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Episode VII Marketing: What’s Taking So Long?

The San Diego Comic Convention has come and gone. An expo celebrating everything nerdy and some things that aren’t, SDCC has become an ideal location for many companies to announce projects and give one of their primary audiences a taste of things to come. Marvel, Warner Brothers, and Legendary Pictures, among others, brought bits and pieces of upcoming films to build hype and help them put butts in seats. But one major filmmaker was notably absent from the proceedings. I’m speaking of course of Lucasfilm.

I exaggerate, however, because Lucasfilm was present at SDCC. They brought the cast of their new TV show, Star Wars Rebels, along with a closed-door look at the first two episodes, to follow up the show’s heavy promotion at this year’s Star Wars Weekends at Disney World. But, while cool enough, that was not all fan were hoping for. Perhaps the most anticipated movie of the decade, the as-yet-untitled Star Wars Episode VII, had no presence at the convention at all. The cast remained on set at Pinewood Studios, the crew remained hard at work, and no one in the Executive Producers’ seats deigned to give con-goers so much as a video message. Read More

Clone Wars Character Autopsy: Ahsoka Tano

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Our previous two articles focused on some of the villains of The Clone Wars, both of whom originated elsewhere but received the lion’s share of their development within the 100-plus episodes of the TV show. There were many notable characters who were created specifically for the show as well, on both sides of the conflict. But none of them received the spotlight as much or as harshly as Ahsoka Tano.

Behind the scenes, Ahsoka was created as part of the initial outline of the show, which involved her and an elder Jedi Master, along with other more motley crew members, traveling the Outer Rim and involving themselves with various adventures. George Lucas saw the concept art and initial sketches of her and proposed that she be apprenticed to a more notable Jedi instead: Anakin Skywalker. Ahsoka, in his eyes, would be the ideal tool to help Anakin develop from the brash, undisciplined apprentice he was at the end of Attack of the Clones into a more mature, reserved Jedi Knight in Revenge of the Sith.

Like Asajj Ventress before her, however, Ahsoka would grow into a full-fledged character in her own right. Though apprenticed to Anakin, throughout the show’s run she often left Anakin’s side and joined other Jedi on adventures through many scopes of the war. This, along with her unorthodox lightsaber style and penchant for giving nicknames (and snark) to everyone she met rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way as she made her debut in the Clone Wars movie. On the other hand, she has become a favorite character for a large portion of fans for some of those same reasons, especially among young girls. Read More

Clone Wars Character Autopsy: Asajj Ventress

Last time, we looked at one of the leaders of the Separatist Alliance’s military arm. While General Grievous was urged to use the unorthodox in his fight against the Jedi, he was in the end a blunt instrument in Count Dooku’s hands, a hammer used to smash the opponents of the CIS. Of course, Dooku also had need of a scalpel during the Clone Wars, a more selective agent who would not mindlessly charge into battle, and in whom he could implant his own ideas and training, giving him a tool with which to possibly unseat his master one day.

Enter Asajj Ventress.

Ventress was created as a part of the Clone Wars multimedia project to give the Republic a mid-tier antagonist before Grievous was revealed, first appearing in the comics but making her mark in the Genndy cartoon series as well. It was in The Clone Wars, though, where she made her biggest impact, giving audiences a major female villain for the first time in Star Wars screen history barring the antagonist of the Ewok movie (because who remembers that?). But her gender was far from her only reason for her popularity. She was menacing, she was magnetic, she was intelligent and even funny at times thanks to her talent for sarcasm. She gave the heroes a run for their money, but was far from a one-dimensional villain, as we’ll see. Read More

Clone Wars Character Autopsy: General Grievous

This is the first in what (I hope) will be a semi-ongoing look into the cast of this era, specifically using the massive amount of material provided by The Clone Wars TV show to do an autopsy of sorts into the portrayal and development of characters through the show’s length. Why am I just using the TV show and not all of the rest of the Clone Wars EU? Because TCW, like it or not, is the only official canon portrayal of characters and events that existed in the era now barring the films framing it. Even the Genndy Clone Wars series, which debuted some of the war’s major players, was heavily stylized and exaggerated compared to both TCW and the movies even before its continuity was called into question. This article assumes that the events of the cartoon happened, but not necessarily precisely as portrayed. TCW strikes a balance between the ideas and plots George Lucas had in mind for the era and elements of the EU that came before it, making it the most accurate history of the era in its current state.

With all of that said, let’s talk about General Grievous.

As the hype for Revenge of the Sith grew, Grievous was advertised and hyped along with it. It was Grievous’ skeleton-like visage that greeted fans upon the reveal of the title of the movie he would appear in. In his initial (both in and out of universe) debut in the Genndy series, he was a stoic, dreaded presence not unlike those in a slasher movie, single-handedly killing or seriously wounding several Jedi and only driven off by a barrage of laser and missile fire from an ARC trooper squad. His fighting style in that appearance was graceful, flowing, more like a dancer than a brute, including balancing on one foot so he could hold a third lightsaber between his mechanical toes, and he spoke only long enough to assure the Jedi that he would give them the honor of a warrior’s death. The hope for the character was high. Read More

Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V: LucasArts, Inspiration and Appropriation

Being both a Star Wars fan and an avid video game player has been a rough road in the past few years. The fact that LucasArts, the videogame production arm of Lucasfilm, was closed by Disney shortly after their acquisition of the company, but even the past five or six years before that were disappointment after disappointment. In the last four years, we have Star Wars Angry BirdsThe Force Unleashed IIKinect Star Wars, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars and The Old Republic. That’s it and all. Going back two or three years more gives us Battlefront: Elite SquadronBattlefront: Renegade SquadronThe Force Unleashed in both initial release and the “Ultimate Sith” edition, three other Clone Wars tie-in games, and Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.

Out of that list, only five games not tying in to the Clone Wars TV show made it to the mainstream console market: TFU, TFU II, Lego SW: Complete and Kinect Star Wars. The biggest release by far, however, is The Old Republic, a game developed over a five-year cycle that cost LucasArts, EA and Bioware $200 million to make, more than many blockbuster movies. While an argument can be made for all of these games relative to how fun they are to play or how entertaining they are, no one will argue that any of them are original, exciting and new concepts in the realm of video games. Read More