4 Things that Star Wars Fans Should Be More Upset About than Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath

 

chuck-wendig-aftermathSo, if you might have heard, author Chuck Wendig released a book.

Chuck is the author behind Star Wars: Aftermath, the first (of three) books bridging the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Since its release, both Jedi and Sith alike are losing their midichlorian-laced shit over this book.

The common threads amongst haters are:

  • Chuck wrote the story in 3rd person present tense. Very different from previous Extended Universe books.

    • In Aftermath, we meet a character that is gay.

    • This is Star Wars done in the style of Wendig. If you have not read some of his other works like Blackbirds or Zeroes, this is a very different approach.

    • There is an unexpected crossover between new Star Wars character Norra Wexley and Marvel favorites, Rocket Raccoon & Groot.

Okay, I might have totally made up that last one, but those other gripes are what a lot of panties twisted in special knots only learnt at Jedi Summer Camps. After reading thinly-veiled attempts at hiding homophobia or anti-Disney sentiments behind various “This is bad writing…” comments, I’m a bit stunned. Star Wars fans are pissed over a gay character and Chuck’s style? Seriously? After everything we’ve dealt with across six movies?

Over the decades, we fans have weathered some serious missteps. And no, I’m not talking about:

  • Midichlorians
  • Jar-Jar Binks
  • The feeble attempts to have Han Solo appear to shoot in self-defense

We’ve talked about those (and continue to talk about them) at length. What I’m talking about is the kind of writing or direction that should have made fans call them out to the center of the octagon, but I’ve rarely seen happen. If you really want to be pissed off about something in the Star Wars universe, have you considered…

Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi, Last of the Jedi and Biggest Liar in the Universe. Let’s begin with how old Ben Kenobi first described Luke’s dad to him: “He was the best star pilot in the galaxy, and a cunning warrior. And he was a good friend.” And then Obi-Wan sits back, smiles to himself, and gets a far-off look of nostalgia.

luke-obiwan

In 1977, we thought that was the smile of a man reflecting on a dearly departed comrade and brother-in-arms; but the prequels have turn that into a self-congratulatory “Can I sell the bullshit it or what?” smile. I have asked fans to show me in the prequels where Obi-Wan and Anakin come across as good friends. What I remember from the prequels? A lot of bickering, a lot of talking down to Anakin from Obi-Wan, some more bickering, and Anakin claiming Obi-Wan was holding him back.

Best buds? Nope. Just wasn’t feeling it.

obi-wan-kenobi-and-anakin-skywalker-obi-wan-kenobi-and-anakin-skywalker-19414410-1597-1720

Well, it’s implied. Kinda.

But could Obi-Wan spin a yarn or what? “Your dad and me? Yeah, we were bros! Until that Vader douche murdered him…” and we all bought that until The Empire Strikes Back. Admittedly, an approach of “Your dad? Well, he’s Darth Vader. It’s simple, but it’s complic—how much time you got, Luke?” would have been less than elegant; but Obi-Wan’s “What I told you was true from a certain point-of-view.” excuse in Return of the Jedi really made this wizened warrior look like a prick. I don’t think I was alone in wanting Luke to come back with “You know, when British knights entered Jerusalem on their crusades, the locals there considered them from a certain point-of-view to be invaders.”

Anakin Skywalker, Character Creation Gone Out-of-Control. Where to begin with Anakin? Some fans usually start with either Jake Lloyd or Hayden Christensen, but I say look a little closer at the source material. Right off the bat, Anakin is written as an Immaculate Conception.

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Sweet. Crap. Where do you go from there?

Well, I’ll tell ya…

As Anakin is described as “the best star pilot in the galaxy” we got to see him pilot two things in Episode I: a pod racer (that didn’t work until Qui-Gon Force-fixed it) and a fighter that, somehow, he instinctively knew how to fly after living in indentured servitude for…all his life? When in the pilot’s seat of this fighter he doesn’t blows up the enemy space station using mad skills, the Force, or a heaping bowl of Wheaties. No, it’s more like blind luck. Based on that and some joyriding in Episode II, I’m thinking Obi-Wan might have been making one of those “certain point of view” judgment calls concerning Anakin’s piloting skills.

Oh yeah, and in his spare slave-time, Anakin builds droids—specifically C3PO.

Immaculate conception, baby!

Fast forward to Episode II. Nobody really ages…

anakin-ageing…but Anakin.

To add to the stress of being the only one going through bodily changes at .5 past light speed, everybody is calling him “Ani” and when this charming nickname comes from Padmé Amidala, it sounds like she’s talking to her pet pug. If in my teen years people were calling me “Annie” I might pick up a lightsaber and shiv me some children, too; but I’ll give Ani credit, he was mighty chill about that. He was also chill that Padmé, who in the previous film was all “big sisterly” when they first met, is now wearing backless dresses, showing off her rock hard abs in the Petranaki Arena, and wanting to wrestle tongues by the firelight. Gets even more complicated when Obi-Wan suddenly lays down “Bro, Padmé’s a No-Fly zone…” because that’s what “good friends” do: they cock-block you.

Ani wasn’t flawed. Ani didn’t suffer from extreme hubris. Ani was set up for failure. Obi-Wan gave him zero guidance. Yoda wanted him out of the Talent Pool. Padmé played the whole “Well, let’s fool around but keep it a secret…” game. Long before his boss fight with “good friend” Obi-Wan, Ani was a red hot mess with no one looking out for him, apart from R2D2. The bone Palpatine needed to throw Ani didn’t need to be that big. So when the succumbing to the Dark Side finally happened, it wasn’t a descent into madness and despair so much as it was “Seriously, no one saw this coming?” You would have thought one of the Jedi Council would have taken Obi-Wan aside and said “Dudebro, might want to ease up on Anakin. You’re pretty hard on the kid.”

I’m sure from Obi-Wan’s certain point-of-view…

Anakin-Obi-Wan-SW-ep-III

…they were the definition of a bromance.

Tatooine. A Magical Place. Going back to something Luke said in the first Star Wars film: “Well if there’s a bright side of the universe you are on the planet that it’s farthest from.” It has been made clear through multiple characters that this sandbox in space was pretty much the ass-end of the Empire. It don’t get more remote than Tatooine…

…but man, did this planet see some action.

With the exception of Empire, all the films returned to Tatooine. Need a place to hide out? Tatooine. The Sith need to begin a search for wayward Jedi? Where do they start? Tatooine. Want to go off-grid and get freaky with a former-Queen-now-Senator? Tatooine. Tatooine is the bomb, yo!

I’m still trying to figure out how Tatooine earned this reputation of “a great place to hide” because everybody eventually goes to Tatooine! Seriously, I would imagine the catina where Han and Chewie hung out was probably run by Rick Blaine.

Sooner or later, everybody goes to Rick's.

Sooner or later,
everybody goes to Rick’s.

The good news is J.J. Abrams has promised us The Force Awakens doesn’t take place on Tatooine at any time. I believe the writer/director because when has he ever lied to us?

Besides that…

And that…

Now I’m going to wrap up with the one that has always bugged me…

Luke and Leia. Yeah, I’ve Kissed Boys Before and My Brother Says I’m the Best at It. Vader admitting that he’s Luke’s father was a scene rivaled by such classic “Gotcha” moments in science fiction as Taylor discovering he had actually landed on Earth and that Soylent Green was people. I think Lucas and his crew picked up on the impact of that revelation, and as Return of the Jedi was going to be the grand finale, Lucas and crew concluded everything had to be bigger. Bigger battles! YEAH! Bigger surprises! YEAH! Bigger revelations! FUCK YEAH! Luke and Leia are brother and sister!

Hold up. What?

There was a hint of “another”—one damn line—in Empire, and then we get the exposition from Obi-Wan that Luke had a twin sister and—woah-woah-WOAH, where the hell is this coming from?! We’ve clocked in two movies up to this point and we’re roughly half an hour into the third film and this the first we’ve heard of a twin sister?

Pucker up, bro!

Pucker up, bro!

And there’s poor Luke thinking “As in the chick I had the hots for in the first movie, Leia? As in the woman who planted one hell of a kiss on me when I was in the Med Bay, Leia? As in the one who gave me a tender kiss when she was nursing my wounds during the Bespin escape, Leia? As in this is like X-Files-Peacock-Family creepy, Leia, and oh shit, I have been kissing my sister through two movies!”

Unlike Vader’s big reveal, this revelation felt trite and just a bit ridiculous. How so? Again, Vader is all powerful in the Force, right? He clocks in a ton of time with Leia in Star Wars and picks up nothing—not even a glimmer—of the Force from her; but in the Death Star trench, separated by spaceships, Vader mutters “The Force is strong with this one…” about Luke. So how did he miss this with Leia when he was in the same room with her? Multiple times?!

vader-leia

Seriously, she’s standing rightthere.

At this point, I can only assume the Force is a bit like a pair of fingernail clippers. Whenever you don’t need it, you are always coming across it no matter where you turn; but the minute you really need it to help you out, you can never find it even when you knew it was there just yesterday.

compoundWe have been thrown a lot in the cinematic Star Wars universe that should have called down the thunder but didn’t. It’s never really bothered me…well, okay, it’s kinda worked under my skin but I’ve just swallowed back my pride for various reasons…until now. Why? Because Chuck’s book is taking a lot of heat for being different. That is the real problem here. The Mary Sue has commented on it. Chuck has commented on it. It’s not the Star Wars we are comfortable with, but something very different; and the publisher knew that when investing into Wendig’s specific style. Chuck’s name wasn’t drawn out of a stromtrooper’s helmet, and Chuck himself knew the responsibility he was undertaking. There’s a good amount of serious whining of wanting Star Wars “just like the way it was” and that’s the point of my Star Destroyer-sized rant: Maybe “the way it was” wasn’t all that crash-hot as you think it is. When you look back on some of the gaping holes left behind in the cinematic universe, it’s nice to know that Chuck is on hand with a few sheets of drywall and a bucket of compound.

9 thoughts on “4 Things that Star Wars Fans Should Be More Upset About than Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath

  1. This! So much this! As someone that consumes (and reviews) audio books, I was excited to get Chuck’s book. (Heck, I had a chance to review it.) But my issue has nothing to do with Chuck or the writing style. The geniuses behind Star Wars audio books feel the need to use sound effects. A communicator shorts out (and is written about in the narrative), sound effect. Hum of a ship is described? Why, there is a hum on loop in the background to audibly beat you over the head to prove that there is indeed a hum going on. I love audio dramas or sound effects used infrequently in an audio book. But using it all through the book comes across as as the audio version of a smoke screen and a gimmick. “Pay no attention to the narrator we picked but be in awe that we used sound effects from the movies and bits of the score as well!”

    • LOL, I’m a big fan of the sound effects in the Star Wars universe. I think there is definitely a place for them in THIS series of audiobooks (not most). So the issues should be with ALL Star Wars audiobooks, not this one, because it’s in ALL of them. The sound effects compliment Marc Thompson very well, and don’t drone over him. It’s one of the only series that I really enjoy the effects, unless it’s Graphic Audio…those guys are amazing and I’ll listen to those adaptations all day long.

  2. I love this piece! I’m saving “Aftermath” for my Audible credit later this month (because I’m a cheapskate), but I have read all of Chuck’s other books and believe the Star Wars Universe is safe in his hands. He’s a real storymaker and wordslinger. It’s gonna be great. As for the fuzzy parts in the movies – stuff happens. It really helps to remember these are stories, not Gospels. I’ve encountered fans who questioned my “realness” as a Star Wars fan because I said Disney had the right to ignore the EU books because, duh, they bought the property. You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to like it, but you can’t whine about it, because it belongs to them. And all that stuff is still there, if you want it. They didn’t bulldoze it all, or torch every copy of “Heir to the Empire”.
    I love that there’s more Star Wars coming down the pipe. I love that my kids are as excited about the new movie as I am. And I’ll read Chuck’s book with pleasure.

    • Perhaps, but what a God-awful way to do it. It was a bit like what Gary Kurtz felt about a second Death Star before stepping away from Return of the Jedi: he felt as if it was already done. We had Vader reveal he was “Big Daddy” but this just felt like a “BUT THAT’S NOT ALL…” moment.

      Meh.

  3. We all know George likes to ret-con stuff. Poor Obi-Wan is more a victim of Lucas’ ret-cons than anything. He had no idea when he made the first movie that “yeah, Obi-Wan knew this whole deal all along and lied…” that’s not the way it was written and it’s not the way Alec Guiness played it.

    This kind of read like, “lay off of Chuck Wendig because GEORGE.” But I get the point you’re trying to make: “There’s a good amount of serious whining of wanting Star Wars “just like the way it was” and that’s the point of my Star Destroyer-sized rant: Maybe “the way it was” wasn’t all that crash-hot as you think it is.”

    I don’t disagree with you. But a lot of the fans I interact with criticize the book less for gays and style and more for a lack of engagement with the characters. I haven’t read it yet so I haven’t made up my mind. I usually take things as they come and accept George’s Star Wars as well as Chuck’s Star Wars and everyone else’s Star Wars because STAR WARS.

    I likened Chuck’s style to much of Glen Cook’s stuff that I have read, and I love his writing. I don’t see anyone else making that connection.

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