Star Wars is one of, if not the, most influential media franchises of modern times, let alone its effect on science-fiction and fantasy. Indeed, among nerddom, it is challenged by only a few others, like Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings. The incredibly ardent fandom is spread worldwide and has a strong presence in popular culture. Many of the characters, like Darth Vader and Yoda, are iconic even to the general public. John Williams' score for the original trilogy is probably the best-known film score of all time. The universe has spawned numerous video games, hundreds of novels, multiple TV shows, one of the largest merchandising franchises ever, and, relevant to /tg/, a whole bunch of board, card, and roleplaying games.
- 1 The Basic Concept
- 2 Why was it so popular?
- 3 Characters
- 4 The rise of the original trilogy
- 5 The coming of the prequel trilogy
- 6 Disney and the sequel trilogy
- 7 Expanded Universe
- 8 Impact on 1d4chan and associated games etc
- 9 Tabletop games for Star Wars
- 10 See Also:
The Basic Concept
Star Wars was originally a series of epic science-fantasy "space operas" that roughly followed the mythic cycle that's been around since Homer. They're set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away," where a mysterious life force called (reasonably enough) the Force permeates everything. This, in turn, can be wielded by certain people, giving them pseudo-magical abilities; thank the Emperor (no, the other one) there were no Commissars in that universe. Those who use it for good become mystical, selfless warrior monks called Jedi, whereas those who use it for evil are ruthless, self-serving bastards called Sith. However, the Force must always be in balance, so any time the Sith arise to cause imbalance, the Jedi have to pull together and take them out to restore the natural order.
The so-called Original Trilogy (made up of films IV through VI, released from 1977 to 1983) followed a young man named Luke Skywalker who becomes a Jedi and re-balances the Force. Meanwhile, the Rebel Alliance is fighting to end the oppressive Galactic Empire, which is secretly led by the Sith. Luke and his Rebel companions eventually defeat the evil Emperor Palpatine, but along the way they discover that his lieutenant, Darth Vader, is actually Luke's father. A financial, critical, popular and cultural H-bomb, these movies are basically the filter through which Generation X perceives the world... for better or worse.
The so-called Prequel Trilogy (made up of films I through III, released from 1999 to 2005) explained how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader and how the Galactic Empire was established. This involves a lot of convoluted politicking in the Republic, which is then torn apart in the Clone Wars, where the Republic (with an army of clones led by the Jedi) fights against the Confederacy (with an army of robots led by General Grievous and secretly controlled by the Sith). It was not as well received as the first trilogy, for reasons we'll talk about below.
There's also a so-called Sequel Trilogy (made up of film VII and presumably films VIII and IX), which started in 2015 and picked up the story some three decades after the Emperor's defeat with a new generation of heroes taking on the remains of the evil Empire, which is a group of extremist former Imperials calling themselves the First Order. However, Episode VII aka The Force Awakens, was directed by J.J. Abrams, who's mostly known for the skubtastic Star Trek reboot. So guess what? Time will tell if the upcoming sequels, directed by other less controversial folks, will make things better or worse.
Finally, there are the so-called Anthology movies, standalone one-shots involving characters and plotlines that aren't a part of the main "Saga" films, except they kind of are. The first, Rogue One (2016), is an immediate prequel to Episode IV that follows those Rebel spies who stole the Death Star plans. The second film follows a young Han Solo and pals Chewie and Lando. A third rumored one follows Boba Fett.
There are also three separate TV series. The first one, Clone Wars, was based on traditional animation, whereas the later one, The Clone Wars, was a weird 3D animation. They're both pretty good. There was also a terrible theatrical release that was basically just an advertisement for The Clone Wars, but, since it's even worse than the Prequel Trilogy (hint: babysitting Jabba the Hutt's kid), nobody talks about it much. The third series is Disney's "Rebels" which is set between Episodes III-IV and it takes itself far less seriously than Clone Wars did, and is more of a homage to the original trilogy since not every character in the series is the owner of a lightsaber nor are they constantly talking about grown-up politics, senators and trade embargoes... pretty much the things that clogged up the plot of the prequel trilogy.
And then there's the whole Expanded Universe, which covers pretty much everything not covered by the films, like the Old Republic (set thousands of years before the prequel trilogy, when there were a hell of a lot more Sith and Jedi around) and the New Republic (set immediately after the original trilogy, explaining what became of all the characters. Also features Force-less Space Mongols.
The EU is no longer considered in the main canon of the films and TV series, due to the new sequel trilogy which does not follow EU, the reason for this being, according to Disney, that following EU would restrict their creative freedom. The reaction to this was, well, mixed, for lack of a better word. They've since noted that they'll slot some of it in on a case-by-case basis, but the canon is in a highly fluid state at the moment. EU is now officially called Star Wars Legends, though most fans still refer to it as EU.
Why was it so popular?
Star Wars is as accessible as science fiction gets. It doesn't require extensive knowledge of a fictional world (a la The Lord of the Rings) or cultural background (as Star Trek sometimes does) to make sense. Those elements are present for those who want them, but they stay in the (very rich and vibrant) background. It has well-shot action and good enough dialogue to make it interesting for both kids and adults (as well as allowing parents who grew up with it to watch it with their children, thereby hooking the next generation of viewers). It has simple, good-vs.-evil themes that resonate with almost anyone, anywhere, at any time. The science fiction elements are generally handled well if you don't obsess over making science fiction realistic and hard. It's a prime gateway drug for sci-fi. (Isaac Asimov saw and rather enjoyed the films.) All in Fourteen hours of cinema, plus optional sides for those who want it.
There's a ton of merchandise that is, of course, really cool. Also, given it's crossed over into the mainstream, many people feel comfortable being part of the community without feeling judged as "nerds" (as they might with Lord of the Rings, D&D, Star Trek, Warhammer, etc.).
Finally, there's the fact that the original trilogy films are simply good. The fact that they're not only watchable today, but still stand on their own as good films, is a testament to the story-telling ability of the team that made it. John Williams' excellent score, Ralph McQuarrie's amazing concept art, the impressive performances put in by all of the actors, and, hell, even George Lucas' drive and ambition all steered the films towards the cultural significance they enjoy today.
Again, they roughly follow the mythic cycle that's been around since Homer. If you think about it, 4 of the 7 films can be summarized as: hero begins his journey under the tutelage of a wise (more or less) man, they encounter a threat which has captured/enslaved a princess/girl, who was in one way or another connected to an important secret (usually a superweapon but could be the identity of a political figure or the location of someone); the heroes save the princess/girl but someone dies tragically in a battle against the villain while someone else is blowing up a space station or a spaceship afterwards they are happy, they celebrate and mourn the loss of the poor bloke who died.
Additionally, the first film can be summarized as a samurai and a gunslinger the team up to save a princess from Nazis in space. That is multiple cinematic genres at once, following the style of the epic myth.
- Luke Skywalker: All-round good guy and idealist, despite some flaws, Luke wishes to learn the ways of the Force to defeat the Emperor and save the galaxy. A Jedi prodigy, he can lift heavy ton space fighters with just his force powers, though he struggles with doubts. Although he starts all brash and teenage and shit, by the conclusion of the trilogy, Luke is well on the way to becoming a wise and powerful Jedi ready to rebuild the Order.
- Han Solo: Loveable rogue and space cowboy who shoots his way out of debt to the mob, ends up a general, and bags himself a princess. Not a bad series' work. His ship, the Millennium Falcon, deserves a mention too for being as iconic as he is.
- Princess Leia: The regulation piece of lady crumpet in the movies, Princess Leia was a leader in the rebel alliance and (spoiler!) Luke's long lost twin sister. Also both a capable soldier and politician. Her being forced to wear a metal thong by an overweight space slug has since cemented her role as sex idol to legions of adoring fan boys. Despite her appearances, she was tough to boot, could fire a laser and actually hit things, became a general by the end of the series, and went on to become a full-on Jedi warrior in the EU. Not in the new canon though.
- C-3P0 and R2-D2: Two robots trapped in a sexless gay marriage who are the only minor characters to have been in all the movies so far. C-3P0 is the shiny golden humanoid robot who constantly fusses about keeping the furniture clean and worries that his pies are getting overdone in the oven while R2-D2 is the brash, brave husband figure who swings into action regardless. He looks like a salt shaker next to the Dalek's pepper shakers, although is he more a plucky rabbit to their rabid wild cats. The robots mostly have comedy roles in the movies, since they might threaten to upstage the human actors if they became too useful, though R2 has an electric cattle prod and serves as the party's computer skillmonkey, while C-3P0 saves the day with his mad linguistic skillz at least once per film in the original trilogy.
- Chewbacca: The original furry in space. Nothing sexy about him; he is just hairy, huge, knows how to pilot a space ship, fix stuff, fire a gun, and generally get shit done which strangely makes him the coolest furry ever. Best friends with Han, has a family that we can all agree did not appear in the terrible Christmas special that does not exist.
- Lando Calrissian: Suave, charismatic, and an expert con artist, this guy is the original pirate king in space. He betrays Han and co. when Vader invades his city, later regrets it, and then atones by saving Han from the mafia and leading the fleet that blows up the Death Star 2.0.
- Obi-Wan Kenobi: If, at any point, in any work of fiction, the hero has an old master/father figure who teaches him part of what he knows, makes sure that he will grow up to be a virtuous and decent hero, but ultimately dies fighting a great evil to buy the hero time to escape, then returns as a spirit guide for the hero later, the Internet has probably accused that character of ripping off Obi-wan Kenobi. The prequels show him as a young Jedi and a deuterotagonist to Anakin Skywalker, acting as his master, teacher, partner, and dear friend before their eventual falling out ends with Anakin losing most of his major extremities and organs and Obi-wan hiding out in a cave waiting to turn into Alec Guinness.
- Yoda: Ancient wise grand master of the Jedi Order who a tiny green alien is. Never named, his species was. Because of his size and age, most assumed just a harmless old teacher he was, like your nice old granddad. His pulling out a lightsaber and engaging a Sith Lord in combat at the end of Attack of the Clones as one of the most surprising and popular fights of the movie series stands. Became a big franchise mascot he did, despite a surprise for the audience he was meant to be in his first appearance, ruining it for future generations. A unique way of speaking, he has. A very popular target for parody, it has become.
- Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker/"The Chosen One": The black-helmeted face of evil and the most well known villain from Star Wars, he has become an iconic and memorable figure due to his menacing, robotic appearance and ultra-deep, wheezy respirator voice. He is (spoiler!) secretly Anakin, Luke's fallen Jedi father, thus allowing him to be able to say the most memorable line in the film series, "I am your Father!" Abaddon wishes he could be this sinister. His children eventually manage to rekindle the spark of human decency in his heart, and he redeems himself by giving up his own life to save them and destroy the Emperor. Hates sand. Fun Fact: his portrayal required four actors in the original trilogy: body, voice, face and a stunt double.
- Darth Sidious/Sheev "Can't Peeve the Sheev" Palpatine/The Emperor: A creepy old wrinkly dude who sits in his badass evil throne constantly screaming "Just as planned!" And occasionally frying fools with force lightning. Built a giant planet-destroying weapon, years before Abaddon tried to do it, then built another, bigger one as a trap when the first one blew up. He is very clever, managing to scheme and outwit everyone in the prequel trilogy, moving them all into place so he could take over the galaxy (although he still needed a big superweapon anyway to hold onto said power). Chews so much scenery.
- Admiral Ackbar: Giant tactical fish who has the need to point out obvious traps in memetic fashion. Leads the rebel fleet in the third film.
- Wedge Antilles: The anti-redshirt. Has almost no lines in the original movies but somehow survives all of them, even blowing up the second Death Star with Lando. In the EU he is one of, if not the best starfighter pilot in the galaxy, and co-founder of the über elite Rogue Squadron along with Luke.
- Padmé Amidala: Darth Vader's waifu who spends most of the prequel trilogy being a hopeless pacifistic idealist (which makes her a hypocrite with all the fight scenes she's in.) Get's choked by Vader and dies giving birth to Luke and Leia, which ironically Vader was trying to prevent in the first place after seeing a vision. Way to go, dumbass. Haven't you read a work of fiction with that kinda prophecy in it before?
- Jar-Jar Binks: Solely exists to fuck up everything (and we do mean EVERYTHING) at the worst possible moment. This guy is so hated by everyone in and out of universe that even Lucas shitcanned his role down into a very brief cameo at the end of Episode 3; he's actually a tragic figure representing someone good who tries to act to save the galaxy but ends up causing a massive war with tons of casualties and handing over the rule of the galaxy to a Sith lord. There are rumors that he was originally going to be revealed as a villain but because of his poor reception, this idea was scrapped. People who dislike Episode 7 often refer to its director as Jar Jar Abrams.
- Wilhuff Tarkin: Tywin Lannister IN SPHESS. Ruthless, ambitious, and cold, Grand Moff (Governor) Tarkin is the epitome of all that is Imperial in the SW Universe. His idea of ruling pretty much comes down to "They can hate me as long as they fear me", which is symbolized ultimately by the Death Star. However, he uses the stick far too often and hardly uses the carrot, and this policy backfires on him horribly when he destroys Alderaan, a Core World and one of the founders of the Old Republic- for instead of cowing the galaxy into submission, it, along with the Battle of Yavin which saw himself and his battle-station destroyed, galvanized half the galaxy into openly declaring for the Alliance.
- Jango and Boba Fett: Father and son, though the son is actually an unaltered clone of his father. Badass, mostly-silent mercs who get shit done and come from a line of Spartan/Viking/Māori warriors in space called Mandalorians. Sadly, both had very anticlimactic deaths, though Boba survived his in the EU, through the power of being too popular with the audience to kill permanently. (This became canon after Disney made the entire EU non-canon. Rumour has it Boba will be getting his own spin off movie.)
- Jabba the Hutt: Obese slug who is a cross between a Mexican drug cartel kingpin and Mafia crime-boss. He runs his criminal enterprise from an old palace-monastery on Tatooine. A /d/eviant at heart, likes to fap to hot alien chicks dancing for him until they try to escape, then faps even harder when he feeds said chicks to Rancor. Gets strangled to death by a bikini-wearing Leia with her own chains, because symbolism.
- Mace Windu: The original only black dude in space, he was the hardest-as-nails Jedi master of the council during the prequel trilogy and the best swordfighter in the Order, hence his unique purple lightsaber. (That, and Sam Jackson wanted his own color to stand out.) If Anakin hadn't interfered, he would have killed Darth Sidious and none of the original trilogy would have taken place. His subsequent anti-climatic death in the movie is regarded with annoyance by his fans.
- Qui-Gon Jinn: Liam Neeson as a Jedi. He was the only one smart enough to recognize a Sith plot, and would've uncovered and exposed Palpatine if it weren't for Darth Maul's sword going through his gut. Was the master of Obi-Wan, and tried to teach Anakin the basics from beyond the grave.
- Count Dooku: An elegant, charismatic, gentlemanly Sith lord and master fencer who had dreams of liberating the galaxy from Republic control, but didn't expect his partner in crime to be a backstabbing douchebag. Hates Anakin/Vader for not being a gentleman.
- Darth Maul: Horned Sith only concerned with bloodshed and fighting. He'd do well as a Khornate Champion. Got his legs cut off, then came back more badass than ever, until he was utterly stomped by the Emperor then gets killed in a duel with an elderly Obi-wan almost 18 years later. Wields a sick-looking double-bladed lightsaber, doesn't actually gets a single line in the first film dubbed in by a different actor, and played by famous martial arts master Ray Park. He was a silent badass in the movie but for some reason he was made very talkative in the animated series.
- General Grievous: A cyborg even more fucked up than what Darth Vader would become, Grievous was the Supreme Commander of the Droid Army during the Prequels and the Clone Wars TV series (both versions), and a sadistic Jedi hunter. His competence is usually portrayed two totally different ways; in the 2D animated TV series (created by the same guy who made Samurai Jack), he is portrayed as an unstoppable killing machine who roflstomps experienced Jedi Masters, and is only bested by Mace "The Ace" Windu. In the CGI series and the third film, he is an incompetent, frothing loony with a record of failure that even Abbadon would laugh at hysterically. Actually has a somewhat-tragic past: he was a great and virtuous hero on his primitive planet, but when the Separatists harvested his shredded body to repurpose into their general/assassin, Dooku had those parts cut out of his brain until only the raging killer was left.
- Stormtroopers: The elite soldiers of the Galactic Empire. Originally, these soldiers were vat clones of Jango Fett cloned in large numbers, trained from birth in combat and clad in environmentally sealed suits of their famous gleaming white full body armor. After the rebels blew up the gene-banks, the Empire switched to an enlistment system. Numerous sub-categories exist, specializing to operate in different environments (deserts, frozen tundra, zero gravity, underwater, etc.) and serve different roles (scouts, aerial jump-packers, heavy-weapons teams, etc.). They are unwaveringly loyal and obedient to their Empire, ruthless and brutally efficient foes in combat, and incredibly precise shots with their state-of-the-art weapons. Naturally, these elite soldiers are inexplicably outmatched whenever they fetch up against the main characters of the series, but that's life when you're wearing a helmet.
- Rey: Protagonist of the new trilogy and according to a vocal minority a complete Mary Sue. Starts out as a scavenger on a desert planet, end up flying the Millennium Falcon through a Star Destroyer while flying away from TIE Fighters during her first time flying a starship, seems to know more about the Millennium Falcon that Han Solo does, mindtricks James Bond an hour after learning she is force-sensitive without even knowing you could do such a thing with Force, out-Forces a trained Force-User on her second time using the Force and proceeds to defeat the said trained Force-User on her first time fighting with a lightsaber (in her defense, Kylo was implied to be having an off day due to emotional instability from having just killed his father, on top of receiving a bowcaster wound that knocks Stormtroopers flying, hampering his fighting ability).
- Finn: A First Order Stormtrooper (serial code FN-2187) who has doubts about the First Order after his first battle and ends up defecting to the Resistance, allowing him to actually aim worth a damn. Despite (apparently) lacking force-sensitivity, can somewhat wield a lightsaber in combat, though he loses both his fights when using it. An obvious token minority shoehorned into the film for diversity points, Finn still ends up carrying The Force Awakens thanks to the acting talents of John Boyega.
- Poe Dameron: An X-Wing pilot and one of the best pilots in the Resistance who gave Finn his nickname. Gets captured by the First Order but gets rescued by a defecting Finn and they both escape using a TIE Fighter. Assumed dead by Finn after crashing the TIE Fighter, though ends up coming back shooting down an entire squadron of TIE Fighters.
- Maz Kanata: A
orange aliencartoon Chinese grandma who knows a lot about the Force. Somehow has Anakin's old lightsaber which he gives to Rey and Finn.
- Kylo Ren: A Dark Jedi who is actually the son of Han and Leia, Ben Solo, which the Internet absolutely refused to shut up about after it was leaked. He idolizes his grandfather, Darth Vader and wears a black suit and a mask to show this. He wields a unique crossguard lightsaber. People thought he would be a badass after seeing the trailers but after seeing the movie, he turned out to be a complete pussy who very often gets temper tantrums and gets his ass kicked by a teenage girl.
- Snoke: Supreme Leader of the First Order who speaks to his underlings through a massive hologram. Very little is known about him at the moment. Though many fan theories say that he is Darth Plagueis, the old master of Palpatine who was assumed dead, the powers that be have repeatedly denied the theory (though it's admittedly a better guess than suggesting that Snoke is Mace Windu, Boba Fett, or a clone of Darth Vader, which we would like to stress are actual fan theories).
- General Hux: An officer in the First Order and a moustacheless ginger Hitler in space. Delivers a pretty cool speech, but can't fight to save his life. His hairstyle makes it obvious that he's a strawman for then-primary-candidate Donald Trump. Still, cool speech.
- Captain Phasma: A First Order operative in charge of instructing the new Stormtrooper legions, Phasma serves as the Boba Fett of TFA - which is to say that she does nothing of note other than stand around and look cool until she gets disposed of in an incredibly humiliating way. Lucasfilm have apologized for overadvertising the character in the lead-up to the film and have promised to give Phasma an actual role and backstory for TLJ that will play into Finn's story.
- FN-2199: a First Order Stormtrooper who wields a badass riot baton in combat. Notable only for two reasons; he shouts "Traitor!" at Finn, and then he kicks the aforementioned obvious token minority's ass despite the latter wielding a fucking lightsaber. Such is the stuff that memes are made of. Even if he goes out like a punk to Han Solo, by all accounts, FN-2199 is what Phasma should have been.
- Jyn Erso: A former member of the Space Taliban who is captured by the Rebels so they can talk to Space Bin Laden about rumors of a planet killer being fueled by Space Iraqi oil crystals, one that was partially designed by her father. Jyn is angry all of the time because her life sucks, she watches every parental figure in her life die in front of her, most of them over the period of a single day, and the movie hopes this will hide the fact that she really doesn't do much other then flip authority figures the bird.
- Cassian Andor: A Rebel spy and assassin, Cassian angsts about the fact that he lives in a political thriller set mere days before the simple morality of the original trilogy kicks in. His only friend is a droid, but that's not exactly unusual. Shares an award with Luke for not getting the girl in the end.
- K-2S0: What C-3P0 would be if he grew a pair. A reprogrammed Imperial tactical droid and Cassian's only friend. Does that thing where he spits out survival odds in stressful moments. Caught a grenade in mid-air then tossed it back at it's original thrower without even looking. He dies first in order to establish that shit gets real in the last twenty minutes of the movie.
- Chirrut Îmwe:
Bootleg Hundred EyesThe Real Star of Rogue One. A blind martial artist who may or may not have force powers, can beat a squad of stormtroopers with a staff, shoot TIE Fighters out of the air, and take your girl if he wants. Just kidding, he's totally homo for his bara autocannon wielding BFF. A discount Jedi for a film that promised no Jedi.
- Baze Malbus: Chirrut's partner. Has three lines, but comes off as memorable because of his hellgun-looking backpack mounted autocannon with a scanvisor that lets him hold down the trigger and headshot stormtroopers until they are all dead.
- Orson Krennic: Director of the Imperial Military Research Division. Forces Jyn's father into building the Death Star for him, then proceeds to spend the rest of the movie getting roasted by the more competent Imperial characters because he's a fucking moron with a grudge.
- Saw Gerrara: Originally a member of the Space Viet Cong, this guy doesn't fuck around. Torture civilians? Check. Massacre entire patrols of Imperials? Check. In fact, his methods were considered so extreme that even the Rebel Alliance wanted nothing to do with him. Gets deaded within the first 30 minutes of Rogue One.
The rise of the original trilogy
A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away....etc etc you all know the lines.
A man called George Lucas had the idea to create a series of epic sci-fi space operas that would become so successful that Disney would take notice and give it the franchise fluttering eye lashes, trying to seduce it.
They would be called... Flash Gordon.
Unfortunately for Georgie boy, and fortunately for modern nerddom, Dino de Laurentiis already owned Flash Gordon, and were busy making their own, hilariously eighties version, so he said, screw it, I'll make my own!
He decided to start with the fourth movie in the series he envisioned, for at the time he didn't have the special effects to create the first three to the standard he wanted, and/or he just kinda made up the first move up as he went along (drawing heavily on Akira Kurosawa's seminal samurai action film, Hidden Fortress in the process). So Episode Four A New Hope was created (simply titled Star Wars at the time) and it is not an exaggeration to say it changed the face of sci-fi and general moviemaking forever, bringing a new era of special effects and imagination to cinema and changing the lives of many who would go onto to become dedicated fan boys.
Originally, the studio had forced Lucas to take ever increasing paycuts for what they were sure was going to be a flop, and only let him keep merchandising rights. However, whatever his flaws, George Lucas was a man of vision. Having helped pioneer the summer blockbuster, he went on to do the same to ginormous piles of movie-tie-in memorabilia. His production company, Lucasfilm ended up rolling in dosh, and with Episode Five The Empire Strikes Back and Episode Six The Return of the Jedi, the legend of Star Wars and its place in cultural history was assured.
tl;dr: Pretty much this.
The coming of the prequel trilogy
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With the year 2000 coming, George Lucas felt that special effects technology had reached the level he wanted and began to create the first three movies in the star wars story he had envisioned. (As a side-note, he also made some touch-ups to the three original films, re-mastering them with special effects and a couple of extra scenes that weren't doable with the eighties' animatronics. But those were mostly accepted/shrugged away since they didn't deeply modify anything.)
The hype for the movies was immense.
And then the first movie, Episode One The Phantom Menace came out.....and there was nerd rage beyond expectation.
Part of the problem was that the immense expectations of the fandom had grown until anything less-than-perfect simply would not do, so perhaps that is somewhat to blame for the reaction to the prequel trilogy. Certainly, taken on their own merits, they aren't terrible films.
But there was nothing to cover the problems that did exist with the first movie. Jar Jar Binks has become such a figure of ire to the fandom that mentioning him will incite rage and prayers to Khorne for his swift demise, but he was by no means the only problem with the film. There was also:
- Wooden acting and stilted dialogue from most of the cast. (To be fair, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher weren't exactly the best actors in the world, but the original trilogy had a fresh, naïve, WTF-are-we-doing? charm to it that is completely gone from the prequel trilogy.)
- A confusing plot concerning the nature of the Trade Federation's invasion. (Confusing in the sense that it's portrayed in too convoluted a way for a Manichean 'Good Guys vs. Bad Guys' story like in the original trilogy; but far too straightforwardly for the masterful political stratagem sending the Republic into disarray it's supposed to be.)
- Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker. While Jar Jar was the primary focus of people's rage, Jake had his own share of annoying moments (The guy ended up becoming so hated by everyone that he eventually became a redneck meth-head).
Episode Two Attack of the Clones and Episode Three Revenge of the Sith followed after a few years each and fans complained they didn't match the greatness of the original trilogy, more concerned with flashy action and effects than competent story-telling. It didn't help that the acting wasn't exactly better; Attack makes you sit through about 15 minutes of a romance subplot between two actors who simply don't have any chemistry together. Not to forget the infamous sand quote.
Revenge of the Sith did, however, receive higher ratings than Return of the Jedi, and is generally seen as the best and most-complete of the three films as a story.
What was generally more well received during this time for Star Wars was the Clone Wars animated series (both the traditionally-animated Clone Wars and the later seasons of the CGI show The Clone Wars, the latter which most everyone agrees is what the prequels should have been), following the war between the Republic and the Confederacy that sprung up during the time between the second and third of the prequels. It should be pointed out that despite being skubtastic, they are still frequently mined for references and material to build upon to this day.
Years after the release of the prequels, Star Wars community has become increasingly cancerous and has very disturbingly started to resemble /v/, where people are constantly fighting about which movie is the worst and if you dare to call any of the prequels good or even comparable to the originals, you are likely to get personal insults and death threats on levels that make Commissars look friendly in comparison.
Disney and the sequel trilogy
Finally, all the efforts by Disney to woo George Lucas paid off and in 2012 Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise for 4 billion dollars and immediately announced they would produce a new trilogy of films set after the original trilogy.
The first of these films debuted in December of 2015, and reception was what you would expect: the film was immediately a massive success from a monetary standpoint as everyone (almost) everywhere rushed to the theaters in response to the hype, with children engaging in as many repeat viewings as their parent's money could allow as fans did the same thing with their own. It has become a financial hit with the general public and a (critically) generally well-reviewed piece, with decent cinematography, special effects, technical stuff, etc. It also went on to become the biggest financial success in film history, when not adjusted for inflation.
Fan response was a good deal more mixed. Many criticize the plot for rehashing Episode IV, without doing anything to establish its own identity and claim that it had a bland main character, who had too many abilities whereas others find the replication of Star Wars feel an acceptable trade and praise it for being a decent action film, and point out the lead doesn't even outdo any of the previous main characters in anything. In fact, some would argue that by rehashing the original trilogy it basically nullified the accomplishments of the original crew; the Empire's still around, they've got yet another superweapon, Han & Leia split up, Luke failed to rebuild the Jedi, etc. Other fans praised it simply for being a new Star Wars that was better than the prequel trilogy.
And at least the jokes were better this time.
Disney also released Star Wars: Rebels, their own CGI series, which is actually pretty ok (considering that it airs on Disney XD, it should be no surprise that they've toned down the graphic depictions of gratuitous violence, much to the chagrin of those who love overly gory deaths). It focuses less on the Jedi that have come to dominate the franchise and more on the "boots on the ground" experience of the average characters, and while the show started slow and small, the plot has started to gain momentum as the series has progressed, especially after the first season. The Rebel movement has started to grow, several characters have returned from The Clone Wars, and the enemies the main characters have had to face have been steadily getting darker and more dangerous as more of the Empire’s attention is attracted. When Darth Vader gets involved (played by none other than James Earl Jones himself) he immediately proceeds to open a 24-pack of unstoppable whoop-ass on the rebel scum. The return of Maul resulted in three character deaths (possibly four), the crippling of one main character with another well on his way down the dark side, and to top it all off Maul himself is on the loose once again. Things did not turn out so well last time that happened, so expect the body count to rise, especially with Grand Admiral Thrawn now also coming onto the scene. The show also continues the trend set by The Clone Wars in making the Force mystical again, though whether this is a good or bad thing depends on how you felt about the
bullshit scientific skubtastic midichlorian explanation of the Prequels. The animation is on point with The Clone Wars, which considering it's Disney should surprise less than nobody. Oh, and Steve Blum voices one of the main characters. However, it is also noted that Star Wars Rebels may indeed have dark ending
The way that Filoni (the creator of Rebels and The Clone Wars) has handled the Mandalorians, a fan-favorite warrior-culture based upon the Scots and Vikings, has either been met with praise from those who despised Traviss and her overpowering of said culture, or utter RAGE that he turned many of them into either pacifist morons or bloodthirsty barbarians- usually that particular criticism comes from the Traviss fanboys. Do take note, however, that the old ways for the Mandalorians are making their way back into canon, such as the language, the emphasis on martial honor, and the decentralized nature of their government.
December of 2016 brought us the first standalone Star Wars movie, "Rogue One", showing the theft of the original Death Star plans. While "Rogue One" has been criticised for being lacking in character development; (fair warning) literally the entire cast of the movie who doesn't appear in Episode IV dies by the end, and it still manages to pack more than it's fair share of awesome into the movie, with Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk and Darth Vader all used to great effect. Rogue One also answers several questions, plugs several plot holes, and just generally makes A New Hope make a lot more sense in retrospect (No wonder Vader wasn't impressed when Leia claimed to be on a "diplomatic mission"). Much, much Skub still exists of course, since no Star Wars movie will ever please all the neckbeards.
It can be said what makes a franchise into a long term lasting thing is when a wealth of extra story and background is created that expands on the original story far beyond what there was. It could be argued Star Wars leads the race in this, as the sheer amount of extra novels, graphic novels and games based on Star Wars can and does overwhelm the ordinary fan.
The background has expanded into the distant past before the founding of the current Jedi and Sith orders and into the (not-quite-so) far future looking at the descendants of Luke Skywalker and other popular characters. Uniquely, especially considering other franchises' track records, the Star Wars Expanded Universe is remarkably internally consistent, both with other sources within the universe and with the films themselves. Sure, every once in a while the odd problem child such slips through, but on the whole it holds up well (largely due to the efforts of Lucas' company's continuity department leaning on everyone to hold it together).
Disney recently said "fuck it" and threw out everything but the films and the Clone Wars cartoons. New and old stuff are still filtering in, but on a case-by-case basis. Whether or not this is good or bad depends on mostly who you ask, as some feel the EU was filled with nothing but Mary Sues trying to out-Sue one another and a pro-monarchist bias on part of the authors, while others feel as if the stories in the EU were more fleshed out, deeper, and more realistic than the new Disney canon, and a third group who admits the old EU had plenty of good stories and plenty of bad. It would appear that Disney got the message from the third group, as they've brought back fan-favorite antagonist Grand Admiral Thrawn for Star Wars Rebels.
Impact on 1d4chan and associated games etc
Star Wars has had subtle and clear impacts on a number of other franchises and genres and it can be incredibly hard to gauge the extent of it all. Certainly it didn't create the concepts of sci-fi, space battles, sweeping storylines, and a blending of mystical and scientific ideas, but it certainly popularized them during the years of the original trilogy and influenced many people that would go on to have interests in sci-fi, fantasy and epic adventure today.
Hell, look me in the eye and tell me that the lightsaber didn't give us the power weapon. But then again, magic weapons.
Tabletop games for Star Wars
Wizards of the Coast picked up the license later and made two distinct RPGs based on their d20 System, called Star Wars D20 (imaginatively) then utterly revised that into what they called the Saga Edition. Could be fun, but generally broken as hell, much like its parent game.
Fantasy Flight Games is presently selling a whole line of Star Wars-themed RPGs, whether you want to play a bunch of scruffy space outlaws, members of the nascent Rebellion, or exiled Jedi Knights. Unlike their Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay games, which are all juuuuust different enough from one another to completely buttfuck any attempts at blending, all three gamelines use identical mechanics and are fully cross-compatible.
The big card game set in the Star Wars universe is the Star Wars Customizable Card Game. It's no longer produced by Decipher, but there is still a sufficiently large player community to organize annual tournaments, rule on cards, and so on.
Obviously, nobody is capable of creating a Star Wars card game with an interesting name.
Wizards of the Coast did a tabletop battles game imaginatively called Star Wars: Miniatures, based on an extremely dumbed down version of the D&D ruleset. The figures were meant to tie in with the Saga edition RPG, it wasn't terrible on its own, just impossible to collect for competitive play since figures came in random booster packs so you never know what you were getting for what faction. Who could possibly stand for that?
Fantasy Flight Games is producing the X-Wing miniatures game based on individual starfighter combat (because, let's be honest, that's what Star Wars is all about). They have also released Star Wars: Armada which is a larger scale "fleet" combat simulator, using capital ships and squadrons of starfighters.
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
The latest Fantasy Flight Games addition to its Star Wars related games is a mix between a miniature board game and a skirmish wargame. It has two play modes:
One for campaign play where 1-4 players control a team of Republic heroes and another player has the role of the DM, who controls the Imperial forces. The campaign, as the name suggests, focuses on character personalization, xp gain and the like, which you can find in any light RPG-esque (board)game. The main goal is to get a few friends together and casually play through the missions. Think of it as a Star Wars version of the original Hero Quest.
The other play mode is skirmish play, where two players each get to assemble a team of miniatures plus a command deck (cards that have specific effects when played) and play against each other in an open-play scenario. The play area is still very limited to a few game tiles (as in a campaign mission) but players are free to bring whatever they want (wit ha few limitations of course). The skirmish part of Imperial assault is as close as you can get to an actual Star Wars skirmish wargame, but it is a missed opportunity from Fantasy Flight to create a true skirmish wargame (ala Infinity), not based on tiles and so confined spaces. Who knows what they have plans for though...
- Darths & Droids: A webcomic, made using photo-stills of the Star Wars movies to tell a story about gamers blundering through each of the six movies in sequence... though not quite exactly how you might expect. Think DM of the Rings in overall visual style, though unlike DM of the Rings, Darths & Droids features several heavy twists on the actual events of the films, subplots about the players and their lives outside the game alongside the campaign, and a better overall quality of gamer.
- Timothy Zahn