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Archive for the category “Star Wars”

From the Rescued to the Rescuer – Princess Leia

The Star Wars trilogy is a series of films that is primarily focused on character arcs. While there is a broader story going on with the Rebel Alliance challenging the might of the evil Galactic Empire, these movies are not meant to be broad history of that conflict. Instead we see the war through the eyes of a select few group of characters, primarily Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Han Solo. However, today’s article is not about any of the men in Star Wars, but on the lone female presence in the movie: Princess Leia.

This really should be obvious, but if you are one of the poor souls who has not yet seen these movies, there are many spoilers to follow. Why are you reading this instead of watching those movies already?

Princess Leia

If there is one criticism I have against the original Star Wars films it would be the lack of female characters. The original film has Luke Skywalker’s aunt Beru and Return of the Jedi has Mon Mothmaand The Empire Strikes Back… maybe it has some female civilians in Cloud City? I don’t honestly remember. My point is that these movies do not have an overwhelming female presence. Fortunately, it does one of the best female characters in a major blockbuster film series. Princess Leia Organa is not treated as inferior to her peers or as eye candy for the male audience (usually…), but is a fully fleshed out character with her own set of skills to contribute to the adventures of everyone else. I kind of view her as analogous to Wonder Woman: clearly the only female presence on the team, but also enough of a personality that she never feels like the odd one out.

I have previously discussed that the basic structure of Star Wars follows classic medieval tropes: knights, wizards, castles, that sort of thing. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Leia’s character: she is named Princess Leia and is placed in the position of being the damsel in distress. While this trope was played out even then, Leia manages to subvert this by.. well, not being in distress. More like a damsel in dire straights. She isn’t stupid, she isn’t weak, she doesn’t show fear. She shoots a stormtrooper in the beginning of the movie (right after we’ve seen these things mow down rebel fighters like they are nothing), so we know she can handle herself. Darth Vader has her tortured but she doesn’t give any information; even when her home planet is destroyed by the Death Star she doesn’t give away the actual location of the Rebels. The fact that this woman is captured and held hostage is more a mark for the Empire than it is against Leia.


One of the defining aspects of Leia’s character to me is her reaction to her rescue; she constantly points out the flaws in the plan Luke and Han have concocted, but doesn’t sound like she’s whining. The tone is of somebody who knows how to pull off a rescue mission and is having to deal with two numbskulls who don’t. She convincingly assumes command of the group by showcasing her intelligence and willingness to risk her neck.

Leia’s role as a leader is expanded in The Empire Strikes Back where she is the one who gives orders to the Rebel pilots during the escape from Hoth. It’s clear that she is comfortable leading an army, which makes Empire perhaps the movie where she is at her weakest. Not in a bad sense, but when she’s stuck on the Millenium Falcon with Han Solo she doesn’t exactly have a lot of resources to work with. She’s got a cocksure loose canon pilot who’s routinely shown to care more about himself than anyone else, a prissy protocol droid, a wookiee who she can’t understand, and an entire Imperial Fleet on her tail. Staying true to the dynamic of their relationship from the first film, she doesn’t view Han as being overly competent until she’s around him long enough for him to show that he can be capable when he wants to be.


Empire is an example of developing a character during quieter moments; Leia doesn’t have to stay strong in the face of her enemies as much in this sequel, so we get to see her be a little more emotionally vulnerable. And I don’t mean emotional weak, I mean open and exposed; real. She’s obviously used to taking action and tries to help Han however she can even though most of the situations are out of her control, and it’s also clear that she’s more used to being a leader than a partner. Leia is authority, and Han challenges authority, which she finds both frustrating and attractive. Han and Leia’s romance is one of the more organically created ones in Hollywood history. The characters don’t seem fated to be together, the just get thrown together through circumstances and get to know each other and find that they actually like each other.

While Leia started as a strong damsel in dire straights in Star Wars, she becomes a more fleshed out, human character in Empire Strikes Back. Which is really the general goal of this movie on the whole. The first movie introduces the archetypes and gives us a bit of a glimpse into the characters, but is more about telling the story of an adventure. Empire is the middle act where characters are developed, given layers and humanity, and consequently the stakes are raised because we now have a strong emotional attachment to the characters. Leia’s defining moment in Empire is when she makes an attempt to save Han Solo from the bounty hunter Boba Fett, firing helplessly at his ship as the man she loves is carried away to some distant planet. She may never see him again, and that is a powerful moment that sets up Leia for greatness in the third act.

Someone Who Loves You

Return of the Jedi is something of an uneven film, with some glaring weak points in the narrative but arguably the greatest thrills and most emotional resonant moments as well. It is also where we get to see Leia at the height of her “action heroine” capability. She sneaks into Jabba’s palace as a Bounty Hunter to save Han Solo; the woman who was rescued is now the one doing the rescuing. This whole first act is so utterly brilliant because we never have a scene where the heroes discuss their plan, so we don’t even know there is a plan at all until the pieces fall into place. We never see Leia dress up as a hounty hunter; we just assume that some bounty hunter has captured Chewbacca and wants money from Jabba. Then the bounty hunter frees Solo from the carbonite, and we still don’t know until that glorious moment when reveals who she is.

And seriously, everybody talks about the gold bikini, but this is the real moment where every Star Wars fanboy fell hopelessly in love with Leia. She rescued her beloved when there was no way for him to escape, risking her life to do so. In short, she’s a dashing hero who has come to save the day. I don’t really know what it feels like to be a girl who falls in love with some handsome knight in shining armor, but I have to imagine it’s pretty similar to how we feel when Leia takes off her helmet and kisses Han. Is it emasculating? Maybe? Who cares? Leia is freaking awesome.


But okay, let’s talk about the bikini. The infamous golden bikini. Now there is clearly an argument to be made that this is a wholly unnecessary thing in Return of the Jedi and reduces Leia to being a sex object. It gets worse when one considers the extreme lack of other women in these movies. But to me, this was never really a huge fanservice moment; there’s not a lot of sex appeal in seeing this awesome hero reduced to slavery at the hands of the despicable Jabba the Hutt. Within the context of the story, it’s more unsettling than anything. My most distinct memory of Leia in this outfit is not when she’s sitting there like this (though I do love her looks of annoyance and disgust), it’s when she turns the leash around on Jabba and strangles him, killing off a major villain who has made life a living hell for the person she cares about most.

Leia has plenty of other action scenes throughout Empire, but it’s this opening act where everything comes full circle. She is now in the opposite situation that she was in when the saga started. While the Star Wars movies still have a long way to go in terms of presenting a film that doesn’t have a male gender bias, Leia is an example of how to do a character well. When somebody asks me to point to strong female character, she’s one of the first that pops in my head. It’s a combination of Carrie Fisher’s acting, how the character is written, and Leia’s overall role in the universe that makes her one of the standout characters in a movie series full of excellent character development.


The Top Twelve – Original Star Wars Characters

When I talk about my love for Star Wars, most of it is relegated to my affection for the original trilogy of movies: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. While there are things from the prequel trilogy that I do enjoy, my feelings are generally negative. As for the expanded universe, very little has caught my attention; the only thing I really got into was Knights of the Old Republic. But the original movies hold a special place in my heart, and rather unexpectedly have become a pretty major part of my blog since I started writing.

I love the story, but I really love the characters, so I thought it was only fitting for the second edition of my “Top Twelve” countdown lists should be about Star Wars and the characters in. This list is a mix of my personal enjoyment of the characters as well as a more objective analysis of how well defined and developed the characters are. Also of note, this only refers to the original trilogy; while many of the characters appear in the prequels (some in major ways), those movies and the character development (or damage) will not be factored in for the sake of this list.

Jabba the Hutt

#12. Jabba the Hutt

Jabba the Hutt is first mentioned in Star Wars as somebody who Han Solo owes money to. This debt provides Han Solo’s entire motivation for Han’s charter flight to the doomed planet of Alderaan. We get the impression that Jabba is an extremely powerful crime lord and not the sort of person one would want to cross. When the bounty hunter Boba Fett captures Solo and takes him to Jabba to collect on the bounty, we are finally granted the opportunity to see Jabba on screen. The heroes’ quest to rescue Solo from Jabba’s clutches takes up most of the first half of Return of the Jedi, and we see that Jabba is more nightmarish than we imagined. A hutt is an enormous slug-like alien, grimy and ugly and if Jabba is any indication, clearly not wanting for anything. Jabba’s palace, the cast of characters and Jabba himself create one of the most memorable atmospheres in Star Wars, and he was definitely a memorable villain.


#11. Chewbacca

Chewbacca is Han’s extremely memorable co-pilot, a wookiee who brings both brawn and brains to the team. Throughout the trilogy Chewie is shown to be a capable pilot and mechanic, an intimidating physical presence, and most importantly, a loyal and caring friend. Chewbacca is a triumph of movie making; it took Peter Mayhew’s physical presence and acting, a great costume design, animatronics and stellar sound effects to bring Chewbacca to life. The fact that he is such a fully realized character despite having no words we can understand is really pretty incredible.


#10. The Emperor

Want to know how to make a great villain that perfectly sums up most people idea of The Devil? Look no further than the Emperor; despite only appearing for one brief scene in The Empire Strikes Back and the last half of Return of the Jedi the Emperor makes an indelible impression on the story and its main character. While Darth Vader is the primary bad guy in the series, the Emperor is a perfect example of “the bad guy behind the bad guy”. Vader is the weapon, but the Emperor calls the shots. He’s creepy, manipulative, sadistic and tremendously entertaining.


#9. R2-D2

Everyone’s favorite little astromech droid, R2-D2 is one of the first two major characters we are introduced to in the original Star Wars film, where he is tasked with bringing a message from Princess Leia to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Artoo tends to go wherever the action is, proving to be an invaluable asset to Luke Skywalker and company. He helps Luke on his mission to destroy the Death Star, accompanies him to Degobah for his Jedi training, helps our heroes escape from Cloud City and Jabba’s palace, and nearly succeeds in disabling the second Death Star’s protective shield. He’s extremely useful and even more endearing. I haven’t met any Star Wars fan who doesn’t love this guy.


#8. Lando Calrissian 

Most of the key heroes in the Star Wars trilogy are introduced in the original film, but The Empire Strikes Back does introduce us to new characters, which essentially fill voids from the first movie. Han Solo was the morally gray space pirate in the first movie, but by the end of it he is a hero who has saved his friends. In The Empire Strikes Back he is put in the position of being a hero, taking care of C-3PO and Princess Leia as the Millineum Falcon is pursued by the Empire. With Han now playing the hero, Lando brings back the morally gray aspects that Han did. But he is his own stand alone character, in many ways opposite of Han. He is charismatic, outgoing and puts other people ahead of himself, but he makes compromises that make him almost become an unwilling villain. Lando is perhaps our greatest insight in how the Empire controls the rest of the galaxy who aren’t openly rebelling; he is pressured until he finally fights back to save his friends.


#7. Yoda

With Obi-Wan Kenobi becoming a Force ghost after the events of Star Wars, Luke Skywalker was a student without a master. In The Empire Strikes Back introduced us to the Jedi Master Yoda. A diminutive alien brought to life by the voice and puppetry of Frank Oz, Yoda initially introduces himself as a comedic, useless and potentially insane old creature that Luke meets on Degobah before revealing who he truly is. Yoda is a source of some of the movie’s best humor, but more importantly he is the one who teaches Luke (and us) how the Force works and the way Jedi are expected to act. Yoda taught us to be patient, to not give into our fear and hate, to embrace knowledge, and to never judge people by their appearances. He is iconic for a reason; the character, as he was presented in these movies, was almost flawless.


#6. C-3PO

C-3PO is our guide and narrator in the Star Wars universe; the character with the first line in the series and the one who goes on these wild adventures while being more or less unable to affect the outcome of the events going on around him. He is as helpless as we are, and often as confused and afraid as we are, so we connect with him. But aside from just being an audience surrogate, C-3PO has a well-defined character; prissy, worrisome, and bumbling, he is great comedic relief who plays very well off of the characters around him. And he has the essential duty of translating Artoo’s chirps and beeps for us. To me, it isn’t Star Wars without Threepio.


#5. Obi-Wan Kenobi

While Yoda was an excellent new mentor for Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi was the original and still the better of the two… slightly. We are introduced to Kenobi as “Old Ben Kenobi”, an old man who lives in a desert. He takes Luke Skywalker under his wing, reveals that he was friends with Luke’s father, and manages to enlist Luke on his quest to save Princess Leia. Alec Guiness’ performance is really what makes this character work, but Obi-Wan is an essential character who helps set the stage for the mythology of the franchise and starts Luke on his quest to become a hero.


#4. Princess Leia 

It speaks extremely well of the strength of Star Wars’ characters that a character as awesome as Princess Leia could only make it to the number four spot. Princess Leia starts as an actual damsel in distress; by which I mean, she’s a woman who is captured by forces she can’t defeat and needs to be rescued by allies. We know she can take care of herself; she’s smart and tough and can handle a blaster, but she’s got the whole Galactic Empire breathing down her neck. Once she’s free, she helps to save her rescuers on more than one occasion, and in the last two movies she is anything but weak. I will get more into Leia’s progression from damsel to rescuer in a later post, but I will simply say this: Leia is perhaps the golden standard for strong female characters in blockbuster movies. And she is one of the coolest, most capable princesses ever.


#3. Han Solo

Some will balk at Han being ranked so low on this, and I can understand that sentiment; Han Solo is my favorite character from Star Wars. However, in terms of importance and overall character development, I feel he’s a notch below the two people I put ahead of him. Han is one of the most clearly defined and iconic characters in cinematic history; cocksure, selfish, ruggedly charming. He’s the definitive rogue, the guy who gets by on his smarts and his guts and a lot of dumb luck. Solo does make the transition from self-absorbed crook to a loyal friend and freedom fighter, but he never loses his edge. That’s why we love him. He brings a unique element to the heroes of Star Wars and is arguably the most memorable character from the movie.


#2. Darth Vader

For those who have not seen Star Wars (and there are surprisingly large amount of people who haven’t), I will not spoil any of the exact details of Darth Vader’s character arch. What I will say is that Darth Vader is a magnificent villain, with an iconic physical presence and fantastic voicework from James Earl Jones that make him extremely intimidating. He goes from being kept on a leash in Star Wars to being the active antagonist of The Empire Strikes Back, a film which brings us new revelations and shows that Vader is a real person behind the mask. The sympathy and character shift make Vader one of the most compelling characters in Star Wars, but it is his image that is what is most iconic; when people think of Star Wars, I imagine that Vader’s look, voice and the signature breathing sound effect are what first come to mind.

Luke Skywalker

#1. Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker is the character that I most readily identify with, but probably the character I took the longest to appreciate. I was always more drawn to the “cooler” characters of Han and Yoda and even Darth Vader. Now that I’m older and have been more involved in creative processes and understand what makes good writing, Luke’s greatness as a character is much more obvious. No character starts lower, grows more, or reaches greater heights that Luke. He starts as a poor kid on a backwater planet with no attainable goal in sight. Then he starts training to becoming a Jedi, and becomes a hero of the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire. He finds strength in his friends and his allies, but also learns to embrace his own strength. When we first see him he is angry and reckless, but by the end of the series he not only shows his vulnerability, but shows that there is strength in compassion. In short, he starts out as someone like us, but grows to be what we all aspire to be; a hero. And an awesome, swaggering, powerful one at that.

Star Wars Archetypes – Bickering Droids & Space Pirates

George Lucas’ 1977 space opera adventure film Star Wars is perhaps the most successful film ever made. The universe, characters, mythology and themes of the movie and its sequels have entered the collective conscience of the public in a way that very few films before or after have ever been able to do. While not the greatest movie of all time, it may be the best example of the artform’s potential to impact the world, for good or ill. There really is nothing quite like the phenomenon of Star Wars; there is a reason that small children of this generation know who Darth Vader is despite the character making his debut nearly forty years ago.

Last week I took a look at the main characters of the original film and explained their origins in medieval fantasy archetypes: there are mighty wizards and kidnapped princesses and a simple farm boy who becomes a valiant knight. But Star Wars is obviously not solely inspired by fantasy; science fiction is just as much of an influence on the world. While Star Wars isn’t true science fiction and is more of an epic fantasy in space, there is certainly science fiction elements; the most important is the space travel and the robots called droids.


Through the Eyes of Peasants: R2-D2 and C-3PO

While the main characters of the first Star Wars are Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, they are not the first characters we are introduced to. The first twenty to thirty minutes of the movie are told not from the perspective of the mighty heroes, but from the perspective of two “droids”, the robotic helpers of the Star Wars universe: C-3PO and R2-D2. R2-D2 (often affectionately called Artoo) is an astromech droid that is charged with the duty of getting Princess Leia’s call for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the old Jedi Knight living on the desert planet of Tatooine. C-3PO (called Threepio for short) is a protocol droid, basically an interpreter fluent in over six million forms of communication, goes along for the journey for his own safety, and the two droids escape to Tatooine and eventually end up caught by small sentient aliens called Jawas and sold to Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle.

While an interpreter robot and a hacking/repairing machine on treads are hardly the most qualified heroes, they do serve a vital purpose to the story. Through them, a message is sent to Luke and then to Obi-Wan about Princess Leia’s capture; they are the messages, the minstrels if you will allow the comparison, who give our heroes the information they need to get them going on their adventure. While they are not the heroes, Threepio could be called the narrator of the film; the story is told from his perspective for the most part. Artoo is one of the great achievements of movie magic, especially the sound design of Ben Burtt, who was able to create a personality for the character using electronic beeps and whistles.

These two are also an example of another great influence on George Lucas’ work; the legendary Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, who would often use peasants (the lowest class in feudal Japan) to tell the epic stories of the upper class and the samurai warriors in his films. While one could argue the merit of that separation of class in Kurosawa’s films, I think most would agree that it works for Star Wars; the two droids may be the lowest class of beings in the universe, but they are among the movie’s most endearing characters.


The Voice of Reason in a Fantasy Setting: Han Solo (and Chewbacca)

If there is one character from the original Star Wars film that exploded in popularity, it is the charming but selfish and questionable smuggler Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford. One cannot discredit what Ford brings to the role; the man is full of charisma and it is difficult to imagine anybody else in any role that he plays. But on a baser level, Han Solo is an edgier, morally grey character in what is otherwise a black and white morality tale. The Empire is evil and the Jedi Knights are good, and then there is Han Solo, who is just out for himself. He’s not a bad person by any means, but when we are introduced to him he owes a debt to a gangster named Jabba the Hutt and he needs money to pay off that debt; this is his character motivation and any heroic action he performs for most of the film is motivated by that need to survive.

This is an understandable viewpoint, so most of us don’t begrudge Han Solo for having it. It doesn’t hurt that he is witty and charming and just seems like a cool guy to hang out with, even if we don’t really trust him. He is quick to point out logical flaws in our heroes; he doesn’t believe in the Force and he doesn’t believe in foolish nobility when there are other, safer options. But as he and Luke work together to rescue Leia they start to grow close and Han does end up saving Luke at the end of the movie for no other reason than friendship. It’s satisfying to see that while Han may not be noble in the traditional sense, he has a sense of honor.

Chewbacca is an alien called a Wookiee and communicates only through growls and the body language of Peter Mayhew; again, he is a tribute to movie magic as the actor, costume design and sound effects make a fully realized character despite not being able to speak English. While he may seem inconsequential, his very presence shows that Han Solo can have friends and that they are important to him; Han is equal partners with the Wookiee and affectionately calls him Chewie. It softens him in a way that isn’t detrimental to the character and helps make it believable that he will later have a soft spot for Luke and Leia.


While they are not the main characters of Star Wars, Han Solo, Chewbacca and the droids are spectacular supporting characters that add a lot to the film; the universe would feel incomplete and lesser without them.

Princesses, Knights and Wizards – Archetypes in Star Wars

I feel like my generation has a responsibility to their children to make sure that they see Star Wars at a young age when kids can still feel the magic and not be numb to the experience because of modern blockbusters (including the upcoming new Star Wars movies). I feel like George Lucas’ 1977 epic space opera film should be on any list, short or long, of “Films to See Before You Die”. And the two sequels, but those are different articles for another day. But the original movie is one of those very special movies that transcends the typical influence of even great films; the characters, stories and ideas have achieved an almost religious level of impact on fans of the universe.

After all, none of us would be getting goosebumps from watching The Force Awakens trailer if Star Wars wasn’t special. Star Wars is truly movie magic. And there is a lot to them that is worth discussing, so I will not treat them as I do regular movies. Because they aren’t, and pretending that they are is kind of ignorant. Star Wars has impacted so many people, introducing many of them to the very basics of storytelling in a brand new way without us even realizing it.

Today, I am going to talk about the archetypal storytelling devices introduced in the original Star Wars movie. Largely because I’ll be referencing the themes of this article a lot in this blog’s lifetime and it doesn’t make sense to sit around waiting to explore them.

The Death Star

Heroes Fighting Villains In Their Fortress

In terms of storytelling structure, Star Wars has more in common with stories about King Arthur and Merlin that traditional science fiction stories. While the story involves futuristic technology with spaceships traveling to different planets, it also has elements of medieval fantasy: there are knights and princesses, pirates and wizards, and evil overlords hiding in a big scary fortress. The elements are simply adapted for the genre. Instead of knights in shining armor we have Jedi Knights with laser swords. Christianity and a belief in magic is replaced with “The Force”, a mystic energy field that exists in all living things. And instead of a dark wizard with a dragon in a dark tower, we have a cyborg wizard with a space station that can destroy planets.

Star Wars is able to resonate with viewers on a level that other space-based books and television were unable to. While science fiction primarily focuses on discovery and looking towards the future. George Lucas’ story is about adventure and heroism, and it’s that combination of genres that gave Star Wars its unique identity.


Darth Vader, Face of Evil

Star Wars is somewhat unusual in that the villain is the first major character introduced to the audience and the primary protagonist isn’t introduced until about twenty minutes in. The opening scene of Star Wars is so brilliant that it deserves its own article examining it, but for now let’s simply talk about Darth Vader’s entrance. After a posse of Stormtroopers lay waste to rebel fighters, this imposing figure clothed in black walks through smoke and observes the destruction silently. All we hear is an unnerving breathing noise. The next time we see him is holding a man up in the air by his throat. His presence is undeniable and we get the sense that while this army of Stormtroopers is bad news, Darth Vader is more powerful than any of them.

One of the smartest decisions about the narrative of Star Wars is that the villains are always winning and feel like an insurmountable obstacle. This creates tension and makes us want to root for the good guys. This is what great villains do to a story; help us invest in the heroes’ struggles and victories. And while there are more than a handful of Imperial Officers in this movie who outrank Vader, make no mistake: Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers are the face of evil in this movie and they are extremely effective in that role.


Saving The Princess

If the knights and wizards aren’t enough to convince someone that Star Wars isn’t based in medieval fantasy, then let me put it this way. The driving narrative force of this movie is that the heroes go into the bad guy’s castle to rescue a princess. This isn’t even changed to something more “space age”; Carrie Fisher’s character is called “Princess Leia” and the first scene of the movie sees the bad guys kidnap her and the rest of the movie is about rescuing her. This is a base reduction of the plot of course, but that’s the point I’m making; Star Wars makes use of common tropes but they work because the characters are well established and memorable, and the story is engaging.

While Leia is something of a damsel in distress in the first movie, it’s more because of the forces she’s up against that any fault of her own. She’s not helpless; she’s shown to be an excellent shot and a resourceful strategist. But against the might of Darth Vader and the army he has at his disposal, there’s not a lot she can do when she’s thrown in prison. Despite that, she still manages to come across as an intelligent and commanding presence who is not intimidated by anyone. Leia is perhaps the perfect example of using a trope that’s usually considered negative and still writing a character is interesting and likable in their own right.

So we have our villain, who is awesome, and our damsel in distress. All we need now is a knight! And Leia knows just the man for the job…


The Wise Old Man

…or not. When Princess Leia uses the droid R2-D2 to send a message to Obi-Wan Kenobi and says that he’s “her only hope”, she probably doesn’t realize that the Jedi Knight is an old man. When we are introduced to Obi-Wan it’s clear that he was once a great warrior; he has this wickedly awesome weapon called a lightsaber, after all. But now he is old and a bit frail, but still has a keen intellect and the Force as his ally. But one look at this guy and we know he isn’t going to be the hero of the story. The knight needs a squire, which leads us to the real main character and true hero of the story.


Luke Skywalker – The Hero

Luke Skywalker is one of my favorite heroes of all time. He starts out as an “everyman”, a poor farm boy who wants to do something more exciting with his life but doesn’t have an opportunity to do so. But when his Aunt and Uncle buy two droids who are being hunted down by the Empire, Luke’s family is taken from him and he chooses to do something special with his life. By the end of Star Wars he becomes a hero, and it feels earned. He’s struggled and suffered but he refuses to give up even when it looks like there’s no way to win. He’s an archetypal protagonist that generates empathy with most audiences because we see ourselves in him.

Luke and Obi-Wan are a classic example of student and mentor. Obi-Wan is a Jedi, a great hero with strange weapons and stranger powers that Luke doesn’t really understand. Luke asks questions and learns about the Force and the Jedi, and we learn the same information because of this. It’s a dynamic that makes expository dialogue seem less awkward and I feel is kind of a lost art in many movies. Obi-Wan also helps to establish the character of Darth Vader by explaining that he was once his student before turning to evil. Through this we understand that Vader has the same kind of powers that Obi-Wan does and that makes him more terrifying, and we understand that Luke must learn the ways of The Force in order to fight against that threat. The start of a character arch is established and Luke has a clear goal to work towards.

These characters and storytelling elements are the foundation that Star Wars is built on, but the world is much more than just these main characters. The next time I take a look at the adventures in a galaxy far, far away, I will look at the supporting characters that help bring a unique identity to the world and story of this epic movie.

Anyone Else Excited For Star Wars?

Yes, the question is rhetorical. I can’t imagine any except for the most stubborn of Star Wars fans not being swayed by the most recent trailer. It’s perfect. It managed to do something that very few trailers manage to do these days; get us excited without spoiling any details about the characters or the plot. Unless you’re someone who voraciously searches the web for every bit of Star Wars news and are just watching the trailers, you don’t know these new characters names. All we know is that Johnny Boyega is a stormtrooper who clearly needs some help from some woman, there’s an awesome real life droid that moves on a spinning ball, some new Sith-inspired baddie with an army of newer, sleeker Stormtroopers, and there’s all the iconic ships we grew up with…

…and oh yeah. Han Solo, Chewbacca and Luke Skywalker showed up. We have new footage of Han Solo and I don’t care this his hair is white. This is Star Wars. This is the universe I know and love and want to spend more time in. It’s just bigger and shinier. But not too shiny. It still has a lot of the grit and reality that made us believe in the original trilogy.

In short, it’s pretty much everything I can realistically ask for.

A New Hope

While this blog is dedicated to wrestling and comic books as well as movies in general, I have to admit that my very first “geeky” love was Star Wars. I mean, I liked wrestling. I liked X-Men and other comic books. But I loved Star Wars. I obsessed over it, I watched the movies over and over again (even the prequels), I played Knights of the Old Republic several times over to get every piece of content I possibly could, and even did rough drafts of my own Star Wars movies.

Man, I was really never very cool was I? How did I survive my high school years?

Anyway, the main point is, I loved Star Wars and I didn’t think anything was ever going to change that. But then I grew up a bit and watched a lot of movies that were better than Star Wars and started to really pick apart what made a movie good or bad. This growth had a supremely negative effect on my view of the prequel trilogy. I always knew that Episode I, II and III weren’t as good as the original movies, but I wasn’t able to quantify why at the time.

The realization that the Star Wars prequels were ultimately failures because of George Lucas’ total control on the movies without someone to reign him in or point out the flaws were was a tough pill to swallow. My distaste for George Lucas grew more and more as he continued to make terrible edits to the original masterpieces. I finally just accepted that Lucas had no appreciation for what he had created and the impact that it had on so many people.

I fell out of love with Star Wars. I still liked the original films, but I just didn’t care the way I used to. My first crush had grown up into this rebellious, idiotic thing that didn’t understand why it was beautiful.


When Disney announced that new Star Wars films were going to be made and that J.J. Abrams would be directing them, I didn’t quite know how to feel about it. My passion for Star Wars had faded by then, but I was a fan of Abrams and his work on the new Star Trek films was certainly a good thing to have on his resume. He was clearly a fan in the same way we were and was determined to make something great. So the potential for greatness was there. It was just hard to get overly optimistic about it when the franchise had done so much to burn me in the last few years.

Ultimately, my initial reaction to this announcement can best be summed up with the following sentence.

“Well, it can’t be any worse than the last three Star Wars movies.”

But now that we are only a matter of months away from the release and I’ve seen pictures of the sets and seen how much practical effects there are going to be and how much nostalgia is going to mix with the new, I’m on board. I’m convinced. I’m sold out and I want it to be Christmas so badly.

My crush has grown up and found somebody knew that reminded them why they were beautiful. I watched that trailer and I cried because I was so happy.

I love Star Wars again. And that is a great feeling to have.

Force Awakens

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