No fans have been as used and abused like Star Wars fans. No fans were (and still are!) more devoted, obsessive, and willing to throw money at the feet of a creator. Tortured and forced to watch as a beloved franchise is turned into a cultural punchline, teased by the threat of yet another botched trilogy bookending the classic first three films — understandable how adoration has curdled into a mix of nostalgia and hatred. But maybe it’s time, literally, for a new hope. There’s a new film coming down the pipeline, and it’s being sheparded to the screen by a bona fide mogul and fan (J.J. Abrams). There’s finally a release date — December 18th, 2015 — and it’s just over two years away. So rather than suffering with rage, why not take the next 770 days to fall back in love with Star Wars and finally let the old wounds heal?
Long-Held Grievance: Trade federations, midichlorians, and the general snore-tasticness of The Phantom Menace dashing hopes and making fans everywhere look like fools for getting dressed up and waiting around the block. The disappointment hurt, and that hurt led to defensiveness, and that defensiveness led to coming off as a pretty humorless group of fans.
How to Move On: Sometimes, it feels good to laugh at yourself. If you’re in a self-righetous mood, watch Red Letter Media’s epic and hilarious takedown of every plot inconsistency in Phantom Menace. And why not take a page out of the book of the nerds in the classic Triumph the Insult Comedy Dog sketch? Even these super nerds can laugh at themselves and somehow live with themselves after waiting days to see Attack of the Clones.
Long-Held Grievance: The almost-but-not-quite promise of Revenge of the Sith. At first, it seemed good! Then, after a little while, it began to sour. The movie skips “dark” and goes straight to “dour.” And the much promised gritty “Clone Wars” never came, never mind getting to watch Darth Vader actually Vade Darthly.
How to Move On: The 2003 Cartoon Network Animated Series Star Wars: Clone Wars covers that prequel territory, nicely bridging the gap between the second and third films and using new characters like Count Dooku and General Grevious. It even manages to do a little with younger Obi-Wan and make some use of Anakin.
Long-Held Grievance: George Lucas’ wildly misguided attempt to appeal to kids: the one, the worst, the possibly racist caricature Jar Jar Binks.
How to Move On: Star Wars, in its heart, should be for kid sci-fi/fantasy buffs as well as adults. And that means a whole lot of terrible pandering, which is, of course, awful, but sometimes even a stopped clock is right twice a day. And that stopped clock is right on top of the LEGO video games. They won’t challenge you too much, but they’re an appealing way to connect with a cousin, younger brother, or neice and share some love for the series.
Long-Held Grievance: Even a whole generation later, fans still seethe over the Ewoks and the entire end of the original trilogy.
How to Move On: It might seem deeply, dangerously nerdy to delve into the world of Star Wars novels, but Timohty Zahn’s “Trawn” trilogy actually provides a much more satifying ending, with political machinations that didn’t surround trade laws and the actual fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance.
Long-Held Grievance: Lucasfilm’s merger with Disney seemed like the ultimate kid-ification of the series.
How to Move On: Think of the comics! Dark Horse has already released some great adaptations of the “Trawn” books, but Marvel was the original house that produced comic adaptations of the series and now they’re part of the same company. The Disney takeover might actually spawn some great collaboration.
Long-Held Grievance: George Lucas’ total abandonment and cheapening of his own creation. Once heralded by fans, he’s now become symbolic of exactly what’s wrong with the films. Remember, he only wrote and directed A New Hope and the prequels.
How to Move On: The best thing about this new film so far is that Lucas is hardly involved at all. While the man had a revolutionary vision of what films could accomplish, he’s also created the modern blockbuster age without really understanding how to survive in it. No one needs another Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Long-Held Grievance: The Star Wars Holiday Special. It’s corny, it’s cheesy, it gave a whole lot of confused TV veiwers the wrong idea about how many Chewbaccas (Chewbacci?) there are.
How to Move On: Come on, have you actually watched it? It’s all available on YouTube, and a mix of so-bad-it’s-good and so-bad-it’s-not-even-good-anymore. This is the perfect thing to watch right before the film comes out. It’ll be the throes of the holiday season, and you’ll want to keep expectations nice and reasonably low for Episode VII.