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OPINION: What Lucasfilm Got Wrong About Fandom

Discussion in 'General Sequel Trilogy Discussion' started by Jaxxon, Jul 23, 2019.

  1. Jaxxon

    Jaxxon Force Attuned

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    Some caveats: I'm not a sequel hater or a Disney hater. The following is just one idea, and I want to hear your opinions too.


    Here's my basic theory: Disney/Lucasfilm underestimated the power of fan culture.

    Comic book movies figured this out in the mid-2000's. As Glen Weldon points out in his book The Caped Crusade, even a relatively small fanbase can create enough noise to affect a film's performance. Whereas superhero films before 2000 disregarded fan opinion and considered themselves superior to the source material, superhero films today respect the source material and intentionally appeal to fan culture.

    So how did Disney/Lucasfilm get this wrong? It goes back to the first big decision, when they erased the Expanded Universe.

    What I'm suggesting is this: Lucasfilm blowing up the EU was the same mistake filmmakers like Joel Schumacher made when handling Batman. They both assumed nobody cared about the nerdy source materials and nobody would care if they threw it out.

    In the end, they created something that appealed to mass audiences, but upset a vocal group of older fans.

    In contrast, look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Astoundingly, these films appeal to comic nerds AND general audiences. This is, in large part, because the MCU films respect and draw from the comics, but they don't follow the same continuity as the comics.

    Instead, imagine this scenario.

    What if Lucasfilm kept the Expanded Universe, but treated then new movies like superhero films? Let the TV shows and films exist in their own universe, with the freedom to draw from and adapt the Expanded Universe in a way that excites the fandom.

    Do it the MCU way. Let the comics and novels press forward in crazy new directions like comics and novels can. Then adapt and refine the best of it for film or TV.

    This is essentially the situation we had before Canon. When George Lucas created the prequels and the Clone Wars, he had no problem contradicting the EU, even though both existed at the same time. What I'm suggesting is, instead of erasing the EU, they could have kept the status quo.

    That's one of the big problems with Canon: since it's accountable to the films, it can't do anything crazy. It's basically a given that no major, earth-shattering events will happen in the comics or novels, because they can't contradict the films. As long as the comics and novels MUST exist alongside the films, the comics and novels will always be side-stories.

    So that's my idea. Let me hear your thoughts.
     
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  2. Lazlo

    Lazlo Rebel Official

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    Thanks for the warning...

    I think that LFL/Disney did it the right way. The EU went in directions that would have made no sense for a film franchise. At the time of the acquisition, everything was set except for the time between Luke's death (or at least some of his adventures as a nonagenarian) and his grandson as an adult.

    Don't get me wrong, I loved the EU and read pretty much all of it, but if you are being honest with yourself it was a hot mess. I think that the only plot thread that I really got into was Jaina Solo training under Boba Fett because she knew she wasn't strong enough to defeat Jacen/Caedus using just her Jedi training. That theme could even be brought back in TROS...

    Try to imagine doing a faithful film adaptation of The Father's (Mortis Arc) banished wife being a shapeshifting monster and taking over the New Republic after she is accidentally freed from a black hole prison in a rehash of Palpatine's rise, but instead condensed into a ridiculously short time period. It was some serious B-Movie stuff.

    Oh yeah, and we had flow walking which means that the universe had time travel and the we had an extragalctic set of Aliens that were somehow cut off from the Force, so it was no longer a mystical concept that defined life in the Universe, but instead became the midichlorians which only operated in the one galaxy.

    It's wide open now.
     
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  3. Jaxxon

    Jaxxon Force Attuned

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    Totally see what you're saying. But my suggestion wasn't to set the films in the EU or even directly adapt EU stories. Instead, let the EU live on in comics and novels, and let the movies do their own thing. And the movies can pick and choose the best of the EU to loosely adapt, the same way Marvel adapted Civil War and Infinity Gauntlet.
     
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  4. cawatrooper

    cawatrooper Jedi General

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    I think you're onto something.

    I don't think the EU should've been quite treated like canon, though, but simply inspiration. Which is what Marvel does- it's not like the comics that come out are actually canon in the MCU.

    And we kind of already have that in Star Wars. Stuff like Thrawn being brought over, Ben basically being Jacen, etc. But it hasn't leaned quite as heavily into the EU as Marvel has with its comics. In fact, the vast majority of the time Star Wars tries to play on EU vibes, it ends up feeling more like Iron Man 3's Mandarin flub than a faithful adaptation.

    I think they're scared to feel too predictable, but I feel like the MCU shows that you can tell familiar stories in surprising new ways- still adapting the material, but in a way that truly engages even the most well lore-versed of fans.
     
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  5. Lazlo

    Lazlo Rebel Official

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    It could be done, but man...if the SW fandom, which is much more insane that Marvel ever was, had a legit opening for alternate "realities" it would be chaos. Like it or love it, TLJ is now canon, but if that door was opened it would be off the charts with people asking for a retcon.

    Just look what happened with a minor change like Han not shooting first (which was awesome when Solo ended that debate for ever. Greedo may have shot first in the Cantina, but Han offed Becket in a way that can't easily be changed) That retcon was done by the almighty GL himself before the days of internet craziness and you can still buy Han Shot First T-shirts.

    I would also suggest that they are picking and choosing what to re-canonize now. Thrawn is the first major one to come to mind.
    https://io9.gizmodo.com/everything-star-wars-has-reintroduced-from-the-old-expa-1792224856
    Agamar
    Malachor
    Taris
    Nar Shadda
    Shantipole
    Concord Dawn
    Derek "Hobie" Klivian
    Armand Isard
    Sate Pestage
    Ars Dangor
    Terrinald Screed
    SIan Tevv
    Arhul Narra
    Malla
    Hindane Darcc
    Mof Therbon
    Interdictor
    Carrack Class Light Cruiser
    Hammerhead Cruiser
    Tie Defender
    HWK-290 Light Freighter
    YT-2400 Light Freighter
    SIth Holocron
    Cubikahd
    New Republic
    Republic Outlands Region Security Force
    Journeyman Protectors
    Imperial Inquisitors
    Imperial Security Bureau
    Slayn and Korpil
    Czerka Arms
    Tierfon Yellow Aces


    OK, OK...I know you are talking about themes. So how about:

    Han and Leia have a son that turns to the dark side and rises to power. Kylo killed his father but Jacen killed Mara Jade.
    The new Jedi Order
    The decline and resurgence of the Empire



    Aaaannndddd,
    I'm going to call it now that TROS will bring in a few more concepts. At the very least we have the return of Palpatine. He may not be a clone on film, but the concept is there.

    I also think that it is within the realm of possibility that we learn about a dead wife of Luke and a patrilineal descendant of Anakin. Jacen Solo's child was hidden from the Galaxy to protect her and she ultimately was prophesied to become a Jedi queen. Could Luke's child have been hidden to protect her from Dark Side Forces... Think of the scorn in Luke's voice when he says "That mighty Skywalker blood" in TLJ. Cough, cough, Rey.

    And for my final prediction, The upcoming Disney+ shows and the two new trilogies will borrow heavily from the old EU themes. We already have pretty solid rumors about the Old Republic being a setting, and TCW did bring in Darth Bane...
     
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  6. DailyPlunge

    DailyPlunge Jedi Commander

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    I don't think Lucasfilm had much of a choice. George didn't think that stuff mattered. He had a treatment that ignored all that stuff. I'm sure he had some say in how things were gonna go forward if he sold the company. It's all his people running things. They didn't take the EU seriously because Lucas didn't take is seriously.

    I'm an older fan who read EU books. I like what they've done. Star Wars is a huge IP and when you have a fan base that diverse you're never gonna make everyone happy. Marvel is making new fans. Lucasfilm is only gonna survive by making new fans.

    George Lucas' story didn't have Luke having kids. He killed that idea a long time ago.
     
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  7. Lazlo

    Lazlo Rebel Official

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    I thought that GL had to give everything a green light, even of only in a perfunctory manner. I remember someone saying that we they were looking for a new threat to the Galaxy, GL told them that they couldn't have it be Force users, which is how the Vong came about, but then he changed his mind and OK'd the concepts that came after. Plus he gave the OK for Luke to have Ben and the for the whole storyline of legends in which there were Kol and Cade Skywalker.

    Are you talking about the treatments he had for the ST? The only things I can remember reading about that is that it would center on a couple of teenagers and be about the microbiotice world...midichlorians as the vehicle for the Whills.
     
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  8. RoyleRancor

    RoyleRancor Jedi General

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    Fan culture sucks and is the blight of storytelling.
    There. I said it.
    When new adaptations or versions of stories come out, you don't magically lose the old ones. People feel weird ownership of properties they don't actually own.
    Disney's Robin Hood didn't make the Errol Flynn version disappear.
    Hans Christian Andersen didn't blink out of existence when Disney released The Little Mermaid.

    For whatever reason, Marvel fans have abdicated their ownership over Marvel movies whereas Star Wars fans still seem to act as if they have ownership. I don't want to see old stories made into movies. Those stories already exist. I want new storytellers telling new stories in the GFFA.

    Virtually nothing about the Infinity Saga or even Civil War follow the comic version of those stories.
    Captain America in the MCU is WILDLY different than 60 years of book Cap ever was.

    Maybe it's because they built the MCU out of paper mache grade characters.
    But Star Wars never had that option. New movies had to include Luke, Han and Leia in some regard. They can't make a Dash Rendar movie and make 2 billion dollars. Not when you realize the state of Star Wars pre-TFA. It may have been at an all-time low among the GA.

    I love the MCU and the movies in it. But the minute you start worrying about pleasing everyone and not just telling a great story, is the minute you go from Winter Soldier to Ant-Man and The Wasp/Captain Marvel. You go from gripping, compelling, thoughtful to....at best pretty good, decent way to spend two hours but you'll probably forget most of it in a year. Why did Marvel work in building their universe and DC didn't? DC didn't do the leg work on making a compelling cast of characters and story. It gave you cool fan things. A bunch of "I remember that panel in Miller's Dark Knight!" type moments. But they were largely hollow in the end. Until Wonder Woman, where a great film maker had a story to tell and got to tell 2/3 of it.

    So ultimately, no I don't think they need to do it the Marvel way. Star Wars is at it's best when it is pushing boundaries and limits. When it evolves it's storytelling and doesn't rely on old tricks but rather takes those old tricks and re-purposes them in new ways.

    I don't like the PT, and find very little of what's actually presented on the screen as tolerable. But I will always deeply admire George's fearlessness in just going for something different. He just missed where he was aiming and didn't have someone to get him back on course. He didn't try to please everyone. And he shouldn't have. I just wish I could have liked the result.


    TL-DR version:

    Tell new stories, don't worry about fans. They'll get on board or the won't. You'll make enough new fans to replace them if it's good enough.
     
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  9. Logray Ewok Medicine Man

    Logray Ewok Medicine Man Clone Commander

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    I think that sometime after the completion of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Lucas just lost touch with western audiences and our sensibilities. He seemed confident in the 1990’s that audiences, particularly fans of the OT, would embrace whatever gospel spewed forth from his mind for the PT. Lucasfilm seemed confident that we would all find satisfaction in George’s explanation of midi-chlordians, intentionally flat dialogue, and childish humor. I think at this one point of time: the 1990s through the early aughts, Lucasfilm simply underestimated the sophistication of the fan base and the way we were viscerally attached to the original trilogy. I’ll wager a guess that there are people in this cantina that have actually watched the OT films more times than the man who directed episodes I-III.
     
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  10. DailyPlunge

    DailyPlunge Jedi Commander

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    Rey is Lucas' idea. Luke being a Colonel Walter E. Kurtz type of character in exhile is a Lucas idea. The sequel trilogy certainly made departures from his treatment (which wasn't full fledged out), but his fingerprints are all over it. Lucasfilm is full of people George selected. He picked Kennedy. So there's a great deal of respect for some of his choices. Canon is what George believed was his story.
    Indiana Jones was a collaborative project. I think it's safe to assume that no one questioned Lucas' choices once he started making the prequel films. He was determined to make the film he wanted. The backlash from The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones had to have hurt. People talk about Star Wars backlash now, but it's nothing like it was during that period.
     
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  11. KesselRunner

    KesselRunner Rebel General

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    EU fans: "One does not simply cut off thirty years of storytelling."
    Lucasfilm: "Hold my beer." :D

    I would love to see new Expanded Universe stories being told in parallel to Canon. I can think of at least half a dozen stories that would be different enough from Canon to make sure no "confusion" would occur. Cade Skywalker comes to mind.

    Realistically, though, what's done is done. It's not ideal and it'll never be perfect, but that's life for you. ;) For now, we'll just have to be happy with Lucasfilm using the Expanded Universe as an inspirational springboard for bits and pieces of Canon moving forward.
     
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  12. Meister Yoda

    Meister Yoda Your Little Green Friend

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    I actually like that (almost) everything that is released now is canon and movies are relevant to books and comics.
    We have one SW Universe which I like. Marvel has several Universes and they don't necessarily influence each other.
     
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  13. NinjaRen

    NinjaRen Supreme Leader

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    I don't really care about the EU anymore. At first it was nice to have books, comics, games, TV series which connect with the movie universe, but then you realise the EU doesn't really matter.
    The EU is kept in chains regarding the freedom for story telling. All the juicy stuff is kept for the movies on the big screen, in the EU you just get hints and easter egss for the relevant events. It's frustrating IMO.

    Why don't we get a book about Luke, Ben and/or Snoke? Because they fear it would spoil the events of the ST. That's not how it should work though. George Lucas couldn't care less about spoilers (yes, that's also not the best way to do it).
     
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  14. Andrew Waples

    Andrew Waples Jedi General

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    Well George never really cared about the EU, other then the Clone Wars; which is still canon:
    "I don’t read that stuff. I haven’t read any of the novels. I don’t know anything about that world. That’s a different world than my world. But I do try to keep it consistent. The way I do it now is they have a Star Wars Encyclopedia. So if I come up with a name or something else, I look it up and see if it has already been used. When I said [other people] could make their own Star Wars stories, we decided that, like Star Trek, we would have two universes: My universe and then this other one. They try to make their universe as consistent with mine as possible, but obviously they get enthusiastic and want to go off in other directions.” – George Lucas"
    But ultimately the EU never mattered to him.

    "Once Vader dies, he doesn’t come back to life, the Emperor doesn’t get cloned and Luke doesn’t get married…"

    Also, there are is a story where Vader came back to life? WTF?
    http://www.furiousfanboys.com/what-did-george-lucas-think-of-the-old-star-wars-eu/
     
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  15. NinjaRen

    NinjaRen Supreme Leader

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    This pretty much proves that the EU is quite useless. Maybe Disney should focus on the movies and TV series. Only important stories which didn't make it in those should be published as books.
     
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  16. KesselRunner

    KesselRunner Rebel General

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    You know something? All this negativity about the EU has reminded me of how much I love it. I've been on some pretty amazing adventures reading those dozens of novels on my bookshelf. In my youth, the whole of Star Wars seemed like this Grand Secret that only a handful of people knew about. Now, Star Wars is loved by everyone and the "Grand Secret" is the Expanded Universe, because only a few people remember it the way I do. ;)

    Of course, I'd still prefer to have...more... but like I said before, that's life. :)
     
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  17. Lazlo

    Lazlo Rebel Official

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    I'm with you on this one. Even in the "One" marvel universe I can't reconcile Thor Ragnarok and Guardians being part of the same continuity...even though they clearly are and are essential to the overall story arc of Endgame.

    I would spend way too much time complaining if there was a new SW movie (or series in the case of Guardians) that was so completely different in tone from everything that has come before.
     
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  18. Jaxxon

    Jaxxon Force Attuned

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    But do we really have just one SW universe? We have Legends and Canon. And we also have the old Marvel continuity, which they recently rebooted for a one-shot comic. Not to mention the ongoing Old Republic game, which is unrelated to any of these.

    Here's my main point:

    Marvel's biggest asset is decades worth of storytelling to draw from. When they announce Blade and Taskmaster and Jane Foster Thor at Comic Con, fans freak out because the films are drawing from a beloved mythology.

    Star Wars has this asset. They had several decades of novels and comics beloved by fans. Was some of it goofy? Sure. Lots of Marvel comics are goofy.

    But by erasing Legends, Star Wars essentially threw out one of its greatest assets: a rich mythology from which to pick and choose.

    Of course, they can still pick and choose for the sake of canon. And we've seen the hype it creates when they do. Remember when Thrawn in Rebels was the biggest announcement at Celebration?

    But they really haven't done this too much yet. When announcing spinoff shows and comics, they almost always focus on new characters (Cassian, The Mandalorian, Doctor Aphra, etc.)

    What if they announced a Kyle Katarn comic? Or a Mara Jade show? And gave us a Canon version of those figures in the same way that Marvel gives us an MCU version of their comic heroes?
     
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  19. Sparafucile

    Sparafucile Guest

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    Well said, and pretty close to the way I feel too.

    I like the premise of this thread (thanks @Jaxxon) and always felt this was the way they were going, or should have gone. I enjoyed TFA and had no issue with them going their own way, but I always felt they missed an opportunity to be able to take the best of the EU now legends and leave out all the bad ideas. I'm sure when writing a lot of bad ideas are put to paper only to be removed in re-writes. Those EU books were more like already prepared first drafts. I think the ST would have gone over better with a Thrawn, Mara Jade, Jaina and Jacen added as new characters then what we have. Add Thrawn coming out of the Unknown Regions with some version of the Emperor pulling the strings and I think you would have had a great story, something that would have please EU fans and that the general audience would have loved as well.

    Jacen falls and kills Mara as the finally of VIII (I'd have removed Anakin just because he would not have fit in with the Thrawn theme, maybe added Ben with some of Anakin Solo intermixed for the future). VII would have established the new characters and Jacen's fall to the dark side. I'm not sure about the Vong, I can take them or leave them, but there was enough in the EU that was good to make a trilogy based off of Thrawn and the Jedi Accademy trilogy. There were arc in there that sucked, but combined I think you could have replaced those with the strong elements of the other to make an amazing story.

    Honestly, I feel some of the backlash is stemmed from this, subconsciously, mostly. I hadn't thought of it before, but a big thing I keep hearing is fan expectation is what created the haters. I always fought that idea, but in this way there might be some validity to it.

    I feel in their hubris, LFL expelled the EU (now legends... god I wish they had called the new EU something else) thinking they can make something far superior. I think, just like many others, they saw mostly the flaws from the EU (of which there were many). I think they also might have been afraid of having a story that people can more easily piece together would somehow hurt them. I however disagree.

    The EU had its readers, but I honestly forgot most of the books. I don't think there's much more than 1% of the general audience who know, or remember, anything about them past Thrawn being a strategic mastermind. I think by ejecting the EU, they had already set up this division in SW. Some fans left before the movies even started, while most I think gave the ST a chance.

    So basically LFL had already put the pot on the fire and filled it with water before the ST ever began by jettisoning the EU. Then they added ingredients by writing a story that to me is reminiscent to the EU, as in it is just as flawed as those stories are, with arcs that are just as weak of some of the more laughable EU arcs.

    So I look back at the EU, with its strength and its flaws exposed over decades of debate, and I wonder, why didn't they just use the best of that instead of falling to their hubris and believing they can write and make a flawless SW story within a year or two? It's mind blowing arrogance imo.

    I think the ST has some great elements, and I think had they gone the EU path, the strongest elements could have still existed within this increasingly hypothetical trilogy. They thought they could do better, and to be fair, maybe a EU trilogy would have been a hot mess. Maybe the powers that be would have included some of the weaker elements of the EU, as weaker is all opinion in the end, but I think by simply not making that announcement (relegating the EU to legends), they would have not put the pot on the fire, it would have bought them time and good graces from fans that they lost with that announcement. Those with mixed feelings would be more likely to indulge them.

    In short, it would have shown some respect for years of material, shown some humility. The lack of humility, to me, is by far the greatest weakness of the ST. To blame the fans and fan expectation is the greatest example of this. It likely won't matter when it comes to profits, but for PR, their universe will now always be marred with haters because of it (small but vocal minority or otherwise). I hate that, but they created it because of their hubris, the root cause, that early decision to eject, and announce the ejection of the EU.
     
    #19 Sparafucile, Aug 4, 2019
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  20. Matt_T

    Matt_T Clone Commander

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    Great post there, Kessel Runner. I didn't get too deep into the EU. I mean, I read a few books (Truce at Bakura, etc.) but I didn't read them in order and just didn't stay on my game in general. However, I thought The Thrawn Trilogy was excellent. I read and re-read it numerous times. It really felt (and still does) like a the true sequel trilogy in my head cannon. What does this post have to do with what Lucasfilm got wrong about the fandom? Nothing. Just throwing some love Zahn's and Kessel Runner's way.

    If I had to posit a guess on the LFL/fandom question, I'd say LFL probably assumed that all fans would love more SW just because it was more SW. I think the critiques really took them off guard.
     
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