“Peace is a lie, there is only passion.” – from the Sith Code (Qotsisajak), by Jedi heretic Sorzus Syn (6900 BBY)
Before we get started here, you should know that I haven't seen The Rise of Skywalker. Yet. I'm going to eventually, even though I haven't bothered to shield myself from the spoilers and I pretty much know all the big stuff that happens. (Not going to spoil anything here.)
You should also know that I am basically a casual Star Wars fan. It's not at the top of my list of favorite franchises, though I do love it. Star Wars wasn't really a part of my childhood, as my interest in sci-fi didn't really develop until my late twenties, and at that point I was more of a Trekkie than a…Warsie? Is that the term? I'd prefer Mandalorian.
Because the Mandalorian is AWESOME hold on, sorry, I'll get to that later. Gotta keep things in sequence here.
Shall we sum up what's happened to Star Wars? I think we'd better. Please be aware, however, that this is my own personal take, and it will probably annoy people on both sides of the aisle. Prepare to be annoyed. (Also, there will be SPOILERS for Episodes I though VIII from here on out.)
Way back when, Star Wars happened. Three movies. They were awesome. And flawed. But also awesome.
Way back later, Star Wars happened again. It was less awesome. But not horrible. And it was made more awesome by other people coming along and building on the foundations George Lucas had laid.
Then Disney bought Star Wars. Everyone cheered, because now the franchise could be freed from George Lucas' creative vision, and we would never have to see another Gungan or hear anyone pontificate about the unpleasantness of sand again.
Yes, you did cheer. Don't tell me you didn't. (Okay, it's possible that quite a few people saw the potential problems with the Disney purchase back then, but I certainly didn't hear many of them speak up.)
Then The Force Awakens happened. It was…safe. Mostly. Aside from killing off a major character from the original series, that is. It was, essentially, a re-do of A New Hope. Which, in part, is why it was successful and left most fans believing that the franchise was in safe hands with J.J. Abrams and company.
And now we come to The Last Jedi.
Full disclosure; I do not hate The Last Jedi with the fury of a thousand burning suns, which is probably partially due to the fact that I didn't grow up with Star Wars. For me, seeing Luke Skywalker as a jaded hermit was more of an interesting creative decision than an affront to the character's legacy. A great story could have been told with Luke as a successful Jedi master, but there would have been a major risk of it being predictable. The version we got could have been great as well.
My very brief take on Ep VIII is this: take out the weird blue milk thing, the entire Canto Bight plotline, and the characters of Rose Tico and Admiral Holdo, and you've got a fairly decent (if short) film. Just like if you take Jar-Jar out of Ep 1 and trim some of the other elements (like the pod-racing), you've got a decent film. Actually, if you took out all the dumb and unnecessary stuff from The Last Jedi and expanded on some of the moments that were off-putting to fans, you might end up with something that would have gotten a far better reception.
By now, I've probably managed to irritate Star Wars fans across the board, and unlike many people on the internet these days, that is absolutely not my intention. Because let's be honest: outrage gets clicks. After The Last Jedi, a great number of Star Wars fans (male and female, just so we're clear on that) started going on YouTube and giving the film scathing reviews. Those reviews got lots and lots of clicks, which equaled ad revenue. So they started making more videos, beating the movie and every single piece of related news to death. Then they beat Solo to death, despite the fact that it actually wasn't a bad film at all (from what I've heard, anyway; I still need to watch that one). Then they moved on to Captain Marvel, which became nothing more than a money dispenser for angry YouTubers throughout early 2019. Now they're on The Rise of Skywalker. Click, like, ka-ching, click, like, ka-ching…
I'm not saying that Star Wars YouTubers don't have valid takes, or that every single person who covers Star Wars on their YouTube channel is out for money alone. But let's not ignore the fact that Star Wars negativity has become a source of easy cash for a lot of people.
I don't love The Last Jedi. But I don't hate it just because a great number of Star Wars fans say that I should. My biggest problem with Eps VII and VIII is that (in my opinion) they didn't really do right by the actors and characters from the original films. Han, Luke, and Leia deserved three strong movies with very solid plotting and scripts, and they really should have all shared a significant number of scenes. In VII, Han dies after only sharing a brief scene with Leia. (You can blame Harrison Ford for that, by the way.) In VIII, exactly the same thing happens with Luke. I've heard that Ep IX seeks to rectify this issue to some extent, but as I haven't seen it yet, I can't say whether or not that is the case.
I also don't have a ton of respect for Rian Johnson, Kathleen Kennedy, or Bob Iger. Johnson's conduct toward fans who disliked The Last Jedi has, at times, been dismissive, mocking, and politically-driven. Granted, many of the attacks on him have been vicious and unwarranted, but his attitude doesn't really help. I also think he could have tried harder to dovetail with J.J. Abrams' storylines from The Force Awakens instead of deliberately subverting them (and the established conventions and mythology of Star Wars) at every turn. Kathleen Kennedy has made some very unwise decisions as the head of the Star Wars franchise which have only served to make the fallout from The Last Jedi worse. Bob Iger, by his own admission, was not as considerate of George Lucas' vision for the franchise as he should have been.
But these are all my opinions; nothing more. I'm probably wrong. You're also probably wrong. And that other person who thinks we're both wrong is probably also wrong.
Some–not all–of the current problems with Star Wars are due to politically-motivated decisions. I don't like it when established franchises get re-tooled for political or social-justice reasons, or when fans who disagree with such moves get labeled as toxic, racist, or sexist by default.
But I also don't like it when established fans of a franchise set themselves up as gatekeepers for what people should and shouldn't like. Not long ago, in a galaxy not so far away, people were mocked and shamed for liking the prequels. Now liking the prequels is cool because you're supposed to hate the Disney films instead. The truth is, both the Disney films and the prequels have their problems. Honestly, even the original films have their problems. But no one really cares that the continuity across the trilogy isn't perfect, or that Leia's accent changes halfway through A New Hope, or about any of the other minor issues, because we just enjoy sitting back and watching space westerns that have wizards with glowy swords that go vwoom.
Don't we? Anybody? Just me, then? Okay.
The Disney Star Wars films have problems which ought to be fixed, and some of the elements in them are less than respectful to what came before. But there are lots of people who enjoy them, and those people shouldn't be told that they're not “real” Star Wars fans. Conversely, the opinions of the people who feel betrayed by Disney Star Wars shouldn't be ignored; nor should those people be labeled as fake fans. Both sides of the debate have a responsibility to be civil. You can have strong opinions, but no matter what those opinions are, you don't have to descend into personal attacks on fans or the cast and crew of the movies.
And let's not forget about the one character who can bring us all together in harmony.
No, I'm actually not talking about Baby Yoda. I mean the Mandalorian himself, because he's ultimately the coolest character on the show.
Don't worry, I'm not going to let slip any spoilers for the series, but I think most of us can agree that it's amazing. And it may represent a new and improved era for the Star Wars franchise going forward. With more Clone Wars, Obi-Wan, and The Mandalorian Season 2 on the horizon, there's a lot for Star Wars fans to be excited about.
For better or for worse, the Skywalker Saga is over. It is what it is. Let's accept it, the way we have after each of the three imperfect trilogies that comprise it. Let's move on, share opinions in a courteous manner, and stop telling each other what we should and shouldn't like.
That's just my opinion, though. I could be wrong. And so could you.
Let's be wrong together.
“Chaos, yet harmony.” – from the original Jedi Code, author unknown, before the canonization of the refined verison by Jedi Master Odan-Urr in the fortieth century BBY