Non-gaming post ahead.
Somewhere a little over 38 years ago, I sat in a theater watching Star Wars for the first of how-many-hundreds of times. I was the perfect age, the perfect demographic. I was a sucker for the toys, the comics, the books...everything.
OK. Not the Ewoks. Never the Ewoks. Those "movies" may be the only mass-market Star Wars product of which I've never participated. I hate those fuzzy little turds.
Seriously...they completely ruin Return of the Jedi for me.
But I digress.
I still remember—and feel—the awe as the docking hatch of the Tantive IV burns away and Darth Vader strides in. The same goes for the gut-wrenching anticipation of the trash compactor sequence and for the stomach-churning aerial acrobatics above and around the Death Star Trench.
I still remember the anticipation and dread and unbelievable angst of knowing it would be THREE! MORE! YEARS! for the next chapter in the lives of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, and the droids. And I remember the lines—and standing in lines—for each of the three movies.
And then it was over.
Over the years we had the Expanded Universe as it developed and grew. I read the heck out of Splinter of the Mind's Eye, partly because it was a fun story, but partly because it was the only Star Wars we had for a long time after Jedi. We had the prequels; I don't hate them, but I'm not enamored of them, but they're still Star Wars.
But now we have The Force Awakens. I have heard a reviewer say that we, as a culture, will never experience this kind of entertainment event again in our lifetime. [Aside: Look, I realize that in the grand scheme of things, there are bigger things than Star Wars The Jedi and Sith mean nothing to my eternal salvation. But culturally, socially, it's huge. If I have to explain that to this audience, I'll lose hope. End aside.] I remember going to Star Wars with my father, Empire with my older cousin, and Jedi with my big brother. I have great and emotional memories of each of these.
Each of my children have seen at least one of the prequels in the theater with me, so it's really nothing new. But in one respect, it is. Look: I don't hate them, but the prequels don't seem like the same...storyline...to me. Yeah, they're still Star Wars, but they have a different feel. They were "new." The prequels felt more like backstory or explanation. We already knew what happened to Yoda, Vader, and Obi Wan; the prequels just showed us how they got there. This is..."new" but also "more." It feels like the continuation of beloved memories while also the start of something new.
Tonight I'm taking four of my five kids to see The Force Awakens. I can't express how excited I am. Anyone who grew up with Star Wars knows what it means for myself. But I'm also excited to experience this with my kids. It is a phenomenon. But I think it's a bonding experience too. My boys are about the same age I was for Empire and Jedi. My youngest just turned 8 yesterday, and so is a bit older than I was for Star Wars. [Aside 2: I think I may be more excited for her, just because I remember that feeling of wonder, awe, and imagination at that age. End aside 2.] She already loves Star Wars; I'm excited to see that, by every indication, there are some strong female roles she can look up to.
I hope it won't be "perfect." I want my kids to have their own version of the stormtrooper banging his head, their own version of (arguably the greatest line in the movie) "Look, sir! Droids!" (I'm also a bit afraid they'll have their own version of Obi-Wan being cut down, and that it will hurt.) But I hope it'll have all these things; the movies diminished a bit with all the polishing that Lucas did over the years. I'm honestly surprised that the head-bang wasn't edited out, or that there wasn't more exposition included regarding the droid's exact make and model suggested by the bit of desert detritus.
I'm tearing up just thinking about sitting there with my kids, watching them experience this for themselves. It won't be quite the same. After all, none of us—or our parents—could have foreseen what would have grown from those first scrolling yellow words. But I hope that these mean to my kids something close to what the originals meant to me because of how much my kids mean to me.
They mean the galaxy to me.