A bit of early reaction to news out of Star Wars: Celebration Orlando.
Star Wars Celebrations are one of the most fun events you can probably go to. I had the privilege of attending a Celebration right before I went to college, and I had an absolute blast. You are surrounded by like-minded fans: people in costume, people going to panels, everybody is excited for the same thing. Unfortunately, when I attended Celebration there were no plans for a new Star Wars film. Comics were sparse and books weren’t really a big deal (okay, book six of nine….).
Now, everything has changed.
We have at least three new Star Wars films to look forward to. Marvel puts out a new comic weekly, one of up to four titles a week. Del Rey puts out five novels a year, different eras, writers, etc. We’ve reached a new age of diversity. Women have been given more writing roles this year: while Chuck Wendig and Tim Zahn opened the year, Christie Golden and Delilah Thompson take the next two slots. I would be surprised if The Last Jedi isn’t given to Claudia Gray or another female writer. The Young Adult literature is full: Claudia writing Leia while Beth Revis is taking on Jyn.
Surely, we’ve reached a new balance in the Force.
So, though we’ll discuss this in the podcast: what am I looking forward to?
The Last Jedi: Of course, any discussion on upcoming Star Wars products has to start with the cherry at the top of the mountain of Star Wars goodness-ice cream: the film! In the middle of December, Rey, Finn, and Poe’s journey picks up exactly where we’ve left off. The trailer doesn’t promise much in terms of story, which I am thankful for. But what it does show is the fresh look of the galaxy. After The Force Awakens showed a lot of the same, design wise, it is refreshing to see new frigates and ships and a new planet (seen for the first time, but not revealed newly).
Of course, we are all looking forward to this. Why would I write a whole article to say that I’m looking forward to what everybody else is? Because I want to say exactly why I am looking forward to it: because it is going to push our philosophy on the Force in a brand new direction. Luke seems insistent at the end of the trailer that it is time for the Jedi to end. Why? We may all have our theories (and look for my write-up on why I would end the Order soon), but how can the movie clearly push this idea on the audience? We all probably believe that the Jedi are the emobidment of the Light Side. But is this the case? I’m excited to see how Luke’s journey has changed his perspective on the Force.
The challenge for the film will be communicating this to a wider audience. Readers of the entire canon know of other Force sects already. We have the Acolytes of the Dark Side, the Nightsisters, or the Rockhawks. We also know about the Church of the Force, of which Lor San Tekka is a part of. But these haven’t been in the movies very long, nor do they factor in much of the canon as of yet. So, while they are important and help shape our views of the Force, where do we use them in a film? Or can the film make a case, based solely on Episodes 1-7, that it is time for the Jedi to end?
Captain Phasma: Phasma has been, rightly, in my mind, compared to Boba Fett very often. Both had a cool design, and both were pushed in the marketing of their perspective films. In the actual film, though, they didn’t do much. Boba follows Han and gets killed by blind Han with a stick. Phasma follows Kylo around and is dumped into a trash compactor. That beautiful, shiny, chrome armor was put to waste. Looks like Lucasfilm is looking to change a bit of that. The first item in the Journey to The Last Jedi is a whole novel based on Phasma. This book is a prequel to the Sequel Trilogy, so we might get a chance to see into the history of the First Order. Last year’s Journey to The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire is replaced by Journey to The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma! This is a sequel of sorts to The Force Awakens, showing how she escaped Starkiller Base.
I’m excited for these because it shows we live in an era where fan favorites, or mistakes, can be capitalized on quickly. The Force Awakens arrived at the end of 2015, but it is only two years later that we can start to pick up a focus on Phasma. I honestly wonder if we could have done something sooner, but Rogue One stood in the way. I know that I forget about everything else when I see Sequel Trilogy material. But this shows that Lucasfilm heard our complaint and is doing everything they can to make sure fan favorites, or could be fan favorites, are fleshed out more than a film can, and that can be done quickly.
Rebels Season 4: Hot off the heels of Zero Hour, in which Thrawn chased the Rebels off Atollon to Yavin, comes the trailer for Rebels Season 4. The trailer starts off retelling the story of the show so far. It frames the entire series around Ezra and Sabine, rather than Ezra and Kanan as we might have thought. This is already excited. It retroactively explains why we’ve had so few episodes on Zeb or Hera: it is not their show. Rather, the focus on Ezra and Sabine was always intentional. Though Sabine usually had B-plots, she is thrust into the center of the action. We also see other exciting features of the season: Hot Kallus, X-Wings!, and Rukh.
I’m excited for Season 4 for one major reason: it will be the final season. As heartbreaking as that is, and sounds, bear with me. When The Clone Wars ended, it was not given much of a fair ending. It was unceremoniously canceled at the end of Season 5. That might have been a fine place to end, in fact. But the rest of the series trickled out piecemeal. Two unfinished arcs were released on starwars.com. Half of Season 6 was released on Netflix. One arc was turned into a Dark Horse comic. Two more arcs were combined into the novel Dark Disciple. Many others are in various states of disrepair.
But Rebels now ends on its own terms. Filoni knows where the story was moving, and is content to get it there and leave it. We may not know this endgame yet (but it does not seem to be Scarif!), but Filoni does. That means that he can spend the next 15 episodes moving us toward a finale that is truly final. No piecemeal release of further episodes. No wondering about other characters who were left open. Rather, everything that they want to cover can and will be covered. I can breath a sigh of relief: a full story! Done on their terms!
There’s a lot to look forward to this year. I neglected to mention two other young reader books, From a Certain Point of View, Battlefront II, or the Freemaker Adventures Season 2. There’s just so much good coming! What are you excited for and why?