Last night I watched Star Wars episode 7 and I am reminded of all of the reasons that I love the Star Wars franchise. With the release of the new film it has reignited a flame that the American people have been missing since the release of the first prequel. I am not going to start into all of the reasons that the prequels are awful, because plenty of fans out there disagree and that is not what this is about.
There is a reinvigorated love that Disney has provided the Star Wars fan base and we now have a whole new generation of fans. Watching my nephew light up when he talks about the newest Star Wars video games is such a cathartic experience as a lifetime fan. Not just because it is Star Wars, but because I understand that feeling.
Everyone who truly loves the original Star Wars franchise understands that feeling. The feeling when you hear the music begin and the excitement in your eyes is palpable. The moment your favorite character appears on screen and delivers that first iconic line that sends you back to your childhood. Disney wasn’t able to re-manufacture that cinematic moment with the new film. They couldn’t do that if they tried but they were able to reimagine the continuation of the story while keeping true to the franchise.
Some people feel like it was a political statement by making the hero of the story a heroine. I disagree completely. I think the character development was substantial enough to have Rae as the primary protagonist was an ingenious idea. Plus there were nods in the film, that I missed the first time I watched it, that the writers intentionally tried to play up the juxtaposition between Rae and Luke.
The first example of this comparison that I noticed was the introduction of Luke as a character. When we first come across this fresh faced young man in ‘A New Hope’ you see a kid who is restless but knows he has a place in the universe. All young Skywalker can think about is getting away from his boring life, and subsequently the comfort of his family. This is what drives his motivation to pursue everything he encounters along the way.
When we compare the main character introduction, we find Rae at the opposite end of the character type spectrum. She was a loner, with no one she connected under tragic circumstances, and determined to stay in the bubble of the universe she knew. This needing for connection is not only used to show the differences in their characters but also to spotlight the things in life that you only appreciate when you are deprived of them.
This juxtaposition is intentionally powerful for fans of the franchise because we need a hero that we can relate to. So many small town kids watched Luke complain about wanting to get away from his small town and could relate to his character on a very fundamental level. When Disney made Rae’s character so different from Luke’s, it played to the same audience. Rae was the example of the small town kid who was afraid to leave because all they wanted in the world was to belong.
I can talk about the dichotomy of these characters for days but that wasn’t the point of this post. Star Wars let a lot of its fan base down, myself included, when we saw the mess of bad special effects and confusing interconnected plot-lines that was also known as the prequels. They knew that if this movie didn’t get back to its roots and create a story that payed homage to its central fan base while continuing a story that deserved to be continued right that they would lose a new generation of consumers.
Well I feel like Disney did it right, and yes there were a few things about the movie that I have issues with but nothing major and that is a huge feat for a fan such as myself. I like this new generation, and for my “nerding” purposes I am loving all the new paraphernalia. They are pumping it out as quickly as they can and as much as my wallet is hating it, my nerd brain is excited! So if you haven’t seen it, which I doubt you would be reading this if you haven’t, go see it! It’s a great movie and even if you have never watched a Star Wars movie in your life I know you will enjoy it.