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STAR WARS: Making The Imperial Era Great Again

STAR WARS: Making The Imperial Era Great Again

It’s been a long time, friends, since I’ve written on the Star Wars Universe for a “S7ar Wars,” but here we are, another franchise film deeper into the new Disney-era of Star Wars canon and waiting patiently for any new rumors concerning this December’s new saga installment. Unlike the years between 1983 and 1999, then again from 2005 to 2015, there’s a lot of new Star Wars that is happening in between these films. The whole Star Wars machine has settled into a rhythm hinted at with the success of The Force Awakens and now made pattern by the success of Rogue One.

Welcome back to perpetual Star Wars!

Rogue One – that was cool, right? I wasn’t expecting to primarily be talking to friends and fellow critics about digital resurrection after seeing a Star Wars movie, but that ended up being what happened. Some people argued that they’d rather Rogue One had just used another character and kept Grand Moff Tarkin through digital Peter Cushing something that would appear in hologram or reflections. I’d always counter that argument with a gut reaction that there’s no way Wilhelm Tarkin wasn’t involved in the Death Star. As we’ve learned more and more about the super-weapons new-canon history, Tarkin still exists on the edges, waiting to step into his villain role in A New Hope, get blown up, then never be mentioned again.

We’ve just cleared the “Ghosts of Geonosis” two-part episode of Star Wars: Rebels season three where Saw Gerrera met the rebels of the Ghost while investigating why and if the Empire committed genocide against the Geonosian people (bug people, still people though). Those of us who have been keeping up with the new expanded universe know a bit more about the Geonosis timeline after The Clone Wars.

The novel Tarkin ends with the Death Star pulling out of Geonosis orbit for the first time, this would have taken place before the Rebels episode “The Honorable Ones,” where the Ghost’s crew noticed that something was wrong on Geonosis. The season three episodes with Gerrera reveal the the Empire gassed the species to keep the Death Star secret and a Geonosian queen egg survived. Then, the Darth Vader comic series, which takes place after A New Hope, returns to Geonosis where Vader meets a Geonosian Queen who is using a Battle Droid factory as a womb. It appears that the Klick-Klak egg from the Rebels animated series becomes this second robo-Geonosian queen, which is an interesting arc for the planet’s people.

Geonosian Queen from Star Wars comic

Get Ripley, right?

This is all cool history of the era leading up to A New Hope, which I feel like I’m finally comfortable residing in after the Rogue One release. Rebels and Expanded Universe novels that were set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope have been coming out since the Disney purchase rebooted the official canon, but since The Force Awakens was the in-theater experience, we had to split our minds between two Star Wars time periods: The Galactic Civil War period and the New Republic period. Thing is, we didn’t start getting solid Episode VII plot rumors until maybe January or February of 2015. When we did start hearing rumors, some of them seemed too silly to actually be Star Wars – I certainly scoffed the first time I saw concept art of a cross-guard lightsaber. Meanwhile, Star Wars: Rebels was on Lothal and the novels like A New Dawn and Lords of the Sith weren’t as interesting when something like Star Wars: Aftermath – with its leading interludes – around the edges.

I’m not saying I don’t want to know what happens to Finn and Rey and Poe, I do, but it finally feels okay to be playing around in the familiar Star Wars Universe in a way it didn’t since the early to mid 1990s. I recently did a piece on Shadows of the Empire for Thrillist.com and it had me remembering my original Star Wars fandom days where there were never going to be any more movies, just novels and video games. A lot of what is happening to the Star Wars universe now mirrors what was happening then: new vehicles that were just pre-suppositions of original trilogy ones (like Rogue One’s AT-ACT), or characters you always suspected could be there (Blue Squadron!) got trotted out along with new creations for expanded universe material. Seriously, I’m somehow getting to live through the introduction of Grand Admiral Thrawn twice. The sentry droids that showed up in Star Wars: Rebels look like Dark Troopers to a tee. Also on Rebels, troopers with jetpacks showed up. In Rogue One, you have the addition of Death Troopers and several types of ships that won’t be seen in the Rebel Fleet moving forward.

I don’t have a problem with those tiny “easter egg” threads connecting it to the Star Wars Universe, because it all feels familiar without being new, which is probably the exact phrase that someone in some board room muttered in 2012. It’s quite the undertaking to revive a science fiction time period that was originally devised in the late 1970s for the 2010s. We’re having problems as a pop culture getting the 1980s to reboot correctly (right, Tron: Legacy and Ghostbusters 2016?).

That being said, I think time is running out on the Rogue One fact scouring, and as far as the Star Wars news cycle is going, we have about two months where Star Wars: Rebels is going to be the best thing going before we can realistically gear up for Episode VIII: Space Bear to start to take shape in the rumor-mill. April is the big month where all the Star Wars hype is going to start pivoting towards Star Wars: [Insert Subtitle Here], until then, we all just have to make sure we caught all the Rogue One goodness. A new ABC featurette on the making of K-2SO, for instance, shows an alternate death scene for K2 and Cassian somewhere outside a bunker on Scariff

Star Wars K-2SO alt death screencap

Alan Tudyk gets shot by blaster fire.

This is one of many shots from a different third act showdown that I’m convinced we’ll never see. Not that I think Cassian dying separately from Jyn is a good choice, as a matter of fact, I liked Rogue One enough that I’m fairly sure all the reshoot choices were “good choices.” The major change to the third act looks like it started by making the archive where the Death Star plans are stored into the same building as the transmitter tower. Basically, the climax where Jyn and Cassian have to climb up the hard drives away from Krennic seems to have replaced a scene where Jyn, Cassian, and K-2SO had to haul ass across the Scariff battlefield, drive in hand, to transmit the plans. From the trailer and behind the scenes shots, they’d have to run through the legs of some AT-ACTs, get through another bunker door where – apparently – everyone but Jyn goes down.

The lingering mystery of the TIE Fighter shot from the trailer, where the ship rises in the background as Jyn limps towards it with a blaster drawn, remains. Did Jyn end up going down at the end of a TIE blaster barrel? Is it Bodhi in that TIE coming to get her? Was this just a shot made for the trailers because it’s understandably really cool?

We still don’t know everything about The Force Awakens, so I’m sure that they mysteries of Rogue One will continue for several years. Speaking of The Force Awakens, two cool little things popped up on my radar this week. First, someone put the Chewie ripping Unkar Plutt’s arm off cut scene up on Instagram:

Second, people have started looking for convorees in The Force Awakens and think they have found them on Ach-To. What’s that? You don’t know what I’m talking about?

Convorees in Star Wars The Force Awakens

from Reddit

Making Star Wars had the line on Episode VIII’s new avian puppet creatures. Basically, Luke has been hanging out with some force birds, about puffin sized, on Ach-To:

The other rumor worth noting is that the “puffin” that personally has screen time with Skywalker sees himself as a “protector of the island(s) on Ahch-To.” Luke Skywalker has permission to be there while Rey does not. Rey has a sequence on Ahch-To where she fights a rather large sea monster (we have also heard she wears a black cloak during this sequence over the costume we described before). It has been suggested but not confirmed that Rey’s besting of the sea monster grants her permission to be at the sacred location by the “puffins.” However, the sequences could be totally unrelated.

This rumor from December triggered the collective fandom’s memory, getting us/them to ask Making Star Wars if maybe these bird creatures were convors (plural convorees), the birds with long tails that have been showing up in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. According to Making Star Wars’ follow up report, that’s exactly what they are:

It appears highly likely we will be seeing convorees in Star Wars: Episode VIII. The sources that got back to me so far have said that’s the gist of the design; however, “leave some room open for the animated shows’ interpretation.”

In March of last year, IGN asked Rebels Executive Producer Dave Filoni about the birds and got a cryptic answer:

“In some ways, I could say that it’s a messenger, it’s an observer. It is definitely something. And I would suggest – I would rather have fans debate – but I would suggest to say that whatever that thing is an avatar of has actually appeared in the animated Star Wars universe before.”

This would be a major throw from a Star Wars animated series into the main canon (the current crown(s) for this achievement belongs to the Ghost appearing in Rogue One in new canon and Boba Fett appearing first in animated form riding a dinosaur in old canon), and also includes so many other elements that I like, namely Luke and Rey having just as much puppet time as Force meditation time. There’s not much catch up you can do on convorees, even on the Wookiepedia, so we’re all waiting to see what type of creatures these are. Are they ancient beings reincarnated? Are they vessels for the Force?

They even might appear in the Art of the Force Awakens book:

Star Wars The Force Awakens convorees concept art

Good thing we have a new year of Star Wars news and rumors to find out together!

 

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