These Rules for the Star Wars Sequels Have It All Wrong

Slate's Culture Blog
Sept. 30 2013 3:42 PM

These Rules for the Star Wars Sequels Have It All Wrong

This video is a good roundup of conventional wisdom about the Star Wars sequels, and as such—and because it’s beautifully animated—it’s been posted widely (and somewhat uncritically) around the Web.

But I have a few notes on why fans should think twice before signing that petition.

1. “Star Wars is a Western.” This is a big oversimplification. Star Wars is a Western, but it’s also a samurai movie, a fantasy, and a Buck Rogers adventure serial. Above all, Star Wars is a pastiche, and it shouldn’t be restricted by the conventions of any one genre.
2. “Star Wars isn’t cute.” This is wrong. Despite what nearly any fan who grew up with the original trilogy will tell you, Star Wars is cute, and always has been. Ewoks, Jawas, R2-D2’s bleeps and bloops … Just because you grew up doesn’t mean every future Star Wars movie has to be The Dark Knight.
3. Star Wars was built on a distinctive vision, not on fan service. As long as it’s good, JJ Abrams should be allowed, and encouraged, to do whatever he wants to do to realize his own unique imagining. If we’re really lucky, we’ll end up with something like Aliens—something that puts a satisfying twist on the original, but ends up somewhere just as satisfying.

In fact, if there’s anything that tends to make JJ Abrams movies boring, it’s that they tend to be a little too devoted to fan service. (Anyone remember the all-too-familiar end of the pretty mediocre Star Trek Into Darkness?) In the end, there’s only one thing I can guarantee will make a boring Star Wars sequel: If Abrams submits dutifully to every last fan demand. If fans really want a good Star Wars that will surprise and delight them, the best thing they can do is to put their trust in JJ (and Michael Arndt, and Lawrence Kasdan, and Simon Kinberg), and say, “May the Force be with you.”

Previously
What If Star Wars Episode II Was … Good?
Patton Oswalt Outlines Star Wars VII
R.I.P. Star Wars Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.