I can remember the very first time I saw Star Wars. I was hanging out with my neighbor, who was a few years older than I was and we were looking for a movie to watch. He asked if I had seen this movie called “Star Wars.” On the cover were three characters holding laser guns and a dark looming figure in the background holding a laser sword. Surrounding these characters were robots, spaceships, explosions, and what looked like Bigfoot. I had no idea where I was about to be transported. Two hours later, I was in love.
My family would rent the Star Wars trilogy every weekend from then on and I’d be transported into a galaxy far, far away with each viewing. I still remember the time we accidentally rented “Enemy Mine” starring Dennis Quaid because it sat next to the Empire Strikes Back on the shelf. I was devastated that I wasn’t able to train with Luke as he strove to become the last Jedi. When the remastered VHS versions were released, my Christmas list was one item long. I vividly remember opening that present and racing downstairs to once again join the Rebellion in their struggle against the Empire.
When the prequel trilogy was announced, I was beyond excited. This world that I had inhabited as a child was about to double in size. We were on the verge of fully understanding the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker. I couldn’t have predicted the disappointment I would feel after walking out of the theater after finishing Revenge of the Sith almost ten years later. The prequel trilogy was inelegant, cumbersome and only fleetingly felt like the Star Wars I grew up with. It was the trilogy that was made for this generation, which meant the space operas that comprised the original trilogy were transformed into clunky action movies and became a showcase for the latest effects from ILM.
This past week, when it was announced that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm and that a new Star Wars trilogy was on its way, I was hesitant to celebrate. If the prequel trilogy was a made for this generation of movie-goers and was almost universally panned, what new low could Disney take this new trilogy? How true would they stay to the vision of Star Wars that began and ended with George Lucas? These were only some of the questions that were spinning around in my head.
Afterall, the original and prequel trilogy had told a complete story. We grew up with Anakin Skywalker, saw him fall to darkness, grew up with his son, and saw Luke Skywalker save and redeem his father. There was no other story to tell. The Skywalker saga was complete. I know that the expanded universe has told hundreds of stories that continue the saga, and I would be the first to praise their contributions, but the two trilogies told a complete and fully concluded story. This new sequel trilogy opens the door to the continuation of a story that had already finished. Learning how Luke restored the Jedi Order might have made for an interesting book but I can’t think of any reason why the movie would be appealing within the context of the greater saga.
I think that was the thing that scared me the most, the unknown. If a sequel trilogy could be made without a compelling, story driven reason, what else could happen? Could I trust Disney to honor the saga by creating worthy sequels or were we on the verge of a conveyor belt of inconsequential movies with the Star Wars brand printed on them.
In the end, I think I’m worried that my children won’t be transported into the same universe that I was. I’m afraid that Star Wars will be so watered down that my children will dismiss the newest movie as “just another” Star Wars sequel.
I’m afraid that with each new journey into a galaxy far, far away, the joy and wonder I still feel when watching Star Wars will slowly fade away.