Does Star Wars have a crossover problem?
Updated: Feb 5, 2022
Spoilers ahead for all Star Wars content.
This article comes out off the back of a very crossover heavy episode of 'The Book of Boba Fett', one that had not just one but six major guest character appearances in the space of about 40 minutes. Din Djarin, Grogu, Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Cobb Vanth, and Cad Bane all turned up for what felt more like a Star Wars character convention than an episode of Boba Fett's TV show (Boba Fett himself barely managed 30 seconds of screen time).
Sure, crossovers and cameos are fun and when done well can really add to the movie or episode (for example the latest Spider-man movie) but they can also serve to just sort of shrink the universe down. This is exactly the problem that Star Wars is soon going to have to contend with, cameos that majorly shrink down the scale of the galaxy.
This issue started in the prequels with characters such as Chewbacca (and nearly a young Han Solo) appearing offering absolutely nothing to further the story. Grand Moff Tarkin, Jabba the Hutt, Mon Mothma etc. can be forgiven and cause no problem, their appearances make sense for the time period and subjects, of course they'd all be involved. Chewbacca appears in 'Revenge of the Sith' to meet Yoda on Kashyyk, which implies that not only was he a key player in the civil war but also that he was a high enough ranking Wookie to be one of two greeting and working with one of the most powerful and important Jedi. This just sort of ruins the whole scoundrel smuggler thing he had going on in the original, and yes they (very loosely) explain how he gets from high ranking Wookie to smuggler scum in 'Solo' but this crossover just feels like very poorly thought out fan service. Having said that this isn't where it gets to be a problem, it's does begin to feel a bit like everybody in the galaxy knows everybody else (what are the odds of Chewbacca knowing Yoda, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker all separately?)
'The Clone Wars' is such an important section of Star Wars content, it helped to introduce it to a new generation and for that it will always be held in very high regard. But the fact that it was primarily a show for kids meant that the main Star Wars characters had to be constantly involved to keep the young audience engaged over a span of six (the seventh is more of a bonus) seasons. This meant that Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and Anakin were constantly running into big hitters like Count Dooku, General Grievous, and Darth Maul, these charcters are great and it's always nice to see them appear but it does lean into the problem that I'm talking about. With everyone just sort of running into each other episode after episode it makes the galaxy seem like it's just one small sandbox with literally every character waiting to see each other rather than a galaxy with 3.2 billion separate inhabitable systems (that's actually how many there are I just looked it up). I've never once run into anyone I know where I live currently by chance, can you imagine how hard it would be to do when they could be in any one of 3.2 billion systems (each with their own planets), what are the odds of everyone knowing each other? (Insert gif of Han Solo saying "never tell me the odds here")
Solo has a great example of it too, Tobias Beckett (Solo is so unmemorable that I genuinely had to google "Woody Harrelson Star Wars character") appears only to announce that he had previously killed Aurra Sing offscreen. How? Sure Aurra Sing isn't the most well known Star Wras character but is known enough to serve my point. The line is just throw away fan service but it just raises questions. How do you know her? What are the odds of you knowing both Aurra Sing and Han Solo separately, also you happen to know Han's ex, literally what are the odds (somebody work it out)? Solo also includes a cameo from Sith trainee turned Crimeboss Darth Maul who not only just happens to know Han Solo's ex Qi'ra but also is her boss. Do you get where I'm going with this?
All of this also led into the Sequels which were maybe the worst offending movies for the universe shrinkage. Everyone and I mean everyone in Star Wars has been subject to fan theories on who's related to who but the sequel trilogy actually decided to follow through on these and make everyone related (or at least hint at it). Rey is a Palpatine but not just any Palpatine she's the daughter of a failed Palpatine clone (so she's his half daughter maybe?). Rey is also a Skywalker (she's not but she says she is and that's what counts). Rey was also originally supposed to be a Kenobi. I ask again, do you see where I'm going here? We meet two new black characters in the sequel trilogy: Finn and Jannah, at first everyone thought Finn was a Calrissian and to the writers' credit they avoided this one but they couldn't resist the temptation with Jannah. Yet again, what are the odds that we meet four black main characters in Star Wars (all from completely different planets) and two of them happen to be related but without either of them knowing. Maz Kanata knows Chewbacca and Han solo, ok this one makes sense (she runs a canteena for scoundrels, bounty hunters and other outcasts) but what doesn't make sense is that she also just happens to have Luke Skywalker's (sue me, I refuse to call it Anakin's) lightsaber without them knowing anything about it.
I honestly wouldn't be able to list every example for the problem in hand, it would take too long with the sheer amount of Star Wars content and don't get me started on the last episode of Boba Fett, I would literally run out of page space. Don't get it confused though, I love Star Wars and as a fan I love it when characters cross into other eras and movies, I loved the last episode of Boba Fett for this reason. But looking at it critically I have to admit that it has a problem. How can you tell a story about an entire sprawling galaxy and have it be one where everyone in it knows each other? I'm willing to suspend my disbelief as much as the next peerson but it has to come to a point where we reel it back in a little. What comes next? Is Grogu Yoda and Yaddle's son? Probably. If Star Wars is to maintain the scope of it's galaxy then everyone needs to stop knowing everyone else.