The Trouble With Canon by Caleb Michael Sarvis

My name is Caleb Michael Sarvis. I’m a writer, a thinker, and currently a self-reflective incubator. Welcome to my blog.


Within the last six months or so, I’ve returned to a couple of my story-telling roots: Harry Potter and the Star Wars franchise.

Part of this return had to do with the release of The Rise of Skywalker and wanting to be as canonically knowledgeable as possible before watching the final film. Turns out, this didn’t really matter because The Rise of Skywalker is a bat-shit mess that only the internet could’ve written – which it pretty much did by overreacting to the The Last Jedi, which was a perfectly fine Star Wars film.

Since around then, my wife and I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter books. We’re about half-way through the seventh, and because we’re listening to Binge Mode with Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion (from The Ringer dot com – a great website), we’ve just watched the two Fantastic Beasts films, the second of which was a solid cinematic ride, but runs into the same problem that Star Wars did: adhering to an ever-expanding canon.

Like the long history of Star Wars to The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, the established lore of the original Potter books is not just a companion piece of which to consider context, it is the text.

Now don’t me wrong, I love the lore of it, the mythos of the story, it’s the reason I’m going to consume every little bit of content that surfaces from the Pottercauldron – but it does get in the way a bit.

Take The Crimes of Grindelwald, for example: the movie fucks around with some established canon and commits a few crimes of its own. For the average movie-goer who knows enough to get by, the move is a start-to-finish thrill ride. But for a Potter-head who may be a little too connected for the own good, it’s borderline debilitating. Rules are what make these universes work. If rules are broken or proven unreliable, then the stakes are diminished (looking at you, Zombie Palpatine).

This lament doesn’t have a real point. The solution here is obvious: content-creators, get your shit together or make something wholly original.

I’m just feeling a little bogged down with the expectations of it all, because expanded universes are just getting started, which means canonical additions are about to come in waves, and I’m scared that, like Star Wars fans, we’re all just going to become disappointed shit-bags who won’t be satisfied until the content is pristine and then we die.

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