I don’t remember where I was when the first Star Wars movie came out. Yes, it’s now called Episode IV: A New Hope, but back in the day, we all just called it “Star Wars.” I was 5 years old and loved the movie, from what I understood at the time.
Flash forward to the summer of 1980, the beginning of the greatest decade known to man. The Empire Strikes Back completely blew my mind. The story was darker than the original. Colder even (and not just because of the ice planet Hoth). And worst of all… the bad guys won in the end.
As the credits rolled, the 8-year-old Andrew that left the RKO Theater in Nanuet, NY was shocked, surprised and 100% bawling like a baby. I still remember looking at my mom, with hot tears streaming down my cheeks, saying, “That can’t be the end! They didn’t save Han Solo yet! That’s not fair!!!”
And don’t even get me started on the “I am your father” moment that I downright refused to believe. No way was Darth Vader Luke’s father. It was 1000% a trick. (Spoiler: I was apparently wrong.)
My friends and I, along with the entire world, had to wait another few years to find out the fate of our favorite Rebels. You can’t even imagine the number of conversations I had with Ethan, Eddie, Gary and all my classmates in the 6th grade at West Nyack Elementary. One kid had the Return of the Jedi storybook before the film came out and tried to ruin it for us all. Yeah, back then the playground was our “social media.” It was a dangerous place to visit if you wanted to avoid any kind of spoilers.
Star Wars Was Everything
Star Wars was everything to me as a kid. In fact, if you know me, you know that comic books are also a major obsession of mine. Did you know that Marvel’s Star Wars (issue #34 to be exact) was the very first comic book I ever purchased?
Yes, Star Wars was by far the greatest story ever told, just bursting with so many tiny moments that each had their own incredible backstory.
Boba Fett? The guy with like one line in Empire Strikes Back? Yeah, he became a monster fan favorite. Did you know his first appearance was in a cartoon during the Lucas-will-never-ever-release-it-because-he-has-probably-burned-the-original-film-reels Star Wars Holiday Special? And back in the day, you could only get his action figure by mailing in a number of proof-of-purchase symbols you cut out from other Star Wars action figures and then weeks later you’d get Boba Fett in the mail.
Then there’s the fact that Boba Fett actually survived the Sarlacc Pit from Return of the Jedi. It seems that in one of the books (outside the movies), another bounty hunter named Dengar (Lame!) saves him.
Oh, and for you folks keeping score at home, my favorite bounty hunter is Bossk. Yep, the lizard guy. I know nothing about him other than he’s really cool looking.
At one point I could practically name every single Star Wars droid with my eyes closed. The Ewoks too.
I dressed up as Chewbacca for Halloween in the early ’80s. It was one of those old plastic costumes with a picture of Chewie’s face on the chest and a hard plastic mask that you’d keep in place with a painfully tight rubber band.
I had (and STILL have) loads of Kenner Star Wars action figures. The Millennium Falcon was my favorite birthday present ever! I wish I still had it. Same with the X-Wing, TIE Fighter and Hoth Snowspeeder. I do still have my Tauntaun and Dewback though.
So yeah, I wasn’t just a geek back in school, I was a super Star Wars geek.
And yes, I still am.
The Force Still Lives in Me
My home office is full of toys and action figures, with the centerpiece being my coveted Lego Star Wars Death Star.
I squealed like a teenage girl (or growled like a middle aged Wookiee) when I bumped into Chewbacca during Kids Week at The Intrepid years ago, where the 501st Legion was walking around. This was easily the best Chewie costume I’d ever seen, as the guy was on stilts!
Who knew that years later, I’d be walking the red carpet at a Star Wars movie and even interviewing Joonas Suotamo, the new Chewbacca? I can’t even imagine what 8-year-old Andrew would be thinking if he only knew what his galactic future held.
There are countless Star Wars T-shirts and pajamas in my closet. And I even own a full-on fuzzy Chewbacca onesie. Stop judging me.
As I said, Star Wars is everything to me. But… um… we’ll ignore the Prequels because frankly, they never happened.
The Saga Comes to an End
Now, with the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the galaxy-spanning journey I began back as a little Padawan, finally comes to its conclusion.
This post is Spoiler Free so I won’t reveal anything about the new film, except to say that I really loved it. I liked it a lot when the credits rolled at the end, but the more I talked about it with friends and family, the more perfect I thought it was.
There is no way Episodes VII through IX could have ever lived up to the hype. No way they could ever be better than the Original Trilogy for a diehard fan like me. But considering that major limitation, I can definitely say I love all six movies and am really happy with its overall conclusion.
The one thing I felt at the very end of The Rise of Skywalker was… hope. I guess you could say it was a New Hope (pun intended).
The Future of Star Wars
I have no idea where the future of Star Wars is heading. But I am no longer worried one bit. I’m loving The Mandalorian on Disney+, and not just because of Baby Yoda. There are so many more stories to be told about the newer Rebels like Rey, Poe and Finn that could take place before, during and even after the final three movies. Or we may never hear about them again and just get all new stories and characters.
Whatever happens in the future though, if this is the absolute final page for real of The Skywalker Saga, then I for one am happy. I feel complete. If anything, The Rise of Skywalker has truly renewed my love for Star Wars overall.
Watching the films with my boys and seeing them get into it just adds another layer to this Force-filled film series.
To me, Star Wars is obviously so much more than “just a movie.” It’s a 42-year-long adventure with some of the best friends a guy could ever ask for.
And while I’m sad we won’t be having any more Skywalker reunions, I know I can always go back and relive it all. Just like you can. After all, the Force is strong in all of us.
What are your favorite Star Wars memories?