May the 4th is officially considered Star Wars Day, because people love clever word play games and poor Justin Timberlake cannot win with his “It’s gonna be May” meme. It’s also a reminder for fans to take to the internet and argue about the best Star Wars stories. Considering all the films and Disney+ shows in production, there will be no shortage of material to fuel the fire in the next few years. That said, there’s no disputing the quality of the franchise has taken a nosedive in recent years.
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Whether it’s the fact that Lucasfilm has become primarily a production machine where output is more necessary than before, or how the franchise cannot do a story without a Skywalker becoming a central figure, something is off in the galaxy far, far away. Of course, this doesn’t mean the fans will tune out, because social media has taught us people will endlessly complain about something, yet they will hate-watch it anyway. It’s still strange how the franchise started on the big screen, but the best Star Wars stories are no longer told in that medium.
The films and shows always come back to the same point
Even though the last Star Wars trilogy created such divisiveness and fans groaned at Rey taking the Skywalker name, Lucasfilm is still pushing ahead with a new film about the character. According to Esquire, writer Damon Lindelof had a plan where a much older and wiser Rey, who could have potentially been played by Helen Mirren, would train the next generation of Jedi Knights. Lindelof was asked to leave the production, but the core idea of his premise has stayed intact – except that Rey will only be a few years older after the events of The Rise of Skywalker.
In the rich and vast tapestry of this universe, it’s surprising how the stories keep coming back to the Skywalkers. Even in The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the creators couldn’t resist the urge to bring Luke and Leia as key elements in the stories. Now, of course, the central family of the franchise will always be the Skywalkers, and they will always connect to the story in some way or the other, but there is a smarter way of telling different stories without having to rely on them as the constant protagonists or plot drivers.
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The best Star Wars stories are now interactive
In 2008, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed dazzled gamers with its fantastic gameplay mechanics and story about Galen Marek/Starkiller, who is Darth Vader’s trusted apprentice but goes on to carve his own path and defy the dark side. While Vader is still a part of the story considering the era it is set in, the video game and its sequel helped to establish a brand-new character that had a compelling narrative and end goal.
Similarly, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor have shaped a riveting protagonist in the form of Cal Kestis. Around him, Cal also has an interesting supporting cast of characters that show different elements of the universe and what is happening in the time period. While it’s clear there is a formulaic nature in place, such as him having a cute robo-buddy in the form of BD-1, it is a new story with its own narrative that ties into the wider universe but can stand on its own two legs.
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Bigger risks, bigger rewards
It’s also likely that the developers of Star Wars video games aren’t given the entire toy chest of characters to play with – and that isn’t a bad thing either. It forces the creative teams to study the eras and find the perfect gaps where their stories can slot in but also live on their own. Certainly, it’s a risk to introduce new characters and stories in a pre-established universe, but the rewards of getting it right make it worth it. Right now, the best Star Wars stories are taking place in games like Fallen Order and Survivor, and Lucasfilm should be looking at what these teams are doing right. If the franchise wants to get back to its glory days, this is the way.