Star Wars Episode VII – or VIIs?

Given the Star Wars Episode VII Canon/Legends division and disparities among different versions of the saga, Star Wars fans may have to accept, if most haven’t already, what Star Trek fans may have already decided on, fan writers were already doing, and StarGate ones may have accepted: Have multiple continuities, each with its own past, present, and future, with viewers and writers combining elements as desired, everybody and his brother living with it. it’s probably the only way to keep sane about these behind-the scene conflicts.

What follows is how I feel from a combination of:

1.)  The trio of time frames suggested for the Clone Wars versus the prequels;

2.) Fan speculation back in the 1990s whether or not “Darth Vader” was a name that Anakin Skywalker expropriated from from a fellow Jedi/Sithlord;

3.) The differing edits of the Star Wars movies themselves;

4.) George Lucas seemingly sharing in Gene Roddenberry’s attitude towards licensees (they’re good only as long as they don’t shake you down to get their work on your screen);

5.) The Grand Prize: Star Wars Episode VII and its sequels (for now, at least) ignoring the Expanded Universe (i. e., Legends) stories, likely for Point 4’s reasons as well as reader complaints about repetitive plots, darkening tone, inconsistent writing, unlikable characters, and bizarre conceits.

US/Canadian science-fiction fans may also call the last point the Bad Robot Productions/Ron Moore approach (demolish the building to the foundation, redevelop from there, and dismiss the old building as ungainly). Ask older fans how acceptable that approach and outcome are – if you dare.

Unfortunately, that point may mean that whatever was good from Legends (Luke and Leia’s spouses and children, chiefly) and some fan-favorite characters and events may never show up on screen. The writers already denied movie immortality and payouts then may have the thankless task of explaining where character A was/how that character participated in continuity X. Also, those writers may have to fight with Disney over how characters introduced in one continuity may interact with characters introduced in another continuity or originated before the split in continuities.

As it is, those writers must be seething about the situation, but likely can’t complain publicly, go to court, or run to former Star Wars distributor 20th Century-Fox, and/or publishers, Bantam Books, Dark Horse Comics, West End Games, and/or Wizards of the Coast for financial/legal/moral support. They have to deal with the Disney/Marvel megalith and its monies, after all.  So there Legends lies, tolerable/enjoyable in its own right, an historical curiosity in others, but pushed aside for corporate reasons, for good and ill, by something that time will tell is “preferable.”

And then there’s the fan reaction. Famously, for reasons explained previously, Star Trek has no two licensees agree with each other in continuity not previously established on screen. Similarly, StarGate actually has TWO continuities, the Bill McKay book series from the 1990s and the SG-1/Atlantis TV franchise. (ironically enough, the former was supposedly closer to the original film’s world-building than was the latter).

In Basic (terms and Star Wars’ English-like language), there you have it: different continuities, each created by fans based on their preferences.  It’s probably the only way to keep sane about these behind-the scene conflicts.

Fantastic 4 and Mickey-Mouse Negotiating

The Fantastic 4 (a/k/a Fantastic Four) remake’s been accused of suffering from the same problems as The Amazing Spider-Man: dark-tone cash-grab designed to appeal to critics while keeping publisher Marvel Comics’ owner Disney from reclaiming a fallow field from 20th Century-Fox of 20th the movie studio and Fox the TV network fame.  Similar fates had already befallen Daredevil and Elektra and threaten the X-Men.

There’ve been claims also that Disney tried shade campaigns of its own against the Fantastic Four reboot (just to keep 20th from enjoying the F4 franchise without sharing more with Disney; see entry under The X-Men). And this is After earlier claims by Disney producers that one of their attempts at a live-action franchise was a victim of critics’ shade campaigns (see entry under The Lone Ranger).

Honestly, I’m surprised that nobody’s pointed out yet Disney’s infamy for holding out on a deal until that studio gets better terms. What also shocks me is that the late-1990s/early-2000s deals made among 20th, Marvel Comics’ Marvel Studios, and fellow Marvel distributors Columbia, Dimension Films (at that time a Disney unit), New Line Cinema, Paramount, and Universal for the movie, merchandising, and theme-park rights to Marvel Comics never included (or publicized) a clause involving what happens to the rights to those films (who gets to produce/distribute a film, stage, or TV show, or operate a theme-park ride/shop/restaurant/stage show where, in which format, for what time frame, and for how much money to put in versus how much money to get out) in the event that any of those companies changes owners, merge/buy each other out, and/or merge with/take over/get taken over by a party outside of their merry little clique.

Even more surprising to me is that 20th hasn’t yet taken Disney and their fellow distributors to court, claiming that Disney’s been pressuring them all into giving up lucrative movie rights without much of a fight to protect themselves or each other, and/or that Disney’s forced them all to make hole-plugging rush-jobs just to cover terms in their pre-Disney-buyout license deals with Marvel Comics’ Marvel Studios so that the rights don’t go to Disney.

And that’s leaving out that in the pre-Disney days, Marvel sought to develop a live-action X-Men TV series (Mutant X) without Fox getting any say in – or money out of – it, yet wouldn’t let 20th use Nick Fury on the big screen (likely both to keep from diluting the character in the Paramount movies, and to reduce jokes about Fox’s unsold Nick Fury TV pilot from the 1990s; that said, Fox earlier had done a failed – and, apparently, reviled – pilot for a live-action X-Men TV series, which partially could explain why Fox wasn’t invited to the Mutant X party).

(Of course, then 20th will have to prove those charges in court, which depends on how good their PIs, jury consultants, and lawyers are…)

At a later date I’ll explore a major criticism I’d listed earlier about how dark the non-Disney Marvel movies have gotten (a likely result of misreading the reasons for the X-Men movies’ critical and financial success and the creative mixed bags that the Batman, Spider-Man, and Fantastic Four movies became). I’ll also comment on how dark the Distinguished Competition’s TV shows and movies have gotten in response, and in turn may have influenced the House of Ideas.

‘Til then, quoth Stan Lee, Excelsior, true believers!

‘Nuff said!