Preaching to the choir, maybe

Mighty God King asks the question that has been floating in the head of many Expanded Universe fans. (Or is it just me?)

If we’re going to get an animated Star Wars film, why on earth are we getting the Clone Wars, which has already had live-action movies and an animated series and potentially a live-action series in the future about it – instead of, and this is just off the top of my head, an adaptation of the Heir to the Empire trilogy by Timothy Zahn, AKA “the only good Star Wars novels ever?”

We know the answer: Because George Lucas loves his shiny new Clone Wars, and it’s not like folks aren’t going to watch it. But really, why can’t we take the post-ROTJ books and feed them into the animation mill? By end of LOTF, we’re going on 40 years worth of raw material. True, they aren’t all the Thrawn trilogy, but even the worst could hold a glimmer of possibility in the hands of a competent scriptwriter. And it’s not like other endless franchises haven’t been doing it for decades.

I’ve nothing against The Clone Wars in theory – but didn’t we just leave that party? Maybe I’m just a sad old-school fan who simply isn’t all that interested in further exploration of the prequel era (okay, drop the ‘maybe’) but… Seriously. Forty years of imperfect but infinitely useful raw material with established movie characters that people actually mostly like and have fond memories of. And starting off with the Thrawn trilogy will bring in a lot of people who just weren’t feeling the prequels and other casual fans who might not make the time for The Clone Wars. (Plus, it would probably boost book sales. Books that are already written, edited, and sitting around in stores.)

I’ll keep holding out hope it happens eventually. You?

17 Replies to “Preaching to the choir, maybe”

  1. Sorry, but this is a fannish tendency that bugs me: “Why waste time creating something new when they could just remake something that we already love?” (And it doesn’t make sense to propose an adaptation and then point at Batman: TAS — that show used established characters, but only in the service of original stories.) Sure, we’ve seen how the Clone Wars end, but so much else remains unknown. Gimme something fresh to chew on instead of just reheating an old meal.

    Uh, that metaphor made a lot more sense in my head.

  2. It comes down to tastes – this is honestly more of a personal off-the-cuff ramble than most CJ posts, but it’s the weekend, what the hell.

    TCW might be a new meal, but I haven’t been that fussy about what I’ve had of it so far, and none of the ingredients are giving me hope for a turnaround. Whereas post-ROTJ is something I know I like – but it could use a fresh spin and reinvention. Maybe some avocado.

    Wasn’t some of B:TAS adapted, though? At least the origin stories. Hell, I’d be okay with that, too, if we just got some familiar faces. I’m not proposing taking stuff like JAT and COTJ exactly as they are, but as raw material. Even TTT would need a lot of work to fit into a new format.

  3. Personally, I’m torn. But it’s been said that if these first two TV series go well, more could follow, so there is hope yet.

  4. Avocado is good, I’ll give ya that.

    And while I hear what you’re saying, I just don’t see the point in it. My hunch if that EU fans — the ones who know the characters well enough to enjoy ’em — would probably complain about how the stories are adapted. And nobody else has a vested interest in seeing those books brought to life. It’s a lose-lose.

    As for B:TAS… as far as I can recall, the only origin story they adapted from comics was Dick Grayson’s. Everyone else (mostly villains, I suppose) had new origins created for the series. And if they took that route with post-ROTJ material, yeah, it’d be pretty wild… I just don’t see that happening anytime in the near future. GL doesn’t care for anything beyond the timeline of the six movies. Sure, the EU brings in some good royalty checks, but storywise, he seems to think it cheapens the saga.

  5. I figure eventually George will find a new shiny and he won’t care again, and then they can do whatever.

    Anyway, the question is, when won’t hardcore fans bitch? ;)

  6. “Star Wars fans did not hate Grand Admiral Thrawn, but we do now, because he is always dead.”

    Always dead unless, that is, he could be brought back in a new TV show…

    If Lucasfilm were to do a Thrawn Trilogy adaptation, how closely would they follow the existing continuity? People complain (about TCW) that the ending is already known, but a TTT adaptation (or any adaptation of existing material, for that matter) would be even worse in that department.

    But they could certainly do stories set in that era. And frankly, I wouldn’t even care if they did a straight adaptation and we all knew exactly what would happen.

  7. Well, I can’t see them pussyfooting around stuff – there’s simply too much going on – so I’d rather see them use the existing stuff as basically a salad bar. Plus I don’t think any of the novels are really suited to a ‘straight’ adaption. They’re just not written that way. (And those that try fail more often than not.)

    I really don’t care about the overall continuity for stuff like this – I suppose that puts me in a minority when it comes to ‘hardcore’ fans – but I think it’s kind of ridiculous to even try. (I’m surprised they’re even giving the fans lip service in that regard for TCW. Yet more stuff is gonna get Jossed, kids. Deal.)

    And honestly? I’d just like to see what they would do.

  8. “Anyway, the question is, when won’t hardcore fans bitch? ;)”

    I don’t think hardcore fans would bitch if the series expanded upon a heretofore unexplored part of SW continuity– such as the earliest years of the Jedi Order or something. There would of course be some “but I wanna see such-and-such”ing, but I’d say that doesn’t quite qualify as bitching.

  9. As for B:TAS… as far as I can recall, the only origin story they adapted from comics was Dick Grayson’s. Everyone else (mostly villains, I suppose) had new origins created for the series.

    Strictly speaking, this isn’t really accurate. Most of the “new” villain origins were pastiches of existing comic stories. Consider, as an example, Clayface: he had the real name of the second comics Clayface, and his backstory was a combination of the first and third Clayfaces. Two-Face’s origin in the series owes most of its genesis to the comics – even the insinuation that Harvey Dent had a split personality complex before becoming Two-Face wasn’t new in the series.

    There are exceptions to this rule (Mr. Freeze is the best example of that – the animated series really fleshed out his origin story to an extent not seen in the comics previously). But the animated series was for the most part loyal to the spirit of the characters’ genesis, maybe fudging some details here and there for accessibility.

  10. Meal serving analogies aside (hee) I think George has a lot going on that boils it down to TCW. I think he has or is trying to put the OT behind him, ever since he cleaned up with the SEs. The post-OT isn’t so much his baby, even though it’s endorsed by him. TCW is his baby, and I think yeah – there’s a lot of territory to touch on, and a lot of characters to spotlight. For the most part though, I think George may be trying to make up for that “special something” that the PT lacked, yet the OT had.

    Personally, I’d like to see some KOTOR/Sith war era action! But again, not really George’s baby (geeze, I’ve moved from food to offspring!).

    As far as I knew, the live-action series is to be post-CW. If so, that’s something I’m very interested in. That being said – Can’t we just have a live action show based solely on Obi-Wan? Please?

  11. Oh, and I think the Clone Wars era gives George plenty of opportunity to play with something he really loves – air/space battles!

  12. Consider, as an example, Clayface: he had the real name of the second comics Clayface, and his backstory was a combination of the first and third Clayfaces.

    I think I was misunderstood. Yes, they culled certain ideas from several characters, but the actual story — the How and Why of the origin — were totally new. Same with Two-Face… of course they kept his split face and personality, but they changed everything else. They wrote a new story, with new antagonists and a new beginning, middle, and end… and I don’t think it’s fair to say that the writers just fudged some details here and there. (As noted, Dick Grayson was the only character I could remember whose backstory really mimicked his comic origin — and I could be wrong about that.)

    It’s also worth noting that once a character was established, they only wrote new adventures for him/her. They didn’t pour through fifty years of Batman comics to use the best stories. SW shouldn’t either. Dunc’s call for a re-worked, animated version of the EU would definitely be interesting, but as jk noted, Mr. Lucas doesn’t seem interested in playing in anybody else’s sandbox.

  13. Though I have no problem with the Clone Wars animated show/movie (whichever it actually is) as it looks to have plenty of action, I also kinda like the idea of a series based on TTT. However, TTT was never mainstream, is what 15+ years old, to be greenlit as a TV series now. Maybe back in the 90’s.

    Also, as much as I’d like to see Thrawn in action and love to see Mara, I don’t really want to watch Luke and Mara start their 10yr non-courtship. Unless it has L/M getting together by the end (and thus negates all of the EU after TTT) then I’d rather do without.

  14. cggunnersmate–the latest Wired includes a cursory look at trying to build a “nostalgorithm” to figure out the optimal time for a resurgence, and it comes out to around 20 years. So maybe TTT will have a successful return to the spotlight yet. :)

  15. “Plus I don’t think any of the novels are really suited to a ’straight’ adaption. ”

    Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter and Shadows of the Empire probably would translate fairly easily to the screen – straightforward storylines, lots of action.

  16. Half a year and change later…

    In retrospect, I’m kinda glad they didn’t do it, mainly because I can’t stand TCW character designs. Those puppets were creepy enough as puppets.

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