Over the past month, my fiancee and I have been rewatching, and in her case for the prequels, watching, the Star Wars saga as a whole to get a complete picture leading up to The Last Jedi.
But, what I realized about this most recent watching of The Force Awakens, and watching The Last Jedi, is that in this current iteration of the saga, the movies are only part of the story. There are key bits of information that flesh out the characters, the gap in between the sagas, and the worlds that they inhabit that you just won’t get in the movies. A friend of mine likened this practice in the last movie to a video game company’s downloadable content. You’ve already paid to see the movie, but to fully appreciate everything, you need to have also bought this additional package.
I myself, am fully okay with this. Especially in the knowledge that, under master of canon, Pablo Hidalgo that Star Wars isn’t merely just a series of movies, but is in fact a multimedia experience. It is possible to watch the movies and just enjoy them for what they are, it completely is, as my fiancée can attest to. But, for the fans like myself, who want to know more about what happened in between the movies, or who Lor San Tekka is and why he’s important even though he has about five minutes of screen time in the last movie.
I felt myself while watching The Force Awakens last night that while I loved the movie just watching it, knowing the little details here and there made the experience even better this most recent time around. And it’s the same with The Last Jedi, there are moments within the movie that, watching it this first time, I could feel like these certain characters are supposed to be important. The camera lingers on the rebel pilots in the opening action sequence, some of them, a second longer than usual, leading me to think that they were going to be semi important characters at least only for them to die not long after. Just watching the movie, you already feel it, but I feel like later on, once I read some more supplemental information it will feel more complete.
It’s a unique thing, almost. It’s not like Marvel, which has comic books, tv shows, movies, and video games, but are all just different mediums, different stories, featuring the same characters for branding purposes. With Star Wars, it’s different pieces of a bigger story, and it fleshes things out more than they ever have been before. If you’re a technical geek like myself, diving in and reading, watching, or playing this other material it adds depth where there wasn’t before.
Where this shading really helped is when it comes to tv series like The Clone Wars and especially within the pages of the recent Marvel comics that have shown us moments that actually make the prequels better, giving depth to Vader’s pain, or moments of Leia seeing images of the past, feeling the ghosts of Naboo while on a mission to the planet.
In these additional offerings, as well, characters that don’t get a lot of screen time get to shine and have the time to be more fleshed out. People like a Boba Fett, or a Captain Phasma. They don’t get a lot of screen time because they’re minor characters, and a lot happens in these movies so you can’t get to see them being useful or any type of badass (which they actually are). But in these novels, or comic book series, for those that really want to know more about them, this is where they get to truly shine.
That was a problem with the former Expanded Universe, there was no overall plan to it, just writers writing Star Wars stories that all more or less exist in a timeline, which had a lot of good stories, great characters in them, but it was chaos. Nowadays it’s all streamlined down to the slightest detail, and everything feels more cohesive because of it.
Building a world like this, a galaxy rather is more than just one writer, one creator. It’s more than ideas that George Lucas had, or JJ Abrams , or Rian Johnson either. It’s a collective universe that’s been built by armies of writers. The attention to detail is truly astounding. It’s in fact better than any comic book universe’s continuity these days. Elements from one novel are referenced in a video game, or a comic series, or even a movie. I don’t know how much Pablo Hidalgo is getting paid but it’s not enough.