Star Wars Has Changed
Who are you? I’m Rey. Rey who? Last year marked the end of an era for Star Wars. The Rise of Skywalker bookended the new sequel trilogy, which, to put it mildly, was a pretty divisive experience. But it’s over now, and the future of this beloved yet fiercely debated franchise is wide open. So, where do we go from here? It is clear that by now, everyone has their own ideas about what Star Wars should be, and that its identity no longer lets itselfbe captured by a singular vision. .
This is hardly a surprise given that it has been almost half a century since A New Hope released, and since then there have been countless films, television shows, video games, books, comics, and other works set within this far away galaxy, all with their own take on what it is that defines Star Wars. Even the films in the sequel trilogy couldn’t seem to agree on this, but we’ll get into that. Right now, the question I am interested in is what this all means for the future of Star Wars. How are we to relate ourselves to this cultural phenomenon that is no longer just about a fantastical world of lightsabers and blaster pistols, but also increasingly about our own attachments to it; about divided fanbases and conflicting viewpoints? From my point of view the Jedi are evil. .
Well then you are lost! So today, let’s talk about Star Wars, examine what it was, what it became over time, and where it might go in the future. But before we do that, please indulge me for a minute by letting me tell you a Star Wars story you definitely haven’t heard before: my own. Part 1: A Star Wars Story I grew up around the release of the prequel trilogy, and so my first encounter with StarWars was seeing The Phantom Menace, followed by Attack of the Clones a few years later. At this point, I thought Star Wars was pretty fun, but nothing more than that. My childhood obsessions were largely fixated on this, .
And this. Then, in 2004, I stumbled upon a video game. Inspired by the Battlefield series, Star Wars: Battlefront was a shooter game that let you play as a soldier in many of the iconic Star Wars battles. You could fight on different planets, choose between a range of classes, and man all kinds of vehicles. It was lots of fun. Needless to say, I was hooked. Initially however, I only had a demo that allowed me to play one level, that being; the battle of Endor as seen in Return of the Jedi. But I had never seen Return of the Jedi, I didn’t even know it existed. As a result, I thought the Stormtroopers werethe clones from Attack of the Clones. .
They didn’t look exactly the same, but they had the shiny armor, they had those cool walking vehicles, I figured they had to be the good guys. It wasn’t until months later that I got the full game, which contained bits of footage from the original trilogy, that the penny dropped. Besides making me feel a little bad about picking the wrong side of intergalactic history, and about proudly proclaiming how good I had gotten at hunting down rebel scum, the full game also got me interested in the history of Star Wars. It became clear to me just how much story there still was for me to explore. And so, just before the release of Revenge of the Sith, I got the DVD box of the original trilogy, and watched where it all began. .
Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope. What’s this? Now, I wish I could say this was the momentwhere I became a true fan, but I’d be lying if I did. I liked the films a lot, and I have come to appreciate them more as the years passed, but being a kid who was used to seeing this, and this, and this, the original trilogy didn’t really have that same immediate impact. It kind of felt like I had missed the boat, .
That I was born too late to experience these films with the same novelty and wonder as I’m sure they were experienced back then. Still, it was nice to finally have the full context of these stories, it definitely helped me enjoy Revenge of the Sith a lot more, which I found to be a huge step forwards compared to Attack of the Clones. Though it still suffered significantly underthe clunky direction of George Lucas. I can’t watch anymore. And it increased my enjoyment of the video games. Star Wars Battlefront 2 had also come out around this time which, among other new features, let you play as the classic heroes and villains. .
Again, it was lots of fun. Skipping ahead a couple of years. Star Wars Battlefront now looks like this, and more importantly: we are getting a new trilogy of Star Wars films. There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The Force Awakens is set after the events of Return of the Jedi, and aimed to both introduce a new generation to Star Wars, as well as provide a continuation of the original story for long-time fans. Like many others, I was very excited. .
The trailers looked phenomenal, but above all, I was ready to experience Star Wars in a way I imagined people did back when the original films came out, I was ready to be blown away, to have my own definitive Star Wars experience. But after seeing it, my only thoughts werethat it was… fine, I guess? On the surface, all the right elements were there. Too many even, it was almost a remake morethan it was a sequel at times. And yet, the feeling was different, and I think one of the reasons for this was because the storytelling had changed. Or more specifically: the context of the storytelling had changed. .
This became more obvious in The Last Jedi, but first, let’s back up a bit and take a closer look at the original trilogy, and how it told its story. Part 2: Myths and Allegories The original Star Wars films were famously modelled after Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, more commonly known as the hero’s journey. I’ve talked about Campbell’s work in-depthin other videos, so I won’t do that here. But what you need to know is that it coversmythological stories, it’s about archetypes, about symbolical reflections of our inner being. “All the gods, all the heavens, all theworld, are within us.” – Campbell wrote – .
“They are magnified dreams, and dreams are manifestations in image form of the energies of the body in conflict with each other. That is what myth is.” You’ve taken your first step into a larger world. A mythological perspective on stories is thereforedifferent than let’s say an allegorical one. For the purpose of explaining the evolution of Star Wars, however, I’m going to simplify it somewhat and distinguish an allegory as a story that associates symbols with elements in the external world, and a myth as a story that associates them with elements in our internal one. In other words, a myth can be seen as a story for which it is easily possible to imagine it taking place entirely within a single human being, sort of like Inside Out. Oh, the uniform. .
I’m Luke Skywalker, I’m here to rescue you. So, when you take a film like the original Star Wars, which was specifically modelled to be suited for this more mythological perspective, its entire galaxy becomes a mirror to our own self, and the force holding it together is our subconscious mind, our greater being that connects all the conflicting energieshappening within it. These energies are partially symbolized bythe light side, which strives for harmony, and reflects actions that are driven by qualitieslike reason, prudence and patience. The energies symbolized by the dark side, on the other hand, strive for dominance and control, and reflect that which is driven by anger and fear. Let go your conscious self, and act on instinct. Luke Skywalker becomes our avatar in this journey, .
Our conscious self struggling to find a balance between these conflicting energies, to find our place in the world and become a more well-rounded and mature individual. He ventures into a world that exists mostly in service to this quest; a world where the dark side is embodied by the Empire, a governmententity that needs ever more power to feel secure, that cannot rest until all is withinits control. A futile effort that dooms us to suffering and destruction, that leaves us unconscious and enslaved to our darker impulses, as the mindless Stormtroopers that serve this force so clearly demonstrate. Notice how in a story like this, it doesn’t matter who is beneath these helmets, the lack of identity and agency is exactly the point. .
They are more like shadows than real people,reflections of the parts of ourselves that are covered in darkness. If this was Inception, they would be the projectionsroaming our dreams. I'm the subject, my mind populates it. You can literally talk to my subconscious. The light side then is embodied by the Jedi and the rebellion, which Luke joins in their fight against the Empire. In the first film, Luke destroys the Death Star, but this was but a first step. It prevented the Empire from attaining anall-destructive weapon, and therefore brought, as the subtitle that was later added suggests,a new hope to the galaxy. Over the course of the next two films, the Empire’s defenses are further weakened, but when Luke eventually reaches the rootof their evil, .
And by extension; the source of his own dark side, Now, fulfill your destiny. it becomes clear that victory is not achievedby forcefully destroying his perceived nemesis, but in reconciling with him. Careful you must be when sensing the future, Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side. This is also sort of supported by the prequels. Although I’m not sure if this was George Lucas’ intention, the prequels expose a fundamental flaw in the Jedi philosophy byshowing how they completely repress all emotions. .
In doing so, they failed to provide Anakin with the support and guidance he needed for a healthy transformation, I feel lost. I’m not the Jedi I should be. thereby causing the exact darkness they sought to prevent. Luke, you must complete the training. I can’t keep the vision out of my head,they’re my friends, I gotta help them. Luke on the other hand, succeeds where Anakin failed precisely because he ignored a part of his Jedi training. He finds his own way, his own balance, and this allows him to redeem Darth Vader, and bring peace not only to the galaxy, but also to his inner self, to our inner self. .
For this was Star Wars as a myth, as a manifestationin image form of our inner conflicts, of our own struggle for personal transformation. But then, all of this changed… Part 3: The Inevitable Evolution So who talks first? You talk first? I talk first? There is a lot to say about the sequel trilogy,but on its most fundamental level, what I believe made these new films feel so different from the original ones was that it was no longer a story told as a myth, it became more allegorical rather than mythological. While it is easy to point at The Last Jedias the film that was responsible for this .
As it clearly and deliberately deconstructed some elements of the hero’s journey as seen in the original trilogy, I’d say this process was already set in motion by The Force Awakens. Chewie, we’re home. As a sequel to the original trilogy, The Force Awakens continued a story, a hero’s journey that had already been completed. In doing so, it was bound to, at least to some extent, spoil that what gave it its sense of mythological wholeness. You’re Han Solo. – I used to be. In this new world, the characters we know and love are no longer archetypal heroes in a timeless tale of adventure, instead, they are now people that age and have lives beyond their heroic quests. The stormtroopers went from being shadowsof an idea to individuals with faces and personalities .
– and in the case of Fin, a pretty vibrant one at that – I’m with the resistance yeah. I am with the resistance. thereby creating somewhat of a paradox as we are now told that these once faceless soldiers are actually real persons and tragic figures, I was taken from a family I’ll never know, and raised to do one thing. while at the same time they are still used as disposable nobodies when the story needs them as such. I like this thing. And the myth of Luke Skywalker became exactlythat, The force, the Jedi, it’s all true. which made The Force Awakens more of a storyabout a myth rather than a re-creation of it. .
It presented the original trilogy as a talethat now exists in a more complicated reality. For me, the problem with The Force Awakensis that it didn’t seem to be aware of all this, it felt like it really wanted to be a story like A New Hope, but inadvertently became a story about A New Hope. It succeeded in reflecting our nostalgia for the original story, but failed to properly establish a new one. Personally, I can enjoy it for a little while,but I usually check out around here. This was the Death Star… and this is Starkiller Base. I just can’t really get into films that seem to exist for the sole purpose of reminding me of other, better films, which unfortunately was happening a lot around this time. .
That first park was legit, they didn’t need these genetic hybrids, they just needed dinosaurs, real dinosaurs. The Last Jedi, despite not being without its flaws, at least seemed to accept that Star Wars had changed, It’s time to let old things die. that it had already moved away from its mythological origins, and embraced this new context. Instead of trying to recapture the myth of old, The Last Jedi moved Star Wars into a new direction more suited for an allegorical interpretation. In doing so, all the elements that used to symbolize internal, personal struggles now more explicitly reflected external, societal ones; it showed us power relations, socio-political conflicts, and class systems. .
Good guys, bad guys, made up words. It showed us a world in which morality isno longer black and white, where judging between good and evil is always more complicated than it appears. It’s all a machine, partner. And it showed us a world where people’s lives do not necessarily unfold according to the hero’s journey, where fate had not pre-determined who was chosen for a greater destiny. You have no place in this story, you comefrom nothing, you’re nothing. The story of the characters too are also clearly centered around moving forward, and explores different ways this can be done, .
No, no, you’re still holding on, let go! ranging from burning the past down completely to letting it’s truly important lessons guide us onto new paths. I don’t like everything in this film, and overall I don’t think it ever becomes greater than the sum of its parts, but it did succeed in creating a break from tradition that at the very least opened the door for Star Wars to surprise us again, to break the mold and become something new, which is why it is such a shame that ultimately, it didn’t. The First Order was just the beginning, I will give you so much more. The Rise of Skywalker came out last year. .
The trailers were again phenomenal, but this time I was more weary given that the J.J. Abrams, the director of the overly nostalgic The Force Awakens, had returned to helm the conclusion to this trilogy. Somehow, Palpatine returned. In short; my worst expectations came true. I don’t think there was a better image of how this film tried to circle back and reverse everything in the previous film than Kylo Ren gluing back together the helmet that was so symbolically destroyed in The Last Jedi. About the mask? Well done. – I like it. .
Anyways, emperor Palpatine is back, Rey is of special heritage after all, and she ends up with a yellow lightsaber because… I don’t know. I’m not going to watch this again. All in all, the sequel trilogy felt like watching a discussion between filmmakers that should have been had before they made it. Now we have one vision looking to the futuresandwiched between one that seems stuck in the past, and to me, it’s just… tiresome. So what does all this say about the state of this franchise Where do we go from here? What is the destiny of Star Wars? .
Part 4: A New Era Even though the nature of its storytelling has fundamentally changed since the original trilogy, I would argue that this evolution was not only inevitable, but also vitallyimportant for the future of Star Wars. Now, mythological storytelling can be great,and, as The Lord of the Rings perhaps best showed us, there are creative ways to cleverly subvert some of its elements while still telling a meaningful and wholesome story. But there are limitations too. I think that myths demand a degree of closure, of finality. They need to be bordered off from the real world. Besides the fact that when it comes to Star Wars, we’re long past this point, there are some larger issues with this as well. .
For one, myths have been criticized for being too general, like horoscopes that are just vague enough for most people to derive somemeaning from it, without them having to actually say anything specific. All remaining systems will bow to the First Order! Take for example how the Empire and the First Order clearly take their aesthetics from fascist governments, but don’t provide us with much critical insight about them. It’s more of a visual shortcut to establish the evil force rather than a meaningful commentary. Remember, a Jedi can feel the force flowing through him. Myths also tend to be ego-centric, they tend to focus on the individual as an isolated being, as someone whose world exists entirely for the purpose of their personal transformation, .
Rather than show them as existing in a widerand more complex social reality. And this last bit, I think, is why Star Wars had to evolve in order for it to endure. Because Star Wars as a myth is Star Wars as the Skywalker saga, and this not only fosters the belief that established heroes are sacredand new ones are to be rejected, to me, this also places unnecessary restrictions on auniverse that was destined to become so much more. We have already seen how this evolution elevatedthe story of the main films; we saw how one convenient plot element in A New Hope becamea beautiful story of rebellion and sacrifice. We saw how giving identities and stories to the clone troopers added a new layer of emotional weight to the execution of order 66. And how doing the same for the other Jedi made us feel the wider repercussions of this monumental event. .
I can only imagine how, in time, it will elevatethe Star Wars universe as a whole. We are what they grow beyond. But for this, we also need to evolve. For a long time, I have been waiting for that one great Star Wars film to blow me away, to become my definitive Star Wars story, like the original trilogy was for so many people. But a while ago I realized I was being naive,childish even, I didn’t see the real treasure that was given me. When I was introduced to Star Wars the story of Luke Skywalker was already well in the past, fading into this world’s collective memory. .
And revisiting it now feels a bit strange, it is almost too simplistic to fit in this now more expansive and complicated universe, like a bedtime story that parents tell their children rather than something that actually happened. But this is okay, because even though the myth may have passed into history, the universe it brought into existence has not, and this, to me, is the true legacy of Star Wars. This is its greatest achievement. It gave us a whole other universe to immersiveourselves in. A place filled with exotic planets and environments,with fascinating peoples and creatures. A place rich with meanings and symbols, with the sounds of lightsabers, spaceships, blasters and droids. .
And at the end of the day, this is what I truly want. I want to be transported, I want to detach from my own reality, just for a little bit, to enjoy this world of adventure and wonder, in whatever form it takes. I want to see what the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda are up to. I want to pilot an X-Wing in Squadrons. I want to travel back again to the old Republic, and above all, I want to explore entirely new stories. I want to see new planets, new heroes and villains. .
I want to see what this far away galaxy is like a thousand years into the future. And I want everyone else to enjoy this too, to find their own place in this universe, to find their own stories. For ultimately, this is what Star Wars can be. This is what it already is. Like my own history with Star Wars, more and more people are finding their own unique ways into this universe. They are no longer bound by a singular doorway,by one singular story, which will likely become even more true in the future as new generationsdiscover this ever expanding franchise. And I think it is time to truly embrace this. .
To let go of our limited perspective of what Star Wars should be, to let go of the idea of this world existing solely for me instead of for all of us, and see a universe of stories that is constantly evolving, a universe that is virtually endless, that is limited only by our own imagination. Besides experiencing Star Wars stories, it is also a lot of fun, as so many have already been doing, to tell them yourself. And to make this easier than ever, there is Campfire Blaze. Blaze is a browser-based set of tools to keepyour intergalactic adventures organized. You can work by yourself or collaborate with friends to flesh out your story in Blaze’s word processor. .
You can create characters, design your plot,and worldbuild without restrictions. When you’re done, you can easily share yourstory with friends and fans. If you want to expand Campfire Blaze’s free version, you can add additional tools and own them forever with a one-time purchase. Alternatively, you can build your own subscriptionso you’re only paying for the features you need. Adding modules can be done for as little as fifty cents, but you can also unlock everything for just a few dollars per month with a 30-day return policy. Because Campfire Blaze is currently in open beta, it is completely free to use for the remainder of October. So if you want to check out this next generation of writing software, hurry over to Campfire Blaze by clicking on the link in the description, and start writing stories better and faster, today.