The Force is awake and the fans are (mostly) happy. But wait, there’s more! Not only will fans be getting at least five more Star Wars films, but the team at Disney/Lucasfilms are creating a layered and beautiful new universe.
**SPOILERS For Episode VII and Star Wars: Before The Awakening**
There is plenty happening on screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but some of the true genius of the “new” Star Wars is the way the creative teams are weaving the story into the extended universe in the related cartoons and books.
Most notably is some pretty epic back story for one of our heroes, Finn (played by John Boyega), formerly FN-2187.
Fans of Disney’s Star Wars: Rebels have already had a peak at how the Empire, and now the First Order, recruits their troopers, basically kidnapping and indoctrinating them.
Where once there were only faceless soldiers, fans now know that each of these men (and women) were actually taken from their homes and trained to kill.
Finn’s back story appears, alongside one for Poe and Rey, in the book Star Wars: Before The Awakening by Greg Rucka, most recently known for his work on DC’s New 52 Batwoman comic.
Finn’s back story paints a picture of a lonely man, trained alongside three other troopers in his “fire-team”. While Finn is a skilled trooper (who can actually hit something), not all troopers are created equally.
Among his squad Finn is an outsider, the only one of the four without a nickname. He is alone even among his peers. While this makes him an ideal leader in Captain Phasma’s eyes, there is also something off about Finn. During a training exercise Finn puts his team at risk when one of the four, nicknamed Slip, is pinned down under enemy fire. Though the team ultimately succeed thanks to Finn’s skill, no man left behind isn’t exactly how the First Order do things.
Finn’s empathy is not welcome by the First Order, and though we later hear Phasma say his escape from their base with a rescued Poe is his first infraction, she has warned him before that “doing the right thing” is not what the First Order is about.
Knowing this bit of back story adds another beautiful layer to the saga, when we see Finn on what is his first real exposure to the action the troopers see. His first experience on a real battlefield, where a wrong move means a blaster shot to the chest. He watches as fellow troopers and innocents are blasted on all sides, his own man dead beside him. And that bloody hand that leaves a smear on his helmet? Slip, who he tried so many times to keep safe.
But that’s not all. Later in the film, on the battle field of Takodana, Finn, now forever without his bucket, is recognized and called out as a traitor (TR-8R?) by none other than one of his own fire-team, most likely FN2199, a.k.a Nines.
The story details Finns misgivings about the first order, and when he sees the legion in action in Episode VII it opens his eyes further to the truth of what the First Order is actually doing.
Additionally, it is Finn’s new friend Poe, the first to give him a nickname and embrace him as friend, that kills his fellow trooper. Wonder if that will make things awkward in the Resistance mess hall.
Rucka has written two other books that serve as supplemental material to the newly fresh and shiny canon; Smugglers Run: A Han Solo and Chewbacca Adventure and Star Wars: Shattered Empire.
The tying together of all things Star Wars creates a tapestry , and much like the presence of practical sets in the film, gives the story depth and life that fans have so craved from the franchise.
Not only do fans get a fuller idea of their new heroes from the book, but it raises other questions, like why didn’t Phasma fight Finn, armed or not? Why just turn off the shields? Is Finn the first to wear a bucket without agreeing with the First Order? Are there other dissenters in the ranks? It is a question Finn asks himself in training, and opens up many possibilities for the future of the series.
After all, the Clones were once friends to the Jedi, and now , with the Republic losing an entire system, who will stand to fight?
How do you feel about the new expanded Star Wars Universe? Ready for Rogue One? Let us know in the comments below or visit the Grizzly Bomb Facebook page to join the conversation. Stay up to date with the latest from the Star Wars franchise with the Grizzly Bomb team.
Images: Lucasfilms, Disney, Memegenerator