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Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Speculation

evil luke

With roughly a month and a half left until the premiere of The Force Awakens, promotion is ramping up and speculation is running wild. And while there’s more BB-8s than you can shake a stick at, one character has been conspicuously absent so far: Luke Skywalker.

J.J. Abrams is well known for keeping movie plots and key characters close to the chest. He loves to talk up the “mystery box” concept and is a proponent of the idea that the mystery is more exciting than the revelation. And all this secrecy has led many Star Wars fans to wonder if perhaps Luke didn’t become the Jedi Master we all expected but perhaps…fell to the dark side instead.

There would definitely be a certain poignancy in having the Big Bad of the sequel trilogy be the former celebrated hero of the original trilogy. The story of Star Wars is about the struggle between good and evil; more specifically it is about how everyone has the capacity for both good and evil and that it is your choices that matter. Anakin and Luke both follow the hero’s journey but come to wildly different endings, one tragic and one heroic. They act as foils to one another and show how little choices eventually build up into something good or something evil. But to say that Luke will be evil in The Force Awakens is, I think, a misunderstanding not only of Luke’s character development but also a misunderstanding of the type of hero Luke Skywalker is.

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Rebels Revisited: Empire of Ambition

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The theory behind any social Darwinist system is that not only do the fittest survive, but society is purportedly better off when competition encourages innovation and achievement. “Always Two There Are” demonstrates how rivalry and competition not only serve as the basis for advancement within the Inquisitorius, but as the fundamental organizing principle of the Galactic Empire. Already in this episode, the audience sees that this competition might sow the seeds for future conflict within the Imperial ranks: conflict that might not actually bring about the results that ambition demands.

In this episode, we learn that the Seventh Sister and the Fifth Brother are Inquisitors seeking the same quarry. They’re competing for the same prize in a few ways, as Dave Filoni explained in Rebels Recon: the Inquisitors are not only chasing after Ahsoka and her Jedi entourage but they’re also all competing for the now-vacant position of Grand Inquisitor. Pablo Hidalgo added another detail: even the very numbers in their names might signify some sort of status, or at least another basis of competition. Even without these behind-the-scenes details, we see that the Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister are surprised to see each other and that they’re refusing to share credit or information with each other. I don’t blame the Seventh Sister, as she’s much cooler than the Fifth Brother so far (SMG’s voice acting and the character animation and design knocked it out of the park — she’s described as a thinking man’s villain, and I’m looking forward to seeing what that entails) but she’s clearly willing to pretend she has knowledge that she doesn’t, just to make a play at withholding information from the Fifth Brother. That’s not very productive. Read More

License to Kill: How Does Del Rey Fit Into The Disney Era?

anewdawnNow that we’ve all had well over a month to digest the Force Friday releases, some big-picture reactions are taking shape. Recently Jay elaborated on how the Servants of the Empire series tells us a great deal about the canon Empire and why it falls; maybe even more than it set out to. Before that, Sarah discussed how my early fears may have been unfounded, and that the earliest rounds of The Force Awakens merchandise appear to be far more progressive and gender-inclusive than similar items from that other Disney wunderkind, Marvel.

Another thing that’s been bouncing around my head has proven to be a little harder to talk about; but the truth of it remains: it seems to me that Disney-Lucasfilm Press—the in-house publishing division that has released numerous middle-grade books like the Servants series and the “young adult” Lost Stars—is officially running circles around Del Rey. Some might say that producing books for younger readers (even dozens of them) is an easier job than producing “adult” novels Del Rey-style. I don’t particularly think that’s true, but even setting aside all the short stuff, Lost Stars is the equal of any adult novel in both length and maturity, and for many is simply the best novel—no qualifiers needed–of the new canon. Lost Stars is proof that Disney and Lucasfilm are capable of producing a full-length novel that deserves to stand alongside anything ever published by Del Rey, or Bantam before them; and they’re capable of doing it in-house.

Compared to a lot of other fans I know (including some who write for me), I’m a relative pushover when it comes to Star Wars books. It’s very rare that I emphatically dislike anything; when I was reviewing for TheForce.Net I almost never rated a book less than 3 / 4, because the GFFA is such a fun setting that I can usually enjoy even a disappointing book on some level. So none of this is to say that I think Del Rey’s output has sucked over the last year; not everything has been my cup of tea but I’d only describe Tarkin and Heir to the Jedi as remotely disappointing; Aftermath, and Chuck Wendig himself, was a rollicking breath of fresh air for Star Wars publishing, and John Jackson Miller is quite simply one of my favorite Star Wars writers ever and can do no wrong in my eyes. Read More

The Theatrical Trailer – The First 24 Hours

Almost exactly eighteen months ago, Lucasfilm announced the reboot of the Star Wars Expanded Universe—or Legendsification, if you will. It happened on a Friday, and it was such a seismic moment for your humble nerds at Eleven-ThirtyEight that I wanted to document the days that followed as accurately as possible. The next Monday, we published Das Reboot – The First 48 Hours, a group piece that, unlike our average Not a Committee, I presented entirely in chronological order, timestamps and all—so readers could feel the sequence of emotions unfold in “real time”.

With Tuesdays being an off day, I thought it’d be fun to cover the first 24 hours after the new trailer the same way—but while the trailer technically went public at about 10pm Monday night, interest was so high that the Jedi Council Forums were down on and off for a couple hours (and then again Tuesday afternoon)! I eventually got a DM off to the gang, though, and below is what followed.

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12:14 AM – Mike: So, JFC, LOL, and TBH, that was a trailer. I’m not even going to try to be especially coherent right now, but there’s just so much to freak out about here: new character voices! A mountain range with a familiar-looking trench in it! Finn’s “oh shit” face when he sees Kylo’s lightsaber! Han and Leia being all tender and stuff! How are you guys feeling? Read More

Force Friday Flashback: A New Kind of Marketing

daisy and john ff

It’s been a little over a month since Force Friday and the explosion of merchandise for The Force Awakens. The midnight release event was eagerly awaited by both kids and collectors alike. It was the first merchandise push for the upcoming movie and many fans wondered what, exactly, to expect.

Earlier this year we speculated on what the merchandise marketing for TFA would look like. At the time the only thing we had to compare it to was Disney’s treatment of Marvel merchandise and, well, the outlook was not favorable. It’s well known that Disney views Marvel as their “boy” property and, as a result, Marvel items marketed towards women (or even items featuring women) are nearly nonexistent. Outside of geek-specific retailers such as ThinkGeek, WeLoveFine, and Her Universe, finding merchandise that featured any of the prominent women in the Marvel cinematic universe was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. We feared the same thing would happen to Rey and Captain Phasma.

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