What does it mean to be a Star Wars fan?

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Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

In the midst of the schism of Star Wars fans came the prequels. If there wasn’t division in the ranks before, there certainly was now! Overly hyped and poorly executed, the overuse of CGI, the lackluster performances, the cries of “George Lucas ruined my childhood!” – the prequels have been argued as much as any Presidential debate, and just as passionately too.

I happen to love the prequels just as much as the original trilogy, if not more so – in the days before the sequels, two of my top three favorites were from the prequels. The high-paced action, the larger story, the deeper levels of immersion, the guesswork of trying to figure out how it would all get to Episode IV – all these things made the prequel trilogy a better story for me.

But I totally understand how this would not be the case for a large portion of the fan base, for the exact same reasons that the EU alienated a lot of Star Wars fans. The prequels were actually quite reliant on the EU (in the days before The Clone Wars animated series, anyway), as most of the story took place within the novels. The original Genndy Tartakovsky version of The Clone Wars did a wonderful job of bridging the gap between Episodes II & III, but overall there was still far too much content for these fans to keep up with, and perception of the prequels suffers to this day as a result.

One argument I have heard a lot when it comes to dislike of the prequels is that they just didn’t capture the mood, the feeling, the spirit, of the original trilogy. There was no Han Solo-type character, Padme was just a poor imitation of Leia, no villain had the presence of Darth Vader, too much focus on politics, and…Jar Jar. I get why a lot of fans don’t like the prequels, I also understand how fans did enjoy them too.

Photo Credit: [Star Wars: The Force Awakens] LucasfilmWhat I find interesting is the reason that many people don’t like the prequels is the exact opposite of why some people don’t like the sequels. In a nutshell, the prequels were too different from the originals, and the sequels were too similar, at least in the first installment. To me, Episode VII felt like a genuine attempt to appease all the negative opinions of the prequels by giving Star Wars fans a sense of familiarity, but that of course had its own share of pitfalls.

Many who I know personally enjoyed the movie, stating the obvious similarities but still feeling that it was well done and a self contained story – that is, one not reliant on the expanded universe to fill out the missing pieces.

Some, however, refused to see past the rehashed elements of the story. A droid carrying an important piece of data, the hero is located on a barren desert planet, a super weapon very similar to the two Death Stars, etc. were at the top of the list of reasons as to why some people found Episode VII to be in some ways worse than the dreaded prequels – at least the prequels were original stories.

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And then we got the stand alone films and Episode VIII, each of which has been met with its share of triumphs and criticisms. I’ll go on record as saying that the more Star Wars content we get, the better the entire franchise will be. Some projects will invariably be met with higher levels of acceptance or criticism – they can’t all be better than the one before it. That’s just not how things work, largely because our opinions about anything evolve the more we’re exposed to them, and the novelty of new ideas can only keep us enraptured for so long.

For myself, the biggest disappointment in Star Wars is the abandonment of the expanded universe. I get why it had to be done, but it was still the worst thing that could have happened for many reasons.

For one, it retracted certified canon from the Star Wars galaxy, which in turn opened up a flood of verbal revenge from the fans who had never bothered with the novels. Now, they could claim that they had “always” been right, and that a quarter century of published material that had in many cases been green-lit by George Lucas himself was nothing more than fan fiction. Tell that to Matthew Stover, Aaron Allston, Karen Travis, Greg Keyes, James Luceno, Elaine Cunningham, KW Jeter, Troy Denning, and all the other authors who pioneered a new age to Star Wars fans who above all just wanted more of what they loved.

I quote the following in response to those who believe that the EU was “never canon” from Daily Dot.

"“Lucasfilm has just issued a statement saying that the entire Expanded Universe is no longer official canon.”"

It is but one of many writings that proclaims the Expanded Universe is “no longer canon.” How, then, can something no longer be canon if it was “never canon” to begin with?

Just remember, portions of the EU continually find a way into the new canon so it may only be a matter of time before the Dejarik tables turn again and the unreal becomes truth once again.

Whether you’re a fan of the original trilogy, the prequels, the sequels, the expanded universe, or the whole nerf steak, you’re ultimately a Star Wars fan right? And even after all this, I’m still not sure what it exactly means to be a Star Wars fan, but I do think it’s pretty cool that we all love something so much that we argue over who loves it the most. That’s a bond that can’t be shattered, no matter how much we yell at each other.

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What kind of fan do you identify yourself as? Which era is your favorite? What’s your favorite Star Wars moment? Pro EU or not so much? May the Force be with You!