Every Star Wars Movie Should Have an Opening Crawl
I’m pretty chill about what can or can’t be in Star Wars movies. I had no issue whatsoever with Luke Skywalker drinking green milk straight from a lactating alien’s bosom. You want to make a Star Wars with no lightsabers or X-Wings that’s just about Jedis sitting around in Dexter Jettster’s diner eating space soup and talking about space tariffs? Go for it. It seems like a risk to me, but what do I know?
But there is one thing that I now feel is 100 percent essential to every Star Wars no matter what or who that particular Star Wars is about: Every single Star Wars — whether it is one of the saga films, a spinoff, an animated movie, or a holiday special starring Bea Arthur — should have an opening crawl with John Williams’ classic theme music.
I should note right off the bat that this my opinion on this issue has evolved a little. In my review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — the first “anthology” Star Wars film set apart from the main series, and the first live-action Star Wars movie without that signature opening crawl — I noted that it’s “a little strange at first,” to see a Star Wars movie without an opening crawl, but that “the way the movie opens works, and it does set it apart from the main Episodes.” After revisiting Rogue One, and seeing Solo: A Star Wars Story (which also does not have a crawl), I’ve become convinced that my earlier comments were both completely correct and completely incorrect.
Ditching the crawl does set these anthology movies apart from the main series — as inferior films. It’s basically telling you right off the top that this isn’t one of the “important” Star Wars movies, this is something different and lesser than. It suggests that what you’re watching is a knockoff of Star Wars rather than the real thing. Basically, a no-crawl Star Wars movie is at best Star Wars adjacent.
In fact, the notion that these anthology films are Star Wars adjacent seems to be something Lucasfilm actually embraces. Instead of opening with the full series fanfare, Rogue One and Solo just begin with the main episode’s preamble; a blue-on-black title card that reads “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ....” as if all that really matters is the setting. (The words “star” and “wars” don’t even appear onscreen.) Where the Episodes blast you with the iconic logo and the crawling exposition, these anthology movies jump right into the action.
Basically, the anthology films kept the least awesome part of the most awesome opening sequence in film history and ditched the rest. For scientific/academic purposes, here are all the parts of Star Wars’ opening titles, ranked:
- The Star Wars logo blasting onscreen.
- The John Williams music.
- The crawling words that get smaller as they move away.
- When the crawl ends and there’s an unexpected transition to the space action.
- The random crawl words that are capitalized, like “DEATH STAR” or “FIRST ORDER.”
- The fact that not a single filmmaker receives a credit.
- The way the Star Wars logo zooms out and then gets replaced by the crawl.
- The star field.
- “A long time ago...”
At least Rogue One went straight from “A long time ago...” to a flashback sequence (which was set “a long time ago” before the rest of the film’s action; a clever and subtle joke). In Solo, there’s no crawl, but there are several screens of blue-on-black text explaining the backstory of the movie; how Corellia is a brutal planet lorded over by “CRIME SYNDICATES” where “hyperfuel” is one of the most valuable substances. It’s all the information that would go in a crawl, minus the great music and classic font and scrolling text. It’s like the worst of all possible combinations.
Maybe Ron Howard would have used the crawl on Solo if Lucasfilm hadn’t already set a precedent for the anthology films with Rogue One. Before that movie came out Kathleen Kennedy made it clear that the anthology film crawl-or-no-crawl question was something they spent a lot time discussing and debating. Ultimately they chose no crawl, and Rogue One didn’t necessarily need it. But Solo did. And it’s very likely the next anthology film will need one too. So why not use it? If you want all the anthology films to match, then just make Rogue One and Solo crawls and add them to their next Blu-rays. Who doesn’t love a Star Wars Special Edition?
Star Wars is bigger than any one character. It’s going to outlast all of its heroes. What is immortal and timeless is that John Williams score, and the dynamic logo and crawl created by title designer Dan Perri. Would you make a James Bond movie without the gun-barrel opening or classic Monty Norman theme? Of course not. They’re part of what make that franchise special.
Arbitrarily excluding part of what makes Star Wars special indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of why audiences go to see these movies. Nobody’s going to see Solo this weekend for “different” Star Wars; they’re going because they love Star Wars! If they wanted to watch a movie that wasn’t like Star Wars, they would watch to literally any other movie on the planet. If I pay $15 for Star Wars, I want the full experience. Crawl and all.
Gallery - Star Wars Easter Eggs in Non-Star Wars Movies and TV Shows: