I’m not sure how old I was when I watched Star Wars on VHS for the first time. But it doesn’t matter. It was boring to me, and with A New Hope opening on two non-communicative Droids who go from arguing on a space ship to wandering aimlessly through the desert, it’s no wonder a child would immediately lose interest.
I was born in 1986, three years after the theatrical release of Return of the Jedi, so in between learning to walk, speak, and read, I was eventually able to get around to all three original movies. As a kid (and this opinion still fluctuates to this day), Return of the Jedi was my favorite. It kicked off with a Cantina Scene (the best part of A New Hope) with Muppets and Monsters in Jabba’s Palace; a lightsaber-wielding hero cutting up jabrones; a would-be savior frozen in time; and a scantily-clad Princess in a tremendous pickle.
Of course, there’s an admirable silliness to Return of the Jedi that fades away once we get older and start to see it for what it is. But for whatever-year-old me, it was everything. And it made me love the other two movies contextually, appreciating the complete story, learning that there are highs and lows in the films, but–as in life–it’s best when you appreciate the good for the bad.
Of course, none of it was particularly bad, it was just uninteresting to me at that age. But it was the vastness of the universe, the diversity in the characters that captivated me, and would gradually send my parents to the poor-house when I swapped out Ninja Turtles and The Real Ghostbusters for Star Wars’ seemingly limitless array of Kenner toys.
Star Wars was so vast and open-ended that it could be whatever you wanted to make it. There really is no concrete animosity between Lord of the Rings fans and Star Wars fans, but if there were, LoTR would lose. Star Wars is a better universe. While they both have their moments of mundane exposition and interminable pseudo-political jargon, within theGeorge Lucas world, you have a galaxy’s worth of wiggle room to find a more fun and engaging story. Within the Tolkien world, you’re stuck with a handful of archetypes and dull writing.
Hey, maybe there IS a battle worth having. Tolkien sucks and every attempt to make his stories visually interesting was met with yawns, and casual glances at wristwatches.
Star Wars accomplished something that no other single franchise can hope to do, which is to BE the genre. While it’s treated like a singular entity, like Harry Potter or James Bond, it’s so much more than that. Star Wars is so ingrained in our culture (and in any culture that’s worth discussing) that even if you’re a garbage person and have never seen a LucasFilm, you can probably still recite large portions of the story, name several characters, and quote some of the most iconic lines (likely incorrectly) in movie history.
Star Wars is DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Coca Cola, and Disney.
Ironically, Star Wars actually IS Disney and Marvel now.
Star Wars is Pizza. If you don’t like it, you’re statistically insignificant and your opinions shouldn’t matter to sane people.
I was in 7th Grade when the prequels and re-releases came out. Star Wars fever was just as strong then as it is now, as we wait on more month for the premiere of Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
The Prequel Trilogy is generally looked on unfavorably by the fans, but it took almost a decade before anyone realized the hype outweighed the quality; before we started picking apart Anakin Skywalker, Jar Jar Binks, the questionable acting, and the over-reliance on special effects. But that’s what Star Wars does–it brings you into a world so vast and so deep that by the time you come out of this world, endemic of a childlike dream-state, you’re an adult realizing how many years you spent inside.
And while you may stare down at your withered hands and see an individual who lost himself in childish pursuits, you can still look at the world all around you and know that all that matters is Star Wars.