If you spend any amount of your internet time reading about Star Wars, you will see a wide variety of opinions on the franchise. Notably, you will see a lot of negativity. A good number of fans have felt disillusioned with the series ever since Disney acquired it. But if you’re one of these people, I invite you to think again.
There has never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan.
I was fortunate enough to spend the week of Thanksgiving at Disneyland. It was a wonderful experience and a great way to enjoy the holiday. This trip was special for another reason as well: Galaxy’s Edge. It’s been well over a year since my last trip to the park, and in the meantime, Disney has opened their new Star Wars land. It’s cool!
When you walk in, you see bushes and other plant life. You walk along a rock path. You hear music all around you. As you move along the path, you see large rock structures off in the distance, slowly closing in and growing larger as you walk. Eventually, you come to a stand where a merchant is selling gear. You can buy flight suits, helmets, and other gear. If you manage to resist the shiny allure of his wares, you will soon find yourself in front of a full-size X-Wing and an A-Wing parked next to each other. They are really fun to admire and make for a great photo-opportunity.
Not much further, you’ll find an outdoor market filled with stalls of all kinds of merchandise. Apparel, toys, and even food. In these stalls, you can buy clothing. Not a plastic Halloween costume. Real clothing, and it looks incredible. I saw two people throughout my time here that were dressed in these ensembles. One was a man in his 50s, dressed all in black and bearing a military badge on his chest. His significant other was taking a photograph as he pointed towards a massive First Order banner. At another time, a woman walked along with her child. She was wearing otherworldly clothing. She looked like she could have just walked off the set of the movies (and she looked ravishing). In both of these situations, it took me a few moments to realize that these people didn’t work at Disneyland! They were not cast members. They were just fans, living out a fantasy.
Twice I was able to join a crew of five other people on the bridge of the Millenium Falcon. We worked as a team to steal cargo from the planet Correlia. Pilots flew, gunners shot, and engineers manically tried to keep the ship in the air. This was all controlled with buttons, switches, and levers that we manipulated ourselves, entirely without direction from Disney cast members. It was a tactile, interactive, and cooperative video game that took place all around us. It was amazing.
I can’t stop thinking about this experience. It was so fun! I was teleported to a different world. A different galaxy! Just like the movies did for me as a kid. I am eager to return and spend more time here. I want to build a droid. I want to eat at the cantina. I can’t wait to experience the second ride after it opens next year.
I am amazed to live in a world where I can physically walk through Star Wars. I can go there. I can eat there. I can absorb the universe of Star Wars with all of my senses. And this is just one of the opportunities currently afforded me as a fan.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Blurgg in the room: The Mandalorian. We are experiencing a live-action Star Wars television show! One with a massive budget, to boot. I am completely in love with this series so far. It’s my favorite show at the moment. I love how it is giving me a glimpse into the seedy underbelly of the universe. I’m meeting new characters. I’m learning about cultures and religions. I’m seeing the galaxy from the perspective of a single, lonely man. It’s been a beautiful and thrilling ride so far.
The Mandalorian feels like a truly worthy sequel to the original trilogy. It’s a hero’s journey. It’s not a complicated tale, but it is very human. Anyone can understand what the Mandalorian is experiencing. I give much of the credit to the starring actor, Pedro Pascal. He manages to emote so much in spite of having a covered face for every scene. This is also helped by the brilliant score and fantastic direction.
Most important of all, Baby Yoda exists.
The so-called Baby Yoda (we don’t know his actual name) is the most painfully cute thing I’ve ever seen in a movie or TV show. Everything he does is gold. It’s hard not to smile whenever he is on screen. I say that as someone that doesn’t value cuteness a great deal. I just can’t get enough of the little guy. He is the epitome of sweetness and innocence. He embodies the limitless potential found within every child. As an audience member, I want nothing more than to protect him. It’s a remarkable feeling for a television show to invoke.
In addition to this show, I can stream nearly all of the Star Wars movies on Disney+, and in 4K resolution! I can experience the films in the most immersive way possible outside of a theater (though unfortunately, they are the special editions). There are also three animated series available to watch on Disney+. I am slowly working on both Clone Wars and Rebels, which I am very much enjoying. Eventually, I’ll make time to check out Resistance as well. There are dozens of hours of Star Wars available at my finger tips and I’m just starting to dip my toes in. And there are more shows on the way.
We are about to experience Star Wars Episode IX: Rise of Skywalker. It promises to be a conclusion to a massive story arc that has been with me for my whole life. Will it stick the landing? Impossible to say. I am, however, excited to find out. Even if it fails at telling a compelling story, I’ll still have lived to see the conclusion to Star Wars.
Beyond Rise of Skywalker, it is impossible to know where Disney will take the franchise. We do know that Rian Johnson is developing a new trilogy of films, but we know nothing about them. There is a writer working on a screenplay for a Knights of the Old Republic movie. There are surely unannounced television series in development, both animated and live action. I’d also wager that Disney is not done with utilizing Star Wars for new adventures in its theme parks as well.
You may not like all the Disney has done with the franchise. You may think it has ruined your childhood or insulted George Lucas. There are any number of criticisms you can levy against the most recent films. But let’s be clear about something: George Lucas was never going to make more movies in this series. It wasn’t going to happen. Too much time has passed. Too many things have been said about the prequels. He couldn’t do it again. He wasn’t going to. If he had not sold Lucasfilm to Disney, there would be no more Star Wars. At least, not until he sold it to someone else or he died. While I can’t say I have loved everything Disney has created with Star Wars, I can say that I’m happy to have more. I’m excited for Episode IX. But if you’re not, that’s okay. There’s still so many other ways for you to enjoy Star Wars right now. If you are a fan of any element of the franchise, there is something out there for you. Why not enjoy it?