Star Wars owes it to fans to move past its love affair with the Jedi order. Here's why.
Star Wars Rebels kicks off next week (or technically today, if you use Disney XD's app), and whilst it's exciting to see a new series from the makers of Clone Wars, there's one thing that's starting to bother me: I'm sick of seeing the Jedi pop up in everything Star Wars.
When Rebels was first revealed, I was pretty excited. A Clone Wars-esque take on the Rise of the Empire? Rag-tag Rebels and Stormtroopers? Yes please! Then Freddie Prince Jr.'s Kanan Jarrus was revealed, a former Jedi Knight, and I wavered a little. Okay, sure, he's a Jedi, but they could do interesting things with an ex-Jedi in hiding, having given up the order and put his lightsaber away. Neat! Then came the introduction of Ezra Bridger, a force sensitive. Then every other trailer and clip become less about ordinary men and women standing up against the Empire, and more about Kanan swinging his lightsaber around and promising Ezra that he'll train him as a Jedi. Great.
I don't necessarily hate the Jedi as a concept, but good lord I'm sick of them being the big cheese in every bit of Star Wars media. Jedi this, Jedi that, Force this, Sith that. Star Wars is a vast, interesting universe filled with a diverse range of wonderful and unique characters. So why does it feel like we're getting the same stories again and again with the Jedi at the forefront? Enough is enough.
Part of the problem is that, whilst there are things the Prequel movies did right, the Jedi weren't really one of those things. Before Episodes I, II and III, the Jedi and their fall were barely touched in Star Wars fiction, they had an air of mystery to them that elevated them in our minds to something arguably no movie could've done justice to. But even with that lofty image hanging over the Prequels, what we actually got was less of a mystical order of Warrior monks, and more... bad, boring diplomats in swishy robes. The prequel Jedi were dupes, who seemingly sat around doing nothing until it was too late. Not exactly the grandest thing to do for a bit of storytelling fans had waited years to see unfold.
The air of mystery about them no longer, and with the prequels barely doing justice to the idea of the Jedi, at least in Star Wars' cinematic outings the Order hasn't ever really delivered on the promise established by Obi-Wan and Luke all those years ago. They had their big moment on the screen, and whilst it wasn't the greatest, it was their time to shine - we saw the Jedi at the height of their power and prominence. We should move on to telling other stories in this universe now.
But instead of moving on, we got the Clone Wars cartoon - and arguably the Jedi we should've had all along.
Through 5 and a half seasons, we finally got to see the Jedi that the prequels tried and failed to show us. Clone Wars' Jedi didn't just get to have cool lightsaber battles and be the heroes, we got to see their flaws fleshed out, see their sacrifices and their victories - and what the people and soldiers around them thought of them, too. They weren't the one-note organisation shown off in the movies any more, they were all interesting, complex, fleshed out characters - especially Anakin, who got to bear the brunt of many of Clone Wars' best stories. The Jedi of the Clone Wars are ultimately still hoodwinked by Palpatine and the Sith, sure, but by the time Clone Wars ended, we could understand how and why that happened a lot better than we ever could seeing how it went down in the Prequel Trilogies. Even more importantly, Clone Wars also gave us Ahsoka Tano, perhaps one of the best additions to the Star Wars canon in the last two decades.
The Jedi finally got the storytelling justice they deserved in Clone Wars' six year run. So why do we need to go back to the well so soon after it's over to tell even more Jedi stories through Rebels? With Clone Wars done and dusted, it would've been a natural point for us to break off from telling tales about the Jedi and that specific era of Star Wars, and it looked like Rebels could be that break - until Kanan and Ezra popped up.
Which brings me on to what worries me the most about Rebels focusing on Kanan and Ezra as Master and apprentice - it robs the ordinary men and women of the show their time to be heroes.
The thing about Jedi is that their storytelling is all about fate and destiny - people are born to be Jedi, to carry on the legacy of the force wielders that came before them. An ordinary person couldn't just 'be' a Jedi, they had to be fated into it. They're kind of aloof and distant in that way: in the Star Wars universe, you can dream about being a Jedi, but you can't ever become one unless it's your fate. They're extraordinary heroes in every sense of the word 'extraordinary'.
But think about it - when you were a little kid and wanted to play Star Wars out on the playground, everyone wanted to be Han Solo or Princess Leia, not Luke Skywalker. It wasn't that Luke wasn't as interesting a character as his compatriots, it's that they were most like us - ordinary people who faced hardships, and decided to take a stand against the bad guys and become heroes. They were relatable. Approachable. The Jedi were an exclusive club, but any little boy or girl could be Han and Leia. All fiction is about escaping reality and embracing our imagination, but we still admire the ordinary hero far much more than we do those fated into heroism. It's that much easier to find ourselves in them - and if Rebels pushes back Sabine, Hera and Zeb, the characters we as an audience can best relate to, in favour of focusing on Kanan and Ezra, a new generation of Star Wars viewers would be missing out on seeing more ordinary people like them (well, as ordinary as Twileks, Mandalorians and a Lasat can be to us humans) being the heroes, and that's a damn shame.
The Galaxy Far, Far Away is a big place, capable of being home to so many different, exciting stories. It shouldn't have to tell the same ones about Jedi over and over again. It's time for a new era of heroes - ones that believe that hokey Religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.
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