We’re just 10 days away from the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t do something to commemorate the event. Many other sites are already going overboard in the celebration, but I’m going to keep it simple. This list of six applies to anything in the Star Wars universe, and is not just exclusive to the movies. Why six instead of ten? Because that’s what my heart says is a good number. Also I couldn’t think of anything else, so feel free to add to the list!
Timothy Zahn publishes the Thrawn trilogy: Nine years after the release of what we thought was the last movie, Return of the Jedi, the franchise was reinvigorated with the release of these three books. They introduced a slew of fascinating characters, but the coolest of all was Grand Admiral Thrawn. Zahn provided some excellent back story information on the Star Wars universe after ROTJ and before the first film – although much of it has since been altered to fit Lucas’s new trilogy. Many fans (including yours truly) have felt for a long time that this trilogy should have been the one Lucas produced to follow the original, rather than his own mess of a story.
Vader’s Jerry Springer moment: With five simple words – “No, I am your father…” – Darth Vader’s revelation to Luke Skywalker during the climactic battle of The Empire Strikes Back completely changed the tenor of the series. In the process, it became one of the great “WTF?!” moments in movie history. After this, the series was no longer documenting the struggle between good and evil, but between father and son. Sadly the impact of this moment is dulled a bit since the so-called prequels already make this revelation totally irrelevant to everyone but Luke. But there’s no denying the importance or impact it once had.
The TIE Fighter game is released: While 1993’s X-Wing was the first game to successfully immerse the player in the Star Wars universe, 1994’s TIE Fighter introduced a welcome element to the experience – the ability to play as the Empire. Why was this such a great thing? Because as Lord Helmet put it, “Evil will always triumph because good is dumb.” So for anyone who always knew that the Rebel Alliance was nothing more than a bunch of upstart sniveling little toads, TIE Fighter provided a very cathartic experience. Oh yeah, and it was like a good game.
George Lucas announces The Phantom Menace: Admit it – even though The Phantom Menace is now regarded as a turkey by all but Lucas’ most fanatical followers, we were all a-twitter at the prospect of a brand new Star Wars movie. Before the film’s release in May 1999, all we had was hope. Hope that seeing the story of Darth Vader’s origin would be as cool as it had been built up to be. Hope that the technical marvel that was CGI would be used responsibly, and to add another dimension of wonder to an already visually appealing story. And lastly, hope that the three new films would fit in seamlessly with the original trilogy and serve to enhance our appreciation of Lucas’s original vision.
Darth Maul kicks ass: Of all the “updates” made to the Star Wars universe for the new trilogy, one that worked quite well was the new style of lightsaber battle. In retrospect, the battles in the original trilogy (with the possible exception of the Luke/Vader Throne Room fight) look rather clumsy and plodding. Not so in the new trilogy, and definitely not so with the criminally underused Darth Maul. In his final showdown with Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, ol’ hornhead flipped, spun, and kicked his way into our hearts. The dual-edged lightsaber was simply the geeky icing on the cake.
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