“If there’s a bright center in the universe, you’re on the planet it’s furthest from,” says Luke skywalker in response to C-3PO’s question about where he and R2-D2 landed. The first time we watch Star Wars: A New Hope, we have no reason not to believe him: Tatooine’s desert planet is almost nothing but sand broken up every now and then by a Jawa sand crawler or the bones of a Krayt dragon. The largest town we see, Mos Eisley, is small and seedy – a frontier town with no borders worth exploring. Tatooine is gloomy, empty and desolate.
Until it isn’t. Despite Luke’s claim to the contrary, Tatooine happens. It is the center of a huge crime organization. There is a thriving podrace scene. It is home to several giant monsters. It is where the One Destined to Balance the Power was conceived impeccably. In terms of the franchise canon, Tatooine is the “bright centerpiece” of the Star Wars universe – and I’m tired of it.
Tatooine can be seen in six of the 11 live-action Star Wars films: A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, all three of the original trilogy films, and The Rise of Skywalker. It appeared in both The Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons, and Din Djarin and Grogu visited Tatooine not once but twice during the first two seasons of The Mandalorian. And, for the record, Tatooine is mentioned by name in three of the remaining five live-action films.
I’m not annoyed that there’s so much Tatooine craze throughout the franchise that it’s causing a continuity problem with Luke’s original assessment of his home planet (okay, yes, it does, but I admit it’s nit-picking and my own cross to to wear ). It’s that every time the franchise returns to the desert planet, it wastes an opportunity to take us elsewhere. There are an estimated 100 billion planets in our galaxy, and I think it’s reasonable to assume that the Star Wars galaxy has about the same. But even if it only contains a hundred planets, there are still dozens and dozens of new places to bring around us, because every time we go back to Tatooine, the Star Wars galaxy feels smaller and less imaginative.
Tatooine has grown so big that even when the franchise moves to other worlds, it can’t escape the dusty shadow of the planet. In The Force Awakens, Jakku is clearly a Tatooine stand-in, intended to make fans scared off by the prequels in familiar territory – and to give new protagonist Rey as much of an identical origin as possible to Luke Skywalker. In The Rise of Skywalker, Pasaana—the world Rey, Poe, and Finn visit to find that Sith dagger—is yet another desert planet. And while we happily spend most of the time there in the big city, Rogue One’s Jedha is one of those too.
The bad thing is that it doesn’t have to be! You can blame the production costs or scheduling issues of returning to Tatooine in Return of the Jedi, but George Lucas had the technology to create any environment he could imagine by the time he started working on the prequels, like we do. saw the raging ocean world of Kamino in Attack of the Clones, and the volcanic lava planet Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith. But even those have an obvious foundation in real-life environments, and Star Wars is set in an alien galaxy that can take on anything, like the psychedelic jungles of Felucia, which we glimpse for a tantalizing moment when Aayla Secura is murdered in Sith. But, as it did in countless other ways, the last Jedi showed exactly how creative Star Wars planets can be. Crait, where the Resistance makes its last stand, is a planet covered in a crust of white salt that coats a red crystal core – leading to the stunning and wholly unique image of speeders separating the white and leaving a blood-red wake.
That’s what Star Wars could be giving us all along, but tomorrow The Book of Boba Fett premieres on Disney+ and takes us not only back to Tatooine, but also to Jabba’s palace as the ex-bounty hunter/ex-Sarlac- snack tries the Hutt as the area’s crime boss. And next year, the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series will almost certainly feature Tatooine, as the show is set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, when Obi-Wan serves as the galaxy’s most hands-off babysitter. And who knows how many more times the planet will make an appearance in all the countless Star Wars movies and TV series in the making?
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Perhaps The Book of Boba Fett will surprise us and bring Boba and his new best friend Fennec off the grid for a criminal enterprise after initially being chained to Tatooine again. I just want to see something new, damn it, and something that isn’t covered in sand. I don’t like sand. It’s rude and rough and annoying and it gets everywhere… just like Tatooine, come to think of it.
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