From time to time, the Star Wars saga crosses our minds here at Midlife Crisis Crossover. Occasionally it’s a serious thinkpiece; usually it’s poking fun; either way, it’s coming from a longtime affectionate immersion in that phenomenal universe. In honor of the upcoming release of The Force Awakens, the seventh chapter in the live-action film canon as rendered by director JJ Abrams and a cast of whippersnappers and old folks alike, we present the following suggested reading list of essays and gags from MCC’s past. These entries may be undiscovered experiences for new followers, pleasant reruns for our longtime associates, or the perfect drugs for anyone who’s fiending for any form of consumable entertainment with the words “Star Wars” in or on it.
For a virtually complete revue of every major Star Wars entry we’ve ever posted, you can follow MCC’s “Star Wars” tag and, among other omissions, take a tour of every convention and event we’ve ever attended that drew a large turnout of Star Wars cosplayers, including our experiences at Star Wars Celebrations II and III. And don’t forget we were just talking about it a few days ago, though that entry’s far too new for the “archives” label and is therefore disqualified from inclusion. Maybe if we do this again for Episode VIII.
Enjoy, rest assured this list contains no real spoilers for The Force Awakens, and MTFBWY!
On October 30, 2012, a full six months after MCC’s inception, our first entry with “Star Wars” in the headline was me pondering the shocking news of Disney acquiring Lucasfilm and what it might mean on a number of fronts. I wasn’t terribly off-base in some respects:
If Episode VII follows numerical expectations and takes place after Return of the Jedi, don’t expect a faithful adaptation of any of the scores of Star Wars novels already written in that era. Granted, all those preexisting post-ROTJ stories would be the easiest starting point for a big-screen relaunch, but the new filmmakers would be under no obligation to take them into consideration, any more than the staff of Star Wars: the Clone Wars cared when they wiped out several Karen Traviss novels’ worth of Mandalorian culture in favor of their own blander interpretation. (That’s how my wife describes the results to me, anyway.) Fan of the Star Wars six-movie canon should be pleased no matter what happens. Fans of the novels’ tightly run continuity have reason for grave concern.
Just over three months later, Disney announced their first several ideas for future Star Wars films and side projects as they warmed their hands in preparation of milking their newest cash cow before it had the chance to savor a single ounce of cud. I argued that surely Disney would have their limits:
Slapstick on Dagobah — A ninety-minute art film that’s just one long scene of Yoda having dinner with Fozzie Bear. Basically, it’s an excuse for Frank Oz to show today’s young voice actors how it’s done.
Not even two months later, Disney proved they did have limits, when the culling of preexisting products began with the cancellation of the Clone Wars animated series. It wasn’t perfect, but Anne and I stuck by it for every season, which is more than we can say for Rebels:
The dramatic stakes were pushed so hard that characters from the live-action movies sometimes died, creating an unexpected sense that in the grand scheme of the Star Wars universe, The Clone Wars truly mattered. I’m sorry to see that chapter in the saga decommissioned and sent to the Star Wars graveyard of misfit concepts, especially since my wife and I have nephews who were rather fond of it.
By August 2013, JJ Abrams and first-round screenwriter were hard at work laying new tracks for George Lucas’ unstoppable sci-fi machine. Then and now, even before the new characters and planets were thought up, we fans had our hopes and dreams of what new Star Wars tales should be and do:
* A cranky, fed-up Han Solo shooting first in every scene, even if he’s the only one with a gun.
* Luke driving a 20-story-tall mech, like a Pacific Rim Jaeger except in a movie many Americans will go see
Less than a year later, The Force Awakens was filming and fans were dying to know more, desperate enough to settle for whatever dull blurry, spoiler photos the sad paparazzi could steal for them. I took the opportunity to mine our modest collection of previously unpublished Star Wars-related photos and had a grand old time recontextualizing them because photo captions can be super fun.
3. Stuffed Ewoks look on in horror, paralyzed and defenseless against the madman who holds them captive with sinister, Saw-like plans in store.
Meanwhile in retirement, George Lucas announced plans to build a George Lucas Museum somewhere in the Chicago area, which would be really convenient for us if only those jerks in Illinois would stop with the whole “NOT IN MY BACKYARD!” rejection and sell the man some acres already. But we know not every aspect of his career will be subject to scholarly preservation. Sample exhibits not to expect:
6. “Flannel! Flannel! Flannel!: a Manly Anti-Fashion Revue”
5. “The Art of Star Wars Slashfic”
4. “How Many Anakin Skywalkers Can YOU Out-Act?”
One of my favorite, hardest essays to write this year. The first half is a remembrance of the dismantling and dissolution of the original DC Universe that occurred during my teenage years and left a number of hardcore readers cold and bitter. And yet DC lived on. The second half is the lede: our take on the nullification of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, which meant a lot to my wife, for the sake of new generations and storytelling opportunities. The TL;DR version: Yeah, I’ve actually been there, it sucks, but some responses are more zealous and way more overboard than others:
When you think that you and a company have a quote-unquote “understanding”, it’s never fun when they pull rank and dispel the notion. It’s a form of rejection. And some people take rejection better than others. Some can’t handle rejection. At all.
Last October the final full-length trailer for The Force Awakens premiered during late-night sports and was followed by the unleashing of a million disparate theories on what every single frame of it meant. I tossed in my two cents with a meticulously time-coded breakdown and can’t wait to see how totally right I was about everything. Or maybe not:
0:44 — Boyega waits patiently for his driver to come bring him to the set
0:50 — Krypton’s constantly exploding red sun is now a failing tourist attraction
0:52 — A proud Franz Liebkind gazes upon the horizon
0:53 — Darth Q*Bert
That name again: Star Wars. Have some, won’t you?