Friday, October 12, 2018

Chuck Wendig Fired By Marvel (And The Dangerous Message It Sends)

By: Dominic Jones

In a surprising move, Star Wars author Chuck Wendig took to Twitter today to announce that he had been fired by Marvel and taken off the upcoming Star Wars: Shadow of Vader comic book mini-series he'd been working on, as well as another unannounced Star Wars project with Marvel.  The first three issues of the series will still be written by Wendig, however the final two will be written by someone else (or just maybe just cancelled, it's not really clear, since Marvel has yet to comment on the news).  The Star Wars Aftermath author revealed in a lengthy Twitter thread today (which you can read at the bottom of this article) that he got the news this afternoon, as well as Marvel's reason for firing him.  That reason: they didn't like his tweets. 

There is a lot to be that is weird about this story, not the least of which is that Lucasfilm just announced Shadow of Vader last Friday at New York Comic Con during the Star Wars Publishing panel.  Wendig was on the panel and talked excitedly about writing the series, where each issue would cover a different character whose life had been impacted by Darth Vader.  Issue two is Willrow Hood's story (ice cream man in The Empire Strikes Back), and issue four would have dealt with the Acolytes of the Beyond (a cult of Vader-worshipers, whom Wendig introduced in the Aftermath novels)And then a week later, he's off the book.

This is dangerous precedent that Marvel is setting by removing Wendig from the series.  Wendig has been controversial in some circles because of his work on the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy of novels, where he made the decision to include a couple of LGBTQ+ characters in the story.  This upset a certain, reprehensible segment of Star Wars "fans", the same segment that would go on to chase The Last Jedi star Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico) off Instagram with racist and sexist comments earlier this year.

And yes, obviously, you are absolutely entitled to like or dislike any or all of the Aftermath books, just like you're entitled to like or dislike The Last Jedi, The Phantom Menace, or even The Empire Strikes Back.  If you dislike Wendig's writing style or the story of those books, that is totally fine.  This is not about that.  This is about a certain group of people who are using Star Wars as an excuse for their abusive behavior and bigoted beliefs.

This decision to fire Wendig because he was vocal about his political opinions on Twitter--things like children and their families shouldn't be separated at the border and the kids put in cages, or that white supremacists are bad, or that climate change is real and dangerous, you know really controversial stuff (#sarcasm)--is at best cowardly and sends a poor message, both to creators and to those who are trying to turn Star Wars into a bizarre, alt-right fantasy (while pretending it always was that, ignoring the fact George Lucas himself is a progressive and has imbued all his films with progressive values). 

To the creators it sends the message that they can't be themselves on their social media platforms.  Which, as a fan, I think sucks.  I hate the idea that high profile people on social media should become bland, opinion-less automatons, who just promote their work.  If all I wanted was promotion, I would just read press releases.  If I follow someone on social media, be they an author, a celebrity, or a friend, it's because I want to hear from them about a variety of topics.  About their work, yes, but also their craft, their process, and their opinions--including their political opinions.

As for the message it sends to the tolls, that is far more chilling.  Marvel is basically saying if you don't like having diverse characters that represent all people in Star Wars, all you have to do is harass the creators and the publishers/producers enough and you'll get your way.  The behaviour and beliefs of the people who chased Tran off social media and led to Wendig being fired are not those of the Star Wars films.  The films are about heroes coming together to accomplish something great in the face of unspeakable evil.  The bad guys are the ones who attack people who are different from them.  As Wendig himself said in 2015, "If you can imagine a world where Luke Skywalker would be irritated that there were gay people around him, you completely missed the point of Star Wars."

What little solace that can be taken from this is that this decision seems to have been limited to Marvel, and not made by Lucasfilm.  Wendig points out in his tweets that, in the past at least, Lucasfilm has been supportive of him sticking up for himself and Star Wars in the face of the trolls.  So there's hope that there that this just a Marvel-thing and  that Lucasfilm is willing to continue letting its creatives be themselves on social media (as long as they are not hurting anyone, of course).

Regardless, this decision by Marvel has left a terrible taste in my mouth to the point where I don't think I'm going to to continue reading Star Wars comics after Charles Soule's Darth Vader series wraps up at the end of the year.  Marvel is setting a dangerous precedent by doing this and I shudder to think where this may lead us.  It's a slippery slope, folks, and those of us who believe in what Star Wars truly is need to make sure we're making our voices heard and that the trolls aren't the only ones with a platform.

You can read Wendig's Twitter thread in its entirety below,

Shame on you, Marvel.

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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