How The Extended Universe Hurt Star Wars Films

February 7th, 2016 | by Jonathan Thompson
How The Extended Universe Hurt Star Wars Films
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Star Wars: The Force Awakens did a lot to reset the Star Wars universe, but not everyone is happy. Our Jonathan Thompson is here to explain the issues he has with the Star Wars expanded universe.

A week after it was released, I saw Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens and, while I did enjoy it, I wasn’t blown away by it.

It’s a great movie and one of the best I’ve seen in a long time that wasn’t connected to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. It was definitely better than Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, but I left the theatre feeling somewhat let down, to be honest. I blame people like Matt Lanter and Freddie Prinze, Jr. because of their involvement in expanding the Star Wars universe. The results of their fine work has left me feeling as if 2-hour Star Wars stories simply aren’t enough for me anymore.

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Star Wars

Credit: Disney

I’m not criticizing any part of Star Wars, so don’t jump onto the comments section too quickly. One of my earliest movie memories is of the original trilogy. It was way back before I could really remember, I know that I was a handful at bed time. It got to the point my mother sat me down in front of the television and turned on either Episode IV or V, so I wouldn’t bug her.

I was born in ’81, so I got to watch A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back before I could even understand what a movie was. By the time Return of the Jedi came out, I was already refusing to even close my eyes at night, until I had watched some part of a Star Wars movie.

1-6 poster

Credit: Disney

When the prequel trilogy came out, I was as excited as everyone else. Before I saw each movie, I had to read the novelization. I was enthralled by the stories and enjoyed each movie. I even enjoyed The Phantom Menace, mostly because Ray Park as Darth Maul and Natalie Portman as Queen Amidala.

After I had finally watched Revenge of the Sith, I was truly happy with the trilogy they made. No, they weren’t great movies, but they were a good way to tell the audience how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.

After Episode II, I was telling my friends that I couldn’t wait to find out about the Clone Wars. A war on a galactic scale was so incredible to me that I was disappointed when Episode III jumped ahead to the end of the war.

It made sense from the perspective of the film makers, but it still angered me.

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Clone Wars Logo

Credit: Disney

Star Wars: The Clones Wars went to Netflix and I binge watched it multiple times. I even called in sick on a random Tuesday, just so I could finish the show for the first time. Listening to Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker, the brash yet hopeful hero, was enchanting. The wild-eyed apprentice that complimented Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, was voiced perfectly by Ashley Eckstein and let the viewers see what happens in the life of a Padawan. Of course, my favorite part was the story of Darth Maul, voiced by Star Wars veteran Sam Witwer. He was so creepy and deranged that I wanted to only watch Maul’s tale.

I wish I had words to describe the events on Mortis with the Father, Son, and Daughter of the Force. It answered questions I didn’t even know I wanted answers to.

After being acquired by Disney, Star Wars launched Rebels on Disney XD. I wasn’t excited to watch it until I heard Prinze as the Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Vanessa Marshall as Hera. It was thrilling, yet not so mature that I couldn’t watch it if my daughter was around. The tale of Ezra and the crew of the Ghost is a great story, better than I thought would be possible on a network like Disney XD.

New Dawn

Credit: Disney

For Christmas, and to keep my love of Rebels going, I bought Star Wars: Rise of the Empire. It explained how Kanan met Hera in the Gorse System and their adventure together that destroyed an evil and sadistic cybernetic member of Palpatine’s inner-circle.

Star Wars: New Dawn was such a page turner and I could barely contain myself.

Tarkin

Credit: Disney

Along with New Dawn, Rise of the Empire came out with a story that explained the rise of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin. Born on the outer rim planet of Eriadu, it told about his young life and the strange ritual his family put every Tarkin through. It shows what shaped the man into being one of the most evil men in the Star Wars Galaxy and the guy that would blow up an entire planet to get information on the Rebels. By the end of the book, I was actually rooting for Tarkin and Vader to succeed in their mission.

How messed up is that?

The Star Wars extended universe of cartoon, books and comics has given me so much more than what the movies can now offer, which I begrudgingly understand, since they only have a limited amount of time.

I am looking forward to Episode VIII and Rogue One, but I am lowering my expectations for them so I can enjoy the experience.

Thankfully we, as Star Wars fans, have an enormous universe to absorb. Long may it be so!

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Let’s ComiConverse about Star Wars. Share your opinion in the comments section below.

 

Jonathan Thompson is a Contributor for @ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @Jon_Toast

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21 Comments

  1. Shawn Oates says:

    I think that’s a very…odd complaint to have. I mean, isn’t that exactly what this movie was supposed to do? Make you want more Star Wars? The acting in The Force Awakens was definitely better than any of the acting in the television series’ (even though I immensely enjoyed the voice acting in those shows), and it returned Star Wars to its mythical roots, rather than the heavily-laden sci-fi of the prequels. If anything, the expanded universe was harmful to the franchise because the films became too reliant on them…you shouldn’t have to read a 450 page novel to know why the Trade Federation does what it does in the Phantom Menace. It’s unfair to the audience, the vast majority of whom are not hardcore Star Wars fans like us, but who enjoy the movies nonetheless. It’s a sign of poor storytelling, which is where I hoped the conversation in this piece would go. But this is much more subjective than that.

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