Your Star Wars Headcanon

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Ares
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Your Star Wars Headcanon

Post by Ares » Wed Mar 07, 2018 6:36 am

So I'm watching the Star Wars: REBELS series finale, and I'm kind of sad to see it go. The series overall felt like a solid Star Wars TV show, and in a way it really felt like someone's old West End Star Wars RPG group. you had the badass pilot, the Mandalorian, the Jedi Master, the Jedi Apprentice, the guy who created his own alien race because he wanted to be "the big guy" without being a Wookie, and the guy who played the jerk of an astromech because he just wanted to be the gadfly.

Between it and the incredible disappointment of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I've been going through a lot of my Star Wars movies, novels, RPG books, comics, and the like, and I'll be the first to admit the setting became pretty bloated by the time Disney decided to divide the franchise into "Legends" and "Current Canon". A LOT of the Legends stuff was just as bad as the stuff we got out of The Last Jedi, and it makes me think that there should have been some tighter control over the franchise, what should have been allowed to be written, etc.

And like many geeks who have had franchises they love hurt by poor management (looking at you, Marvel Family, Highlander, the Crow, heck, Marvel and DC in general), I have my own personal headcanon regarding what sources I consider for the setting, or at least the setting I'd use if I were going to run anything.

For me, it basically goes like this:

The Prequel Trilogy: Weird, I know, given the hate the prequels receive, a lot of it justified. But still, I'd include them for several reasons. The Phantom Menace let us have Liam Neson as a Jedi and gave us some solid lightsaber fights with Darth Maul, Attack of the Clones lead into the Clone Wars tv series, and Revenge of the Sith, while not a great movie, was turned into an amazing novel that really explored Anakin's fall to the Dark Side.

The Clone Wars TV series: Both of them. The "Samurai Jack" series for being more of what I feel high powered Jedi should be capable of, the CGI series for eventually becoming what a good Star Wars series should be about.

The REBELS TV series: Like I said, I mostly enjoyed the series.

Rogue One: This was, to me, a solid addition to the Star Wars franchise, and way better than either of the "official" new trilogy films.

The Vader/Star Wars Marvel series: Marvel's done a lot of solid work with this series, showcasing the time between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. The scene where Vader discovers Luke is his son is particularly powerful.

The Original Trilogy: Because duh.

Scoundrels: If you haven't read this, it's basically "Ocean's 11 in Space", where Han, Lando, Chewie and some other criminals pull a robbery on a powerful crime lord. It's REALLY good stuff, and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't heard of it.

Shadow of the Empire: A light story that bridges some of the gap between Empire and Return of the Jedi.

The Thrawn Trilogy: The first expanded universe novel trilogy, and overall my favorite EU book series. It did a lot to flesh out the setting, put some rules to the technology and Force powers, and with the exception of a few things, is about as faithful a follow-up to Star Wars as you could hope to have.


Outside of those stories, I'm pretty loose on what I do and don't consider hard canon for what I'd use for a Star Wars setting. I love pretty much anything with Luke and Mara's relationship. I love what Luke turned the Jedi Order into (as detailed here), but several of the novels dealing with the Jedi Order were pretty bad, and the first Jedi Academy trilogy was . . . VERY questionable.

I also dislike the weird notions that have cropped up about the Force over time, that it needs to be a balance between the Light and Dark, which always seemed silly to me. Originally, there was no Light and Dark side of the Force. There was THE FORCE and there was the DARK SIDE of the Force. The way I always interpreted it was that the Force as a whole was about balance, harmony, the connection between living things. The Dark Side was, in turn, basically things that caused imbalances in the Force, a corruption of what should perfect harmony. Anger, for instance, is a perfectly healthy thing that would be considered of the Force, but Hatred would not, because Hatred is Anger taken to unreasonable degrees. In essence, the emotions that fuel the Dark Side are normal healthy emotions taken to unhealthy extremes. That was why the Jedi of the Old Republic, under Yoda's guidance over the last couple hundred years, chose to close themselves off from any emotions or connections that could potentially lead to the Dark Side. It's why they try to control emotions like Fear or Anger, because they can become channels to the Dark Side if not handled properly. As the computer said, the only winning move is not to play.

Unfortunately, going that route cuts the Jedi off from many of the things that makes life worth living, the positive emotions that help fuel life and the Force. Furthermore, it leaves young and inexperienced Jedi unprepared to deal with situations that come up, how to resist temptation or act with emotional maturity in the face of certain emotions. In effect, for all his wisdom, Yoda eventually admitted that he broke the Jedi Order by letting it stagnate over the last 100 years or so. Luke's Jedi, by contrast, were trained to better understand and handle such emotions and resist that temptation, to forge bonds with people and be amongst the civilians they served and protected. Overall, Luke's New Jedi Order should have been a much healthier and balanced Order than what the Old Jedi Order eventually became.

So it's one reason why I tend to ignore notions of balancing the "Light and the Dark" aspects of the Force. The Dark Side is not something that needs to be balanced, because the things empower it are by definition corruption of good things. It turns justice into vengeance, love into possessiveness, admiration into jealous, anger into hate, fear into cowardice, and is built on a foundation of treachery. The Dark Side is not something you balance, it is a cancer you fight with every fiber of your being.

*PHEW*

Sorry about that.

So, if you had editorial control over what was and wasn't Star Wars canon, what are some other Star Wars books, video games, comics, RPGs and the like you would include? What are your favorite works from a Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away?

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Woodclaw
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Re: Your Star Wars Headcanon

Post by Woodclaw » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:55 am

Since I've only got my feet wet in the Expanded Universe, answering this question is kind of hard. Of all the things I know of there are three that comes to mind:
  • Old Wounds was a pretty good short comic detailing a final duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Maul on Tatooine, which added a few deatils including a good explanation of why Owen Lars didn't want Luke to have anything to do with old Ben.
  • Han being an Imperial Cadet, this own is kind of all over the place since it was originally part of the Legends continuity, but has been referenced a couple of times in some novels of the new canon. In general I like the idea because it ties in very well with the whole "redemption arc" of the original movie and, at the same time, the fact that Han dumps everything to save Cheewie works really well to establish the bases of their friendship.
  • Out with Mara Jade (and I know I'm going to get a crapton of flak for this). For years I've heard about how cool and incredibly badass Mara Jade was supposed to be. Unfortunately, it turned out that "supposed" was the operative word. I'm not going to say that she never ammounted to anything, but if you look at what she does in the books compared to what she was supposed to be able to do ... she's just very lackluster. E.g. After the battle of Endor, she took years to track down Luke, which in and of itself is kind of crazy considering that he was not just one of the most famous individuals in the galaxy, but also in the process of rebuilding his new Jedi order. Now Mara is introduced as, pretty much, Palpatine's personal assassin and problem solver, she was supposed to be this unstoppable dark side user trained to be absolutely loyal and, if needs be, able to take down Vader.
    If you compare this to what she does, it feels very much anticlimatic.
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Re: Your Star Wars Headcanon

Post by Ken » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:12 pm

It's been over two decades since I've been able to maintain a Star Wars head canon. When the Timothy Zahn/Admiral Thrawn books came out in the early 90s, I loved them. I wasn't surprised that they weren't dealing with any of the stuff from the Marvel Star Wars comics (I'd read most of that series growing up, particularly between Empire and Jedi).

But the books that came after the Thrawn books were uneven; most of them I barely remember. And then Kevin J. Anderson arrived. The Jedi Acadamy trilogy was okay, but a little heavy on the technobabble and light on characterisation. And then came Anderson's Darksaber. I got part way through it and ... came to the conclusion that Anderson was a hack. I put it down, and gave up on the Star Wars novels. I came back and read the 4th and 5th Zahn/Thrawn books, but that was it.

It came across that Barbara Hambly and Anderson didn't like Mara Jade, particularly as a love interest for Luke, and they did some heavy mis-characterisation of her that bordered on character assassination. And they set about creating a "proper" love interest for Luke with the Callista character. But I got the feeling that there was no real editorial control, just factions of writers.

Then there was the change in publishers, and I almost got back into the books, but things didn't turn out. A few details I heard put me off.

Then the prequels came out, and they were... underwhelming. And I really stopped caring. They were so rife with continuity gaffs that contradicted things in the original trilogy that I concluded that if George Lucas couldn't bother to care about his universe's continuity, why should I.

I've enjoyed the recent films, but long ago I decided to look at that universe only in broad strokes.
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Re: Your Star Wars Headcanon

Post by Ares » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:43 pm

Regarding Mara, Zahn did have several explanations within the stories for why she went from one of the most powerful behind the scenes people in the Empire to working for a smuggler.

1) The Emperor's death screwed her up. Mara spent most of her life serving as the Emperor's secret agent, doing his bidding across the Empire. Within the Imperial Court itself she was only known by a cover identity, and she had not official identity within the Empire. The Emperor supplied her with food, clothing, weapons, a place to live, everything she needed, and he was nearly a constant presence in her mind. When the Emperor died, it pretty much destroyed Mara's life.

Having him in her head completely demolished her ability to willingly control the Force, so that her ability to use it faded in and out until Luke helped her regain control of it. She had no true resources of her own because of all the things Palpatine prepared for, the one thing he never considered was his own death. She had no official identity within the Imperial Court, nor any identity within the New Republic that came after. She had no access to any of the things she had as an Emperor's Hand, and no allies within what was left of the Empire to go to. Because apart from the Emperor, Vader and Thrawn, no one really knew who she was. Add to that the fact that she had psychologically traumatizing nightmares when her powers came back, and it's not really a wonder why she couldn't go after Luke Skywalker.

She had no reliable Force abilities, no resources and no allies. The Empire was reduced to a shadow of itself, and there was an entirely new government that would have tried her for war crimes if they learned about who she was, had no official identity within it, etc. Compounding her problems was the Luke was a fully trained Jedi who spent most of the 5 years between RotJ and the Thrawn Trilogy fighting alongside Republic forces to mop up the Empire. Luke was basically the single most being in the known universe, constantly surrounded by Republic soldiers who were all fanatically loyal to him. There wasn't any real way for her to get to Luke at all, and no real reliable way she could have killed him if she had.

2) The Emperor raising her really screwed her up. Mara learned over the course of the Thrawn books that the Emperor had essentially been screwing her over her entire life. He lied to her about her being his only "Hand", he used the Force to manipulate her mind to keep her loyal, he limited her actual resources to keep her on a short leash, and basically left her psychologically and financially dependent on him to ensure she wouldn't become another Vader. When he died inside of her head, it basically broke her, and she was forced to spend several years learning to survive on her own, build herself back up, and really develop her own personality. She wasn't really prepared for life in the real world without the Emperor acting as a forced safety net, and it was only thanks to working with folks like Talon Karde and befriending Luke Skywalker that she was able to develop as a person.

3) She was more about subterfuge than straight combat. She might have been intended to assassinate Vader if he ever got out of line, but whether she would have succeeded or not was another question entirely. She certainly believed that she could succeed, but it's all but stated that Palpatine considered her expendable. If she succeeded, then Vader deserved to die. If she failed, she could easily be replaced with another Hand and life would go on. Her main selling point was a variety of skills and being able to enforce the Emperor's will across the galaxy. Once the Emperor was no longer manipulating things for her and working through her. When she shows up in the Thrawn Trilogy, she isn't as badass as her supposed reputation would make her out to be because she's nowhere near what her "prime" would have been.


Beyond that, Mara really only started to fulfill her potential once Luke started training her. He allowed her to master her Force abilities on her own, rather than having to rely on the Emperor to balance them out. He taught her how to face all of the things that terrified her, and helped turn her into a more capable warrior. And it was his relationship with her that made her into a more fully fleshed out character that fans loved. While Zhan did have a tendency to make her skilled in a lot of areas and have a high opinion of herself initially, he managed to keep her from becoming a Rey-esque Mary Sue by giving her actual faults, failures and solid characterization.

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Re: Your Star Wars Headcanon

Post by Davies » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:01 am

I have what I think is an interesting head canon to explain away one of the differences between the first two trilogies. Essentially, forget the phrase 'a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away'. The events of the original Star Wars took place in 1972 in our galaxy ... and shortly afterward, George Lucas was contacted by agents of the Alliance to Restore the Republic to film a propaganda film about the first real triumph of the Alliance.

You see, we in the Sol system live in a protected area of the galaxy, left alone by the Galactic Republic even though they are fairly close to us. (Tatooine orbits the star we know as Alpha Carinae, only 310 light years away.) As of the 1970s, the Emperor of Palpatine had not violated that protection, yet. So our planet was the safest place for the movie to be made, and it proved to be a big hit everywhere in the galaxy, just as it was on Earth. The subsequent films in the trilogy were also filmed here for the same purpose.

The second trilogy, however, was filmed under completely different circumstances. By the time it was made, two full generations had passed since the rise of the empire, and that era was being reconsidered in many ways. In particular, the planet Naboo -- which had isolated itself during the Galactic Civil War and the early post-war period -- was interacting with the rest of the Republic for the first time. It was agents of Naboo's monarchy who funded the production of the prequel trilogy ... and it is absolutely anathema, on Naboo, to suggest that Senator Padme Amidala, Queen Emiritus, had not died shortly after her last public appearance, or that the body encased in glass on Naboo might not be hers, as the film Return of the Jedi implied. And so, in what Naboonans regard as one of the most romantic scenes ever depicted in video, Padme died of a broken heart ...

... rather than living five more years and passing away from a bad case of lunglock fever five years after the ascension of Emperor Palpatine, as Alderaanian history would have it.

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Ares
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Re: Your Star Wars Headcanon

Post by Ares » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:12 am

Maybe I should have just phrase this thread as "What Star Wars media do you wish was the only canon?" or "What is your favorite Star Wars media that you wish was still canon?".

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Re: Your Star Wars Headcanon

Post by Ken » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:56 am

Ares wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:43 pm
Regarding Mara, Zahn did have several explanations within the stories for why she went from one of the most powerful behind the scenes people in the Empire to working for a smuggler.

*SNIP*

Beyond that, Mara really only started to fulfill her potential once Luke started training her. He allowed her to master her Force abilities on her own, rather than having to rely on the Emperor to balance them out. He taught her how to face all of the things that terrified her, and helped turn her into a more capable warrior. And it was his relationship with her that made her into a more fully fleshed out character that fans loved. While Zhan did have a tendency to make her skilled in a lot of areas and have a high opinion of herself initially, he managed to keep her from becoming a Rey-esque Mary Sue by giving her actual faults, failures and solid characterization.
All of which I agree with, and I thought she was a great character.

And then KJA had her show up in the Millennium Falcon, with Lando, and wearing some of Lando's clothes, basically indicating "oh, she's just a slut who bounces from man to man as she encounters them: the Emperor, Karde, Luke, Lando" and trying to undo and ignore all of that nuance.

Truth be told: I still want to feed Anderson to the Sarlacc.
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