Now that I’ve been through a repeat viewing of Star Wars VII I can finally commit my thoughts to words. It is not that I was particularly puzzled or unsure after my Thursday night premiere screening. No, it was that a packed theater and poor planning on my part left me in the 2nd row of an Ultrascreen with a neck craned at a 45 degree angle and an inability to see the greater picture at any given time. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it, but I knew I needed that visual scope to put everything together.
I first was introduced to Star Wars sometime in 1996 as a elementary school student who already possessed far too many dorky habits than was manageable. I had VHS copies taped off television, commercials and all. I nabbed as many of the now “Legends” EU books that I could absorb. I dragged my parents, a Trekkie dad and a mom who has only a minimal appreciation for science fiction to the Anniversary re-releases in ’97, and to the first of the two Prequels when I was still to young to drive. I saw midnight showings, bought action figures and posters, and despite the disappointing facets of the prequel films, I never lost the obsession that fueled my ten year old self years ago. Today I have a dog named Wicket, and received a Lego Millennium Falcon for my 29th birthday.
When Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced this new trilogy, and a full wipe of the EU along with it, I was upset. Really upset. Not even Jar Jar Binks could ruin my childhood memories; I had weathered that storm. But to bring fans into a new setting entirely, while stripping away so many great characters and conflicts from the series’ former canon? Sure, there were some absolute stinkers in there (I kind of want to re-read The Courtship of Princess Leia just for the masochistic campy nostalgia of it all) but Thrawn? Mara Jade? The Solo family, the death of Chewbacca, the New Jedi Academy?
I wasn’t alive when the Original Trilogy hit theaters, and the span of time between my initial introduction to the franchise and the release of Episode III was nearly 10 years. “My Star Wars” was an experience too late for the release of the originals, yet too early for the prequels. I grew up watching and rewatching IV, V, and VI till the tapes grew fuzzy, but “My Star Wars” experience as a child was oddly just as much the books, the filler in between and the stories that came after the second Death Star exploded over Endor.
That’s all gone now. It’s in the “Legends” canon, an alternate timeline set aside so Disney can create something new with the characters it paid so much for.
After seeing The Force Awakens twice now… I’m actually ok with that.
I’d be lying if I said I spent the whole of that film doing anything other than grinning like a total idiot. It felt like Star Wars. I felt like a child. Though apprehensive after the trilogy’s announcement, once the teasers and trailers hit I allowed myself to get hyped up. I permitted myself to be excited, and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. It channeled everything silly and thrilling and mysterious about the original films. It felt right. And if they can handle a film so well, then maybe the new EU will be alright too. Besides, I read so many of those books before I was even a legal adult, and with glasses so rose tinted they were nearly opaque. It even appears that the new regime is drawing some inspiration from the old EU as well as drawing the obvious parallels between films. (The degree to which I want Rey to wield a double bladed yellow saber a la Bastila Shan is overwhelming.)
I’m ok with this. I am optimistically ok with this.
With proper homage to the old, a dearth of promised new titles, and 500-some days until Episode VIII, I think my childhood is going to be alright afterall.