and a film adaptation of that book, only one of them can logically be canon. The only way to do it would be to have expanded in-universe fiction, which is how Star Wars seems to have rolled.

Case in point: A Game of Thrones on TV, and A Song of Ice and Fire in books. They’re pretty much separate and distinct. A lot of it overlaps and can count as canon for both, but they have to have separate canons because shit, they just do. They’re different. There are different characters doing different things, they’re mutually exclusive. Ditto for the Lord of the Rings stuff. It’s not a good thing or a bad thing – it’s just a thing.

Like I say, I’m sure there are concepts that have combined canons. I don’t think comic books and comic book movie adaptations manage it, but I could ramble off for pages on that topic. Certainly the X-Men and larger Marvel universe stuff is all over the place and there’s no reconciling them. But then it seems like the canon of comic book movies is only as permanent as the next reboot anyway. And the canon of comic books themselves, wow. You got a week?

Spiderman has no chance at canon, at least as far as the movies are concerned. The same goes for Superman and Batman. Their reboots and sequels and prequels and TV shows all clash with one another. X-Men and The Avengers might be semi-coherent and stable in film, because of the extended franchise and series effort they’re making there. Maybe DC Comics will catch up with that. But still, it’s all distinct from the comics.

Then there’s Star Trek and Doctor Who.

Trek has a canon. It’s the TV show and the movies. It got kicked really quite hard indeed in the testicles by the movie reboots, but there’s still a solid canon, divided across two separate timelines. Who has a canon, of sorts, in the TV show. I know there are books and all sorts of other stuff, for both of these stories, and it will take a harder-core fan than I am to assign canon-values to all of it, but at a rough guess I would say that there’s not really any canon in other publications. Where mini-episodes and online movies and other “sanctioned” fan pieces fit in, I think in the end it boils down to the creators deciding “this is now part of the story”.

And yes, there’s always going to be inconsistencies within the canon. Trek tries to cover that shit up or explain it.

Really, Captain?

Doctor Who, meanwhile, just revels in it as far as I can tell.

So, from that point of view, I guess it’s just time for Star Wars to join the Regulated Canon club. It’s not like any of this stuff needs to be thrown out permanently. “Not part of the canon today” doesn’t mean “never part of the canon ever”. Sooner or later, they’re going to want to make more movies or TV shows. Probably sooner rather than later.

All in all, I feel pretty positive about the way this is headed.

Galaxy far, far away

Thrawn is out there. Somewhere.
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16 Responses to Fan vs. Canon

  1. dreameling says:

    Don’t get me wrong, from what I understand of this it looks like they’re going to have a lot of choice about what they put in the new movies and thus into the new for-reals canon, and for my own sake I hope they choose to put in Grand Admiral Thrawn … but I’ve learned to live, one day at a time, without a canonical film version of Grand Admiral Thrawn and I will probably manage to live, one day at a time, in a continued absence of said canonical film version. But it would just be neat is all.

    Thrawn certainly seems to be the favorite EU character / storyline that people would like to see imported into the new movies. Is it the character or concept that’s cool, or are Zahn’s books just really good? (Never read them myself.)

    If I had to pick something outside the movies to include in the new Canon, it would be Ahsoka Tano and Asajj Ventress from The Clone Wars animated series. Both are just cool ass-kicking female Jedi/Sith characters that actually get decent character development over the seasons. Basically, I just wanna see female force users in the movies.

    This is pretty much a non-issue for me. I’m just not that hardcore. I don’t really care if they get rid of a bunch of stuff. It’s not like anyone seems to have much respect for Star Wars continuity anyway.

    Ditto. (I would call myself a Star Wars fan, but I’m mostly a fan of the movies. The Clone Wars is decent entertainment, and Knights of the Old Republic is an awesome video game and also a pretty good comic book series, but I don’t really care where they fit in in the canon or don’t.)

    • stchucky says:

      Is it the character or concept that’s cool, or are Zahn’s books just really good?

      The character, and the concept, is really interesting. He’s brilliant. And the books aren’t half bad either.

      Basically, I just wanna see female force users in the movies.

      Agreed. If they could then have a conversation that doesn’t involve Yoda or Palpatine or Vader, we could put a tick in that box too.

      The Clone Wars is decent entertainment, and Knights of the Old Republic is an awesome video game and also a pretty good comic book series, but I don’t really care where they fit in in the canon or don’t.

      Same. Although I have never watched or played either of the above.

  2. JonathanBloom says:

    The thing that really gets me with the Expanded Universe in Star Wars is that they’ve got literally an infinite world to explore, yet the majority of the stories end up taking place in one form or another on Tatooine. Which makes Luke in Episode 4 either the most ignorant, or the unluckiest farmboy, thinking that nothing ever happens there – only for there to be a massive intergalactic jedi orgy just around the next dune.

    • stchucky says:

      Excellent point. It’s like the most tragic possible intersection of the Farmboy trope and the Law of Conservation of Characters and Scenery. At least in Doctor Who when they did that exact same thing to Donna Noble, they made it a genuine tragedy.

    • dreameling says:

      yet the majority of the stories end up taking place in one form or another on Tatooine

      What I like about the Knights of the Old Republic stories is that they take you way way back in time, dump all the familiar characters in favor of an entirely new cast [1], and add a lot of cool Jedi mythology and truly epic space opera stuff. Some might say too epic and too mythological, but I like my Jedis superpowerful and ancient-esque. (Didn’t quite get how the technology was pretty much the same back then, though.)

      Incidentally, Tatooine still features. (But only as part of an ensemble.)

      [1] Granted, when you set your stories 4000 years in the past and there’s no time travel involved (thank god), an entirely new cast is pretty much the only option you have.

      • stchucky says:

        Didn’t quite get how the technology was pretty much the same back then, though.

        Well (although I can see this once again spiralling out of control into a new mass of message-boardesque comments), maybe there’s a sort of exponential development principle in play? Not as in exponential increase, but curved in the other way – very rapid rise to a certain level, then only very minor (and increasingly small) advancements beyond that “max level”?

        Doesn’t really mesh with what we’ve seen of technology so far, but … heck I don’t know, maybe it does. Maybe there is only so far it can go.

        In purely storytelling terms, of course, there’s a practicality to it and it’s maybe best left unexplained. You can either go back in time and have them all using sticks and stones (or bullets and anthrax), or you can have some extrapolated future-tech which is basically magic. Which … well, the Force kind of has that going on already.

        Alternatively, have something more advanced, then come up with some fun apocalypse-reason why it’s not around anymore.

        But like I say, I speak from a position of pretty much complete ignorance on these stories. Didn’t stop you when we were talking about King, though, so here I am.

      • dreameling says:

        Well (although I can see this once again spiralling out of control into a new mass of message-boardesque comments), maybe there’s a sort of exponential development principle in play? Not as in exponential increase, but curved in the other way – very rapid rise to a certain level, then only very minor (and increasingly small) advancements beyond that “max level”?

        That’s how I mostly rationalize it. Plus there’ve been all sorts of galactic wars and disasters and regime changes along the way that have probably oscillated the rate and direction of development over the centuries. Plus and also, for all we know, there may have been all manner of advances happening under the hood and behind the scenes. Hyperspace travel looks the same, but perhaps the hyperdrive engine technology (which we never see) has developed by leaps and bounds. Perhaps shields are now stronger, energy weapons more powerful, space ship hulls more resistant to stress and damage, and so on.

        It doesn’t quite work, of course, but I can live with it. Ultimately, Star Wars has a very specific visual aesthetic (even between the originals and the prequels), and I don’t want stories messing with that. Ships and weapons and droids and whatnot just need to look a certain iconic way.

        But like I say, I speak from a position of pretty much complete ignorance on these stories. Didn’t stop you when we were talking about King, though, so here I am.

        Touché.

        And like you need an excuse on your own blog?

      • dreameling says:

        In purely storytelling terms, of course, there’s a practicality to it and it’s maybe best left unexplained.

        Oh, definitely best left unexplained.

  3. Auri says:

    Basically all I care about is that they throw out Mara Jade. Everything else is a bonus.

  4. Pingback: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (1) | Hatboy's Hatstand

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