Saturday, July 11, 2015

Let's Talk About Star Wars


Let's talk about Harrison Ford appearing at the Star Wars panel at San Diego Comic-Con yesterday.

That doesn't happen. Harrison Ford doesn't go to these things. Han Solo stood there, sounding optimistic about the space story he tends to disparage. The Original Trilogy stars reunited, and fans got another taste of what they might see this December.

And that meant something. It pulled together disparate thoughts I'd been having about what current fans will experience going forward into the Sequel Trilogy. To be honest, the stars aren't the draw for me, but Ford's appearance was one of many magical moments that seemed to say that the next Star Wars movie was going to bring something new and different to a story we already know.

On the other hand, the panel didn't reveal a lot of things I would have liked to see. We didn't see the CGI bodies of Snoke or Maz Kanata. There was no trailer, although there was a revealing, emotional behind the scenes video and a new character, General Hux, played by Domnhall Gleeson. No announcement of new directors or new plot points. In a way, we didn't get a lot of what we expected. But the reunion of the Original Trilogy stars - and a free concert and toy lightsabers for the people who attended the panel - made me forget all of that.

"You've been there," Mark Hamill said, and I think the fact that he seems to be speaking directly to fans is so important. It's a quiet promotional tactic, used in the teaser shown at Celebration Anaheim as well, and makes fans feel like they're inside the movie. It makes us feel like we originated in that universe instead of this one.

It confirms to us that we left part of ourselves in the Star Wars universe, whenever we saw it first.

And now, more people are going to see it for the first time too. I'm excited for the cascade of new tie-in material coming on Force Friday, even though I'm not a collector. In my work for Den of Geek and for Suvudu, I try not to let things slip through the cracks - every book, every piece of merchandise must be categorized as a news item.

I love doing that, as a job and as a hobby, but I also look almost fondly back on when I didn't know what Star Wars merchandise existed and what didn't. I could find something totally unexpected on the shelf, a rarity today. I could discover something in the wild, as surely as if I had discovered a lightsaber in a junkyard. I don't miss that now, but I remember it fondly.

There are going to be new fans doing that. They'll walk out of the theater after seeing The Force Awakens and find the A New Hope adaption by Alexandra Bracken, or Chuck Wendig's Aftermath. They'll have Rebels on TV. They'll learn about the Expanded Universe and  Legends, and take to both just as quickly, like Marvel fans take to multiple timelines.

Part of me envies them coming into the Star Wars universe for the first time. I wish I could experience that shining, enthusiastic confusion again, but I love the fellow fans I know now too.

Let's talk about how those kids who walk out of The Force Awakens won't understand why Harrison Ford appearing at a panel is a big deal, and how that's okay.

We did it yesterday. We'll do it even more in December. It's why I'm here.

Let's talk about Star Wars.

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