As world shattering to pop culture and storytelling as the original Star Wars trilogy was, the movies were not without their flaws. None of the pronunciations of planets or species were consistent. The worst actors in A New Hope were the Stormtroopers. They weren’t even actors! They were voiced by disk jockeys across the street so the studio could avoid paying for real voice actors. Han Solo was slated to die in battle in the original script for Return of the Jedi but according to Harrison Ford, “George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”
To be fair, there was obviously great merit in the films. They spawned the Extended Universe (now known as Legends), a treasure trove of books, TV shows, video games, toys and comics that have defined two generations of fans. And now a third generation has the opportunity to see a new trilogy, an entirely new Star Wars galaxy and whatever other madness Disney decides to plaster their poor young minds with.
The entertainment empire has a chance to both pay homage to and revolutionize Star Wars. They have started off on what seems to be a good foot with the new TV show, Star Wars: Rebels. Many of the ships, droids and characters are based off of drawings by the artist Ralph McQuarrie, who was responsible for the concept art for the original trilogy. On the other hand, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid when crafting the next saga in the Star Wars galaxy. Here are just a few of them…
Being a Sith does not automatically make you a white raisin
No one can forget the moment when Luke finally removes Darth Vader’s mask. The towering, powerful monster robed in black is revealed to be nothing more than a scared, disfigured man. It was a great metaphor for the way evil can atrophy the soul. The Emperor’s hunched form served as a similar metaphor and the Extended Universe ran wild with this idea for years.
Then the prequels were released and Lucas went against what the Extended Universe had been preaching for ages; that the Dark Side is a one way ticket to Grey Wrinkle City. No, in the world of Lucas, Anakin’s skin is melted off and Palpatine accidentally gives himself plastic surgery using Force Lightning.
Two other examples of untarnished Sith, Darth Maul and Count Dooku, were also displayed in the prequels. Their bodies were not damaged by their use of the Dark Side, solidifying Lucas’ difference of opinion. Of course Dooku looks wrinkled, but that’s just because Christopher Lee, who played Dooku, was born in 1922. Cut the guy some slack.
It seems Disney is already attempting to sidestep this conundrum in Star Wars: Rebels with the Inquisitor, the antagonist in their new cartoon. His race, the Pau’ans of Utapau, already have a chilling appearance complete with pale faces, pointy teeth and some disturbing looking eyes. The Inquisitor comes prepackaged with menace.
All Hutts are rich and greedy
In real life, if you were to say “they’re all greedy slime-balls,” or “they’re all ruthless killers” referring to an ethnic group of human beings, you would rightfully be viewed as an intolerant bigot. But in the Star Wars galaxy, Hutts really are, for the most part, greedy slime-balls. And while the Mandalorians have a sense of honor, they also love killing pretty much anything.
Every once in a while there is a departure from this caricature, vis-à-vis Dr. Ogorubb in the computer game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, the scientist who helps the Republic save the people of Makeb. But even the good old doc has greedy tendencies and has to clarify that he is not the bad guy.
Similarly, the cartoon Star Wars: The Clone Wars goes against the grain by depicting the current Mandalorians in power as a peaceful people allied to the Republic. Given the warmongering history of the Mandalorians, this is a surprising and difficult-to-believe turn of events. So it is not surprising when the peaceful leaders of Mandalore are usurped by the violent Clan Vizsla, a group of Mandalorians allied with Darth Maul.
These cultural stereotypes, and the instances when they are broken, are simply unrealistic. Lucas was a firm believer in the idea that the audience should be given as little back-story and explanation as possible. He let the action speak for itself (except for, you know, the giant yellow letters rolling through space). It was meant to be understood that not all Hutts are greedy and not all Mandalorians constantly thirst for war. People are people.
Does your plot need spice? We’ve got clones for that!
Anytime there’s a plot hole or no plot at all, it’s a safe bet that clones are going to be involved. In the Star Wars galaxy, everybody gets cloned. There is a treasure trove of examples.
In the Dark Empire comic book series, the Emperor clones himself to come back and finish the job of turning Luke to the Dark Side. The only reason the video game The Force Unleashed was able to swing a sequel was because cloning was an easy excuse to bring back the main character, Galen Marek. Timothy Zahn in his critically acclaimed Heir to the Empire book series goes even farther with two clones: one deranged clone of Jedi Master Jorus C’Baoth and an evil Luke Skywalker clone to boot.
While the use of clones served to continue storylines that fans wanted more of, the madness needs to stop. Star Wars is a story about lineage and destiny, not to be confused with playing the same plot over and over again.
Admittedly, this is a laughably incomplete list of Star Wars tropes that need fixing. There are many others that are more worn out and saggy than Palpatine’s extra neck skin. By starting the Extended Universe from scratch, Disney has the potential to create new norms for Star Wars while it honors the mountain of storytelling it is quietly working on. Hopefully the result is worth the wait.