Does Star Wars need a reboot? Yes and no…


So Charlie Jane Anders over at io9 had a big post on how to reboot Star Wars yesterday. I’m not sure that’s the answer: Like Trek, we’ve already had a lot of them, both big and small. And I don’t think that a rehash of the original trilogy is the answer. Trek is apples and Wars is oranges, and we already went backwards. No, you can’t just start over – because, if nothing else, we already have… And we all know how that turned out.

Yes, say what you want about the prequels: Love them, hate them, or join me in the corner of shrug and apathy – you can’t deny that they were controversial. And while I’m not and will never be the rah-rah-rah fan when it comes to any aspect of Star Wars, I’d like to see something that can bring all the splintered factions together, if only for an hour or two.

So. Let’s go over the points, shall we?

But… But… George Lucas will never go for it!
Anders goes for the “more money” aspect here, but I see something else. Remember how around ROTS George was telling everyone who’d listen that he was done with Star Wars, and was going to leave the TV shows in the hands of his underlings? Read an interview with Filoni lately? Not so much. The control freak is strong with this one.

What makes you think it could possibly be a good thing?
Anders has a nice point here, and I pretty much agree: “So if some Hollywood exec is reading this, and contemplating rebooting Star Wars, the best advice we can give you is: make it more like Star Wars. With a new lick of paint, and less baggage.”

Onto her eight rules…

Keep it simple. “Stay within the lines, and give us a cool story about good versus evil, and trusting your feelings, and relying on your friends.” Agreed.

Keep the sense of joy and dread. “There’s plenty of great stuff there.” Yeah, but it’s a good bit tougher now that we’re all old and jaded. Still, it could be done.

Get back to the characters we care about. OH MY GOD YES. Honestly, this is where the PT failed to catch me: I didn’t care about any of those people. (Sorry, Vader. I know George says you’re the lynchpin, but that’s just not working for me.)

Skipping ahead a few…

Get a real writer. I don’t know if I’d phrase it that way – George can do okay if he really puts his mind to it – but fresh eyes are key. Some of the best things in the franchise – The Empire Strikes Back, the 2-D Clone Wars cartoon, and the better bits of the EU – have come when he steps back and lets things develop. I would say that this is the biggest lesson we should take from Star Trek.

And if not a remake, then what? Well, duh: A sequel trilogy.

Yes, Lucasfilm, George, and a hundred other folks (including me) say it’s not going to happen, over and over and over again. They probably even meant it, and certainly gap-filling like The Clone Wars and The Force Unleashed has more than kept things afloat so far.

But forget about the Expanded Universe for a second, and just think about the movies. The OT is the root of the franchise; Everything builds on it. Without it, we would have nothing: If Star Wars fans can agree on anything, let it be that.

But what about the books/games/comics?
I say this as a fan, but we need to accept that the Expanded Universe is every bit as flawed as the prequels – maybe even more so, because there’s so damn much of it. And, honestly – the post-ROTJ portion of it is getting tired. With every book, every series, Lucasfilm learns a thing or two, but they’re never perfect. And if they ever get there, it may be too late. Some fans are already railing against the Big Three of Han, Luke and Leia having adventures well into old age, but even those of us still reading for them are pondering how much further they can go.

But it’s canon!!!
We all know what George thinks of that, don’t we? If it isn’t in a movie, or if it isn’t his vision, it doesn’t count. So, let’s embrace that mindset. Let’s look at the EU as a giant pit of material. For all the flaws, there are a thousand concepts, a thousand characters, a thousand ideas there. A galaxy of material.

We can rebuild it. We have the technology.
‘Canon’ has a lot of good things done badly, bad things done well, and stupid things that would make fantastic in-jokes. If they’re going to make a movie, they should pick and choose and make something totally new out of it. There are so many possibilities… And lots of room for that fanservice Anders thinks is so important.

Can’t we just adapt the Zahn trilogy?
Directly? The actor issue aside, I honestly don’t think that the Thrawn trilogy would work as a movie. They’re just not written for it. (Okay, you could make it a TV show, but after seeing The Clone Wars I’m way less enthusiastic on that front.) I don’t think Legacy is the answer either – though it may be one of the EU’s more successful reboot attempts. They certainly should be part of the mix, but I can’t see any of the books and comics working as more-or-less faithful adaptations, and haven’t we had enough of already knowing how this stuff ends? Pulling a Watchmen isn’t going to cut it.

Face it: Those of us who know large swaths of the EU backwards and forwards, we’re a minority. The EU has become so big it’s just intimidating, and the chances of a reader just randomly picking up the book that will get them hooked can’t be very good. We can disagree on particulars, but a lot of those books are just bad. If you’re an EU fan who can honestly say there’s not at least one book or author you actively dislike, I’ll be very surprised.

I know it’s a long shot, and you guys may rake me over the coals for this. But honestly, I’d like to see Star Wars get back to the characters who first hooked so many of us, and the franchise shaken up a bit. If that’s wrong, well… It’s only a blog entry.

13 Replies to “Does Star Wars need a reboot? Yes and no…”

  1. The answer is no. No reboot. No Hollywood exec mollah fantasy.

    Star Trek needed it because Berman sunk it bad. SW does not need it but LFilm has to be careful on the TV series so it does not suck, the Clone Wars have good moments but it’s uneven.

    I think the Star Wars timeline provides opportunity, think adapting the first Darth Bane book as a tv series in 3/4 episodes. Would explain to the non-readers the origin of the rule of two.

    And look at TOR/KOTOR era, lots of unturned stones there. And the trailer released yesterday blows many things which have been done so far visually, why not re-use for a TV series?

    I know Vader sells, so look at the gap between Eps 3 & 4 for material for the masses there. Would also be goo eatin’!

  2. I don’t think Star Wars can even be touched until George has gone on to the Galaxy Far, Far Away. (Not that I’m wishing that on anyone.) He is very much a control freak; especially about this franchise.

    And yes, the franchise has become heavy with lore. And it does best when it goes back to its roots. (“Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor” is a recent example. It was just fun.)

    But one of the things I’ve admired about it is that it attempts to keep things in some sort of “historical” concept. Granted, not always successfully. But it does try.

    I’d say that, instead of a reboot, why can’t we have someone create a new franchise? Is no one capable of capturing the characteristics outlined by both of you?

    Firefly was shortlived, but it has devoted followers. This is not just because it’s Joss. There were interesting characters and a gripping storyline. And we had a whole other universe to play in.

    Someone needs to put imagination to the grindstone and give us a new space to play in. Let Star Wars be what it is. Add to the genre by being fresh.

  3. I couldn’t agree with you more – SW need a reboot/restart but with the OT characters that we’ve all fell in love with when we were younger. Luke, Leia and Han are what made SW so big for me.
    I do, however, have to disagree in one aspect: I totally think we could do a movie adaptation of Zahn’s trilogy. Sure, I know it wouldn’t be EXACTLY like the books, but I would go for it. It has the trio at its finest – IMHO – and plus, we have Karrde, Mara, Thrawn… ;)

  4. There is a way to do that without a total reboot. Like going back and filling in “those moments in between” the OT movies.

    I’m not really *given up* on a third trilogy. I do think if we get it, there’ll be another 20 year gap. Perhaps in that time George will have mellowed a bit, and be willing to set the general frame work but let others polish it.

    Given that Lucas tends to write reflecting his own phase of life. We’ll probably have some story of Luke passing the torch to his grandson… which could work.

  5. The real problem ( I think) is that there’s no “safe” way to reboot Star Wars. Sure we could do a sequel trilogy but it wouldn’t have the same actors, and people would look it as some obscure flick and that Lucas is just trying to make another buck. The truly hardcore would see it in theaters simply to homage to the OT but the rest of the world would likely not appreciate it no matter how good it turned out.

    Considering that I say “No. Put that script down.” We may love our galaxy far, far away but if we get any more movies that same galaxy will likely implode.

  6. Like it or not (and you don’t), Star Wars has become multigenerational, and the 30somethings that venerate ESB will never embrace TCW just like the Dark Knight lovers aren’t about to hang up posters of Ceaser Romero’s Joker any time soon.

    If Star Wars was a big studio gig, it’d be able to crank out more fare for more age groups at a faster rate, but it ain’t, so the older types have to wait around for the live action TV series to become something other than a vague idea. I think it’ll alleviate a lot of the concerns that this audience isn’t being directly addressed. And then a fresh round of complaints can begin!

    That said, though, if people really really really want Han, Luke and Leia adventures, then the EU should be rebooted. Canon schmanon. Start from scratch. Make it fun.

    And you don’t want the Zahn trilogy adapted. You say you do, but you don’t. You don’t want a five minute scene discussing how to thwart a tractor beam with a covert shroud defense. You thought the prequels had too many conference room scenes, why would you want these books made into movies?


  7. JP: KOTOR/TOR is, like Legacy, another of the already successful mini-reboots, but I can’t see it sustaining the franchise – it’s too far removed from the OT. But I guess you can file it under the things Lucas has been somewhat hands-off on.

    Carla: Gap-filling is what they’re doing now. :P

    Pablo is wise. Listen to the Pablo…

  8. I don’t think it needs a reboot. If I want to be pulled back into the original characters, I just have a weekend of watching the OT. It works out super great. ;D

  9. Listen, you’d have to get JJ Abrams and his Twilight (no, not that Twilight) Zone sensibility to reboot. That won’t work in Star Wars.

    It worked in Trek because Trek was pretty easy going to start with — they were always willing to violate their own narrative set ups. I, for one, didn’t entirely buy it in this last outing, but then I’m an old Trekkie and one has to make allowances for encroaching senility.

    Lucas has never been able to consciously reboot, even though he ended up attempting it anyway, inadvertently. The problem with Star Wars is that it’s become so multifaceted it no longer has a central narrative — it’s a hodgepodge of stories about characters from all over the prequel/OT /post OT map. Lucas started out doing this way back when it was just novels, comics, the odd toy or two and, of course, the good old OT. Now, he’s got an empire that makes money but doesn’t make sense.

    I’d go back to the OT too, if I could. But some things have been lost; and once lost, can never be regained. This may be one of them.

  10. I’m with Paula: why reboot when you can make a new playground to play in. It might be harder to bring in the fans because you have to sell the concept to them fresh, and then deal with instant comparisons to existing playgrounds, but if you want fresh new stories, start fresh.

    The Thrawn trilogy, if directly translated to film, would probably end up being 6 – 8 films (compare the length of the books to the novelizations of the OT movies).

    and like jawastew said: if you want the OT, just pop in the OT and watch it. they keep selling it.

  11. “If Star Wars was a big studio gig, it’d be able to crank out more fare for more age groups at a faster rate, but it ain’t…”

    And I am so glad it isn’t. The reboot question (and I mean a real reboot, not KOTOR or whatever) is an important one, but I don’t think it should be seriously considered in the near future.

    Also, I think any reboot of the core storyline should be more of a remake than a reboot. Maybe that means I’m rejecting the idea of a reboot. But no, there’s a fine line…

    The thing is, I’m very happy with the overarching Ep. I-VI story, and what io9 seems to be proposing risks oversimplifying it. I’m interested by midi-chlorians. I think it’s fascinating how much of a liar Obi-Wan was.

    And, as io9 commenter dOk noted: the aloof, self-absorbed, blind-to-the-Sith Jedi Council might not have been what we were expecting from Obi-Wan and Yoda’s glowing descriptions of the olden days, but it *works*. IMHO.

    As for the EU… eh, there’s a lot of good there, but yes, it’s terribly uneven. And however great even the Thrawn trilogy is, I agree that it wouldn’t necessarily be as great on the big screen as you might expect.

    Then again, it *might* be great. A lot of EU stuff might. Adapted significantly, of course.

    I support Lucasfilm’s commitment to continuity. We’re all just playing in George Lucas’ sandbox, but it can’t be too free-form or it loses its impact. That sort of thing cannot be thrown out lightly. And I don’t think it ought to be thrown out, just… pruned. And cultivated, so that it may grow healthier than ever.

    But please don’t go invoke time travel and just rewrite everything.

    I think a remake of some sort is inevitable, and I think that’s a good thing. Filmmaking evolves; technology evolves; audiences and the world evolve… yet this story deserves to persist.

    Now allow me to get temporarily caught up in io9 minutiae.


    “Admit that Han Solo is the hero as much as Luke.”

    As much a hero, or as central a character? He’s not lacking in either, I think. I don’t really see a problem here. :-\

    “Han Solo regains his altruism and optimism, just as Luke is shedding his innocence…”

    *Re*gains? Have we seen enough of young Han to say something like that? As for Luke, it’s not like he loses his altruism and optimism… indeed, it’s critical that he doesn’t.

    “Other changes I might make to the first film might involve having Leia pilot an X-wing in the final Death Star attack…”

    Really??? She can be heroic and do something other than stand around fretting without suddenly turning into a fighter pilot. Luke and Leia need not fight the Empire in the same way. It’s more interesting if they don’t.

    “…and eliminating all the incest-vibes with Leia and Luke.”

    Ha, erm, yeah. I don’t know. To some degree I love the quirks that arise from a nonlinear story progression.

    “It wasn’t just the special effects, it was the crazy you-are-there feeling of the Millenium Falcon’s gun turrent swinging around, and the stars whizzing past as Luke shot at tie fighters.”

    That sounds like special effects to me. *Good* special effects, *real*-looking special effects, but special effects nonetheless. If you can make it so real that people somehow set it apart from “special effects” in their minds, great. But that’s still what it is.

    “Try to keep that sense of realness, and actual peril, and genuine thrills. Not so much with the fakey rollercoaster sh**.”

    Yes, yes, again, I largely agree. Keep it grounded, relatable, etc. BUT don’t let that keep you from envisioning fantastic alien locations that inevitably leap out as utterly otherworldly–Coruscant, Utapau, Felucia. Don’t get *too*, ahem, down-to-Earth.

    Of course, the most beloved SW locations are very Earthy, for various reasons. Great. Just don’t overreact and underappreciate what great CGI & SFX can do.

    Kashyyyk struck a pretty good balance.

  12. First off, bravo for writing this. I enjoyed it.

    Personally, I think SW needs to fade away first, and then it can be rebooted. As much as I love it to pieces, I wouldn’t mind it falling out of the mainstream for awhile.

  13. I think the EU needs to be retroactively revised. They should republish books that they consider canon and we can forget about the rest. That would cut a lot of the shit out of the EU and people would be more attracted to the books. (Also, some of the best books have the worst covers, that can’t be helping).
    I don’t think anything major will ever happen to the franchise. The movies are over, and GL holds the rights way too close to his cheast.

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