Star Wars 7: my Star Wars Fandom re-awakens?
I just got back from seeing the movie of the year; the movie that all geekdom was anticipating – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And I am torn. I was very cynical going in and I came out very conflicted. To fully understand where I am at now, perhaps I should look back to where I was.
It is well documented, especially on this website, my relationship with the Star Wars universe. I was heavily invested in it. When the RPG came out, I was initially reluctant but eventually bought into it. When the Expanded Universe came out, I too was reluctant but bought into it and loved it – comics, books and computer games. I was all-in after nearly 10 years absent from something I loved so much as a kid. Star Wars was one of my things for a long time.
From an RPG perspective, I really got into the universe, at least as far as the EU had shaped it. And of course, I shaped it even more with a group of friends for many years through two versions of the game. But then the prequels happened. And in short, they killed my fandom. Dead. Really dead. I sold everything I had. All my Star Wars RPG stuff was gone. My collectibles, toys, paraphernalia, everything. Gone. At the time, having a son that might be into it was the farthest thing from my mind.
Star Wars was dead to me.
I remained skeptical all throughout the Episode 7 hype. I have been nothing short of a grumpy old curmudgeon when someone would come to me with new theories or rumors. My skepticism was partially driven by what the new director did to my other love – Star Trek. He ruined it, as far as I am concerned. But as many people keep telling me, he was more a Star Wars fan then a Star Trek fan. I believe that but what kind of fan. What was his favorite part of the story? What elements of the movies did he like? What story did he want to tell?
I am fully convinced that in Lucas’s unfettered hands, the story would have gone to the toilet. When he took over part way through the making of Episode 6, it was quite apparent Star Wars was heading down an ugly path. And it did when he came back with Episode 1-3. We were just lucky he did not have full control from the beginning. He does not know how to tell a good story and let the merchandising decide the direction of it. That is what happened in Episode 6 and continued in Episode 1,2 and 3. For the best of all 6, he had others telling him h0w to tell the story, and once they gave up telling him no, the story took a back seat to merchandising.
I was encouraged, however, when I heard that for the first time in a long time, someone told him ‘no.’ It was JJ and Disney after they took over the Star Wars franchise. Apparently, Lucas had a plan and JJ and friends chose a “different direction.” Well, thank God for that because I would hate to think where you would have gone with, George! Moron! But that does not say JJ had a better vision. His vision for Star Trek was to turn it into a watered down Star Wars.
Now we come to the point where I left the theater with a storm of mixed emotions. I said I was reasonably entertained, and was not disappointed. It had some great moments, and also some flaws. But it did feel in-line with the original trilogy. Yea, in some ways it was a “remake-quel” but in many ways, the story was about more than that. And I think that was what surprised me. I liked the story.
I am also not sure how I felt about the “epicness” of the movie. It seemed somewhat tame. Yea we went from planet to planet but I never got the feeling I was in a new place of wonder. Where the original trilogy felt like an epic story and every planet was a place of wonder, this felt more like a TV epsiode and there wasn’t really anything special about the worlds. That is one thing I suppose the prequels did successfully – made each world unique and it’s own place of mystery and fantasy. However, some were just too hokey and contrived to feel believable.
Maybe I need to read the novelization. And maybe that is a sign of hope for my fandom. I never really was tempted to read Episode 1-3 books. But I really feel there was more to the story of Episode 7 then what we saw on the screen. It definitely was left wanting more. But has it resurrected my Star Wars fandom? Not sure. It definitely got me thinking about it.