Star Wars day is officially upon us. With Disney premiering the first episode of their clone wars spin off The Bad Batch, and fans everywhere sitting down and attempting to binge the entirety of the 9 “episodes” that make up the core of the franchise, and adding in Rogue One and Solo. And a few very brave souls subjecting themselves to the ewok adventures, and whatever this thing going on with life day is. I couldn’t simply let the day go by without at least saying something about it.
I have been a science fiction fan for as long as I can remember. One of the first books I remember reading on my own, who’s title I can no longer remember, was about a boy, who discovered an android, and became his friend. I dreamed of a world filled with robots and spaceships. And imagined what it might be like to be one of the first colonists on Mars. Seriously, there is even a newspaper article about the biome type settlements I helped design as part of a youth science project in the late nineties.
In the years that have followed, I have added to the list shows like Stargate SG1 and Atlantis, Firefly, Farscape, and of course Doctor Who. Books Such as Angelmass By Timothy Zhan, 7th Sigma by Steven Gould, and the Ender Saga by Orson Scott Card Not to mention Classic by the likes of H.G. Wells or Issac Asimove. But before all of that, for me, there was Star Wars.
My first encounter with the franchise came in 1995 when my parents purchased the VHS box set re-release with THX audio. This was before the special addition when Han still shot first, and we didn’t meet Jabba the hutt until C3PO and R2-D2 encountered him in Return of the Jedi, and a misheard line in The Empire Strikes Back, caused my brother and I to refer to AT-AT’s as Tierial Walkers.
We loved those movies to death, watching them practically on repeat. And sat on the edges of our seats through the 1997 special additions. In 1999, with the release of Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, I begged for an Anakin Skywalker action figure plus podracer for my birthday. And when I finally got it, it quickly joined my collection of most prized possessions. Completely overshadowing the trip to the amusement park that same day.
I was too young to really be aware of the criticism of the prequels at the time. Each one was just new Star Wars to me. Episode II – Attack of the clones was the first midnight premier I ever attended. Which was a little more than my twelve year old, undiagnosed autisitic brain could handle. But I will never forget the excitement When Jedi Master Yoda pulled out his lightsaber. And for the first time, we saw what it meant to be the Jedi master.
In hindsight, that battle feels anti climatic, The CGI feels cheap. And with all the hype, it seems like the film just can’t live up to the expectations placed on it. But sometimes I think we forget how cool it was when it was new, fresh, and on the cutting edge of computer generated imaging technology.
We got to see R2 fly, and Yoda literally caught lightning. These things seem normal now, In a world with shows like The Clone Wars. But at the time it was amazing, we had only ever seen Yoda as an old man, with bad jokes and a poor demeanor, who occasionally shared small bits of wisdom with the rest of the cast.
As a teen I became heavily invested in the extended universe, listening to audio books, and reading anything I could get my hands on, from Ashes of the Empire to Children of the Jedi. I was heartbroken, when I learned Disney would not be using any of that material in the sequel trilogy, yet still I waited anxiously for each film as it was released, including both Rogue One and Solo. As an adult, I may have different opinions on some of these things then I did as a child. The glasses of youthful wonderments have long since fallen off of my nose, as my more developed brain views the world through an ever increasingly critical eye. And I have formed plenty of opinions around the likes of Kathleen Kenedy and Ryan Johnson. But today, those opinions aren’t really important.
Today, we celebrate a shared love for a universe that has inspired our imagination, and ignited wonder in the eyes of multiple generations. No matter where you stand on the sequel, prequels, or whatever else the current controversy is. There will never be another Star Wars, and so long as there are space wizards with laser swords, I will be there.
So thank you Georg Lucas, for sharing with us The Galaxy Far Far away. And to everyone else, May the Fourth be with you!