Over the last 40 years, the Star Wars franchise has brought in over $30 billion in total revenue. People have been going (and continue to go) crazy over Star Wars movies, books, Pez dispensers, soup cans, breakfast cereals…basically anything that can be branded with the Star Wars logo.
Like any phenomenon with a similar level of exposure, there are quite a few misconceptions. Some are due to decades of rumors, while others can be attributed to some fresh changes in the franchise. Regardless of the cause, there are a few things that some fans just don’t get.
Here is our list of 10 Things Star Wars Fans Don’t Understand About Star Wars.
10. The Expanded Universe was never canon
The very first bit of drama after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm was over the perceived decision to “throw out” years of Expanded Universe content – content which fans had long treated as Star Wars canon. While it’s true that Lucasfilm put significant effort into minimizing conflict between the two continuities, Lucas himself and other Lucasfilm employees have specified on several occasions that the Expanded Universe is a similar but separate continuity.
This is most notable in the Star Wars prequels. Episodes I-III drew some inspiration from the EU – like making Coruscant the capital of the Republic. However, the prequels didn’t dance around to depict things exactly as the EU had portrayed. They contradicted many elements that had already been established: the Jedi Order, the Clone Wars, and the Old Republic (to name a few).
Some fans are upset about this and would prefer the Expanded Universe always be treated as canon. After all, DC and Marvel have benefited from multiple continuities for decades. But with this separation, fans have an excellent opportunity to appreciate more diverse Star Wars storytelling, and it frees Lucasfilm to move forward with its future Star Wars films without trying to make everything fit into a pre-existing continuity.
9. How canon is established
All new Star Wars content created after April 25th, 2015 (including Episodes I-VII, The Clone Wars, and Star Wars: Rebels) shares a singular continuity maintained by the new Lucasfilm Story Group, while most EU (now “Legends”) content is no longer canon. For the most part, Star Wars fans understand this distinction, but it still causes some confusion.
What causes more confusion, however, is the method by which a new concept or event becomes canonical. This method is especially confusing to some, due to the “canon pending” status many people assign to Legends content. Darth Plagueis is a good example – his name has been thrown around recently. Plagueis is the Legends book that details the rise and fall of Palpatine’s master, Darth Plagueis. Many have argued the events of this book should all be considered official, because Plagueis himself is referenced twice in Star Wars canon: in Revenge of the Sith, and the novel Tarkin.
While most of Plageuis isn’t contradictory, it’s a bit of a stretch to say Lucasfilm ought to import it the story in its entirety. When canon material references Legends material, it doesn’t pull in all of Legends – it references only specific elements. So Plagueis’s existence and his actions as specified in Revenge of the Sith and Tarkin are canonical, but nothing else from the book is yet recognized as official.
Canon is also not established based on statements or opinions of a specific character. The best example of this is Lando Calrissian’s quip: “She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!” (in reference to the Millennium Falcon). This does not mean that the Millennium Falcon is the fastest ship in all of Star Wars. All it establishes is that, in official canon, Lando considers the Falcon to be a fast ship.
8. George Lucas isn’t responsible for your favorite parts of the original trilogy
George Lucas provided the large brush strokes of the Star Wars saga and did most of the heavy lifting in getting Lucasfilm off the ground – the guy deserves a lot of credit from all Star Wars fans. That being said, when fans think of the traits that make Star Wars definitively Star Wars, they are likely thinking of something brought to life by someone else.
Lucas’s only original trilogy script, A New Hope (originally titled just Star Wars), underwent massive revisions. Lucas wasn’t very talented with dialogue (as we found out 3 decades later), so he asked his friends Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck (his co-writers from American Graffiti) to freshen up the script. Have a favorite line in A New Hope? Odds are, they wrote it, and not Lucas.
The look and feel of the original trilogy should also be credited to others. The concept art that inspired many of the ships, characters, and vehicles can largely be attributed to Ralph McQuarrie, with huge contributions from Joe Johnston, such at the AT-AT, Boba Fett, and the Millennium Falcon.
Then, of course, there’s the audio. The impact of John Williams’s score cannot be overstated, but the Star Wars sound effects are possibly one of the most revolutionary (and unheralded) advancements in cinema at the time. Prior to Star Wars, most movies recycled the same studio sound effects kit. But during pre-production, sound engineer Ben Burtt took the time to record his own audio library from scratch. This new library (which is still in use by Lucasfilm today) went as far as to combine various ambient noises, like an elephant’s trumpet and the sound of tires on the wet pavement. That combination that gave the TIE fighter its scream. It is the unique sounds of Burtt that truly make the universe come to life.
7. Jar Jar Binks isn’t supposed to be likeable
He’s the biggest can of worms in all of Star Wars – Jar Jar Binks. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who admits they like Jar Jar. Although there are those who empathize with the blundering misfit, he’s often blamed for “ruining Star Wars”, along with other serious crimes. Jar Jar Binks is a pariah to Star Wars fans.
The thing is, Star Wars fans aren’t alone. Nobody in Star Wars likes Jar Jar, either. The Gungans banished him from Otoh Gunga under threat of death, should he return. Throughout the rest of the movie, he proceeds to exasperate just about every character he interacts with. Of course, he’s also the one who proposes granting Sheev Palpatine emergency powers, which leads to the creation of the Empire. No one gets brownie points for helping the Dark Side.
Not to say that this perspective should magically change everyone’s opinion on Jar Jar. Lucas definitely fell short in making Jar Jar more palatable. Probably, Lucas intended Jar Jar to be more of a lovable idiot – a subtlety which truly could have made him a much more tragic and compelling character. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it played out. Instead of fans loving to hate Jar Jar, they just plain hate him.
6. CGI use isn’t inherently bad
When fans were disappointed by the Prequels, they started pointing fingers. One of the top items on the list of criticisms was CGI – the prequels became the poster child for “bad” CGI. The thing is, CGI wasn’t the only issue with the prequels, just the most obvious. And not all of it was even remotely bad. It’s actually baffling just how much amazing CGI went into those films that was so well-executed, but wasn’t noticed at all. The complaint usually suggests that the use of CGI replaced the use of practical effects, but that’s not true either. The prequel films actually used more models and built more sets than the original trilogy.
Not to say the CGI wasn’t at times a problem – the films could likely have benefited from a little restraint in this area. However, CGI wasn’t the only issue – or even arguably the biggest. Some small changes to performance and dialogue (with the same quality effects) would have meant far fewer wagging fingers.
5. Midichlorians weren’t a new idea in the prequels
Midichlorians are another one of the most derided aspects of the Star Wars prequels. Many people feel that they add a sense of nepotism to the Force, and strive to find a scientific explanation for something that was always supposed to be mystical.
Midichlorians were not a new concept that somehow changed the way the Force was understood in Star Wars. It’s just a new word that hadn’t been spoken before. The original trilogy made it very clear that people may be more sensitive to the Force than others, and that a strong Force sensitivity could be hereditary.
The midichlorians weren’t an explanation that changed the foundations of what the Force was, but rather a new word used to quantify for the audience just how attuned to the Force Anakin happened to be. Considering he was also conceived by the Force and had fast enough reflexes to pod race, it may have been a redundant explanation and should be attributed more to Lucas’s fumbling dialogue than anything else.
4. Star Wars was never original
George Lucas didn’t set out to make Star Wars. He wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, but couldn’t get the rights. Instead, he decided to make an incredibly similar movie without the Flash Gordon branding. The initial script treatments were basically a complete rip off of Flash Gordon, but each revision slowly modified the story, blending in elements from Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress and many of Lucas’s other favorite movies until he eventually ended up with what is now A New Hope. Lucas himself even says that if he hadn’t read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he might still be writing Star Wars today.
Star Wars has also always riffed on itself. Return of the Jedi repeats plot beats from both Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope on many occasions. When fans complain that The Force Awakens rips off A New Hope, they’re right. It was full of Star Wars references, and also drew from similar sources for inspiration – so of course there’s similarities. It’s that way by design.
3. The Jedi aren’t always right
“For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.” That’s the first thing audiences ever heard about the Jedi. The Jedi were heroes, “guardians of peace and justice.” Unfortunately, a thousand generations can be undone in only a couple of decades. While the Jedi are definitely the best-intentioned of heroes, the Jedi Council is very much responsible for a series of poor decisions that eventually led to the collapse of the entire order.
Sure, Sheev Palpatine is secretly Darth Sidious, a Dark Lord of the Sith, and is clouding the judgment of the entire council – but why are the Jedi working so closely with the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic in the first place? This entanglement is exactly why the Jedi are supposed to exist outside of political influence.
The Jedi’s dogmatic adherence to the Jedi code also alienates Anakin, who had struggled to gain acceptance from the Jedi. He’s marginalized and distrusted by them, despite his repeated attempts to work within their paradigm. His immediate reaction to discovering Palpatine was a Sith Lord was to run to Mace Windu. If he had felt comfortable coming clean to them about his fear of losing Padme, he may have done so before it began controlling him. Palpatine may not have ensnared him so easily if he had not been the only person that Anakin could confide in over the loss of his mother, and the only person willing to help him save Padme.
2. Star Wars is still owned by Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm was purchased by Disney. Every fan knows this. The common misunderstanding on this point, however, is that Disney is now calling all the shots. Although it would definitely be naive to assert that Disney holds no sway over Lucasfilm decisions, it is also overly simplistic to assume that the acquisition is going to result in the “Disneyfication” of Star Wars.
Disney owns a lot of companies. This is to ensure the empire can provide diverse content. Pulp Fiction, for example was the first Miramax film green lit after Disney acquired Miramax. It’d be hard to assert that Pulp Fiction is overly-Disneyfied.
If Disney had simply wanted to cash in on big budget space movie, it could have created its own unique universe. It bought Lucasfilm so that Lucasfilm could continue crafting Star Wars movies, not to make Star Wars movies conform to some sort of cookie cutter Disney standard.
1. Star Wars has always been, first and foremost, for the kids
So many people have grown up watching Star Wars – now there are multiples generations of fans. George Lucas made it clear on many occasions that he created Star Wars for kids. Lucas isn’t even the only one to have said that. J.J. Abrams said the same thing about The Force Awakens. This mantra has been reiterated by various writers, producers, and actors from all 3 trilogies.
While it’s true many of the movies can get a little dark at times, that’s not uncommon in childrens’ movies – especially movies from the era that Star Wars started. The NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal all got plenty dark at moments. It doesn’t have to be Sesame Street to be targeted at kids.
Having said that, there’s obviously a strong Star Wars appeal to adults. Even still, that doesn’t mean it’s targeted primarily at adults. This just means that fans wanting something more mature out of Star Wars shouldn’t expect to see it in mainstream content. With the new approach to Star Wars canon, don’t be surprised to see more material written for the adult audience down the road.
Like any work of fiction, there are many ways to interpret Star Wars. Some may be more accurate than others, but that doesn’t mean some fans are better or truer than others. It just means there’s a little something for everyone in the Star Wars universe.
Are there any other Star Wars facts that can sometimes elude the knowledge of fans? Let us know in the comments!