Come upon us, the time of year has, where we reflect on where we have been and where we are going. We celebrate the victories, mourn the losses, and ready ourselves to make the next year the best year ever.
In Star Wars, each year feels like a millennium. We ache for the next episode of Rebels, long for the next film, and wonder about where the story, brand, and mythology will go in the future. But before we can look to 2018, we must reflect on the nominal year that was 2017.
Behold, young Padawan, the 17 things that changed the game going into 2018.
(In no particular order… except for number 1)…
1- The Last Jedi
You may have heard that a little independent film came out called The Last Jedi. This film has not only challenged preconceived notions of what Star Wars is, it has revolutionized the manner in which Star Wars stories are told. Love it or hate it, after The Last Jedi it ain’t your daddy’s Star Wars any more.
2- Rian Gets the Reins
Let us not forget in the midst of dissenting opinions for his first Star Wars film that Disney/Lucasfilm was so confident in Johnson’s abilities that they announced he would be making three new films before his first Star Wars movie came out! Johnson’s trilogy is not, as some believed (read: I believed) Episodes X-XII, but in fact an all new trilogy in an unexplored corner of the galaxy. If The Last Jedi is any indication for what Johnson has planned, it can be guaranteed that it will be a wild ride that will get the fandom talking.
3- The Dark Side of Directing
“Always in motion, the future is.” Though not well known, this parable by Yoda is on the door to Kathleen Kennedy’s office.
Okay, so that may not be true, but with the revolving door that it has been when it comes to directors, it may as well be. Though the plethora of firings has made many nervous, it seems like Kennedy has found her “Chosen One” in Rian Johnson. With JJ Abrams returning for Episode IX, it seems like, for now, the waters have calmed.
4- Opie-Wan Kenobi
Many fans wondered about if the Han Solo film was going to be relevant at all, and moreover if the musical chairs of directors across Lucasfilm movies would allow for a half decent film to be made, settled down when Ron Howard was announced as the new director of the #UntitledHanSolo film. A stalwart in Hollywood, Howard masterfully used social media to give fans a behind the scenes glance into Solo and reignite the interest across fandom.
Many fans were excited for the fantastical and intriguing name that had to be attached to the new “Star Wars Story” film centered around Han Solo. With all the secrecy, it had to be something mind blowing. Yet after the longest drum roll in the history of drum rolls, Lucasfilm announced that the film would be called Solo. Womp, womp….
6- The Circle is Now Complete
When Rian Johnson stepped in to direct Episode VIII, it was assumed he would answer many of the questions left by the “International Man of Mystery Boxes” JJ Abrams. For the most part the answers boiled down to the questions not even being important. But now, with Abrams returning to bookend the trilogy, will he answer the questions left by Rian? That’s a mystery box that we will have to wait two years to have opened. Or not.
7- Rebellions Are Built on Animation
The worst kept secret is Star Wars is that Dave Filoni is a damn genius. While fans debate over whether the films are too nostalgic or too new and innovative, Filoni silently sits back and produces some of the finest television available today, while also hitting both the nostalgia chords and the new and innovative chords better than Hendrix on a guitar.
With Rebels in its final season, Filoni has pushed all his chips into the sabacc pot, left his cards in the interference field, and created enough excitement and mystery to make Lando shake in his cape. Between Loth-wolves, Thrawn, the Force, and of course “Kanera,” Rebels continues to bring fans back in droves.
8- Creature Feature
Speaking of the Wolfmeister, it seems you cannot talk about Star Wars these days without touching on the fantastic creatures and animals that are being created. Much in the vein of the Creator, Filoni has continued to create new and exciting animals for fans to cling to; from Loth-cats to Bendus, all the way to the mysterious Loth-wolves, Filoni continually makes certain that the Star Wars stuffed animal market will keep going strong.
Not to be outdone, Rian Johnson’s film brought us two creatures that fascinated and captivated fans from the get go. The crystal critters known as vultpexes are the perfect combination of practical and computer effects to make any fan happy. Then, of course, there are…..
10- The Future is Female
Since the Disney purchase, there has a been a clear directive to diversify the Star Wars galaxy. There have been more people of color, different denominations, etc. brought into the galaxy. But the centerpiece has been the establishment of women as a central piece of the Star Wars story. While the originals did have strong female characters in Leia, Padme, and Mon Mothma, the Disney era has turned it up to 11.
What started with Rey, Jyn, and Sabine has expanded and expounded to characters like Iden Versio, Captain Phasma, and Rae Sloane. Not only have these characters continued to be important for the story, they have been important for the fandom. Rae Sloane helped start the First Order. Captain Phasma, thanks to Delilah S. Dawson, has shown that being a woman doesn’t mean everything has to be sanitized and feminized. And Iden became not only a fun and engaging character, but a woman of color as the central character for both a video game and novel. The winds of change are blowing strong.
But these characters are not alone…
11- The Force and Its Destiny
Animation has always been a place ripe for innovation when it comes to Star Wars. Clone Wars put Ahsoka Tano, a female Jedi Padawan, as the center of its five seasons. Such had never been done before, but it has been done after. With the female revolution going on in the galaxy and the fandom, it only makes sense that animation not be left out.
With Forces of Destiny, Star Wars creatives have been able to give short snippets showing female characters crossing over with other important Star Wars characters, be they female or otherwise. We’ve seen greats such as Princess Leia and Sabine share screen time, as well as Hera and Han Solo. But the best thing about this show, and in fact the female revolution as a whole, is that it is not there for fan service or aggrandizing. It simply is a part of the galaxy and the story that had always been there, although unseen. And that is exactly what guarantees that the forces at work have created a destiny that will keep Star Wars chugging along for another 40 years.
12- The Old is New Again
The place of greatest debate over the last five years has been over the written word. Few books have been able to be universally loved and beloved. Lost Stars did so, but not many have been able to follow in its stead. However, Claudia Gray has bucked that trend. First with Lost Stars, then with Bloodline, and this year with Leia: Princess of Alderaan, has captured our cherished Princess and General in a light that fits perfectly with Carrie Fisher’s portrayal on screen. Gray created not only a intriguing and diverse story with her newest addition (Leia: Princess of Alderaan) but has done something it seems only she can: created a story that fans almost universally cherish. Hopefully 2018 and beyond will hold more of the same.
13- Travel to the Galaxy’s Edge
Call it Star Wars Land or by its newly established name, Galaxy’s Edge, everyone is excited about the immersive theme park in the works at Disney World and Disneyland. With the announcement of the name, planet, and immersive resort, Disney has brought us closer and closer to opening day. Pack your suitcase, because you’re going to want to move in.
14- Celebrate Good Years, Come On!
There has been more new Star Wars content than any time in history over the past five years, yet none of it would have been possible without George Lucas and his dream to make Flash Gordon. Forty years later, Star Wars has become the greatest mythology since the time of the Greeks and Romans, and at Star Wars Celebration this year the achievement, and achievers, were honored as such. With a great panel that saw Luke, Han, and the Maker all on the same stage, the return of Hayden Christensen, and the moving tribute to Carrie Fisher, plus much more this celebration of 40 years of Star Wars was one for the ages. Here’s to 40 more years!
15- When You Wish Upon a Streaming Service
Disney CEO Bob Iger made the official announcement everyone saw coming. Disney is going to create its own streaming service. On said service Star Wars will finally get the long rumored live action TV show that fans have been craving since the downfall of 1313. We may have to wait for a few years to see the premiere, just the fact that this dream will finally come true has reminded fans that when you wish upon a star….
16- See You Around, Netflix
The only thing that could make the breakup better for fans? Low costs, high content. That’s what Iger has promised when the streaming service becomes a reality. With prices lower than Netflix, fans won’t have to worry about counting their credits in order to enjoy Disney’s revolutionary creation.
17- The Fox and the Mouse
Disney bought Lucasfilm for four billion dollars. After The Force Awakens almost single handedly recouped that cost, it seemed like the sky was the limit. Then Disney did something more astonishing by buying Fox for 54 billion dollars. But don’t worry, it was a good deal. It came with free rumors of the original theatrical releases being re-released.
While we won’t know for sure the implications for some time, the fact that all of Star Wars distribution rights are under the same brand for the first time in history is certainly something to remember.
And finally, your bonus number 18 to ring in 2018…
Drum roll please…..
The ClashingSabers podcast!!!!
Certainly a little self-serving, but this podcast is a dream come true. When this very site was created in 2015, starting a podcast was one of the major goals. So to not only start the podcast, but to have it so well received by listeners has been a joy and an honor.
From all of us at ClashingSabers.net, we humbly say thank you. So lift your glasses of blue milk, ladies and gentlemen, because 2018 holds a lot to look forward to; here’s to the new year… and many more ahead!