This December we get our first Star Wars movie that doesn’t revolve around the Skywalker family and its mythos. We have had books, video games, and tv shows that gave us different viewpoints, eras, and characters but they have always been auxiliary. The stories told in those media were sometimes good, sometimes bad but they were never central to how we understood Star Wars because Star Wars has always been about the Big Screen. Now we have an addition to the Big Screen Star Wars that is outside of the Mythos and I have to ask is that good thing?
No matter what Disney says about cartoons, books, and comics in the end if it doesn’t happen on the Big Screen it’s not really canon because at any time it can be thrown out if the movies need to go a certain way. Why is that? Two reasons; First, 90% of those who watch the movies will ONLY watch the movies so they know nothing of the books and could care less if the movies contradict the books, cartoons etc., so there is little need to make sure everything matches. Second, Star Wars movies have always been space fantasy, not scifi, and the books and other media have been more scifi in the EU and are rarely truly fantasy. Star Wars success is based on that Fantasy premise of a far off place with magic (Force) abilities. When Star Wars movies have focused on those fantastical elements they have always been at their best. It’s one of the reasons TFA did so well, it went back to the “Hero with 1000 faces” basic plot line, that is so well understood and successful for 1000s of years. Knowing that the mythology based around Jedi, the force, the light side and the Dark side, and honoring it while adding to it with Snoke, Kylo the Knights of Ren and Maz Kanata are what have set the tone for the Sequel trilogy.
The question, then, is how do the Anthology films grow or support the Mythos of Star Wars? I’m not sure that they do/will. Rogue One is breaking down into a military/heist movie almost a Star Wars universe Dirty Dozen. While that is an interesting story I don’t think it can do anything for Mythos that 7 previous feature films has established. If fact it could potentially hurt that mythos by diluting the universe and its characters. The next film is a young Han Solo film, and this one has unlimited potential to ruin the growth of Han through the OT and make him look worse, and to be honest little potential to make him look better. This would hurt the character which hurts the story and ultimately hurts fantasy that has been built. I have seen it said that Star Wars is taking a Marvel approach to the movies, but that isn’t correct. Marvel does many types of movies that adhere to the rules of their universe and they are all connected and building towards a combined effort, The Avengers Movies. The Anthology movies aren’t going to be building toward the main line movies and in fact so far at least are just giving us back stories of events we already know the ending to.
Will this hurt the brand with its core audience? Probably not because most Star Wars just want more Star Wars. The true potential is that it hurts the wide spread appeal of the brand. The average audience goes into a Star Wars movie expecting good guys with green and blue lightsabers and bad guys with red lightsabers using the force. Instead they will get a heist movie that just so happens to take place in the same physical Universe but not a part of the Fantasy they have come to enjoy and expect. I wonder if these stories might have been off as a novel, comic or TV series instead.