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Boba Fett and The Mandalorian: A Role Fulfilled

How many of our readers out there remember the show Robot Chicken? It was a sketch comedy show with crude stop motion puppetry, and odds are if you do remember it you mainly remember their various Star Wars segments or specials. I ask because there’s a particular sketch that’s been stuck in my mind ever since it originally aired over a decade ago. It’s a cold open for an episode that has Boba Fett returning from the dead to arrive on Endor’s moon, killing a bunch of Ewoks with blasters, rockets and lightsabers, and winding up with Leia clad in her gold bikini wrapped in his arms. The segment then switches perspective to show that the whole scenario was a fantasy narrated by the show’s stereotypical nerd character, a fantasy his equally nerdy friends fawn over.

It’s meant to be satire and is a pretty biting one at that. And the most biting part about it is that it’s not too far off from a lot of the stories that did involve or star the OG Mandalorian. Boba Fett has been both a role-fulfillment and wish-fulfillment fantasy character for authors and fans of Star Wars since his first appearance, and perhaps more than any other character in the whole saga in terms of what he does in “official” material versus his role onscreen. As time has gone on his character has evolved and developed away from that, but those fantasies haven’t gone away, and the old version of Fett (or a character like him) is still sought after.

Let’s get a couple of definitions really quickly: wish-fulfillment means that a character does things that the author or the author’s intended audience wish they could do in real life but can’t. Role-fulfillment means a character that people want to see within a given fictional universe and haven’t, so they adjust an existing character to fit that bill. And I want to emphasize that neither of these are inherently negative things. They are, like all creative tropes, tools in a creator’s toolbox, and it’s how they’re used that ultimately matters. In the context of this discussion, many people have used Boba Fett both to fill a role that appeals to them that Star Wars otherwise lacks, and to do things in Star Wars that they might like to do. I can illustrate both of these points with an example.

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What Star Wars Resistance Has Learned From Robotech — and What Might Be Left to Learn

During the Star Wars Resistance Season Two Sneak Peek panel at Celebration Chicago, the show’s lead director, Justin Ridge, mentioned that they had drawn influence for the show from anime (or ahnimay as he pronounced it), which is something that had been mentioned before and we’ve discussed in our coverage previously. However, when he did, he namechecked one show specifically: Robotech. I would imagine that there are not many people reading this who know or remember what Robotech is or how it at all relates to Resistance, but don’t worry. Let me begin with a quick synopsis of Robotech and then we’ll discuss the ways that the show influenced Resistance, a show almost forty years its junior. There are some similarities between it and Resistance, as well as a number of differences both subtle and obvious that keep Resistance from being a one-to-one translation or adaptation. And we will also see how Robotech might help inform us of what’s still to come with Resistance’s second season and beyond.

First, a history lesson and some context are important. In the mid-eighties, American media companies were starting to hit their stride in localizing media produced in Japan for Western audiences. One of those companies, Harmony Gold, wanted to license a space opera-style show to help capitalize on the success of franchises like Star Wars, but there wasn’t a single Japanese show meeting their criteria that had the number of episodes they needed to be able to license it for syndication in the United States (which is sixty-five for the curious). So, Harmony Gold decided their next-best option was to license three shows, edit them together into a single Frankenstein’s monster show, then distribute it collectively. This collected show is known as Robotech. Read More

Re: Resistance – How Slow is Too Slow?

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Star Wars Resistance is starting to wind down its first season and is promising all sorts of terrible and incredible things to come, most of which were given glimpses in the show’s midseason trailer. General Hux’s speech! Starkiller Base! Kaz talking with Leia! Tam captured by the First Order! The trailer seemed to be casting out a siren’s song, as most trailers are wont to do. “Come see, come watch, lots of things are going to be happening in the second half of the season, you’ll see!” But the difference with Resistance’s trailer is the emphasis on events. A lot of things are going to happen, things that will set up a lot of character changes and growth, things that we have context for from other places in the universe as a whole. Up until now, the show hasn’t been about those events, it’s been about the characters.

The Clone Wars and Rebels both had large events that prompted character dynamics early on, and fed directly into the characters’ arcs through the early going of the shows. Rebels showed us Ezra’s Jedi training over the course of the first season, illustrating both his personality and his flaws as well as his path for growth. Ahsoka likewise was introduced as a young trainee with much to learn, and as TCW went along we saw the tough lessons she had to learn in the path of being a child thrown into war. Those were relatively small shakeups compared to the monumental ones that would occur later on in their respective shows, but that’s part of what necessitated that initial speed. The big difference between those shows and Resistance is that Resistance introduced us to Kaz, shook him up by switching his allegiance from the New Republic to the Resistance, but that is where the big events stopped for now. We have not seen a lot of growth in Kaz stemming from that event, nor how it has majorly affected his path forward as a character.

Resistance’s first season has been much slower in terms of plot developments or big events than the shows that have come before. The emphasis has been much more on seeing the lives and daily happenings around Kaz, Tam, Neeku and the others on the Colossus. We’ve gotten to know them and see what their status quo is, what their thoughts and feelings are on the state of the galaxy. But the focus has been very local, specific to the characters and their specific foibles and struggles. Kaz’s effort to get to know the other pilots. Yeager and his reluctance to open up to others. Tam’s frustrations with being shut out. Synara’s doubts about her place and her path. These arcs have not been high stakes, and only occasionally has anyone’s life even been at risk. Read More

Your Faith In Your Friends Is Yours – What Resistance Tells Us About Poe Dameron

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One of the things that most defines a hero in a Star Wars film is having faith. Faith in the Force, faith in fate itself, but most of all faith in other people, that they will do the right thing when it matters most. Luke has faith that Anakin Skywalker will not let the Emperor kill his only son. Obi-Wan has faith that Luke will become the Jedi his father never was. Leia has faith that her brother will be found and come back to help save the galaxy.

However, increasingly, we’re seeing deconstructions of that sort of faith. The sequel era especially seems to relish twisting that idea around. Rey is the poster child for this, everyone she has faith in turns away from her (Finn in The Force Awakens, Luke in The Last Jedi), dies (Han), or exploits that faith somehow (Kylo Ren). Her character arc is as much about having faith in herself as anything else. But all of our heroes from this era seem to run into this sort of problem, and Star Wars Resistance has brought another one of these to the forefront beyond the scope of the films: Poe Dameron.

While Poe having faith in his friends and comrades is a fundamental reason why Finn leaves the First Order and joins the Resistance, there is a subtext to Poe’s arc in TLJ that sometimes he can lean too much on this faith and not enough on facts or logic. It’s Poe’s faith in his comrades to do the impossible that lead to the loss of Cobalt Squadron, and his faith in Finn and Rose’s plan that almost destroys the Resistance entirely. And, rewinding the timeline a bit but moving forward in out-of-universe time, we come now to his faith in Kazuda Xiono. Read More

Re: Resistance – Hello Kaz!

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In light of there being four episodes’ worth of Star Wars Resistance out and available through some platforms, while others are limited to watching only the two-part pilot or (in the case of our international friends) nothing at all at the time of writing, it’s difficult to know what exactly to write about. I don’t want to overly spoil things for people who have not had the chance to watch all four episodes that I had access to, yet at the same time why read an article explicitly discussing the show if you have not watched any of it?

So here is my compromise: rather than discuss the ins and outs of the plot that has been thus far shown, since the plot itself is still very much a work in progress and will likely burn slowly over the season’s course, let’s talk about the characters. Specifically, let’s talk about character, the one that is both the most exposed, and most divisive, of the show: Kazuda Xiono. Kaz is our main character, a “gifted but green” pilot who begins the series flying for the New Republic and is recruited into the titular Resistance by Poe Dameron after catching the elder pilot’s eye on a mission in deep space.

He’s also the sort of personality that is pretty much instantly recognizable to devotees of Star Wars animation since he shares traits with the protagonists of every modern series from the franchise thus far. His youth and enthusiasm have echoes of both Ezra Bridger and, to go even further back, Ahsoka Tano. As with Ezra and Ahsoka, Kaz has a very distinct and strong personality which can certainly be off-putting for some people, but I believe that goes for most of the cast of Resistance in general. Especially in the pilot, everyone’s portrayals are dialed up to eleven to make sure we know who they are and what they’re on about, and we’ll start to get more nuanced as time goes on and the story spools out more. Like with Rebels before it, Resistance seems to be embracing a semi-serial form of storytelling, where each episode stands on its own but story elements and character moments bleed over to those before and after, interconnecting the whole series. Read More