Rebooting Star Wars: The Force
So, a few months back I wrote a post on my proposal to reboot the Star Wars franchise. Initially, my thought was that I would just work through all six movies and propose my changes. However, as I began in on “Episode I: The Phantom Menace” and got to around 4,000 words with still a lot to go, I realized that this was going to be a bigger undertaking than I had initially thought (also, I wasn’t totally satisfied with what I was writing). So now I am trying a different approach. Instead of working on whole stories right off the bat, I am going to focus in on a few key concepts, characters, places, and events. I am using a wiki to help me organize a lot of this. Eventually I do think I will be able to put these concepts into more linear story plots, but for starters this will get some of my key ideas out there.
So, my first big concept I decided to take on was the Force, just because I think it is so essential to the entire Star Wars Universe. I know not everybody will agree with my proposed changes, that is cool with me, feel free to comment with your ideas and suggestions (just keep it respectful please, I reject asshole comments).
Anyway, here you go:
Arguably the central concept in the Star Wars franchise is the existence of the mysterious power called the Force. This power could not be scrapped in a Star Wars reboot, but it could be cleaned up and clarified.
First of all, leave it vague. The Force is essentially magic (space magic) and part of its appeal in the original trilogy was the vagueness and mystery of it. One of the dumbest things done in the new trilogy was to “explain” the Force through magic space microbes (midi-chlorians), so drop that, and leave it somewhat unexplained.
The biggest change that I would suggest making to the Force, is in making it a neutral or passive power in the universe. No “Dark Side” or “Light Side” of it in a general sense. Make it more like electricity, in that it can be used for creative or destructive purposes, but it is not good or evil itself.
Of course, we still need the potential for the Force to be misused and for their to be villains who deploy it for evil and destruction. I like the idea of there being risks in the use of magic . . . I mean the Force. With reasonable consequences we create limits of use of this extraordinary power. Additionally, we create problems for characters who cannot respect or control their use of the power. My idea for the biggest consequence of the use of the Force in the Star Wars universe would be that consistent use by a sentient entity can cause dependence and eventually a full on addiction to the Force. In addition, with addiction, comes deterioration of physical senses/abilities and mental stability. The Force is used by people sure, but in most cases it is used very carefully so as to avoid the overuse and addiction that comes with it.
This would have big impacts on the two major Force using factions in the Star Wars universe; the Jedi and the Sith.
I would maintain that not all people (humans or alien) can access the force. We can leave it uncertain why some individuals are more capable than others. In regards to those with Force using capability, there are many who are not aware of it at first. These individuals are at potential risk of becoming dependant because they are not even aware that they are using the energy and building a dependence. In an effort to minimize the negative impacts of Force addiction, the Jedi Order was formed thousands of years in the past. One big difference I would include in the Jedi Order is that not all members are necessarily capable of using the Force. Instead the Order exists to find and educate Force capable individuals so that they can healthily and safely interact with the power and hopefully use it to bring benefits to others. I would make the Jedi significantly more monastic (which might seem strange for the already pretty monastic group). They strive for pacifism and in fact emphasize teachings that do not rely on the use of the Force. The mental discipline and martial prowess of the Jedi are not due to their connection to the Force, but in fact in lieu of it. While certainly, some members of the Order have force capabilities, they only use these powers in the most dire of circumstances and afterwards spend considerable time cleansing themselves and meditating on the consequences of the use. They do not vilify the Force, but they do recognize the inherent risks within it.
The Sith are another story. For starters, I would suggest that the Sith are not really an organization or group, but instead a kind of philosophy. Those who adhere to this Sith Philosophy believe that individuals who are Force capable have been chosen to use these powers as they will. The Sith Philosophy says that those who are Force capable are stronger and better than those without the power, and thus Force users have a right to dominate and control the course of the universe. In many ways the Sith Philosophy is extremely Machiavellian. In regards to the negative aspects of Force use, the Sith Philosophy is almost nihilistic. Nothing lasts, and everything falls apart. Even power is temporary at best, so use it while you have it. If you are not overpowered by some other person then the universe will find some other means to ultimately destroy you. That is the fate of all beings. The terminology “Darth” need not be dropped. One who is referred to as a “Darth” is one who has embraced the Sith Philosophy. Fortunately due to the consistent efforts of the Jedi Order adherents of the Sith Philosophy are few and far between. There is not a “Rule of two” in regards to Sith adherents, though on occasions a more powerful Sith practitioner will adopt apprentices as tools of blunt force. Inevitably in these Master/Apprentice relationships, the Apprentice often ends up overpowering and destroying the Master as this is the nature of Sith Philosophy that nothing lasts forever. Because the Sith are not a coherent unit, there are many occasions throughout history where various Sith practitioners have been in direct confrontation with one another and others where they have worked co-operatively. The most important thing to know about a Sith practitioner, is that they are pure egoists, and only have concern for themselves. Due to the nature of Force addiction, many Sith adherents, have been forced to have bodily modifications to keep functioning, and most are nearly or entirely insane (though often very clever as well). Sadism is almost a certainty. In someways you could say that embracing the Sith Philosophy is like willingly deciding to become a psychopath.
In a reboot, the Force would still play a huge and vital role, but these difference would drive different long term outcomes, and also individuals ideas about this mysterious power. I think this would make a far more interesting dynamic than just a simple “good versus evil” duality. The ethical direction of a world where the most influencing power is essentially neutral created far more ambiguities and complexities.
I like to think, that this change to the Force would significantly change the atmosphere of the Star Wars Universe. Some people might say that without the firm good/evil duality there cannot be meaningful conflict. I, on the other hand, believe that conflict is significantly more meaningful, interesting, and believable without those firm opposites. I think this concept of the Force would create fascinating potential.
Stay tuned, I’ll post some more, hopefully soonish.