May the Fourth be with you. How many articles have you read that started off that way today? Remember when being a nerd wasn’t cool? No neither do I. In honor of International Star Wars Day and the fast approaching start of a new trilogy I thought it was time to break down the most famous trilogy of all time in this month’s edition of The Franchise.
Core Concept: People tend to think that Star Wars is about the Jedi. It’s not. It’s about the Skywalkers. That is to say that it’s a space opera that draws its inspiration from old historical epics all of which when you boil them down are generational sagas. It’s also about the dichotomy that exists inside us all. Our capacity for both good and evil and all the little choices that lead us to those places. Anakin and Luke may be father and son but they are also two sides of the same coin. Any good Star Wars story needs two things: It needs a family to root for and it needs a character who is fighting for their soul. Without those it doesn’t matter how many Death Stars you build or Sith you fight it’s just not Star Wars.
Essential Moments: “Han Shot First” – He’s a scoundrel with a heart of gold sure but he’s still a scoundrel. “Do or Do Not. There is No Try.” – The moment when Luke and the audience begin to understand what being a Jedi really is. “The Redemption of Anakin Skywalker”- It’s the happy(ish) ending that we didn’t even know we wanted and proves that no one is too far gone to come back to the light.
Rouges Gallery: There have been literally dozens of great villains to emerge from star wars especially the expanded universe and the great thing is that they come in all different shapes and sizes with different motivations from galactic domination to just getting paid. The big bad driving force behind much of what we have seen in the Star Wars universe is the Emperor who even after his death is responsible for most of the wrongs our heroes are forced to make right. The fact that he is only a menacing hooded hologram for much of the series just makes him that much cooler. You can also throw Bobba Fett (the anti-Solo) and Darth Vader (the anti-Luke) into the list as greatest ever but for my money its Grand Admiral Thrawn all the way. Here is a dude so talented at military tactics that he can get the super xenophobic Emperor to forget about the fact that he’s an alien. Also he put our heroes through the ringer like no one else proving you don’t have to use the force to throw down.
Best Stories: “The Empire Strikes Back” – Yoda, Hoth, Cloud City, “I am your father”, Bounty Hunters, this is the crème de le crème of Star Wars stories made even better by the fact it ends on a cliff hanger; “The Thrawn Trilogy”- Timothy Zahn’s novels are an example of everything that the Star Wars saga should be. They may not be cannon any more (R.I.P. Expanded Universe) but they are still a must read for any fan of this franchise.
NEVER DO IT THIS WAY AGAIN: The Phantom Menace– With a little time and a whole lot of the Machete Order the faults of Episodes II and III can be forgiven, after all Return of the Jedi isn’t exactly perfect either, but there is no amount of time long enough to forget the horrors of Episode I. Was it the racist caricatures, the over the top special effects, or the blossoming of weirdly age inappropriate relationships I really don’t know. But it was bad. Really, really bad. There was nothing salvageable from this one. Well okay except the lightsaber battle at the end. That was pretty cool.
That’s it for this edition of The Franchise. I’m off to watch the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus throw a miniature Star Wars parade called Shoeboxus. Because that’s a thing. A very awesome thing. Until next time: Trust the Force!