So far it’s just a rumor. Based on one insider’s word. But, if true, then the movie to be directed by Dave Filoni will be titled Heir to the Empire.
Now, there are some who are excited about this. Some who take a more neutral view. And still others who are over the moon happy about it.
I, for one, am less than pleased. Assuming this turns out to be correct — and not just an attempt at boosting follows and subscribes — then this would be a step back for Filoni and his team. It would be a needless appropriation of another author’s work. More so, it would be elevating fan service in place of something entirely new.
First Things First
Having two Heir to the Empire titles would be tacky. Especially if the book and the movie told completely different stories. It’s bad enough having to refer to the Thrawn trilogies as “original” and “canon.” Now there would be the “book story” and “movie story.”
Of course, were this film to follow the book exactly — scene by scene — then there wouldn’t be an issue. At that point, the book would serve as a movie novelization of sorts. But we know Filoni isn’t going to do that. In fact, he pretty much can’t. Not unless he’s willing to break out the dreaded digital imagery. Or — gasp! — recast the main characters.
As we know, neither of those options bodes well for a movie hoping to garner fan goodwill. No, it’s likely this movie won’t follow the book. Certainly not scene by scene. Instead, it would be a homage. Taking the spirit of the novel in much the same way as movies state they’re “based on a true story.” Which is to say, not at all.
Why Not Heir To The Empire?
It’s a good question. There are fans who might wonder why appropriating a title would be such a big deal. After all, it’s a Hollywood tradition. Well, beyond the confusion stated above, it’s not good business practice. Think about Apple and all their iPad versions. Lacking a good naming convention, they all bleed together. None stand out.
The same would be true here, especially if this book and this title were only the beginning of a wave of cannibalization. Imagine, if you will, what would happen if every title in the expanded universe became open season for new movies, books, or video games? How long before that level of duplication became ridiculous?
Of course, Disney can do it. Titles aren’t protected — doubly so since Disney owns all the EU and canon anyway. But if Disney were to sanction this, with arguably the most important EU book ever, what would stop others from following? Rey and her new movie — why not call it Jedi Academy? Mangold’s film, why not Dawn of the Jedi?
Filoni Has A History
Let’s not forget that Dave Filoni has a history with appropriation and retconning. He did it with the Clone Wars, he did it with his own character Ahsoka, and there are those who believe he’s in the process of doing it with the sequel films.
Unquestionably, this isn’t new territory for him, but much of what he’s done in the past has been on the sly. Nothing too major. Nothing too upsetting for the fandom at large. After all, who cares if you write over a comic book or a video game? Is anyone really paying that much attention? And what about continuity? Isn’t that for wimps?
Actually, it’s other people’s work. It’s the bedrock of what makes Star Wars so deep and fleshed out. Without the expanded universe, there’s a good chance Lucas doesn’t make the prequels films. Without the prequels films, there’s a good chance Lucas doesn’t have a company worth selling to Disney. And without Disney helming the whole show, Filoni doesn’t have a movie to make.
Need More Convincing?
How about residuals? Already there’s a history of Disney not paying authors and other creatives for their work. And it’s no secret that this writer’s strike is being done partly because of residuals. Now imagine this scene playing out for authors and creatives whose books, comics, or games are mined by people like Filoni for new projects.
Can you see them getting their due when their work is being reused piecemeal or to inspire support based on similarity? For a big author like Timothy Zahn, the effect might be minimal. Then again, as was the case with Alan Dean Foster, even popular and well-selling authors aren’t immune to financial pinches.
The fact is that this is a bad precedent. It stifles creativity by allowing people to be lazy. After all, why does this movie need to be called Heir to the Empire? Even the original book title wasn’t going to be that. So why not change this title to something more fitting? Is it really that difficult, or is it because the title is strategic, meant to sway certain fans into accepting this movie from the outset?
What’s In A Name, My Filoni?
I’ve written about Dave Filoni before. I listed him as the most likely creative successor to Lucas. Which, to be fair, isn’t much of a leap. After all, he learned a great deal from Lucas while working on the Clone Wars animated show.
I enjoy a lot of what Filoni has produced. There’s been some really good writing in his past projects as well as new ones being helmed by him. Like many, I’m really looking forward to Ahsoka, to the continuation of The Mandalorian as well as the Bad Batch, but I have to admit that some of his habits are getting to be troubling.
His knock on continuity is, in my opinion, short sighted and could ultimately cause an in-universe paradox of epic proportions. His overriding of characters, places, and events from previous works is unconscionable, especially since many of those changes were utterly unnecessary.
And now — potentially — this name grab.
And, if true, would make what could have been a truly great payout movie into something seedy.
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