Opinion | Can a Star Wars Story Stand Alone and Not Be Connected to the Greater Star Wars Story?
Page turners, Star Wars stories are
There are many different stories throughout the vast Star Wars galaxy, and there's undoubtedly the potential for many others. There are many things that people love about Star Wars: the family drama, the extravagant space battles, the rivalry between the mystical Jedi and Sith, trillions of alien species, and the many wars and conflicts throughout the galaxy. A question that we can ask ourselves is this: can a story in the Star Wars galaxy be told completely separate from the main Star Wars saga? To develop a legitimate opinion, one must lay some ground rules on what a story in the Star Wars galaxy would look like, and then decide if it’s really possible to still be Star Wars without being connected to the Star Wars that we all know.
A Star Wars story as we know it should have some showing of the Force. According to Wookieepedia, the Force is an energy created by all life that connects everything in the universe and is known by a variety of names throughout galactic history. Many people recognize the Force because it is significantly instrumental in the actions and practices of the Jedi and the Sith, the light side and dark side as we've seen throughout Star Wars.
Does that mean a story must have a Jedi or a Sith in it for it to be a Star Wars story? I don’t believe so because there are many good Star Wars books that don’t have a Jedi or a Sith in them. A good example is Timothy Zahn’s recent trilogy of books called Ascendency about Thrawn, the Chiss, and events that took place before Thrawn was a part of the Imperial Navy. However, they did have a mention of what we recognize as the Force in “the third sight.” This “third sight” was how they navigated through hyperspace without advanced navigational computers.
To be a real Star Wars story, you must have some sort of action and conflict. You could make an argument that any story must have conflict of some sort, but this may be most true for a story that is titled Star Wars. With any story in the Star Wars galaxy, there is no real limit to the type of battle you can have, but there should be some sort of battle. It can be a space battle, a sword duel, or a gunfight. It could feature a wide range of themes, from a western theme to a political theme, or just a huge war theme. The possibilities are endless in a galaxy far, far away, but there would have to be some sort of a conflict.
A lot of the best scenes in Star Wars have emotion behind it too. There would have to be that sense of an epic, high-octane scene, such as Anakin burning to a crisp as Obi-Wan mourns him, or when Luke finds out that Vader is his father. Other examples are in The Clone Wars animated series, such as when Maul kills Satine in front of Obi-Wan, or when Ahsoka finds out for sure that Darth Vader is Anakin and later duels him. All those scenes had passion, action, and layers of emotion in them, which made them scenes that had you walking away saying, “Now this is good Star Wars.”
After laying those ground rules of what makes a good Star Wars story, some showing of the Force, epic wars and conflicts, and emotional depth, now we can ask ourselves the question, can we have a Star Wars story be “good Star Wars” without being connected to the greater, overarching Star Wars story? Obviously such a story would have small and subtle connections because it takes place in the same galaxy. But let’s say Star Wars writers create a story with no mention of the Jedi or Sith, no mention of the Republic, Separatists, Empire, First Order, or Resistance, and they steer away from connecting any of the main characters or even planets in the movies and TV series. Would we still have a true Star Wars movie or TV Series? I would argue yes, and I would even go so far as to say that it has already been done.
There are already stories in the Star Wars canon that use the existence of the Force. We already mentioned how the Chiss in Zahn’s Ascendency trilogy use the “the third sight,” but there are also other species in other Star Wars stories that use variations of the Force in their dealings. I have yet to read or watch a Star Wars story that does not have some sort of conflict; it is in the name after all. Sure, there are certain duds concerning stories in the Star Wars canon and Legends that aren’t entirely interesting, but those are few and far between. For the most part, there is intrigue, emotion, and depth to many of the Star Wars stories, including some that don’t mention conflict between the Jedi and Sith, or the greater wars such as The Clone Wars or the Civil War in the original trilogy.
The most recent set of books that I read was Timothy Zahn’s Ascendency trilogy. In this trilogy, there is only one “Easter egg” mention of Anakin Skywalker and the Clone Wars. The rest of the events, locations, and persons are completely unrelated to the story told in Episodes II and III The Clone Wars TV series. Zahn's latest trilogy had emotion, mystery, intrigue, conflicts, and interesting characters, but there was no reliance on the reader knowing anything about what the rest of the Star Wars galaxy was participating in.
You could make an argument that even this trilogy still had connections to the main story because Thrawn is in the book. Is he a major character in the Rebels series? Is he mentioned in The Mandalorian. Will he likely appear in the Ahsoka series? Yes, he is mentioned and appears in those, but you don’t need to watch any of those series to read the Ascendency trilogy, enjoy it, and walk away saying, “Now that is good Star Wars.”
There really are no creative limits within the Star Wars galaxy, and you can even not rely on stories already told to make a good Star Wars story today. With the energy and drive that Star Wars currently has, there should be plenty of new Star Wars stories coming out in the near future.
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Written by Joel Davis
Syndicated from Culture Slate