Fans Are the Future of Star Wars Storytelling
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Star Wars is for everyone. Not just to consume, discuss, and admire, but it's also to imagine, design, build, and share.
As time has passed, Star Wars and its stories have largely evolved. What started out as a fairytale depicting good triumphing over evil has morphed into a vast collection of narratives not only featuring conflicts of light and dark but also conflicts of neutrality; of neither light nor dark, good nor evil.
Many fans have a greater understanding of Star Wars now than ever before thanks to the seemingly endless amount of content we’ve gotten over the past four decades, which is why many felt let down when they weren't given a story that aligned with their vision of what Star Wars truly is.
The Rise of Skywalker disappointed different segments of the Star Wars fandom for different reasons, but the overarching issue most fans tend to agree on is this: it was a movie made to dominate the box office, and that meant it had to please as many audience members as possible.
How do you please enough people to top $1 billion worldwide? You take no risks. You over-saturate your narrative with predictable fanservice. You sacrifice artful creativity in favor of shock value.
You stop listening to the fans, because all you can hear is the sound of imminent applause.
Regardless of how you feel about Ben Solo or Rey Palpatine/Skywalker, The Rise of Skywalker failed to cater to the most wholesome segments of the Star Wars fandom. This isn’t just about who did or didn’t end up together at the end or who did or didn’t show up in the final battle. It’s deeper than that.
This is about a story that seems as though it were given a checklist of everything fans hoped for and did the exact opposite every chance it got.
Some will argue that J.J. Abrams, for example, knows how to make a movie better than most Star Wars fans. On that specific point, they’re not wrong. Most Star Wars fans have minimal filmmaking experience, especially at that level.
But knowing how to make a movie does not automatically mean you know how to tell a good Star Wars story. Do you know who does know how to do that?
Star Wars fans.
Look no further than the Star Wars fans who've been writing fan fiction, making fan films, designing their own costumes, creating their own art, putting together fanzines, and much, much more. Their creativity is endless and inspiring.
There are so many stories to be told in this universe, but no one should be questioning what kinds of stories the fandom wants. The answer lies in the Star Wars narratives that fans have already been telling.
These are the fans who put their dissatisfaction to good use: who say, “I didn’t like how that story ended,” and go off and write their own endings (known as "fix-it fics").
Fans who use their creativity to showcase what Star Wars could be are the ones who should be on the front lines making creative decisions someday and fully realize the vision of many.
Ten years from now, the 17-year-old girl posting her FinnPoe fan art on Tumblr could be working alongside other animators on the latest Star Wars series. The 21-year-old English major writing Obitine stories in their dorm room could be on their way to publishing the next Star Wars YA novel.
Fans know these stories. They know the kinds of stories the majority loves. They know the stories that haven’t been told in Star Wars yet, and they want to, one day, be the ones to tell them.
Fans are doing their best to create their own opportunities. But someone somewhere has to meet them halfway if they’re ever going to make it to the room where it all happens.
"The number one way to get into the room is when people send the elevator back down for you." — Upcoming Star Wars showrunner Leslye Headland to Entertainment Weekly
Don’t continue hiring veteran Hollywood moneymakers to make Star Wars if they’re going to do the absolute minimum just to bring in the revenue. Give other creators a chance. Let them pave the way for the fans who aren’t quite at that level yet.
To be clear: We don’t want the likes of Favreau, Filoni, and Chow to stop telling Star Wars stories. They are high-quality creatives who very clearly have a deep understanding not only of what Star Wars is all about but also what Star Wars means to the fans watching, listening, and reading.
What we need, rather, are more voices. More creative minds. More people with diverse backgrounds to share new perspectives in future Star Wars storytelling. We need current elites to continue setting good examples while enabling others to rise through the ranks and follow in those creators’ footsteps.
If Star Wars fans are the future of Star Wars, then they need to be given more opportunities to showcase their skills and gain the experience necessary to earn these positions of creative influence.
What do we, the fans, do about that?
We share each others’ work. We lift each other up. We help each other learn and improve. We use our collective passion for Star Wars to drive change—one fan-made story, drawing, design, and idea at a time.
The more we promote each others’ work, the more that work will be seen and talked about. The more these stories circulate, the more fans will feel inspired to make their own masterpieces within the fictional universe they so intensely love.
Maybe someday, the tenured creators telling great stories will seek out newcomers to bring along for the ride. Where will they look? To the ones telling the stories that matter to the masses.
Never stifle your own creativity because you don’t think it will ever be appreciated.
We are Star Wars fans. It’s up to us to promote positive change in Star Wars storytelling by telling the stories that need to be told.
The future of Star Wars is hopeful. Be part of that hope. Tell the Star Wars stories you want the world to see, and, someday, they might inspire the next big thing.
Meg is a book reviewer and podcaster in the realm of all things Star Wars. Some say her Captain Phasma obsession has gone too far. They're wrong.