Saturday, May 10, 2014

Luke Skywalker's Nightmare...or Ours?

I don't believe we'll see a new Star Wars film from Walt Disney Pictures in's too soon - that date is just to get us, the fans, all abuzz with excitement.  That photo of the cast assembling for the first reading of the script assured us that Luke, Leia & Han are back, albeit looking ready to collect their social security checks in a galaxy far, far away...and that few women exist within that universe...and Andy Serkis is there, perhaps in person or in a motion-capture suit.

But there was another announcement...buried within...that gave Star Wars fans a case of the blues...

They're ignoring the books.

The new trilogy is going to start fresh and ignore the continuity created by the long-running series of Star Wars novels - most of which were set after Return of The Jedi  but many are set before that and in different eras of the series. This decision is clearly meant to make the new films accessible to audiences who love Star Wars,  but don't follow the books closely,  or at all.

It just seems so...ironic. We have a genre of feature films based on trashy "young adult" romance novels...what's wrong with adapting Star Wars novels into films? The only answer I can give to that question is not entirely satisfactory: the filmmakers do not feel obligated to adapt what were essentially tie-in merchandise to fulfill a demand for new adventures. None of the James Bond novels written by John Gardner or Raymond Benson were adapted into films by Eon productions after they ran out of Ian Fleming material to adapt (and they really dipped their pens into that well long after it went dry) , and some of those books were better than the original stories written for the screen.

It's not clear if we should also infer that none of the characters introduced in the novels will appear, either.  I was imagining Dana Delany as Luke's wife, Mara Jade Skywalker, but I couldn't picture anyone as the Jedi kids, who became adults as the series progressed: Jacen,  Jaina & Anakin Solo (I know he was killed off, but whatever) and Ben Skywalker. Maybe J.J. Abrahams and Lawrence Kasdan were upset about Chewbacca getting killed off in Vector Prime and were like, "Oh, hell no!!"  and that became their excuse to ignore it. Who knows? Or maybe the decision to turn Jacen Solo into a villain who gets killed in a final duel with his sister, Jaina, after killing Mara Jade in Sacrifice?  Who knows? Or maybe it's that there are only four or five novels that are highly regarded? * Who knows?

There is precedent: there were only two instances where the films used material from the novels: the name of the planet Coruscant and the name of the speeder bikes that appeared in Return of The Jedi: "Swoops". That is all.

With that kind of track record,  maybe Luke's sweet tooth for cups of hot chocolate will find a way in the new movies...

*I'm not a fan of Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, but a lot of fans love it. I remember enjoying Steve Perry's Shadows of The Empire. The only novels I still own are Star by Star and The Unifying Force, from the New Jedi Order's all imaginary stuff...from long, long ago...coming soon to a used bookstore or Goodwill/Salvation Army store near you.

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