Does Star Wars need its own cinematic universe?


Is there a Star Wars Cinematic Universe on the horizon? It wouldn’t be the first major franchise to split its stories into multiple timelines.

Let’s face it: Star Wars as we’ve always known it is changing.

Whether you’re on board with this fact or you’d rather cling to the original trilogy with all your strength (nothing wrong with that — they’re good movies!), there’s no denying the next 10, 20, 40 years in a galaxy far, far away are going to look different.

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Maybe that’s not a bad thing after all.

Chuck Wendig, author of the Aftermath trilogy, some comics, and a bunch of other things not set in a galaxy far, far away, published a blog post proposing the possibility of Star Wars films branching off into their own separate universe — sort of like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which follows a different timeline than Marvel comics, for example.

But wait — isn’t there technically already an SWCU? Kind of …?

Except Wendig goes on to explain that Canon exists in an attempt to keep everything woven together like a web. And that strategy can only work for so long before everything starts falling apart.

At this moment, every Star Wars film exists within the same timeline. This means everything is connected, and every smaller story contributes in some way to a much larger narrative.

And this does not include the fact that, at this point, pretty much every book, comic, and video game does its best to follow the exact same timeline.

I say “does its best” because even in the Canon material of the last five or so years, things have already failed to line up perfectly on more than one occasion. Rogue One, for example, tries very hard to lead directly into A New Hope, and ALMOST achieves that perfectly … but not quite.

This is because the Star Wars universe as we know it is expanding more in films than it ever has before. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Wendig points out that the more the Star Wars universe grows, the harder it’s going to be to keep everything straight and well-put together.

While this isn’t the reason every Star Wars book written before 2013 is now considered “Legend,” for example, it’s certainly part of it. There were hundreds of books all trying to stick to the same story and timeline. Chances are, it became too much to keep track of — not just for the authors, but for the fans, too.

Every once in a while, you have to wipe clean everything that’s happened and try new things. No matter how resistant to change you might be — even within your favorite fantasy stories — change might be the best thing that could happen to Star Wars next.

Here’s one unexpected reason I like this idea: It gives us as Star Wars fans permission not to have to consume everything Star Wars all the time.

I’m a huge Marvel fan, I love the movies and some of the games and comics. But there is WAY TOO MUCH material to keep up with on a regular basis. So I just don’t. And because it’s designed that way, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by just watching the movies or just reading one particular comic series.

It could be the same with Star Wars. The films and TV shows, books, comics, games, and more could all be wonderful things created for anyone who wanted to watch or read them that exist within their own timelines and stories.

But there would be no PRESSURE to watch a show if you didn’t have the time, or rewatch a movie if it’s not your favorite.

Maybe — MAYBE — this would cut down on this whole “you’re only a real Star Wars fan if …” mentality some people refuse to retire. Star Wars should be able to exist in the world, always expanding, without guilting people into knowing “everything” that’s going on — or finding reasons to shame anyone who doesn’t.

If there were a SWCU, writers, directors, and producers would be able to tell any story within the universe they wanted to without worrying about it “lining up” with everything that has ever been made before it.

Would continuity within some stories still be important? Of course. But we’d likely be treated with stories from different eras within Star Wars history, different characters, different tones — without everything being a “spinoff” or a “prequel.”

I’d be okay with this — IF Lucasfilm waited a while (a year, maybe two?) after the conclusion of the Skywalker saga to, as Wendig puts it, “blow it all up.”

Perhaps it’s the need to conclude and stick with the Skywalker saga that has held off any kind of major film shakeup like this. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some fans have been waiting since 1977 to see how all this ends. Lucasfilm needed to complete this final trilogy. They needed to complete the story.

It just might — finally — be time for something different.

Judging by some “fans'” behavior, I think it’s about time to start over — completely this time, not just wiping out the books — and level the playing field a little bit.

No more “I’m a real fan and you’re not because you like the prequels and I think they’re trash.”

Just a bunch of people who all love Star Wars, picking up the parts of it that interest them and leaving the parts that don’t alone.

Finding spaces to talk with people who enjoy the same Star Wars things they do, instead of tearing down anyone and everyone who disagrees with their opinions …

I mean, I can dream, can’t I?

Star Wars has been following the same timeline for over 40 years. I’m not sure I’m personally ready for a full universe “reboot” quite yet. But I do think separating out film content into its own timeline from this point forward might give all of us a much-needed breath of fresh air.

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