5 Reminders That 'Star Wars' Was Always Making It Up As It Went Along
The plot of the new Star Wars trilogy is an overarching mess. It's as if a bunch of rebels secretly replaced the saga's plans with a Jackson Pollock painting, and nobody noticed. Why just compare it to other cohesive Star Wars works, like the original trilogy, The Mandalorian TV series, or even Rogue One. Well, about that …
If any of those stories come off well, it's not because of master planning. It's because the people behind Star Wars sometimes got surprisingly good at hiding that they're making it up as they go along. The "good" Star Wars continuity is actually just a massive achievement in improv ...
Originally, There Was No Such Thing As "Episode IV," Let Alone A Plan For The Prequels
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope began as just Star Wars. Lucas only demoted the first film to fourth place when reissuing the films in '81. It's unclear whether that's when Lucas decided to start milking the green milk alien with a prequel trilogy or if he just made a typo when writing the new opening crawl and made an awful trilogy to justify the mistake instead of just owning up to it.
Weird he wanted Adventures of Luke Starkiller over the poetry of Star Wars: Saga 1 - War of the Stars.
Naturally, The Empire Strikes Back also began life as just Star Wars 2. Before the release of the first film, Lucas wasn't sure Star Wars would take off the way that it did, but he was still cocky enough to think it would warrant a sequel, so he went with something much smaller in scope (though bigger and more convoluted in title): Star Wars 2: Splinter of the Mind's Eye. Yeah, they really were going with that ... oh, wait, you're already used to Star Wars titles.
Instead of taking place in various awesome locations, Splinter took place almost entirely on a jungle planet where Luke and Leia crash their ship. The only similarity is that both stories conclude with a clash between Luke and Vader, but instead of it being about Vader's reveal that he knocked up Luke's mom, they're just competing over something called the Kaiburr crystal. That's a MacGuffin that the main canon forgot, but one that found a way into the lost and found section that is the expanded universe in the form of the Kyber crystal, the mineral that non-canonical Jedi use to power their lightsaber. Meanwhile, Splinter of the Mind's Eye got demoted to the novel (the movies of the mind) pile.
Darth Vader's Story Suffered More Meddling Than His Body
It's really hard to buy that Darth Vader, a guy who famously ranted about the downsides of sand (something that never destroyed his body), would decide to live in a castle surrounded by lava (something that did). But that's not the only change they forced upon the character.
Nowadays, Darth is a title everyone earns after a few months at Sith summer camp. There's Darth Vader, Darth Sidious, Darth Tyranus, Darth Brooks, Darth Algar, and over 130 other Darths that the writers or weird AI behind the expanded universe came up with. Back in the day, you couldn't become a professional "Darth" because that wasn't a job title. It used to be a name. Anyone interested in becoming a Darth should instead head over to the galactic registry.
No, really. It's that easy.
Phil Szostak, creative director at Lucasfilm, explains that Vader was originally just a guy whose first name happened to be Darth.
This is also why Luke's last name isn't Vader because Vader wasn't even originally meant to be Luke's father. That's something Lucas or some intern he murdered only came up with when making Empire. If you're looking for Darth Vader's original job title, that's General. So if you meet him at a cantina, the correct way to address him is as General Darth Vader (or "That bastard that never tips" if you're waitstaff).
The "Darthening" of every bad guy is just one of many similar but equally hilarious problems caused by the expanded universe and '00s Star Wars' inexplicable need to clone everything that was remotely popular instead of just creating new stuff.
The Dumb Trend Made Everyone Wear The Same Thing (And All Wrong)
It's weird that the word "Sith" doesn't appear anywhere in the original trilogy but is everywhere in the prequels. That's like The Matrix Resurrections featuring a scene where Trinity casually mentions how Neo's been a hardcore Scientologist the entire time. That's kind of fine because the Sith are mentioned in the original script, and also because complaining about a mere name would be majorly nitpicky. What we really don't get, however, is how every Sith in the prequels is a master duelist. That's weird because only Jedi were supposed to use lightsabers. That's not even a script thing; it's pretty clear when the Emperor calls Luke's saber a Jedi's weapon instead of going, "What about it? We all had one during the prequel days."
The Sith weren't meant to use lightsabers. Only Vader got away with that because he used to be a Jedi. The Jedi used swords because they're supposed to be like the knights of old, and Lucas believes knights were honorable dudes. The Sith, however, used the force to conjure some messed-up deadly magic because they're sneaky vile assholes. The Emperor was never supposed to have a saber. He didn't give up on using one after the prequels because he was old – he was probably born old.
George Lucas thought swordfights would be more exciting than a fight where both sides are playing a different sport, but that only led to stagnation. Hell, it doesn't even have to be a fair fight to be fun. Check out this scene where Vader massacres a bunch of rebel redshirts in a battle featuring absolutely zero stakes that most people praised.
The Jedi didn't get away scot-free either, as Lucas' need to eradicate all diversity in the galaxy forced post-prequel Jedi to adhere to a lame dress code. At some point, he was probably faced with the decision of picking between Ben Kenobi's raggedy robe that's exactly the opposite of what a Jedi would wear because he doesn't want to get outed as a Jedi …
... and Luke's black suit from Return of the Jedi, you know, the one that actually looks cool, practical, and doesn't have an absurd amount of extra fabric responsible for 66% of all accidental self-beheadings in the galaxy.
And sure, Luke also covered himself, but in order to protect himself in harsh environments like Yoda's planet of Dagobah or on Tatooine, because of the sand and because he also didn't want to get recognized.
But now it's Jedi law to wear a robe.
Rogue One Fixes One Problem With The Same Problem
Fans spent decades ridiculing the Galactic Empire for putting a massive weak spot in their most important weapon, ignoring the poignant critique on Imperial hubris it represents, as well the at least five times in real history when powerful buffoons did just that.
When Disney bought Star Wars, they set out to make the Empire look less like a bunch of bozos. We get that. If we were Disney, we, too, would want people to believe empires are good. Their attempt was Rogue One, a two-hour merchandise showcase that reveals that the weak spot in Death Star was not the result of Imperial oversight but of sabotage perpetrated by one rogue engineer. And they would have pulled off the Empire's glow-up if it had not been for K-2SO, one of the hottest
toys characters introduced in this movie.
K-2SO's actually a cool character, and we wouldn't usually care about the plot of space Ocean's Eleven, but he's in a movie whose objective is to rehabilitate an element of the franchise, and his mere inclusion instantly makes the Empire look Jar-Jar-level dumb once again. We'll need some timeline context:
Rogue One takes place right before the beginning of Star Wars (yeah, IV), and decades after the prequels showed everyone that stupid droids will always lose to trained soldiers (even if they're Stormtroopers). They're also probably more expensive to build. It's completely absurd that the Empire would just spend trillions of galactic money on more of something that never succeeded. And sure, the empire built a second Death Star, but the first destroyed a planet, while the Starkiller base destroyed a whole bunch of them. Those are results. Spending money on new combat droids is the equivalent of having the US army invest billions of dollars in a new flintlock pistol.
K-2SO is naturally absent in the original trilogy because his model was created for Rogue One, but the new canon implies that the Empire spent immense amounts of money on something they used for just a few years before scrapping it. Huh, we wonder if that's because one of the robots turned against the Empire, allowed for the destruction of the death star, and made them look dumb as hell once again.
There Was No Such Thing As Mandalorians
Disney+'s The Mandalorian tells the story of Adult Mando, one member of a race and creed of badass warriors who, you guessed it, all chose to look the goddamn same.
One thing the show does well is expanding on the "Mandalorian lore." That's because it's not a bad show, sure, but also because it's not that hard to expand on lore that originally amounted to no more than a helmet.
The entire framework for the Mandalorians comes from a character/Sarlacc hors d'oeuvre named Boba Fett, and that's a problem. Boba Fett isn't a Mandalorian. The Mandalorians were a team of commandos Lucas wanted to put in the story, but they ended up getting replaced by the much simpler Boba the Bounty Hunter. In a galaxy of tacky fashion choices, Fett just happened to be the one bounty hunter wearing a cool helmet. It's not in the films, but in Empire's sketchbook that describes Fett's armor as "Mandalorian." Regardless of what it could have meant, it sounded cool, so the expanded universe writers did their thing and expanded on it.
The Mandalorians then became a race the Jedi had a big-ass war with, meaning that Disney wants you to believe the Jedi would have trouble dealing with some guys born out of a dude who only ever battled the functionalities of his own jetpack and lost.
Tiago expects all the hate to this post to be directed at his Twitter account.
Top Image: Lucasfilm