I was born a few months after Star Wars was released, and the trilogy it kicked off became the cultural yardstick of my childhood. Every new fantasy character, toy, plot, vehicle, creature, weapon, soundtrack, video game, and superpower that appeared on my radar was evaluated in relation to The Saga. It was impossible to experience anything like skiing or riding a trail bike through a forest without pretending I was piloting a T-47 on Hoth, or speeder bike on Endor. I attached a 12 inch Boba Fett action figure to a monofilament zip line in my backyard because the bounty hunter’s micro-flights in Jedi merely whet my appetite.
I still have fifty or so original Kenner action figures, including a Tauntaun with a parting rubber stomach for gut-thawing Hoth Luke. I expanded my Dagobah playset with acres of mission brown papier-mâché, and my dad painstakingly built a Millennium Falcon kit the size of a family pizza with a brilliant light strip in the rear powered by six D batteries, with which I frequently made the jump into hyperspace, and most likely destroyed in a fiery collision with an asteroid (dog). I still have an X-wing, and I’m still jealous of a childhood friend who had a Bespin Twin-Pod Cloud Car. I have one of the pilots with those epic clam shell helmets, just not the car!
Needless to say, the Star Wars universe was a big deal to me. With a kid’s imagination, I practically had one foot inside it, and I’d do anything I could to slide it a bit further into that galaxy far, far away, cocooning myself inside its stories and imagery. So when I caught wind of a rumour (post-Empire Strikes Back, when I was about six), that Star Wars was but one episode of a nine act saga (potentially explaining the mysteriously non-sequential episode numbers), and that each of these acts had been crammed into a book (I pictured as a bespoke medieval Bible), I simply had to feast of its secrets.
For comparison’s sake, I had a full-blown hissy fit when a local grocery store sold out of the R2-D2 popsicle advertised on its popsicle chart. My mother was very cagey about it, though. The kindest thing would have been to put me out of my misery. But either because she genuinely believed something one of her loopy pals at aerobics had passed on from their teenage son, or because she’s a black belt fantasist, she allowed me to believe that it was real enough, just incredibly rare. Illicit even. Like The Necronomicon. Or Eddie Murphy Raw.
All these years later, it’s amusing to consider that this tall tale will come true … more or less; that nine canon Star Wars stories will exist. But more than that, exciting, albeit a ‘once bitten, twice shy’ kind: The Prequels. Gah! I don’t think anyone felt more let down by them than those of us who loved the original films as children, and were rendered delirious by the prospect of being transported back to those formative experiences of wonder and joy.
Fortunately, our fantasies weren’t crushed by Trilogy II. That George Lucas could match, let alone add to, his original masterpieces, certainly, but there’s never been a question as to whether Star Wars has the potential to live on. And with its artistically ailing creator more or less out of the way, we have, once again, a new hope! So, what are the ten things that Trilogy III simply must provide us with in order to redeem The Saga and bring balance to The Force?
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