The past week has been notably lacking a new Star Wars film in cinemas. It didn’t have to be this way, I think everyone is in agreement that May’s Solo would’ve done at least a few more quid at the box office had it been delayed to December. I’ve been making use of this lull in the film release cycle to catch up on the few remaining books and comics I’ve yet to read, ahead of everything that’s set to come in 2019.
The past 3 years have consisted of 4 films, 25 novels, 35 graphic novels and 11 seasons of animated shows. How did I end up here? A fully fledged Star Wars canonista, aged 30. Seeing A New Hope live in concert last month reminded me of the moment where it all begun for me over 20 years ago.
I was at a family gathering sometime around Summer 1997. Some of my relatives were in another room making a big deal about having a copy of A New Hope on VHS. I can’t remember for sure which point I joined them in watching the film, I think it was when Threepio and Artoo’s escape pod lands on Tatooine. I had no prior knowledge of Star Wars and I probably only watched a scene or two that night, but I was intrigued by what I’d seen. Luke staring out at the binary sunset still stands out in my mind from that first viewing.
I had no idea at the time that this was the height of a renewed interest in the franchise thanks to the special editions being released in cinemas. Shortly after I managed to borrow a boxset of the trilogy and watched all three original films in full.
I’m grateful for my introduction to Star Wars. It will always feel like old stories passed down, rather than something that belongs to me. I think this has helped me in subsequent years to respect and accept the stories that creators chose to tell in this universe, instead of having some delusional sense of ownership that leaves me offended when I don’t like decisions made by those trusted with the saga (no, it’s not my Luke, it never was).
The years that followed were interesting. We were all aboard the hype train (we didn’t call it that back then) for the release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. In my childhood innocence and unbeknown ignorance, it was a while before I realised the consensus was that the first of the prequels wasn’t very good. This didn’t change much for me and I spent the time between this film and the next figure collecting, lego building, game playing and comic reading.
We didn’t have the luxury of a film a year at that time, or even film every other year. I was 11 when The Phantom Menace came out in 1999 and 14 when Attack Of The Clones followed in 2002. A lot changed for me in that time. Even more changed by the time Revenge of The Sith was released in 2005. At 17 my mind was occupied elsewhere in life and my interest in Star Wars was a footnote to everything else going on. I eventually saw it at the cinema and didn’t give it much thought after. The revival years were done. I’ll admit, the tail end was mostly lacklustre.
I had a passing interest in the franchise after this, but my collection of merchandise I’d amassed remained boxed up in the loft for the best part of a decade. I was apprehensive when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and announced it was planning to make more films. It wasn’t until the Autumn of 2015 that I gave any thought to the new release upon us. I allowed myself to be quietly excited about seeing The Force Awakens in cinemas and booked tickets for opening night. Before I knew it I was counting the day, hours, minutes, watching episodes 1 – 6 in preparation.
Thursday 17th December 2015 was a beautiful day, and it will be a day long remembered. The film was a welcome return to the series and left me feeling bitten by that same bug from Summer 1997. Before the year was out I’d started on the Star Wars Rebels animated series. Once I’d caught up on this I dived into years worth of The Clone Wars, a show I barely knew existed. By July 2016 I was at Star Wars Celebration in London. It was a good time to be a reborn Star Wars fan.
This past year has been a little rockier, the divisive response to The Last Jedi has left the fandom feeling a bit more like 2005 than 2015. Sure, the negativity is amplified by the sarlacc pit that is social media, but this is nothing we haven’t seen before. Looking to horizon I’m optimistic about the release slate offering something for each generation of fans. I’m planning to write more about the saga as it continues. Thank you for allowing me, in true Star Wars fashion to go back in my story before stepping forward.