The Problems with Modern Star Wars


Lucasfilm Ltd.

Pedro Pascal is The Mandalorian in the Disney+ series THE MANDALORIAN.

Baeden Blackburn, Staff Reporter

Why do people love Star Wars? Could it be the cinematography? What about the special effects? The dialogue? Maybe even the Christmas Special? Well, it comes as no surprise that it’s none of those things. The reason people love Star Wars is because of the world that George Lucas and company created. Back in May of 1977, there wasn’t much quite like the idea of space wizards, evil robot armies, and laser swords. It was unheard of at the time and has become so popular that the name “Star Wars” is worth over 70 billion US dollars and is the most successful merchandising franchise in all of film. 

It’s no secret that Star Wars is absurdly popular. However, since the turn of the century, Star Wars and many of the choices they’ve made as a studio have been ridiculed by fans and critics alike, the prequel and sequel trilogies being the primary receptors of these criticisms. Star Wars fans everywhere were left with a sour taste in their mouths following what was supposed to be the grand conclusion to the “Skywalker Saga”, but no one was satisfied. They wanted more, and rightfully so. 

Luckily, Disney heard the disdain and delivered with a brand new TV series titled “The Mandalorian” that would follow a Mandalorian warrior and his little green friend known to the masses as “baby Yoda” (IMPORTANT NOTE: if you have not seen season 2 of “The Mandalorian”, be advised that spoilers are ahead). People loved the first season when it aired on Disney Plus for the first time. It was a simple story, a little cliché even, but Star Wars has always been a simple story. Regardless of its simplicity and classic literary tropes, it has been a huge success critically and commercially. It explored a story not yet really visited by the world of Star Wars. There were no space wizards with laser swords, no Skywalkers or Palpatines or Kenobis, it was just two brand new characters discovering a whole new side of the galaxy that had never yet been touched on by Star Wars writers. It was still Star Wars, but it was new. It was fresh. It didn’t rely on important objects or characters from other Star Wars media, because it didn’t need to. It stood alone on its pedestal of simplicity and pure unadulterated Star Wars fun.

The first season of the Mandolorian concluded, and people were overall very happy and were looking forward to the second season that would be soon to come. On October 30th, 2020, the wait was finally over, and the people got the first episode of the new season. However, after the episode’s conclusion, they revealed that Boba Fett, the Mandolorian warrior from the original movie trilogy, had survived his fall into the Sarlacc Pit during “Return of the Jedi” many years before, and was still alive during the events of The Mandalorian. Many enjoyed this reveal, however, I believe that it stood for a much greater problem, a recent pattern that Star Wars continues to fall into. Star Wars is unwilling to try new things without help from past forms of Star Wars media, and it hurts the overall world.

Let’s take a bit of a closer look at the first episode of season 2 of The Mandalorian: the sheriff of a sand town on Tatooine wears Mandalorian armor, and our protagonist (who I’ll refer to as “Mando”) wants his armor. The sheriff says that he’ll give Mando his armor, as long as Mando helps the sheriff defeat the big scary sand monster that threatens the town’s safety. However, there was one small thing about this Mandalorian armor: it belonged to Boba Fett before he died (which at this point in the episode, the audience still assumes he is dead). However, this is not where my issues lie. It’s more of an homage for fans than it is a crutch or a cop-out, because if a viewer didn’t know that this was Boba’s armor, the armor’s purpose in the episode remains the same: it is a thing that our protagonist wants, and that he will receive if he helps the sheriff with a task that later becomes the conflict of the episode. It does not rely on the viewer’s knowledge of who Boba Fett is for the episode to be enjoyable. It is a nice inclusion for more seasoned Star Wars fans that would appreciate the touch, but it is not essential to the enjoyment of the episode that the viewer knows who Boba Fett was.

One of these homages appears again, as the monster that threatens the town lives in an empty and abandoned Sarlacc Pit (basically a sand Kraken), which was the cause of Boba Fett’s death in “Return of the Jedi”. However, yet again, it is not essential that the viewer know what a Sarlacc Pit is to understand and follow the episode. The monster’s cave was once a Sarlacc Pit, but at the end of the day, it is simply the cave the monster lives in. It is yet again, like Boba’s armor, a nice touch for longtime fans, but it does not require you to know what it is.

However, my issues arise at the final shot of the episode when it is revealed that Boba Fett, the Mandalorian from the original movie trilogy, had survived his fall into the Sarlacc Pit. This is not only ridiculous because we saw Boba fall into the Sarlacc Pit, but Star Wars is not averse to the idea of “if we didn’t SEE them die, then that doesn’t mean they’re dead” (examples include Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul, and rumors of a potential Mace Windu return). However, while ridiculous, this is not why I dislike the inclusion of Boba Fett: it is instead because they obviously want the audience to react in a certain way when they see the reveal. However, there’s one small problem with this, and it’s a bit of a double-edged sword: the Mandalorian is not something that appeals to only hardcore Star Wars fans. Countless people who have never seen a piece of Star Wars media had been brought in by the show’s popularity and these people were likely left scratching their heads when they saw a strange, scarred man turn to face the general direction of the camera. 

However, yet again, while this is a problem I have with it, I have several more issues relating to the Boba reveal: it’s that it didn’t even need to happen and is completely unnecessary. Later on, Boba does of course reappear, to no one’s surprise, however, it isn’t to do anything that any other, potentially new character could have done instead. He appears, speaks with Mando briefly, they fight some bad guys together, and eventually, they use Boba’s ship. If that sounds like something other characters in the show have done at their first inclusion, you would be right. It’s because Boba Fett doesn’t add anything to the show other than yet another example of Star Wars being unwilling to let their new ideas stand alone. They fear criticism of their new ideas, so their solution is to make up nonsense about how some characters “didn’t REALLY die”, and bring them back as nothing more but an excuse to sell more merchandise, and gives older fans something to drool over when they discredit their new ideas.

This was not the first, or the last time Star Wars has done this. During the dreaded sequel trilogy, where we were reminded of how lazy the new Disney Star Wars writing team is, when we are reminded of how Palpatine “just fell from a very high place, but we never saw him die”. This, yet again, didn’t need to happen, but this time for different reasons. They backed themselves into a corner by having Snoke (the previous big bad guy of the trilogy)be killed the very first time he even encounters our heroes. The biggest baddest dark side wielder in the galaxy should not die the first time he ever fights our main character, especially when he is shown to our protagonist this early on in the trilogy. 

What does all this do for the overall world? To put it simply, it makes it appear smaller than it is, or was intended to be. The Star Wars world is one that is supposed to be theoretically infinite with so much space and so many planets and different people and creatures everywhere. When you continue to use the same characters from previous Star Wars media, you make it all feel connected, but not necessarily in a good way. In some instances, it makes sense, such as Vader and Leia appearing in Rogue One, but in most of the others it feels not only unnecessary to the story and writing, but it also makes the world at times unrealistic. Here’s an example: the sand planet of Tatooine. This is supposed to be a small and boring planet with little to no importance to the outside world, and I’m supposed to believe as a viewer that Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, and Rey, all grew up on this planet, it’s where the Millenium Falcon is found during episode 7, it’s where Jabba the Hutt’s castle is, is where Poe and BB-8 fight the first order during Episode 7, on top of it being where Boba Fett “dies”, it’s where Mando ends up to start season 2 and find Boba’s armor, and it’s where the alive Boba Fett still lives? That’s a lot of very important events and locations all to happen on this seemingly empty, and useless sand planet that the writers would have you believe it to be. Moving away from Tatooine, we’re also supposed to believe that ignoring the prequel trilogy, of all the Jedi and Sith we see from A New Hope to The Rise of Skywalker(which is 6 total movies), 3 of them are Skywalkers and 2 of them are Palpatines? 3 being Palpatines if we count Snoke as one? That leaves Yoda and Obi-Wan being the only Jedi present in episodes 4-9 that are unrelated to any other character in the series. They are the outliers for not being related to anyone else. This should never be the case. 

However, while it is still an issue plaguing the show, I would much rather the characters being brought back for The Mandalorian be ones like Boba Fett, who, while yes are still past characters, they have not had as much character development as many other characters in Star Wars media. Boba was basically a clean slate with little to no character development coming from the movies. So, essentially, while I dislike these reveals, they could be doing much worse. And I can’t give them too much flack for always bringing back old characters, because they even said it themselves. Luke Skywalker once said: “No one’s ever really gone”.