The Force stays strong for 'Star Wars' on page, screen
05:00 AM, Jan 06, 2013
The Star Wars universe looked pretty big when Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star using The Force, of course way back in George Lucas’ original 1977 movie.
Now? More than 35 years of toys, games, books, comics and two trilogies of films have created a truly massive galaxy far, far away that is very much right at our fingertips. It’s just going to get larger, too: A new trio of movies begins in 2015 as a result of Disney’s recent $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm.
“Our fans stick with us whether there seems to be a large theatrical release or not,” says Dave Filoni, supervising director of Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which is now in its fifth season and has surpassed 100 episodes.
Those who are already picking out their Stormtrooper armor or Jedi robe to wear to midnight screenings of the seventh film installment two years from now have plenty of Star Wars product to consume in the meantime. This year alone there will be theatrical re-releases in 3-D of the prequels Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith; multiple monthly books from Dark Horse Comics; six novels; two cartoons; and a pair of games, including a new LEGO Star Wars and Star Wars 1313, which lets fans explore the underworld of the planet Coruscant.
For those needing an immediate fix, here are three things to dig into this month:
‘Star Wars’ comic
Many are waiting to see if the original actors who portrayed the Star Wars holy trinity of Luke, Princess Leia and Han Solo Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, respectively will reprise their roles in future movies. But the characters themselves star in Star Wars, a comic debuting Wednesday.
Writer Brian Wood catches up with the Rebel Alliance a week after the destruction of the Death Star (in the first movie), and characters figure their places in life and the emotions that go with the tremendous losses they feel.
“That’s something never addressed in the films, and it doesn’t have to be because the films have a very traditional mythic structure to them,” Wood says.
Luke’s gone from being a farm boy to galactic hero in a matter of days; Leia’s just watched her home planet of Alderaan get annihilated; Han is wanted by the Empire and intergalactic gangster Jabba the Hutt; and the recently demoted Sith lord Darth Vader can’t put a handle yet on who this Luke kid is that just took down his space station. (Vader hasn’t figured out yet that Luke’s his son, a major moment in the 1980 filmThe Empire Strikes Back.)
Leia, a political figurehead for the rebels, plays a starring role in Wood’s series as she’s the one tapped to head up a squadron of X-Wing fighter pilots to find a new planetary home a plot point that has met some online opposition from male fans, says Wood.
“If Luke, a farm boy in the sticks, can be a fighter pilot, she can. It’s like us getting a driver’s license when you live in a galactic world,” the writer says. The movies “have her established as proficient with weapons and speeder bikes and surviving torture. It seemed like a no-brainer that she could do a lot more than wear a beautiful gown and be in a meeting.”
‘Star Wars: Scoundrels’ novel
Timothy Zahn’s 10th Star Wars novel Scoundrels, out now, explores the same era as Wood’s new comic. But instead of going the sci-fi route, Zahn has crafted a heist adventure starring Han Solo, Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca, gambler Lando Calrissian and a gang put together to steal millions back from a corrupt high-profile official connected to the Black Sun criminal syndicate.
Zahn’s first book in 1991, Heir to the Empire, kick-started an expansion of the Star Wars “Expanded Universe.” Set five years after the end of the Return of the Jedi film, it spurred fandom to read about a married Han and Leia and the new bad guy Admiral Thrawn.
The author had started his research years prior, though, when he’d record tapes of the audio from the movies and play them for his son on long car trips.
“I never realized until I started writing that that had given me a better ear for dialogue how Han, Luke and Leia said things because I had heard them without the distraction of the visuals,” Zahn says.
“The reader is going to want to be able to hear Harrison Ford delivering the lines I write in my book. If I can capture that, I’ve got them.”
‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ animated series
Arguably nothing has done more to keep the mythos of Star Wars thriving than The Clone Wars series, which follows young Jedi Anakin Skywalker before his turn to the dark side and transformation into Darth Vader.
Airing Saturday mornings (9:30 ET/PT) and now in its fifth season, the series taps into the Clone Wars, a long conflict pitting the Separatists and their droid army vs. the Republic and its Clone Troopers (a precursor to the Empire and Stormtroopers). The battle was mentioned in the original Star Wars movie and takes place between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Along with featuring familiar faces such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Chewbacca, Clone Wars has also brought back the left-for-dead Darth Maul and introduced several new and popular characters such as Maul’s brother Savage Opress; cold and calculating outlaw Cad Bane; Anakin’s young Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano; and Pre Vizsla, the leader of the Mandalorian Death Watch who sports armor and a jetpack much like that of the enigmatic bounty hunter Boba Fett.
Filoni says there is a certain “Boba Fett factor” when it comes to certain Clone Wars creations: “Someone can basically have four lines and they’re like the greatest character.”
When he was a child, Filoni was saddened during the first movie when he learned that Vader killed Luke’s father. But he says the movie reveal of Anakin as Darth Vader is “pretty shocking” for today’s generation of fans, who are often exposed to Clone Wars first.
“That’s a way we accidentally put a new spin on a very old scene and in a lot of ways super-charge it for kids,” Filoni says. “They get pretty upset with this Darth Vader guy. They can’t understand why Dad likes him so much.”