Is Star Wars The Ultimate Victim of Feature Creep?

Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars reveals some interesting factoids, including Lucasfilm’s mega database of 17,000 characters.

The original Star Wars trilogy captured our attention, not just for its lightsaber duels and spaceship battles, but its incredible simplicity of storytelling. Star Wars is an archetype of good vs. evil. The good guys wear white. The bad guys wear black. And Han Solo--huh--he wears both!

But I, like many others, found the prequels far less resonant. I felt constantly inundated with esoteric names, planets, and trade agreements. Now, in a BusinessWeek piece detailing Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, we learn just how deep Lucas’s cavern of nomenclature went:

His company maintained a database called the Holocron, named after a crystal cube powered by the Force. The real-world Holocron lists 17,000 characters in the Star Wars universe inhabiting several thousand planets over a span of more than 20,000 years. It was quite a bit for Disney to process. So Lucas also provided [Disney] with a guide, Pablo Hidalgo. A founding member of the Star Wars Fan Boy Association, Hidalgo is now a “brand communication manager” at Lucasfilm. “The Holocron can be a little overwhelming,” says Hidalgo, who obsesses over canonical matters such as the correct spelling of Wookiee and the definitive list of individuals who met with Yoda while he was hiding in the swamps of Dagobah.

BusinessWeek argues that the Holocron added a lot of value to the acquisition. And to the suits, I have little doubt that it looked different than any other lucrative list of copyrights and other IP. But I can’t help but wonder if there would be more narrative value without the tome. Every planet and character is a component of feature creep within an otherwise beautifully streamlined universe. It’s unedited imagination, wonderfully inventive but narratively untenable. There are just too many ideas in one place.

Star Wars has become a product crafted not for Star Wars fans (or, everyone), but a very particular breed of Star Wars uber fan. Just consider the fact that Disney--which is not new to the whole character game--needs the number one Star Wars fan in existence just to chronicle the IP. That said, Disney is just the sort of company that knows how to streamline a story for its core archetype. They were probably the best option imaginable, that is, unless George R. R. Martin wanted to take a shot at wielding the Holocron first.

Read more here.

[Hat tip: The Awl]

[Image: Death Star via The Urban Shogun]

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