Hi everyone. I’ve had a bit of a rough few weeks so I haven’t been engaged much with social media, including blogs. I just found out that Disney has made a canonical statement about the Star Wars universe in the lead-up to the next film. I heard that they’ve declared nothing is canon anymore besides the six original films and the Clone Wars TV series. Naturally my first thought was finally, Caravan of Courage and that other god-awful Ewok movie can suck it.
Once I’d finished gloating though, I was given some more to think about. I was talking to my partner, who has read quite a bit of what’s (now formerly?) known as the ‘Expanded Universe.’ So by this I mean the novels, comics, etc. Hey, even I played Bioware’s excellent Knights of the Old Republic games, and they’re expanded universe too. Well, now none of that stuff happened. It didn’t bother me too much, but my partner was complaining that there was a seminal moment in the expanded universe that had a profound emotional impact on many people who read it: the death of Chewbacca. Soooo yeah. Looks like he got a reprieve and like… now never died. Or something. The issue here is that people had real feelings towards a fictional event, as is fitting. I mean, that’s the purpose of fictional narrative right? To generate real feelings with made-up people and events?
For example I, like many others, felt personally slighted when Greedo was retconned as shooting first. It didn’t sit well with my childhood memories of Han Solo and who he was. He was a hero, yeah, but he was also kind of ruthless and street-smart; the perfect counterpoint to Luke’s naive idealism. I can only guess it’s the same for all the people who read the books about Jacen and Jaina(?) Solo and saw Chewbacca nobly sacrifice his life. Those characters and events are now expected to just vanish with the wave of Disney’s magic wand?
All of this is just me wondering how important it really is to retcon, when it undermines people’s suspension of disbelief so seriously. Really, it’s as if the author of the book you’re reading suddenly knocked it out of your hand and yelled “none of this is real, remember!” right in your face. I think it’s a decision that should always be taken with extreme care, and the process should be accomplished with as little impact as possible. Instead, the approach is too often to just tear huge chunks away, like ripping off a band-aid, and expect people to get over it. It’s not very respectful of the audience I think. The absolute worst, to my mind, is what Marvel and DC comics do, with dramatic events taking place in parallel universes. Weak. How many times has Superman died now? Think of some new characters already!
Whew. So I don’t want to be too negative. I’ll just leave off with one last thought: if you really need to retcon something to make it cool, then maybe it’s not the best fit for contemporary audiences anymore? Maybe it would be better just to leave it in the past and oh, I don’t know… make up something new?
In other news, I’ve got my money and my Good Games voucher I got in a 40k game ready, and if all goes to plan tomorrow, I’m off to buy the Saga rulebook. More on that next time.