Depending on your age, you’ve seen the cinematic Star Wars machine come to a halt twice; once in 1983 at the end of Return of the Jedi, and a decade ago when Revenge of the Sith ended. Each time fans were left wondering if they’d ever see their favorite characters on the big screen – or any screen, ever again. We were initially told “no”, which made the reaction to Lucas’ announcement that he would be filming a prequel trilogy all the more insane considering we knew where the story ultimately led. The white whale was always the “sequel trilogy” in the post-Return of the Jedi era, where the future of Luke, Han and Leia would unfold. There were whispers about it as far back as 1983, when George Lucas told Mark Hamill that he might one day bring Luke Skywalker back to the big screen in the Obi-Wan Kenobi mentor role. But that was all we got, and this was not the age of social media, where nobody forgets anything, so once the credits rolled for Revenge of the Sith, it was over forever. Then came Clone Wars, both and we got our dose of Star Wars there, temporarily anyway.
Then the 2012 sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, and we were reborn with a reaction similar to the announcement of the prequel trilogy, but amplified exponentially by the age of social media, clicks and pageviews. But first, another long, torturous wait. Would we have it any other way? What is the lead up to a Star Wars movie without a three year wait?
We’ve now seen two teasers, two trailers, 16 TV spots, and countless ads, interviews, and fan theories for The Force Awakens. Our imaginations have been running wild with each image or piece of news that trickles out and pandemonium for The Force Awakens is at a fever pitch.
Before we plunge in to the deep end with The Force Awakens, we should take one last chance over the next nine days to realize what is about to happen to the Star Wars franchise as a whole, and to Star Wars fandom.
The saga as we know it about to change, forever.
Let that sink in, because I think it’s getting lost in the excitement. Yes, we should be excited for the new addition to the Star Wars saga. We should be amped to see the story grow and unfold, but fans like comfort, and the Star Wars story as we know it is about to be reframed. Permanently. Officially. Forever. No longer will it be the neat, cozy, tidy six-film saga that gave us the rise, fall, and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. The events of The Force Awakens will no doubt give birth to an entirely new story, and we’ll be out of our comfort zone to a degree. Star Wars has always been a gargantuan monster on many levels, but it is about to take yet another step and become something else entirely.
With Disney in the driver’s seat, never again will we face the prospect of no more new Star Wars. We’re about to embark on ride that will most likely take us through the rest of our lives, however long they may be. I’m grateful for this. For all of it. For all that has been, for all that is, and all that will come. I’m grateful for the passion that it has instilled in me, and for the countless hours of happiness it has brought to my life. It was always there, like a favorite blanket. It was predictable, yet the same things that excited you as a kid held up in to adulthood.
As we move in to the next era of Star Wars, we’ll be welcoming a new generation of fans who don’t know who Han Solo is other than that he’s old. What’s a wookie? Certainly, a lot of these kids are more familiar with Kanan and Hera than Luke and Leia. They’ve got a Chopper Christmas tree ornament instead of R2-D2. As this new group of fans join fandom, they’ll shape the future of the franchise with their voices, and eventually, their wallets.
Star Wars is about to change and no matter when you entered fandom, no matter what your gateway was, some time should be set aside before the premiere of The Force Awakens to acknowledge and appreciate the ride we’ve been on for the last 38 years because apparently, the ride is just beginning.
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