This article contains spoilers
Star Wars became a pop culture phenomenon the moment it hit the scene. The sweeping, adventurous science fiction space opera, filled with intense family drama, discovery of self, and inner strength has won the hearts of millions worldwide. Despite its ongoing success and ever-growing, deepening fan base I have yet to meet someone who loves every single film, animated series, video game, book, and graphic novel. The scope of the Star Wars universe is so vast and diverse that it has attracted just as a diverse audience who can’t seem to agree on what makes this universe so magical. George Lucas revolutionized the film industry with his determination to bring his abstract ideas to life. Who would have thought an ongoing space drama would ignite the imagination of the whole world?
Safe Space: The Original Trilogy
If someone told you they never watched Star Wars before, where would you make them start the story? The way George Lucas intended it? Episode IV, A New Hope? Or would you suggest starting at the beginning with Episode I, the Phantom Menace? I have heard of parents introducing their children to the saga in the sacrilegious way of starting with Episode I. Those poor misguided younglings…
There is something sacred about the original trilogy. The saga started out as an underdog, with everyone involved having minimal expectations of its outcome. The success it saw overnight upon its release astounded it’s creators, paving the way for the next two installments. Out of the three original movies of the trilogy, everyone has their personal favorite, but everyone agrees the original trilogy is the best trilogy. It doesn’t matter which of the three movies you love: A New Hope as it is the introduction into the universe we’ve all grown to love; The Empire Strikes Back is where we see new and diverse landscapes, learn more about the mysterious Force and see a budding romance between two very opposite beloved characters; or The Return of the Jedi where we see the rebellion finally claim victor over the evil Empire and a final resolution to the complex family issues that span two generations.
Do you remember the first time you watched these magnificent films? How did you feel then? How do you feel now when you revisit them?
There is tangible magic that breathes life into Star Wars. We can all feel it. We get excited about it. Even casual fans are passionate about it. It is unanimous: the original trilogy is the best trilogy.
What Happened: The Prequels
No one asked for it, but when we all first heard that the Star Wars universe would once again be gracing the silver screen we ALL were excited. Where would the story pick up? How would it be developed? How would George bridge the gap between the last generation to the next? How would Anakin Skywalker’s descent into darkness be brought to the fore and how would this all leave us feeling?
When Episode I, The Phantom Menace, was released I was young enough to “enjoy” it for what it was. I had become a huge fan by the time I was twelve years old, but even at that young age, I wondered what the heck George was thinking. Nothing about the sequels was close to what I had remotely imagined the story would be like. When “Old Ben” briefly reminisces about his good friend Anakin Skywalker the storyline played out very differently in my mind from what George delivered to us as cannon.
I will never forget the feeling of betrayal and utter disappointment as I watched, on premiere night Episode III. Unpopular opinion: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith is the worst of the prequels. Here is why: The first twenty minutes of the movie seemed like it was filmed by amateurs, in a silly, comedic blooper-like medley of insulting jibs and ridiculous puns as the fate of the Galactic Republic is at stake. Twenty minutes of film that should have hit the editing room floor and forgotten forever. Twenty minutes of on-screen time that could have been used to a sweeping portrayal of the downfall, the onslaught massacre of the Jedi. Instead, we get less than three full minutes to mourn the key figures of this endangered, almost extinct order, as Order 66 sweeps the galaxy.
By the end of that film, I wanted to rage, as “Annie” did. This Annie is NOT okay. George got lost in the details, forgetting what mattered most. He lost focus, and those closest to him, in his creative realm, let him wander in the madness. He had forgotten the big picture and got sidetracked too many times along the way. The story we were left with was cobbled and lacking. The key players felt like cardboard cutout marionettes dancing to an off-kilter haunting unmelodic tune.
I haven’t gone full dark side. Yet. There is some good that came from the prequels. Ewan McGregor was magnificent as Obi-Wan Kenobi. I am beyond excited to see him return. Duel of the Fates is one of the most memorable, intense pieces of classical music created in modern times. The lore of Darth Maul was so compelling that fans demanded he is resurrected from the dead and given a key role in the animated series the Clone Wars. We got introduced to Boba Fett’s back story.
For a clip of Duel of the Fates click below:
I have found in many discussions that younger people tend to like, even love the prequels. It’s what they grew up on. I can understand that, from a certain point of view.
What are some things that you enjoy about the prequels?
The Mouse Becomes Our New Hope: The Sequels
Would you believe I predicted Disney would acquire Star Wars? I was ten years old and, in mixed company, someone asked me who my favorite princess was? I took a moment and thought about it. I wanted to say Ariel, but the moral of her story was to change yourself to find your prince. I wasn’t okay with that. Then, I wanted to say Belle, but she too sacrificed her independence at the incessant demands of a beast-man. Jasmine was a bit cocky to be a role model, running away from home thinking that’s how she could escape her problems. None of these princesses would do.
Who is the best princess? Princess Leia: composed, diplomatic, strong-willed, can handle herself when things get tough, not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, unwilling to change herself for a dashing, rascal smuggler. She is a true role model.
I gave my answer: Princess Leia. I was told to pick a Disney princess. I refused and repeated my answer. “But she’s not a Disney princess!” “Yet,” I finished. The “yet” prompted a response from two grown men not even invested in the conversation. “That will never happen, little girl!” “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” were the unsolicited replies I received. What other Empire would have the resources to acquire Star Wars? There is only one answer: Disney.
When I heard the news that Disney had officially acquired Star Wars and there was to be a sequel trilogy I was ecstatic. This news gave me a new hope (pun intended) that everything I had hoped to see would come to fruition.
They did not disappoint. Love them or hate them, the sequels paved the way for our expanded view of the galaxy we love. As someone who has read every expanded universe novel, I have enjoyed watching the creators of the new stories pull influence and ideas from this lore and sculpt it into something new. New tales are being told within the universe, but the Galaxy still feels like home.
(Featured here is my personal Star Wars collection.)
Kylo Ren was everything his grandfather, Vader, should have been. I had been waiting to see a villain of his caliber since the original trilogy. I finally received him. The ongoing battle between dark & light, the return and departure of beloved old characters, and nostalgia re-lived was the cathartic experience we all were hoping for.
I do understand some of the gripes people have about the new trilogy, but overall I am willing to overlook some of their imperfections for what they have given us in return. Disney wants to give us fans what we want. They are listening.
Rogue One was a breath of fresh air for all of us tired of the Jedi/Sith drama. We got to see the story told from the point of view of the normal people of the galaxy fighting to make a difference. The execution of the film captured the Star Wars essence without trying too hard or making things feel forced. (No pun intended). I went to see it with some friends and afterward, I turned to them and said, “You ask me why I continue to read Star Wars books and keep up on the lore. THIS is why. These are the stories I keep tuning in for.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story was a fun ride. Alden Ehrenreich was an odd choice for me as a young Han, but I did my best to enjoy the story for what it was. There will only be one Han Solo: Harrison Ford.
When it’s Mando season, every Friday or Saturday you get asked, “Have you watched the Mandalorian yet?” Everyone wants to know if it’s “safe” to talk about the new episode. The hype for what is going to happen next is alive and well. The story is beautifully crafted and delivered and we are compelled to stick with our favorite characters as they brush shoulders with some key players for the galaxy at large.
Jon Favreau gets it. He understands the bigger picture. He is creating with all of us in mind. For this, I am thankful. I hope to see this mentality from creators in the future for the next Star Wars projects.
Star Wars is a story that binds us together, flowing through our imaginations, keeping the human spirit bound to the determination to make the galaxy a better place. Whatever story, timeline, or character you are drawn to keep the imagination alive for the next generations.
Why do you love Star Wars? Share with me in the comments so we can keep the lore alive.