Why I’m Not Interested In the New Star Wars Canon

I typically tend to avoid talking about the new canon or Disney on Skywalker Family FanPage, because that’s not what the page is about. I want it to be a place for people to appreciate the Legends universe, not complain about Disney. With this post, I’m not trying to bash Disney, the new canon, or anyone who enjoys the new Star Wars story. With that being said, I feel like it’s long overdue that I actually explain the reasons I’m against the new canon.

When it was first announced that Disney bought Star Wars, I knew that the Expanded Universe would probably be done away with, but I held out hope until the official announcement that de-canonized it. I wasn’t surprised, but I was still sad, angry, and hurt. I tried to keep an open mind, however, and decided I would give the new canon a chance.

I never could actually bring myself to read any of the new books in the new continuity, though. I did read a bit of the new Darth Vader and Princess Leia comics, but only because I heard there were references to my favorite character, Padme. Those brief references were not worth it, and I wasn’t impressed with what I read.

Still, for a long time I planned on seeing The Force Awakens in theaters, or at the very least borrowing the DVD from my local library. After all, the reason I got into the Expanded Universe in the first place was because I wanted to know what happened after Return of the Jedi, and especially what happened to the Skywalker family. I couldn’t help being curious about this new version of the story, even though I hated the thought of a post-ROTJ universe without Jaina, Jacen, Anakin, Ben, and my other favorite characters. When the first trailer for TFA came out, I was actually excited about the new movie. I didn’t get involved in the Star Wars fandom until several years after the Prequels came out, so I never got to experience the excitement leading up to a brand new movie.

I don’t remember exactly when my feelings changed, but at some point I vowed that I would never watch The Force Awakens, never watch any new Star Wars movie, or read a novel or comic from the new canon (except in the highly unlikely scenario that an entire movie, novel, or comic series is dedicated to Padme). I had simply had enough.

Had enough of what? Had enough of Disney’s treatment of Star Wars, the marketing for TFA, and the lies repeatedly told by Abrams, Kennedy, etc about the Legends timeline. Why should I give their new stuff a chance when they kept bashing the old stuff that I loved?

It wasn’t so much the reboot that bothered me, because although I was at first furious that they were rewriting the story that I love so much, I eventually realized that they can’t make me forget about that story, no matter how hard they try. What made me so upset was that they refused to 1) at least give the Legends continuity a proper ending 2) to admit that before the reboot, the Legends continuity was the official Star Wars canon, and 3) give credit where credit was due.

Let’s ignore for the moment that the majority of the marketing for TFA was centered around subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) anti-Prequel sentiment, because that’s a separate issue. What bothered me most were claims like “first female villain,” “first post-ROTJ novel,” and “first strong female character,” because these were all things that the old EU had in abundance. There were numerous strong female characters, female villains, and post-ROTJ novels in the Legends timeline. Sure, they no longer officially “existed,” but at one point they did. Now, I realize that what they really meant by those claims was “first in the new canon.” But they never actually said that. It bothered me that they were acting like those things had never, ever been done before in the history of Star Wars, and that those were new and exciting concepts they had just come up with. It was like they were constantly insulting all the hard work that numerous writers had put into the old stories and characters, by denying that they had ever existed in the first place. I know Star Wars is a franchise where artists and writers never have complete ownership of their work, but it still annoys me to see so many ideas taken from Legends and marketed as “new.” After all, one of the reasons for the reboot was so new storytellers could have “creative freedom” and go in a completely different direction. What was the point if we’re just going to get watered-down versions of old characters and stories?

Then there’s the statements from Kennedy and Abrams like “it wasn’t clear what was canon in the Expanded Universe” and “there were a lot of contradictions and the story was a mess.” And no, those aren’t the exact quotes, but you get the point. First of all, it was perfectly clear what was canon. There was a canon hierarchy, and unless something was marked as “Infinities” or directly contradicted by one of Lucas’s films, it was canon. There are many, many examples that prove that the Legends timeline was the official story of Star Wars before Disney came along and said otherwise. To say that it was never canon, or that it wasn’t clear what was canon, is just a lie. As far as the contradictions go, there were minor contradictions here and there, but most were explained away in-universe and/or didn’t affect the overall story. For the most part, everything–adult novels, young adult novels, comics, video games, etc–formed one, cohesive story with Lucas’s six movies. It was all part of the same whole, and anyone who has actually read more than a few books would know that. Events in one story had an effect on future stories.

Perhaps the lie that made me angriest of all, though, was when Abrams said “we didn’t have to reboot anything.” In fact, that may be when I firmly decided that I wanted nothing to do with the new canon. Apparently hundreds of novels and comics isn’t anything? I realize he probably meant that they didn’t have to reboot the previous movies, but that again implies that the movies were the only thing that counted, and that everything else either never existed or wasn’t canon. And that just isn’t true. By repeatedly denying the existence of Legends and/or saying that it never mattered anyway, those now in charge of Star Wars made me lose any interest that I once had in giving the new canon a chance.

And of course the one thing that Legends fans want most is for the Legends timeline to be continued as a separate story from the new canon. It doesn’t have to continue indefinitely (although that would be nice)–but at the very least we deserve a few more novels to wrap up the storylines that were left hanging, at several points in the timeline. I can’t speak for other fans on this, but the storylines I most want to see finished are those begun in Fate of the Jedi and Crucible. There was so much set up for future stories in those books, and so many unanswered questions. Ideally I would like to see enough novels to fill the large gap between Crucible and the Legacy comics (and I could write an entire post about how that gap would have been a perfect spot to place the new movies, without the need for a reboot in the first place), but I would settle for just the cancelled Sword of the Jedi Trilogy if it answered some questions about how the galaxy goes from the circumstances in Crucible to the circumstances in the Legacy comics. Until Disney or Lucasfilm or Del Rey or whoever decides these things decides to continue or at least give a proper conclusion to the Legends continuity, I won’t be giving any of my time or attention to the new canon. If Legends were to ever be continued and given the proper acknowledgement, I might consider watching or reading some of the new stuff, but only as “what if?” stories, because to me Legends will always be the true canon.

Again, I have no problem with other people enjoying the new canon, but to me it will never be Star Wars, and the attitude that those in charge have towards Legends made me lose any interest in giving their new story a chance.

 

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Essay on Mara Jade

Just for fun, I thought I’d share this essay that I wrote several years ago for a school assignment. I thought about editing it and improving it a bit, but finally decided to share it as I originally wrote it. The assignment was to choose a character from a novel of our choice that is perceived as “evil” and write a literary analysis about why they aren’t evil. It was perfect because at the time I had just finished reading Allegiance and was about halfway through Choices of One, so naturally I chose to write about Mara Jade. Here is the essay:

Mara Jade: Emperor’s Hand

            Most Star Wars fans consider the Empire to be evil. Emperor Palpatine is a Sith Lord, and keeps the galaxy in line with fear. Therefore most people draw the conclusion that Mara Jade, as the Emperor’s Hand, must also be evil.  She does his bidding, going on secret missions to spy on, punish, or assassinate his enemies. She kills those guilty of treason against the Empire. But in Allegiance and Choices of One, both books by Timothy Zahn, it is revealed through some of her thoughts and actions that Mara is only doing what she thinks is right. We see that Mara Jade is not evil, but is idealistic and believes that she is helping the Empire bring order and justice to the galaxy.

One of Mara’s main jobs as Emperor’s Hand is to kill the Emperor’s enemies and anyone guilty of treason. But she only kills once she has gathered evidence that proves without a doubt that the person is guilty. Timothy Zahn emphasizes this by saying “She hadn’t proved Ferrouz’s guilt. Not yet. All she’d proved was that someone high up in the palace was cooperating with the Rebels…No, Mara couldn’t be absolutely sure Ferrous was the traitor until she’d gotten into the palace’s own records…She would pretend that Ferrouz was still loyal, and this was some serious misreading of the evidence on her part. Tomorrow, once she proved his treason beyond a glimmer of a doubt, she would do her job” (Choices of One, 153). Someone that is truly evil would not take the time to make sure of the person’s guilt. They would simply kill the person and sort it out later. Even after someone’s guilt has been proven, Mara isn’t happy or pleased about it. She feels regret. “With a sigh, Mara closed down the last of the files and shut down her borrowed computer. She’d hoped, she really had, that Ferrouz would prove innocent of the charges the Emperor had leveled against him. She’d wanted to believe that such a rising political figure had simply been duped, that the resources of the palace had been manipulated by someone else for their own advantage. But the records were clear” (Choices of One, 191). When she goes to do her job, she gives the person time to defend themselves, and seriously considers that they might still be innocent, or at least not completely guilty. “Treason was still treason…but if Ferrouz was really being coerced, it was worth holding off on his death sentence until she looked into it” (Choices of One, 197). In one case, Mara thought she was wrong about a person’s guilt, and did everything in her power to stop the sentence from being carried out. “But if Caaldra was telling the truth, then Choard could very well be a completely innocent man. An innocent man whom she’d just sent five stormtrooper deserters to kill. She clenched her teeth. She had to get out of here, and she had to get out now….If Brightwater had been right about the governor having guests, the ballroom might be a good place to start looking for him. She only hoped she could get to him before LaRone did” (Allegiance, 375, 379). Mara does not kill in anger or revenge. She believes that she is helping the galaxy “…she would do her job. And the Empire would be a better place for it” (Choices of One, 153). She also does not kill when it is not necessary, as shown by another character’s thoughts: “LaRone nodded. Jade was ruthless enough with the traitors she’d been sent to deal with, but he’d seen her go out of her way to keep the innocent and the loyal out of her line of fire” (Choices of One, 172). Mara’s job might be to assassinate enemies of the Empire, but she does not take her job lightly, and she doesn’t do it carelessly.

Mara shows a level of compassion to people that is highly unusual for agents of the Empire. One example of this is “‘If I don’t make it,’ he rasped, his eyes half closed as he gazed into her face, ‘bury me in space. You hear me?’ ‘You’re going to make it,’ Mara said, the lie coming automatically to her lips even as a surge of frustration ran through her. She’d been taught a dozen Force-techniques for self-healing, but nothing that could be used on others” (Allegiance, 278). She is sympathetic to a criminal that she only just recently met. Someone truly evil would not care when someone she barely knows dies, and she certainly would not feel guilty about or even think about the fact that she only knows how to heal herself, and not other people. Later in the book, Mara even takes the time to honor the criminal’s last request, even though she knows the Emperor would not approve. “An hour later she dropped the ship back out of hyperspace to carry out Tannis’s last request. The Emperor had little patience with memorials, Mara knew, with extra contempt for the practice of saying words over the fallen. Mara said a few words anyway, half remembered ones from her childhood, before consigning Tannis’s body to the emptiness of space” (Allegiance, 287-288). In another situation, Mara saved the life of someone she didn’t know, even though she really didn’t have the time to do it. “Mara grimaced. She had no idea who he was, or how it was LaRone knew him. But he’d been helpful, whether he’d really planned to be or not, and he’d played his own small part in saving the governor’s family. She couldn’t just stand here and let him die” (Choices of One, 404). If Mara was evil, she would not care if someone else died, no matter how helpful they’d been to her. Zahn also shows that Mara has values unlike other Imperials. At one point she thinks “besides, there was something to be said for a man who would deliberately put himself into deadly danger to help those he loved” (Choices of One, 335) Most Imperial agents would consider compassion and love for others a weakness, but Mara actually admires these traits.

Mara is idealistic. She was taken by the Emperor from her home as a child and raised to think that the Empire is the only way to bring stability to the galaxy, and that it does an excellent job doing so. She believes the Empire protects the innocent, even though most of the time the exact opposite is true. “‘Yes, and be assured that I’m going to look into that,’ Jade promised ominously. ‘Ordering the slaughter of civilians is against everything the Empire stands for. If it’s true, I promise you that someone’s going to suffer for it.’ LaRone looked sideways at Marcross. The other grimaced in silent agreement. For all her strength and competence, the Emperor’s Hand had an awfully naïve view of what the Empire actually stood for. But she would learn” (Allegiance, 395). Even though she didn’t see the problem with the Empire as a whole, and couldn’t see the Emperor’s evil, she did see flaws in other areas of the Empire. Zahn points this out by saying “Mara felt her stomach tighten. So this was the legacy of the ISB and men like Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin. Not the rule of law or justice, but of fear” (Choices of One, 247). Mara didn’t seek to intimidate or scare people. She only wanted justice to be dealt. And years (and many books) later, Mara realized her mistakes. After the Emperor died, she was able to see what the Empire had really been, and how wrong she had been to serve it. Many years after that, she became a Jedi Knight and served the light side of the Force. Someone truly evil would not be able to let go of their old ways or be willing to admit their mistakes.

Mara Jade is not evil—she believes that she is helping the galaxy and doing what is right. Someone who is evil wouldn’t feel regret over killing someone. They would kill in anger, and for no reason. But Mara only kills when she knows for sure that the person is guilty of treason, and even then she doesn’t enjoy it. She sees it as a sad but necessary act. Unlike most Imperials, Mara is sympathetic to people and actually tries to help people in need. The Emperor made sure that Mara was blind to the Empire’s true nature. She thought that she was serving the galaxy and doing good things. She was idealistic and thought the Empire brought justice to the galaxy. Years later, she realized that she was wrong. Mara Jade did a lot of bad things during her life, and made a lot of mistakes, but she was never evil.