Chewie-ing It Over: You Can Go Home Again
This week saw the official debut and release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. While previews of the play began in June the official premiere of the London West End production was July 30th. To accompany the play they released a hardcover collection of the rehearsal edition of the script. On top of this the recent opening of the 2nd Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in L.A. and the forthcoming release of the first prequel film in the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, on November 18th, 2016.
I bring Harry Potter up on a Star Wars website because there are some interesting parallels between the two franchises. Both franchises had a uniquely captivating new world of characters and histories. Both franchises featured an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. Both franchises sprang from the minds of truly unique creators. Both franchises also had periods of dormancy before their creators returned to and to varying degrees passed off their universes for future storytelling.
As fans of Star Wars will know, George Lucas returned to his creation multiple times–first the prequels, then The Clone Wars, then the unproduced live-action series, and finally in ideas for a sequel trilogy and potential spin-off films. Rowling, who is 21 years younger than Lucas, is returning to her magical world, much like Lucas did. It is interesting that she is branching out into storytelling that is not her primary format and at the same time relinquishing some control over the storytelling.
For Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Rowling is sharing story credit with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, while credit for writing the actual script is going to Thorne. This strikes me as very much what Lucas did on The Clone Wars, where he played a central role in breaking story and giving the writers information, but other writers and supervising director Dave Filoni were in charge of executing that storytelling.
For Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rowling is making her screenwriting debut. It has been reported that director David Yates and veteran Harry Potter film screenwriter Steve Kloves were working with Rowling on the script. Interestingly it has been announced that the script for Fantastic Beasts will be published in a similar manner to Cursed Child on November 19th, 2016.
The cynic in me says that Rowling is taking the relatively easy path out for these projects and not writing full-length novels. Of course given how lengthy and intricate the Harry Potter series books were I wouldn’t begrudge her one bit if she was. In some ways this is a middle path to what Lucas ended up doing. At his age, with his wealth and starting a new family he decided to reinvigorate his franchise so that storytelling could continue under new leadership.
There will no doubt be critiques as new storytellers make decisions fans don’t feel like the creators would have. After all there are criticisms even of the creators themselves when fans don’t feel they stay true to personality or logic established for their characters. Some criticism will be valid some will not be, but it is important to keep some things in mind.
The continuation of these storytelling worlds is not something that Rowling or Lucas owed to fans. As it is often described these worlds are their sandboxes–the toys, the sand, the wooden frames–to do with as they please.
Continuing these storytelling worlds speaks to both a demand born of great characters and settings, but also a recognition and appreciation of the fans’ love for these creations by their creators.
So while we may critique the new stories that come out, some by the original creators and some by their anointed successors, its good to remember that we should be thankful that we get to return to these worlds once again. Or as it was put so well by Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo in October of 2012: “At this point, I don’t know many specifics, but boy can I speculate. It’s what Star Wars fans do best, after all. I’m just thrilled they’re happening, and that Star Wars is returning to the big screen where it belongs.”
From one fandom to another, Welcome back Mr. Potter, and may your world and the galaxy far, far away duel at the box office for years to come.
The Bright Center of the Universe: This Week on StarWars.com:
This week we have some food, some drink and some colorful characters on the official site. A selection of some of my favorite articles.
THE PLAYLIST: LANDO CALRISSIAN by Bryan Young
PRINCESS LEIA NUTELLA BUNS by Jenn Fujikawa
SDCC 2016: STAR WARS ROUNDUP! by Jamie Greene
5 OF THE BEST STAR WARS BAR BUDDIES by Jon Waterhouse
KARABAST! 7 GALACTIC SLANG TERMS FOR EVERYDAY USE by Catrina Dennis
7 WAYS AFTERMATH: LIFE DEBT IS EVEN BETTER THAN AFTERMATH by Jennifer Heddle
And finally of course the latest episode of “The Star Wars Show”:
Wild Space: This Week on MakingStarWars.net:
This week on MSW we had some cool news stories as well as the latest releases of the MSW Podcast Network.
This week on the website we have some behind the scenes news, a new image from Rogue One and a cool fan-made video.
To the future, to the horizon:
Coming this week we have LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures newest episode “The Kyber Saber Chase” on Monday and Marvel’s Star Wars: Han Solo #3 on Wendsday.
Until next time