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Updated: 5 hours 19 min ago

Bad Batch Declassified: 5 Highlights from “Cut and Run”

8 hours 25 min ago

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is here, chronicling the adventures of the elite squad Clone Force 99 following the end of the Clone War. In Bad Batch Declassified, we’ll explore our favorite moments from each episode of the series, available only on Disney+. Armor up and join us for the ride.

Spoiler warning: This article discusses details and plot points from the Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode, “Cut and Run.”

Cut Lawquane? That’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time.

In “Cut and Run,” Lawquane — the military deserter and Republic fugitive who once helped Captain Rex confront his own individuality — is back. As one of the few clones who wasn’t forced to conform to Order 66 through an implanted inhibitor chip, Cut and his family represent the past and the potential future for the newly renegade Clone Force 99. After years of flouting the rules, the Bad Batch and their newest refugee Omega must find their way in a changing galaxy and decide if the child is better off with the elite soldiers or elsewhere. Here are five highlights from the episode, now streaming on Disney+.

1. “That…would be dirt.”

Omega reacts to Saleucami like Rey seeing Ahch-To for the first time. After spending her entire life on the aquatic world of Kamino, the Outer Rim has much to offer from a variety of natural wonders to the peace that can only come from being largely untouched by the trauma of the Clone Wars. And as Omega explores the terrain, so different from the world she knew, she greets it with a mix of curiosity and pure, unadulterated joy.

2. Cut Lawquane lives.

His hair may be a little scruffier, but his face remains the same. First introduced in the Season 2 episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, “The Deserter,” revisiting the former clone soldier and his family is a fitting callback that helps to connect the two series more closely. Bonus: We get to see his wife, Suu, and their two children, now a little more grown up than before.

3. Attack of the nexu.

It’s sweet to see Omega learning how to just be a kid for once, instead of whatever function she was created to perform for the Kaminoan scientists. But along the way she’s bound to make some mistakes. Wandering outside the fenced yard and alerting a wild nexu to a potential kill could have been one of her first and her last — if not for the watchful eye and elite skills of Hunter and the rest of her personal security detail in Clone Force 99.

4. The birth of the chain code.

It’s a term fans of The Mandalorian know well, but with events unfolding at the dawn of the Empire, The Bad Batch holds a unique place in Star Wars lore. The series not only discusses chain codes in more detail, it gives fans a glimpse at the abrupt change settling over the galaxy as the means of tracking individual citizens is put into use.

5. Omega’s goodbye.

We’re not crying, you’re crying!

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Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family At War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

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Quiz: Which Star Wars Mom Are You?

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:00

Star Wars is filled with powerful leaders and skilled pilots who also happen to be moms to some of the most significant characters in a galaxy far, far away. From queen-turned-senator Padmé Amidala to rebel leader Leia Organa and captain of the Ghost Hera Syndulla, these freedom fighters and dedicated public servants have a profound impact on the galaxy at large. This Mother’s Day, we want to know: Which Star Wars mom are you?

Take the latest StarWars.com quiz to find out!

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The Galaxy Far, Far Away and Motherhood

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 11:00

Star Wars and moms. I don’t think there’s a more personal subject for me in Star Wars. My mom bought me my first Star Wars toy (a Princess Leia action figure). Decades later she walked into a Taco Bell and asked the cashier, “What do I have to buy to get the Boba Fett toy?” for her college-aged, toy-collecting daughter. To say that she was (and is) supportive of my love of the galaxy far, far away is an understatement.

Over the last few decades, I’ve fallen in love with a lot of Star Wars stories that included mothers. And I became a mother around the time Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered.

A few years ago I remember bursting into tears watching the scene in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace when Anakin left his mother Shmi to go with Qui-Gon Jinn to train to become a Jedi. After a few moments of confusion (Amy, you have seen this movie many times, this was not a surprise twist!) I realized my son was Anakin’s age. My focus was much more on Shmi than during earlier screenings when I was focused on Anakin. My overall feelings about the Jedi taking such young children away from their parents also started to shift around this time. How could this be right? What does this say about this society? Did Shmi do the right thing? What would I have done in her place?

I’m happy that over the years Star Wars stories have introduced some wonderful new moms who have played larger parts of the story. I would argue that Hera Syndulla was a mom to the crew of the Ghost well before she became a mom to Jacen. But I hope we can see more stories of Hera with Jacen in the future.

Norra Wexley, Iden Versio, Ursa Wren, and Venisa Doza have all been powerful, loving mothers in the Star Wars: Aftermath books, the video game Star Wars Battlefront II, and the animated series Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Resistance, respectively. It means a lot to see moms with their kids on screen and in the pages of books and comics trying to balance loving and supporting their families — while fighting against the Empire or the First Order. Any mom who has tried to juggle a work deadline, volunteering at a school fundraiser, buying groceries, and getting their child on time to a gymnastics meet can relate to this kind of multi-tasking.

Leia Organa’s relationship with her son in the sequel trilogy connected with me because it showed that love can remain even in the most strained of parent-child relationships. I’m not saying either of my children has turned to the dark side, but there are days they look at me like I’m the Palpatine figure in their life. Growing up, no character was as perfect in my mind as Princess Leia. But motherhood is messy and painful and unbelievably wonderful all at the same time, so I appreciated that Leia’s experience as a mother was more challenging than picture-perfect.

One of the things I was most looking forward to as a mom was introducing my kids to Star Wars. The results have been a bit mixed. It turns out when your mom is really into Star Wars, that isn’t the best selling point for some teenagers. But my son fell in love with The Mandalorian at the same age I was when Return of the Jedi super-charged my Star Wars fandom and we all had a blast during our first Star Wars Celebration in Chicago in 2019. Part of me wishes that my kids loved Star Wars as much as I do, but in the end, I’m proud to be raising rebels. And like the best Star Wars moms, I’ll support them no matter what direction their lives take them.

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Amy Richau is a writer, lifelong Star Wars geek, and diehard Denver Broncos fan. You can find her on Twitter @amyrichau and more of her writing on FANgirl Blog.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #MothersDay

Elzar Mann Communes with the Force in Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm – Exclusive Excerpt

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 10:00

Elzar Mann is a man consumed by a vision he can’t quite comprehend. Pain and suffering, the faces of his dearest friends and people he has yet to meet, swirl around him. But what does it mean?

In StarWars.com’s exclusive excerpt of the prologue from Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm, the forthcoming Star Wars: The High Republic novel by Cavan Scott, Elzar tries to unravel the terrifying images that suggest an end to the Jedi. Read the preview below, and pick up your own copy when The Rising Storm arrives June 29.

Ashla, Moon of Tython

The screams had never left Elzar Mann. Many months had passed since Starlight Beacon’s dedication ceremony, since he had stood alongside his fellow Jedi. Since he had stood alongside Avar Kriss.

The eyes of the galaxy had been upon them in their temple finery, that damned collar itching as he’d listened to the speeches and plati­tudes, first from Chancellor Lina Soh, leader of the Galactic Republic, and then from Avar. His Avar. The Hero of Hetzal.

The Beacon was their promise to the galaxy, Avar had said. It was their covenant. He could still hear her words.

Whenever you feel alone . . . whenever darkness closes in . . . know that the Force is with you. Know that we are with you . . . For light and life.

For light and life.

But that hadn’t stopped the darkness from closing in later that day. A wave of pain and suffering, a vision of the future too terrible to com­prehend. He had staggered, grabbing hold of a rail, blood gushing from his nose as the pressure in his head threatened to split his skull in two.

What he had seen had haunted him ever since. It had consumed him.

Jedi dying one by one, picked off by a twisting, unfathomable cloud. Stellan. Avar. Everyone he had ever known in the past and ev­eryone he would meet in days to come. Faces both familiar and strange torn apart.

And the screams.

The screams were the worst.

He had made it through the rest of the evening in a daze, going through the motions, not quite present, the echo of what he had seen . . . what he had heard . . . burned onto his mind’s eye. There had been mistakes, a few too many glasses of Kattadan rosé at the recep­tion, Avar asking for that dance she’d mentioned, Elzar leaning in a little too eagerly, a little too publicly.

He could still feel her hand on his chest, pushing him back.

“El. What are you doing?”

They had argued, privately, his head still spinning.

“We’re not Padawans anymore.”

It had been months since he saw her again, and when he did, the atmosphere was as frosty as a dawn on Vandor. Avar had changed toward him. She was more distant. Preoccupied with her new duties as marshal of Starlight Beacon.

Or maybe he was the one who was preoccupied. Elzar had medi­tated on the vision day and night since the dedication. He should have gone to Avar, to apologize and ask for her guidance, or if not her, then Stellan Gios, his oldest friend, but Stellan had duties of his own. He was a Council member now, responsible for guiding the Order as a whole. He would not have time. Besides, asking for help was hardly Elzar’s style. Elzar Mann was the one who solved problems, not posed them. He found solutions. Answers. New ways of getting the job done. So, Elzar did what he had always done: He tried to solve the problem alone.

First he had consulted the Archives in the Great Temple, poring over countless textfiles and holocrons in the collection, even going so far as attempting to decipher the mysteries of the Ga’Garen Codex, the ancient grimoire whose text had confounded linguists for thousands of years.

Even then, sitting in the Archives, under the watchful gaze of the statues of the Lost, Elzar had heard the screams at the back of his mind, seen the faces of the slain in every reflective surface or passing Padawan.

The Codex had brought him here, to Ashla, Tython’s primary moon. The ancients had called this stretch of land the Isle of Seclu­sion, which was exactly what he needed if he was ever going to fully understand what he had seen. He needed solitude; focus. The last straw had been receiving a message from Stellan’s old Master, the es­teemed Rana Kant, congratulating him on his elevation to Jedi Mas­ter. Furthermore, the Council had a posting for him; he was to be marshal of the Jedi outpost on Valo on the edge of the Rseik sector.

Him? A marshal? How could they be so blind? Couldn’t they see he wasn’t ready? Couldn’t they see how troubled he was?

Elzar walked toward the ocean, feeling the warm sand beneath his feet, discarding his outer robes as he approached the water. Yes, this was better. This was where he would finally see the truth. Where he would finally understand. He didn’t stop at the shore but strode out purposefully into the waves. Up to his knees. Up to his waist. Soon he was swimming out to sea, stopping only when he could no longer see land. He spun slowly, treading water, surrounded only by the sea and the Force itself.

It was time.

Elzar took a deep breath and pushed himself down beneath the waves, eyes closed, water rushing into his ears, blocking every other sound.

Show me.

Guide me.

Give me the answers I seek

There was nothing. No revelation. No response.

He kicked back up, drawing air into his lungs before plunging back down again.

I am here.

I want to learn.

I need to understand.

Nothing changed.

Where were the answers he’d been promised? Where was the under­standing?

He repeated the ritual, breaking for air, plunging back down, let­ting the ocean swallow him whole. Again, and again, and . . .

It was like hitting an air pocket. All at once he wasn’t sinking, he was running, his fellow Jedi at his side as nightmares snapped at their heels. They weren’t in water, but in fog. Thick. Acrid. Impenetrable. Nothing made sense. Not the chaos, not the panic.

Not the fear.

He opened his mouth to cry out, seawater rushing in from far away, from a different world, from a different time.

What is this?

Where is this?

Speak to me!

And the Force spoke with such strength that Elzar was thrown into a spin, images flashing past his stinging eyes like purple lightning.

Avar.

Stellan.

A Tholothian . . . Indeera Stokes? No, one of her tendrils was miss­ing, an unfamiliar face contorted in rage.

Bones splintering.

Skin cracking.

Eyes clouded, no longer able to see.

And the screams. The screams were louder than ever. Harsher than ever. And his scream was loudest of all.

Where?

Where?

WHERE?

Elzar’s shoulders heaved, seawater spluttering from his lungs. He was back on Ashla’s shore, salt drying on his skin, baked by the burn­ing sun. He looked around, eyes still blurry, trying to focus on the golden sands that stretched out to either side of him, wingmaws cir­cling in the sky above, ready to pick the flesh from his bones. But he wasn’t dead yet. None of them were.

He pushed himself up and stumbled back toward his Vector, gath­ering his robes as he went. He needed to get off Ashla. Needed to leave the Core. The Force had spoken. It had already answered his question, if only he had listened.

One name, a planet, where he would finally be able to put things right.

Valo.

Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm arrives June 29 and is available for pre-order now.

Visit Lucasfilm’s official hub for all things Star Wars: The High Republic at StarWars.com/TheHighRepublic.

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Check Out All of Marvel’s Star Wars Pride Month Covers – Exclusive

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 09:00

As announced in March, Marvel and Lucasfilm will mark Pride Month in June with a powerful series of variant covers honoring the LGBTQ+ characters of Star Wars. The art will grace every title in Marvel’s Star Wars line, and each piece has been created by gay and transgender artists; the covers also feature title treatments with a rainbow burst, and a classic Star Wars logo with a rainbow trail.

StarWars.com is thrilled to offer a first look at the entire slate of covers: Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1, featuring our favorite rogue archaeologist, Doctor Aphra, by artist Babs Tarr; Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #13, which showcases Yrica Quell, vaunted pilot and leader of Alphabet Squadron, by artist Jacopo Camagni; Star Wars: Darth Vader #13, celebrating Imperial commander Rae Slone, by artist JJ Kirby; Star Wars: The High Republic #6, with Jedi twins Terec and Ceret, by artist Javier Garrón; Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #11, depicting bounty hunter/smuggler Sana Starros, by artist Jan Bazaldua; and Star Wars #14, which highlights Star Wars icon Lando Calrissian, by artist Stephen Byrne.

“As part of the community of LGBTQ+ creators — a galaxy not so far away — I am honored to be part of this project,” Bounty Hunters #13 cover artist Jacopo Camagni tells StarWars.com. “Sketching Yrica Quell was a journey to expand that endless galaxy, on board with her as rebels against the Empire.”

“Being invited to portray these two amazing characters was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t let slip away,” says The High Republic #6 cover artist Javier Garrón. “It’s a chance to highlight what I love about them and Star Wars: it’s an endless universe, immensely diverse and inclusive. With each story its limits are shattered and it becomes richer, more interesting and more fun to explore. So I wanted to draw Terec and Cerec as the powerful characters they are, filled with determination and hope. Because that’s what a great Jedi means to me. And representation matters.”

See all the covers below!

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Bad Batch Declassified: 5 Highlights from “Aftermath”

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 08:00

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is here, chronicling the adventures of the elite squad Clone Force 99 following the end of the Clone War. In Bad Batch Declassified, we’ll explore our favorite moments from each episode of the series, available only on Disney+. Armor up and join us for the ride.

Spoiler warning: This article discusses details and plot points from the Star Wars: The Bad Batch episode, “Aftermath.”

When we first met them in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it was clear that the Bad Batch, a.k.a. Clone Force 99, were different from their brothers in the clone army. And not just in looks and abilities, gifted to them by genetic mutations. A squad of elite soldiers, it was the fierce independent streak of Clone Force 99’s Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, and new addition Echo that truly set them apart. And that sense of individuality lies at the heart of “Aftermath,” the epic and emotional series premiere of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Picking up at the end of the Clone War — and the transformation of the Republic into the Empire — the Bad Batch (formally known as Clone Force 99) must choose the path they feel is right. For these soldiers, it’s the ultimate test of who they are, not just as clones or soldiers — but as human beings. “Aftermath” delivers plenty of action, as would be expected from a story involving the Bad Batch, but also spades of character drama, surprises, and a beating heart. It all sets up what looks to be thrilling series — a cat-and-mouse action/adventure, asking questions of loyalty, bravery, and forging one’s own destiny. Here are five highlights.

1. “You’ve gotta see these clones. They’re different.”

With the Jedi and clones pinned down in a clash with battle droids on Kaller, matters seem dire. But Padawan Caleb Dume — a.k.a. Star Wars Rebels’ Kanan Jarrus (!) — recruits Clone Force 99. And when they show up, it’s what we can already call classic Bad Batch: each member uses their unique talents to take out the clankers, making for a rip-roaring action set piece to start the series and introduce our heroes.

2. Order 66.

The execution of all Jedi, or Order 66, is one of the most significant and tragic events in all of Star Wars. But we’ve never seen it through these lenses — a frightened Padawan and the confused troopers of Clone Force 99 — and the experience adds another layer of complexity to the saga. Hunter, the leader of the Bad Batch and who proves to be the conscience of the team, refuses to kill Caleb. This decision would prove to have far-reaching implications.

3. Meet Omega.

The Bad Batch have a fan, and she rules. After the team returns to Kamino, a young child named Omega stops them in a corridor to introduce herself, and later joins the crew in the mess hall. When some clones pick on our favorite band of weirdos, it’s Omega who stands up for them — leading to an all-out food fight/brawl. A fun and unexpected sequence, but it also sets up that there’s something special about Omega…

4. Tarkin’s test.

While Tarkin seemingly has no love for clones — indeed, he came to Kamino to terminate the Empire’s deal for the army — the Imperial can’t deny the success of the Bad Batch. He tests them in a training exercise, but switches to live ammunition when it seems too easy. It’s typical, twisted Tarkin, but the Bad Batch, only armed with training weaponry, get creative. In the end, they prove why they’re the best.

5. Showdown with Crosshair.

Who would’ve thought it would come to this? Crosshair had been at odds with Hunter ever since he let Caleb Dume escape. It all comes to a head when Crosshair, under further inhibitor-chip programming by Tarkin, aligns with the Empire. All sides are playing for keeps in this final standoff, and it’s truly intense. But when the Bad Batch escape, Omega in tow, the episode ends with a feeling of hope — as all great Star Wars does.

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Dan Brooks is a writer and the editor of StarWars.com. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #TheBadBatch, #DisneyPlus

Bad Batch First Look: “Cut and Run”

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 07:00

Following the transformation of the Republic to the Empire, the Bad Batch find themselves on the run — and odds with Crosshair. But while the team seeks refuge with a face from the past, they soon learn that no place is safe from Imperial eyes. Star Wars: The Bad Batch continues with “Cut and Run,” now streaming on Disney+; check out a selection of preview images from the episode below!

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Here Are Over 40 Starships You’ll Encounter at Disney Cruise Line’s Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge – Exclusive

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 14:03

This is going to be a Star Wars journey you won’t forget.

As shared last week on StarWars.com, Disney Cruise Line’s Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge will bring Canto Bight-like flair and fancy galactic beverages to the Disney Wish. But that’s not all fans will experience when the ship sets sail in 2022.

While passengers travel the galaxy, they’ll be treated to spectacular views through the lounge’s widescreen viewport — including encounters with starships of all kinds. So far, five planet destinations have been announced and StarWars.com is thrilled to reveal the full list of fighters, freighters, cruisers, and more featured at these stops.

https://starwarsblog.starwars.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/DCL_StarWars_Hyperspace_Lounge_Endor_720_H264.mp4

You’ll see ships iconic (the Millennium Falcon), fan-favorite (the Razor Crest from The Mandalorian), obscure (Coruscant freighter), and everything in-between. They’ve all been brought to life by the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic; you can get an idea of what these encounters will look like in the concept art and video featured above, which find the Resistance fleet engaging the First Order near the moons of Endor…and very close to the bar. (So sip your drinks with care!)

As for why you’ll be seeing these starships, you’ll just have to experience Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge yourself to find out…

Get the full list below!

The Naboo N-1 starfighter as seen in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Coruscant

CR70 diplomatic cruiser

Coruscant AA-9 passenger liner

Coruscant transport freighter

Corellian CR90 corvette

Halcyon

Ibis freighter

Nukoy freighter

Marisas freighter

Naboo N-1 starfighter

Starspeeder 3000

Traffic Ships

The Imperial TIE fighter as seen in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Mustafar

Dornean gunship

Imperial arrestor cruiser

Imperial Star Destroyer

Imperial Lambda-class shuttle

Imperial Delta-class shuttle

Imperial TIE boarder

Imperial TIE brute heavy fighter

Imperial TIE fighter

The Razor Crest as seen in The Mandalorian.

Tatooine

Corellian passenger transport

Rogue-class fighter

The Millennium Falcon

New Republic prison ship

The Razor Crest

KGZ-54 Starcrane

AA-C39 freighter

Ghtroc 820 Transport

Lantzant Hybrid Hauler

Lancer pursuit craft

Victor-wing fighter

The Resistance X-wing fighter as seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Batuu

Resistance A-wing fighter

Tuggs’ Grub food transport

Coruscant AA-9 passenger liner

Coruscant transport freighter

Mining guild freighter

The Millennium Falcon

Resistance MC85 Mon Calamari cruiser

First Order Star Destroyer

First Order TIE fighter

Traffic ships

ZH-40 freighter

Resistance X-wing fighter

The Nebulon-B frigate as seen in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Endor

Resistance bunkerbuster

Mining guild freighter

YT-2400 freighter

Gozanti cruiser

Nebulon-B frigate

Tri-wing S-91X fighter

Resistance cargo frigate

Resistance MC85 Mon Calamari cruiser

First Order TIE fighter

Drovan freighter

Razor assault ship

Resistance X-wing fighter

Resistance Y-wing fighter

To learn more about Disney Cruise Line’s Star Wars: Hyperspace Lounge and other news, check out the latest episode of This Week! In Star Wars below.

The Disney Wish — the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line Fleet​ — sets sail in summer 2022

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Get the Behind-the-Scenes Story of Jabba’s Palace in Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – The Official Collector’s Edition – Exclusive Excerpt

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 10:00

As it turns out, Jabba’s tongue was as gross on set as it was in the finished movie.

In Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – The Official Collector’s Edition, available now from the talents behind Star Wars Insider, you’ll get the inside story on every episodic Star Wars film — in the words of their makers. Presented in oral-history format, this special release gathers archive and new interviews from the saga’s directors, writers, effects wizards, actors, puppeteers, and more for a revealing look behind the scenes.

In StarWars.com’s exclusive excerpt from the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi section, we go inside Jabba’s palace and hear from Anthony Daniels, Carrie Fisher, and the puppeteers literally bringing the slug-like crime lord to life — including his slimy tongue.

The film opens with the visit to Jabba the Hutt’s palace. First mentioned in A New Hope, the film would resolve the story of Han Solo’s debt to the criminal kingpin and introduce some memorable creatures in doing so.

Anthony Daniels (C-3PO):

The set seemed so claustrophobic and dark, which wasn’t helped by the incense used to give “atmosphere” —a kind of nightclub fog. For me, Jabba’s palace was a trial by smoke! But it looked good, and in a movie, that’s what counts.

For the most part, the space was rather crowded with rubber-headed creatures, but the crew squeezed in too. Carrie [Fisher] felt a lot better after she took off her Boushh mask. A role like C-3PO would not be an option for Carrie! But then, I wouldn’t relish sitting around in her metal truss either. I think she felt a bit conspicuous on the first day. But on a set, you get used to odd experiences very quickly. Or you get another job.

Toby Philpott (Jabba the Hutt, puppeteer):

After the period of fittings, and a brief practice, we found ourselves arriving onto a very busy set, and climbing inside Jabba through a hole underneath. From then on, Dave [Barclay] and I were mainly alone apart from when Mike Edmonds was in there, too, whenever the tail was in the shot! We had headsets, so we could talk to the rest of the team (operating the eyes by radio control, and so on). We could also hear Richard Marquand’s

instructions. Dave did the right arm and operated the mouth, and spoke for Jabba, delivering the lines in English for the actors. We always worked Jabba as a unified being, an actor, which meant we were continuously practicing our coordination. Apart from tea breaks and lunch, we stayed inside all day (from 8:30am to 6:00pm).

Richard Marquand (Director):

As a director, you are talking to Jabba himself. You’re telling him what to do. In the early stages, when you are casting the people who will later play the characters, you are thinking of them as manipulators. At that point, you are interested in their shape or personality and temperament— whether they can stand being in costume for any length of time. But once they are on set and they are in costume, they are that character—I definitely deal with Jabba on set.

Anthony Daniels:

I absolutely loved Jabba! I’d seen him grow up from a maquette in the Creature Shop, to a wire frame, to a great glob of clay, transformed into this jolly green slug. I thought he was great fun on the outside! Inside was a gang of performers who made me laugh all the time. Mike Edmonds starred as the tail, thrashing about. Jabba’s right hand, Dave [Barclay] and I had wireless communication so we could hear each other’s lines. We used it mainly to gossip and discuss Carrie Fisher’s near-costume! Then there was the gang on the outside, remotely controlling Jabba’s eyes in an effect that I’d never seen before, focusing and narrowing, just like the eyes of a real Hutt. The other delight of working with Jabba was that he didn’t wander off the set or have a bad hair day or a bad makeup moment. So lots of time hanging around in the gold suit was saved there!

Tim Rose (Salacious B. Crumb, Sy Snootles):

The cantina scene in the first film had always made a big impression on people, and we

wanted to make our scene as good as that one. There was a good week’s worth of lead-time on the scene, and all the characters that we had built in Phil Tippett’s shop at Industrial Light & Magic needed to get unpacked and assigned to performers to rehearse with. I already knew several of the performers, because we had worked together on The Dark

Crystal (1982 ) for Jim Henson. I was happy with the way Salacious Crumb was coming along, but Sy Snootles was a different matter. I had designed her as a “reversestring marionette,” which was a term I made up. Instead of being controlled by strings from above, as a classic marionette would be, she floated in the air and was pulled down to the ground by wires and rods to the bottoms of her feet. She was very hard to control, and I could only get a good take about once every twelve attempts. When it came time to shoot, they only gave me two

takes to get it right, neither of which was one of my good ones. I think that’s probably why she got replaced by CGI so early on.

The dark, steamy set proved difficult to shoot on and led to some mishaps along the way. 

Toby Philpott:

All we could see was a grainy “security camera” shot of Jabba on tiny monitors hanging on our chests, which made filming hard. Dave told me he had to put his hand (Jabba’s right hand) on Leia’s shoulder, but heard Carrie say (quite calmly) “That’s not my shoulder…”

I had to menace Leia with the tongue—my right hand was inside the tongue. We did a couple of takes. Then I heard Mr. Marquand in my headset, asking me to try to reach the tongue farther out, and really try to lick her. On the next take I did just that, but heard a stifled gasp, and some laughter, and “CUT!” Only much later was I told I had stuck that horrible, gloop-covered tongue right in Carrie Fisher’s ear!

Carrie Fisher (Leia):

I was not actually a damsel in distress, I was a distressing damsel!

Tim Rose:

Salacious spent a lot of time sitting near Jabba’s tail. Mike Edmonds was inside the body of Jabba and was controlling his tail with a cable-control mechanism. When he would get bored between takes, he would start swinging the tail back and forth shouting, “Batter up!” and try to knock Salacious off my arm, which he managed to do on more than one occasion!

Anthony Daniels:

My bad moment, apart from smelling like a BBQ every evening, was the great fall. Jabba was unhappy with Threepio not being helpful enough (as if!) and swiped him with his mighty fist! This meant that I had to fall down. It’s easy enough to do by accident in the desert, or in Padmé’s apartment, but deliberately? In that costume? To the ground? Not so much.

As an unnamed crewmember was about to leave the set, they asked him to hold the other side of a padded board on which I would fall, just clearing frame. “Action!” Jabba gave me a smack (sort of) and I spun and fell. “Cut!” Good. Now there was blood. I checked. Not mine. But that unnamed crewmember had taken a blow from Threepio’s elbow and was henceforth known as “Scarchin!” Then, of course, I could tell the dreadful truth about Jabba’s slime, but that’s another story!

Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – The Official Collector’s Edition is available now in the US and Canada, as well as the UK and Europe.

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The LEGO Group’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch Attack Shuttle Comes in for a Landing – Exclusive Reveal

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 07:30

Strap in for takeoff.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch has arrived on Disney+, and today the LEGO Group has revealed a new buildable playset inspired by the unique squad’s ship. The set includes six minifigures — Hunter, Tech, Wrecker, Echo, Crosshair, and a Gonk droid — and at least one spoiler from the super-sized premiere. (Hint: One of these clones is looking a little different than his brothers.)

StarWars.com is excited to exclusively debut the new Star Wars: The Bad Batch Attack Shuttle from the LEGO Group, including insights from the team that helped create it.

Senior Graphic Designer Madison O’Neil on creating those amazing new minifigures — including a revealing look at Crosshair.

“Each member of the Bad Batch has a distinct personality and a unique set of armor. Also, despite the fact that they are clones, they each have unique facial features whether that be scars, face paint, goggles, tattoos, and even cybernetic implants. We wanted to make sure to capture all of these fun features in the minifigures, and we created a few new elements to help with that as well. Seeing Crosshair’s new set of armor for the first time made me very excited to watch the new Bad Batch series! I can’t wait to see how and why he gets it.”

Designer Hans Burkhard Schlömer on making a kid-friendly play set for Star Wars fans 9 and up.

“Our larger (UCS series) sets often require an internal frame constructed with mostly LEGO Technic elements to make them stable and sturdy enough. On play-theme sets, we can usually reduce that amount, due to their smaller size, and lesser weight. On the shuttle you will find that only the joints of the pair of wings are connected using technic beams for stability, keeping the whole building experience very plates-and-bricks. Well, mostly plates! It also was important to me that the shuttle can fully open, to allow easy access to the interior play space.”

Senior Graphic Designer Madison O’Neil on some Aurebesh elements hidden inside the ship.

“These decorations are actually posters that the Bad Batch have hung on the walls of their ship. The designs are taken directly from the show. I love that the Bad Batch has decided to decorate their ship and make the space their own. It’s a fun detail that I think sets them apart from standard clones.”

Design Director Jens Kronvold Frederiksen on the included speeder bikes and Gonk droid.

“The two speeders are included because we wanted to add some extra value to the set. We know that the speeders will be seen in the show, however, we do not know exactly in which context they will be seen. I guess we will have to wait and see like everybody else. We also love Gonk droids, so we are excited too, and happy that we were able to include one here.”

Take a closer look at the set with additional images below then pre-order your own.

Epic Stories. Tons of TV. Live Sports.Get the Disney Bundle

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family At War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

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My Favorite Scene: The Classic Clash in the Snow

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 10:00

In My Favorite Scene, StarWars.com invites special guest writers to discuss which one scene or moment in the saga resonates with them most. In this installment, Andy Weir, author of The Martian and the new Project Hail Mary, discusses why he loves the centerpiece action sequence from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Star Wars is a story of bravery, destiny, valor, and perseverance. But none of those come without setbacks, failures, and defeats. And nowhere is that more strongly demonstrated than in the Battle of Hoth. It’s one of the most convincingly detailed and logical sci-fi battles ever shown on film. The stakes are high, you fear for the characters’ lives.

And in the end, the good guys lose.

As a viewer, you go into a battle scene expecting the heroes to win the day, no matter the odds. Some brave stand or unexpected re-enforcements will turn the tide at the last second. But in the Battle of Hoth, there’s no such moment. There’s no exploitable weakness in the enemy attack. The cavalry never comes. The rebel forces are absolutely smashed, forced to retreat under heavy Imperial fire, losing soldiers, ordnance, and military materiel that they can scarcely afford to lose.

But it’s not just the outcome that’s satisfying — it’s the intelligence and logic the screenwriters use to get us there. Granted I don’t know the first thing about real combat engagements, but there’s such a satisfying flow of move and countermove to it, with a mix of realistic-feeling mistakes and smart tactical deductions.

After the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, the rebels are on the run. They’ve destroyed the Imperial superweapon, but their main base at Yavin 4 is now known, and it’s just a matter of time before a massive Imperial fleet comes to erase it. So they relocate to the ice planet of Hoth.

Unfortunately, the enemy forces find them and, well, the Empire strikes back. But then comes the first mistake and the countermove: the Imperial forces come out of hyperspace too soon, leaving the rebels time to get their orbital shields up. So what could have been a simple bombardment from space now has to be fought out on the ground.

The rebels have made their own catastrophic error, though. They’ve got a strong fleet of skirmishing fighters optimized for Hoth’s atmosphere and temperature: snowspeeders. They’re well prepared for a battle against enemy TIE fighters, which would be the obvious option for a low-altitude attack. But that isn’t the battle the Empire brings.

Enter the AT-ATs — Imperial walkers. Able to manage any terrain and carry a compliment of troops, so heavily armored they can shrug off ground-mounted artillery, and equipped with powerful blasters, they’re a threat the rebels are totally unprepared for. Snowspeeder weapons are useless. They’re horribly outmatched and outgunned.

This is one of the things that makes the scene feel so real to me. War isn’t highly organized armies meeting on a field, each perfectly executing their plans. War is chaos, luck, and — nine times out of 10 — a mismatch in forces.

The Imperial ground assault annihilates the rebel snowspeeders and lays waste to the defensive line of troops in trenches. Why are there troops in trenches at all? Because they expected those TIE fighters to be providing air support for advancing stormtroopers on foot. But thanks to the AT-ATs, the trenches are a deathtrap for the soldiers manning them and don’t even slow the Empire down.

But then, the rebel forces do what most military strategists consider the hardest feat to pull off: They execute a well-organized retreat without letting it become a rout.

As soon as they spot the AT-ATs, they know they’re outmatched. From the get-go, they realize their only goal is to get the bulk of rebel troops and supplies away to safety. To them, the battle no longer has anything to do with the base at Hoth, the AT-ATs, or the snowspeeders. It’s all about another tactical matchup: the ion cannon versus the Star Destroyer fleet.

The ion cannon can fire into space with enough power to temporarily disable an entire Star Destroyer, which in turn gives the transports just enough of an escape corridor to get away.

But here’s where another strategical mismatch comes into play: The Empire assumed the battle would be only on the ground. There was no rebel fleet in orbit at Hoth, and they didn’t expect ground-based weaponry to attack their fleet directly. So when they spread out their Star Destroyers to create a net, they didn’t bother to address the obvious weakness in their formation. They’ve got plenty of TIE fighters. They could have easily positioned fleets of them between the Destroyers to cover any gaps. But they simply didn’t think it would be a problem.

This is fantastic writing. I absolutely love the small tactical errors, constantly changing situation, and conflicting goals and strategies.

And so, by the time the Imperials breach Echo Base — the network of caves serving as the main rebel operational center on Hoth — what could have been a fierce battle turns out to be stormtroopers finding no enemy to fight. Only a few stragglers get left behind, and most of the rebels escape.

The end result is that the Empire scores a crushing victory on paper, but doesn’t get much out of it. The bulk of the rebel forces get away, along with the Rebellion leaders. The Empire gets no useful intel from Echo Base, and they still have no idea where the rebel fleet is.

This is how you write a battle scene! A series of decisions and mistakes that feel real and logical, taking into account the established strengths and weaknesses of the sci-fi technology and the information each side has available and knows about the other.

And it’s beautiful from a narrative standpoint, too. We’re shown the single greatest defeat of the rebel army of the entire war. But we’re left with a sense of victory and accomplishment because of how desperate the situation is, and how smart our heroes are in getting out of it.

The mere fact that the war wasn’t lost on the spot and the main characters are still alive is, to the audience, a victory. And to make the audience feel like that — that’s damned good writing.

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Andy Weir built a two-decade career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, The Martian, allowed him to live out his dream of writing full-time. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of such subjects as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Luke Skywalker Joins the Search for Solo in Marvel’s Star Wars #13 – Exclusive Preview

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 08:00

There’s no Jedi training like action in the field.

Marvel’s epic crossover War of the Bounty Hunters centers around Boba Fett’s journey — and battles — to bring Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt following the events of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. In StarWars.com’s exclusive preview of Star Wars #13, the rebels come to Luke Skywalker, in the middle of intense training in the ways of the Force, for help saving their abducted friend…

One of several preludes in the crossover, Star Wars #13, from writer Charles Soule and artist Ramon Rosanas, with a cover by Carlo Pagulayan, arrives May 12 and is available for pre-order now on Comixology and at your local comic shop.

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“The Force Awakens From Its Nap”: Behind-the-Scenes of the Surprise Star Wars Day Simpsons Short

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 13:02

At Jabba’s Hut Pre-School, Obi-Wan Kenobi masterfully slaps together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while his former nemesis General Grievous is relegated to diaper duty. Misbehaving younglings are dealt with swiftly, dunked into carbonite and hung up for time out. Lando Calrissian has been made baron administrator of the Cloud City Nap Room.

And in the middle of the action we find Maggie Simpson on a desperate quest to rescue her beloved pacifier.

The Force Awakens From Its Nap,” the new Maggie short now on Disney+ in celebration of Star Wars Day, isn’t the first time The Simpsons have given a nod to the galaxy far, far away. In one full-length episode of the animated series — now in in the midst of an impressive 32nd season with over 700 episodes — Homer Simpson famously spoiled the surprise in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back for a line of eager fans on opening night. “There’s always been a little bit of having fun with it, it’s such a huge thing in the culture and The Simpsons has a history of taking shots,” says Michael Price, a writer and co-executive producer for the hit series for the last 20 years and co-writer of the short. But this time it’s different, a loving fusion of small-town Springfield co-existing with characters and situations plucked straight out of the Star Wars galaxy. “I think it’s fun to have the chance to do it for real. We did our parody of The Phantom Menace with a parody of the George Lucas character and there’ll be jokes here and there. But to have the chance to actually have the characters kind of live in that world was really fun. And also at the same time we take our little jabs. Like there’s a thing at the end, the crawl to explain the rules. It’s fun to have a little bit of fun that way.”

“We’ve been in awe of and inspired by Star Wars for years,” adds Al Jean, one of Price’s co-writers on the short alongside Joel Cohen and a longtime Simpsons writer and executive producer. “So it was a true thrill to combine them for a short.”

Price has been writing Star Wars stories with tongue firmly planted in cheek for years; his first LEGO Star Wars short The Padawan Menace arrived in 2011. Since then he’s penned LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out, The Yoda Chronicles, and Droid Tales among other animation. “I’m old enough to have seen Star Wars when it first came out, back when it was just called Star Wars. When it wasn’t Episode IV yet,” he says with a laugh. “I remember that summer. It was a different time, too, in terms of learning about things. There wasn’t as much publicity. So I remember it kind of seeping in. I had some friends — I was doing a play that summer — and suddenly one day all my friends in the play, they had all gone to see it, and they picked up broomsticks and they started [dueling pretend] lightsabers.”

Price knew he had to get in on the action so he went to his hometown theater in New Jersey soon after. Unfortunately, he didn’t account for the film’s popularity creating a line that wrapped around the building and he missed the opening crawl and the first few minutes. Still, the first images he glimpsed are seared into his memory and made him an instant fan. “The very first thing I remember seeing was walking into the theater with my brother five seconds before Darth Vader first shows up on the Rebel blockade runner,” he recalls. “I loved it immediately. Saw it a couple more times that summer. And then totally got into it. Whenever a movie came out, I was there opening night.”

In those intervening years, Star Wars, like The Simpsons, has become a phenomenon. The secret to that success and longevity is difficult to quantify. “In both cases there is an enormously devoted fan base and on the inside, an enormous amount of work,” Jean says. “Also, Maggie is our R2-D2.”

But beyond those fervent fan followings and silent, pint-sized stars, Price sees some similarities in the timeless story elements and expansive universes. “In Star Wars, it’s literally, well, a galaxy, a gigantic galaxy with characters and planets and places and things. There’s so much room for new stories. And even though The Simpsons takes place in this little town of Springfield, there are so many characters and so many places to go and so much freedom to go in terms of stories. I think that’s why we’re able to keep finding new stories to tell 700 episodes later. I think there’s just a basicness to it. Star Wars is really basic. It’s good versus evil and heroes and villains. And Simpsons is basic family stuff. The basic family unit but with a weird, crazy, beautiful eye on it all.” The unique lens has certainly helped them maintain popularity as well as making the fusion of the two worlds in the new Maggie short feel effortless. “In their own way they’re both about unreal fantasy worlds but there’s such a wealth of detail to it,” he says.

In this case, Maggie Simpson must face her greatest fear — going without her pacifier! — and her greatest foe, the buck-toothed, unibrow baby Gerald Samson. The entire sequence is built around foley sounds and a music score, cleverly woven together to lead up to an epic battle for pre-school dominance.

“Maggie, God love her, is our pathway to silent film comedy,” says James L. Brooks, the producer, writer, and Academy Award-winning director who has been with The Simpsons from the family’s humble beginnings as a short on The Tracey Ullman Show.

“She doesn’t talk and she can take a fall, just like Buster Keaton,” adds Jean.

For the short, Jean says the team collaborated on the joke ideas first then built a plot around Maggie’s relationship with the one-of-a-kind, orange and white droid BB-8, who plays a key role in helping her recover her lost pacifier. Ultimately, she faces off with baby Gerald, reimagined here as Darth Maul, in a showdown overlaid with the original John Williams score from Anakin Skywalker’s fateful duel with his own master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, at the climax of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

“He’s been Maggie’s nemesis forever, that one eyebrowed baby,” Price says, so turning him into Maul was a no-brainer. “He’s so great,” Price says with a laugh. “I remember going to see The Phantom Menace and he stood out. He was so strong and so great and so exciting.” In one LEGO short that Price wrote, longtime Maul voice actor Sam Witwer performed a musical number as the Zabrak character, heralding his own arrival and awesomeness with his famous double-bladed lightsaber sprouting eight different blades. “And so once the idea of Maul came around it’s just perfect,” Price says. “He’s such a perfect corollary to the one eyebrowed baby.”

Their final duel is Jean’s favorite moment in the short. On Monday, he tweeted a sneak peek at his notebook showcasing the rough sketch of the pacifier-turned-lightsaber. “[It’s] the first drawing I’ve ever pitched for The Simpsons,” he adds.

In just three minutes, the story is brimming with Easter eggs and subtle nods spanning more than four decades of Star Wars storytelling. The carbonite rack has a striking resemblance to a similar contraption spotted on the Razor Crest in The Mandalorian. A pint-sized Max Rebo is in the lunch line alongside kid versions of Kylo Ren and Boba Fett. One child plays with toy thermal detonators while another completes a Death Star III — “guaranteed unexplodable” — that immediately blows up. And, of course, there’s Aurebesh, including a sign written above a toy chest that can be translated to read: “Good job, Nerds. You figured it out.”

An earlier version said “nerfs,” Price notes with a chuckle, which could have served as yet another reference. And after a Maggie transforms into another iconic Star Wars character, and the rules scroll across the screen, the credits roll with Ralph McQuarrie-esque paintings featuring Homer belly-up to the bar at the Mos Eisley cantina, Kylo Ren kneeling before Mr. Burns, and Chewbacca getting married to Aunt Selma.

“That was really fun to do,” Price says. “I was really trying to work as much of The Simpsons worlds in as possible but keeping it mostly about Star Wars.” And he hopes that the short, like his LEGO specials before it, will reach Simpsons and Star Wars fans alike, pleasing young viewers and adults. “I would say I brought a Simpsons writer sensibility to those…little kids were enjoying it on their own level because it was funny and it was LEGO, but I was making somewhat sophisticated referential Star Wars jokes. Hopefully this short will sort of hit that same sweet spot, where a little kid or a young person can enjoy it just as a fun thing, but the people who are big Star Wars fans will notice the little shout outs.”

Watch “The Force Awakens From Its Nap” short for yourself now on Disney+.

Epic Stories. Tons of TV. Live Sports.Get the Disney Bundle

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family At War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #StarWarsDay, #DisneyPlus

On the Comlink: What Does Star Wars Mean to You?

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 12:00

On the Comlink is a feature in which StarWars.com writers hop on a call (virtual or old fashioned) and discuss a specific Star Wars topic. In this installment to celebrate Star Wars Day, Dan Brooks, Kristin Baver, Katie Barnes, Dustin Diehl, and Bria LaVorgna discuss how they first became Star Wars fans and what has kept them interested in the galaxy far, far away over the years.

Dan Brooks: This is coming out on May the 4th, so that’s why we’re talking about what Star Wars means to us. I thought we could start by talking about how we all discovered Star Wars. So I’m going to ask Dustin: tell us your Star Wars story — what were your first steps into…

Dustin Diehl: [Simultaneously] A larger world? [Laughs]

Yeah, oh my gosh, so I was in second grade and I think they were running one of the TNT or TBS marathons back when you would record things on VHS. My dad was like, “I recorded this movie that I think you might like.” And I had some friends in school that were big Star Trek fans and so when he said that it was Star Wars, I was like, “Oh no, I know about that. I don’t really think that’s for me.” And he’s like, “No, I promise you it’s different.” Nothing against Star Trek, it just wasn’t for me at the time. And we sat down to watch it and I was just hooked. I was so hooked, I made my mom take me to Toys ‘R’ Us the very next day to get my very first Power of the Force action figure. And there was only one red card on the shelf and it was an R2-D2. So R2-D2 was my first [Star Wars action figure]. And the next day I started Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back before my dad came home and he was so mad that I started without him, but I was just like, “We’ll just start it over. It’s fine! We’ll start it over.”

Dan Brooks: And where did it go from there for you? Were you re-watching the movies a lot, did you start reading the books?

Dustin Diehl: I was huge, huge, huge into the books. I was already a pretty avid reader as a kid, and got into the young Jedi Knight series — was obsessed with that. And then pretty much any of the now Legends books, but from the Thrawn trilogy to the Jedi Academy trilogy, pretty much all the way through New Jedi Order all through middle school. Very much, kind of…I survived the dark times of the ‘90s.

Kristin Baver: Do you have a T-shirt that says that?

Dustin Diehl: They should have that. They should totally have that. But it was mostly through the action figures and the toys and the books, honestly. Obviously, I re-watched the movies all the time, but I think that the love of Star Wars kind of stayed alive through the novels and through the merchandise. [Laughs]

Dan Brooks: Yes, of course. [Imitating Yogurt from Spaceballs] Merchandising! Merchandising!

Dustin Diehl: Yup! [Laughs]

Dan Brooks: I knew this conversation was going to make me feel old, by the way, ‘cause I survived the dark times of the ‘80s and the ‘90s. Katie, what about you? How did you first get into Star Wars?

Katie Barnes: Actually in a very similar way, although I think I had multiple Star Wars entry points, which we can unpack in a minute. But I definitely remember my dad had a VHS tape and he would write all of the things that he had taped on it and like, what order they were in. I just kind of picked one up and I put it in and it was The Empire Strikes Back, and so that was the first film I saw. And, you know, it was also in the ‘90s. And it must have been…I don’t remember exactly what it was, because I didn’t immediately turn into like, a “Star Wars person.” I’m actually probably much more of a Star Wars fan now than I was when I was a kid. But then I remember going to see The Phantom Menace with my dad. And he hated it and I loved it. I was like 10 years old having the time of my life. My dad kept being like, “Jar Jar sucks.” And I was like, “Yeah, totally… [whispers] I like Jar Jar.”

[Everyone laughs.]

[I was] very much like that small person that was into Jar Jar Binks. And you know, it was always just going along with my dad. And I really enjoyed it and I watched the first three…Episodes I, II, and III, which were my most formative memories. I saw every single one of those in theaters with my dad and we would talk about it. It was just kind of like one of those things I do with my dad and that was the same with Star Wars as it was with the first three Spider-Man films. It was all kind of around the same time in my life. And then you know, I kind of like stopped. My friends were into Star Wars and I watched all of the films, of course, but I never got into like Legends canon. And I wasn’t able to play that many video games as a kid, so I didn’t get into those games. And it wasn’t until probably when I was in college and early adulthood that I started to kind of double back and dive in… really started to embrace my Star Wars fandom and learn more and actually pick up a couple of the novels and then play video games. The best thing about being an adult is being able to buy your own video games.

Bria LaVorgna: Yes.

Katie Barnes: And I have kind of fallen in love with the lore now and I’m very into all of, like, the taxes and the trade stuff and I’m like, “Yeah, like let’s talk about politics.” Like, that’s my favorite part about it. Other than lightsabers, that’s always going to be cool.

Dan Brooks: What was the impetus for you getting back into it as an adult?

Katie Barnes: It’s one of those things that was really gradual. I immediately thought of this line from The Fault in Our Stars — just go with me — about like, you fall asleep slowly and then all at once. And it was a lot like that where my friends were very into Star Wars and I was into The Lord of the Rings but like, I’ve just always been kind of casual about my fantasy fandom. I think, honestly, if I’m being like self-reflective and frank about it, it hasn’t been something that I had felt was really inclusive of the person that I am as like a black queer non-binary person. I just didn’t know it was for me….[It] didn’t seem like something that I would necessarily be a part of from a fandom and community standpoint. And so, I just kind of followed their lead and they were all talking about really cool stuff, and I wanted to talk about cool stuff. And I hate feeling left out, and that was a big driver for me to kind of really dive in and find other entry points into being a Star Wars fan beyond just the films. And like, you know, now I can talk to them about Rebels and about Clone Wars, and just having other Star Wars experiences other than like the kind of just casual and lukewarm ones I’d had as a kid.

Dan Brooks: I want to just ask about something important that you brought up, which is representation. You know — and everybody can talk about this — how do you feel about it now? Do you feel like things with Star Wars are getting better in that area? Is there a lot of work to do? What are your thoughts on that?

Katie Barnes: I mean, there’s always work to be done, but I mean, yeah, it’s better. It’s so much better! Like the vibe is way different, I think. I mean, of course there are stories that came out around Kelly Marie Tran in Episode VIII and those difficulties and I’m not going to minimize that, but in terms of just sitting down for Episode VII and seeing John Boyega on screen, that’s awesome! I love Rey as a character and I love Daisy Ridley in that role and so it’s definitely changed for the better in that regard. And I think that it has carried over to The Mandalorian as far as the different types of characters and the way that representation has been expanded and, like, I love that. I think it speaks to the way that what being a Star Wars fan means and what being a part of the Star Wars community has meant has evolved over time in a pretty clear way.

Bria LaVorgna: I think it’s definitely gotten a heck of a lot better. I got into Star Wars pretty young and as a half Chinese person there weren’t many characters who looked like me. I think it’s gotten a lot better, but I definitely think there’s still work to be done. Most of the representation that has been very meaningful to me — as, again, a half Asian and queer woman — has come in the books. Doctor Aphra! I would have never expected we would get Doctor Aphra. If you had asked me 10 years ago [if] there would be like, a queer Asian rogue archeologist, I would have been like, “No, that’s not…” And here she is, one of the most popular characters in the books. But between her and then Iden Versio from Battlefront II, it’s been really cool for me as a fan who also cosplays, because now there are characters who actually kind of look like me. So I don’t have to be like — and I don’t get this as much as other cosplayers of color do because I’m half white — but you know, “Oh, the Asian Princess Leia” or something like that.

Kristin Baver: Bria, what was your entry point into Star Wars?

Bria LaVorgna: So I was two and I was left with my uncle, aunt, and cousins while my parents went on vacation and they introduced me to chocolate cake and Star Wars on the same day. It was great. [Laughs]

Kristin Baver: That is a good day!

Dustin Diehl: Best day ever!

Dan Brooks: That is a great day.

Katie Barnes: Great day.

Bria LaVorgna: Right?! So Star Wars has just kind of always been there for me because they introduced it to me. My older cousin, who is 10 years older than me, and then one of my other uncles, they’re both really big fans as well so they sort of fostered that love. And at some point I know I found the Jedi Prince books because this was a little bit before the Special Editions came out. I remember I was in second grade and there was a picture of Trioculus in carbonite and I was showing it to the other girls in my class. And they were like, “What? Why? Why would you do this?”

Dustin Diehl:  Zorba the Hutt! [Dustin spreads his fingers at his chin to mimic Zorba’s long braided beard.]

Bria LaVorgna: Yeah! Zorba the Hutt! They were the cool covers from the ‘90s! I did eventually get introduced to the young Jedi Knight series and I spent my entire time wanting to like, both be and be best friends with Jaina and Tenel Ka. And then from there I kept reading the Expanded Universe books. And then just kept reading them, and here we are. [Laughs]

Dan Brooks: What about your jump into cosplay? To decide to go ahead and give it a try?

Bria LaVorgna: I think that kind of had to do with the forums I was on when I was a teenager because the Jedi Council one had a cosplay section. And so I was like, “Oh, I could try to do this,” and I made a very, very bad Barriss Offee costume when I was like 15 or 16. Pictures are out there on the internet. Don’t. Please don’t.

Dustin Diehl: I’m sure it was great.

Katie Barnes: That’s gonna be my new phone wallpaper, so…

Bria LaVorgna: I was 15 and I did another one about six or seven years ago that was much better. But I had always known how to sew. My mom had taught me when I was a little kid, and so I was, like, “Oh, I wanna be a Jedi, too. I want to be like Leia.” And so I started to learn and I started going to conventions like DragonCon after I was in college and then I just kept making things and realized it was fun. You’ll cry because you’ll probably stab yourself with a sewing needle multiple times, but it’s fun when you get to walk around in a full flight suit and a TIE pilot helmet and just give people the Imperial death glare. So much fun.

[Laughter]

Kristin Baver: It just tells us so much about you, Bria.

Dan Brooks: It does.

[Bria laughs.]

Kristin Baver: I mean, just that sentence is like, Bria in a nutshell. I love it.

Dan Brooks: How did you get into Star Wars, Kristin?

Kristin Baver: I feel like my story sounds a lot like Dustin’s in terms of, I was raised by Trekkies, so I was raised…

Dan Brooks: We’ll bleep that out.

Kristin Baver: Yeah. No one will know what I just said, it’ll be great. But I remember distinctly being like four years old and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation on syndication with my dad in his recliner because I was tiny enough that we could both fit in the chair, and just having such love for that franchise. I went to my first convention when I was nine — it was a Star Trek convention.

This is for StarTrek.com, right? This is fine.

[Everyone laughs.]

Dan Brooks: Kirk or Picard. Who’s better, Kristin?

Kristin Baver: Oh! Oh my god, it’s Picard and that’s a different argument. We’ll have that fight later, Dan.

[Everyone laughs.]

Kristin Baver: But, all of this is to say that I was raised with a lot of sci-fi and a lot of love for that. And then I think, if I’m remembering correctly, I somewhat discovered Star Wars on my own when it was on the Sci-Fi Channel. It was right after we had just gotten satellite TV for the first time and I remember feeling like I had discovered something special, and then my dad being like, “Oh, yeah. I know. I know what this is. Okay. No, this is cool, too.”

[Everyone laughs.]

Kristin Baver: You know that feeling like, “This is just mine. No one else knows about this.” And, of course, it’s like the ‘90s, like a lot of people knew about this already. And as with many things I think once you, especially maybe when you’re a kid, but once you kind of fall in love with something you are just down the rabbit hole. So I remember it was on Sci-Fi but then of course I wanted to watch it on tape. So we got the original trilogy on VHS. And we watched Return the Jedi so many times we broke the tape and we had to go find a replacement and I was adamant that it still match the set for some reason. It was the ones that had like the half Yoda, half Darth Vader faces on the covers.

Dustin Diehl: [Nodding] Oh yeah.

Kristin Baver: And I joined the Star Wars fan club and I had like, a little wallet that had velcro still, because I was a child. I didn’t have money or a driver’s license, but I signed that card and put that card in that little wallet and carried it around just in case I was going to get asked about it.

[Everyone laughs.]

And I remember for Christmas I got those Power of the Force action figures. I also got R2-D2 and Chewbacca first, and Chewbacca was buff.

Dustin Diehl: [Laughs] Yeah.

Kristin Baver: And then I just started collecting all of those figures, which is the genesis of how much I love Star Wars toys and Star Wars action figures in particular and then it just started morphing in new ways. Like, Bria, you were saying your first cosplay wasn’t great. My first cosplay — sort of and my only cosplay I think to date — I was doing a presentation in school and we were supposed to be a character and so I decided to be Princess Leia for this presentation and talk about Star Wars from Princess Leia’s point of view. And my mom made me a costume from a white bedsheet. I still have it to this day. We just, like, cinched this white bed sheet and I got these long ropes of red doll hair and wrapped them around my actual hair to make these giant Leia buns and I wore this costume for the presentation and I wore it for Halloween one year — or I think actually a couple years. But it’s just so near and dear to my heart that my parents took this thing that I was clearly just voracious about and kept helping me feed my love for it. You know, they bought the action figures, they bought the VHS, but especially helping me make that costume and, you know, supporting in that way is just so special.

Bria LaVorgna: Kristin, we can fix the “first and only cosplay” thing.

Dustin Diehl: Yeah!

Bria LaVorgna: You know people!

Kristin Baver: I know, I know. I have a list. It’s well documented on StarWars.com that I really want to build a Boushh costume at some point. But now I live in San Francisco where no one has any actual space to store a Boushh costume. I know, Bria, you’re like, “Hang on. It’s not that big. We can take care of this.” You and I will talk when we’re done here.

Bria LaVorgna: Yes!

[Bria and Kristin laugh.]

Dan Brooks: I feel like you don’t see a lot of that costume at Celebration or Comic-Con, now that you mention it.

Dustin Diehl: No.

Bria LaVorgna: It’s a hard one to do. Especially as far as the Leia ones go.

Kristin Baver: Of course the first one I want to do is the hardest one. Of course.

[Dustin laughs.]

Bria LaVorgna: That cabinet behind me is all Star Wars helmets, so we got this.

Dan Brooks: I was wondering if those were costume sketches over your shoulder behind you. Is that what that is?

Bria LaVorgna: Yeah, that’s for a different franchise though that I won’t name.

Dan Brooks: Oh, let’s not talk about that then.

[Everyone laughs.]

Kristin Baver: We’ll bleep that one out too. Even though you didn’t even say which one it was.

Bria LaVorgna: I was careful.

Dan Brooks: Well, I’ll share my story really quickly. I actually have a couple of different points of entry into Star Wars, or points of discovery. I don’t remember when I first saw it and I was born in 1980. I know I loved it as a kid. I had tons of toys and vehicles but at some point I left it behind as I got into other things. And then I remember a friend of mine had the first Timothy Zahn novel and I had not thought about Star Wars in a long time, but I saw it at his house and I looked at it and I was like, “Oh, yeah, I remember that.” And you know, to put it into context, Star Wars really kind of disappeared from the public eye…

Kristin Baver: Because it was the dark times.

Dan Brooks: It was the dark times. The first…

Dustin Diehl: Dark times. [Laughs]

Dan Brooks: But then I remember I saw an ad that HBO was playing The Empire Strikes Back on like a Friday night and Return of the Jedi on a Saturday night. So I just thought, “Okay, I’ll watch that.” And I think I was about 12 years old. And I just remember with Empire this real feeling… The only thing I can liken it to is like the first time you hear Abbey Road. Like it was this feeling of, “I didn’t know movies could be like this.” And I remember feeling like I didn’t know that people could come together to make something so good and so rich, you know? And it felt like there was a moment. It was, you know, my life before this screening of Empire and my life after. It taught me so much about what was possible. I loved it and, actually, then watching Jedi the next night, I loved that even more. And I would still say that, you know, I recognize the greatness of Empire. For a long time I’ve said it’s my favorite, but I think when it comes down to it, Jedi is my favorite Star Wars movie and it’s just for the way it makes me feel. It can take me right back to how I felt watching it that Saturday night — like, every time I see it.

So, you know the next thing I wanted to ask on that note is why you all think you connected with it? What was it about Star Wars that hit you? Because, obviously, we all have movies that we love or TV shows that we love, but they don’t reach us in the same way that maybe Star Wars has. So Kristin, let’s start with you since you’re stuck on my screen for some reason.

[Dan and Kristin laugh.]

Kristin Baver: You pinned me and you can’t figure out how to unpin me.

Actually, I’ve thought a lot about this because, Katie, I think you made this point, but a couple of you have said something to this effect — my trajectory with Star Wars was also kind of fading in and out sometimes. Because I got super hardcore into it, and then I remember the Special Editions came out and I loved those and I really liked the prequels, but I was starting to get into my teen years at that point and I was starting to feel like “Oh, maybe I’m getting too old for this,” which is hysterical now. I get it, I hear it, I hear the irony. Then I remember kind of being away from it for a little while after that and getting excited when Disney bought Lucasfilm and realizing that we were getting new Star Wars movies. That had been my own — I think that was the dark times for many of us when after the prequels there were no new Star Wars movies and we didn’t expect to ever see one again, necessarily. And then just going to The Force Awakens with my best friend and crying so hard at that moment — which I still feel like is a spoiler if I say it out loud. I don’t know why.

But I think what initially connected me to Star Wars and probably what keeps bringing me back is this feeling like I know these characters, like these are a real characters. They resonate with me…and I think it’s because they have that modern mythology backbone. They are based on these timeless archetypes. But, you know, when you really drill down to it, even though I was a Han kid — and I’ve said this many times and, Dan, I see you nodding because we have had this back and forth in our office because you’re a Luke kid. But even though I was a Han kid, what I have come to realize is part of what made A New Hope feel so compelling to me as a kid was that I was a rural Pennsylvania farm kid, essentially. I was raised either on the property or across the street from the property where my grandparents had their dairy farm, and I had no interest in farming whatsoever. And when you see Luke experiencing life on Tatooine and just desperately wanting to get out of there, I feel like that spoke to me on a level that I hadn’t even recognized in myself yet at that point. But when you look at Tatooine farmers, to me, those personality types are not that different from the farmers that I actually knew in Pennsylvania, you know, my grandparents and other people in that industry. So I think it just really captured something raw and real and authentic.

Bria LaVorgna: I think for me initially it was Leia because I’ve always loved the badass, take-charge, get-things-done lady types. And that’s who you see Leia being in A New Hope, especially. Like, I love her whole, “Into the garbage chute, flyboy,” and off they go! And then again, not long after when I found the books and I found Jaina Solo and I found Tenel Ka, I latched onto both of them because they were similar archetypes, both kind of a little bit tomboy, if you can use that term in the galaxy far, far away. I kind of grew up with them. They are a little older than me. I was thankfully not fighting a galactic civil war at the age of 16. But at the same time as I was in middle school and high school, I was finding the online community. So between that and then finding stories like those of Jaina and Tenel Ka, and the X-wing books, like, I latched onto those super hard. That’s where I found friends. And some of those friends I made when I was 13, 14 years old — I’m still friends with some of those people now and I’m 31! So I think it was that community aspect and that’s what keeps me coming back to Star Wars even now much older.

Katie Barnes: Yeah, I think for me, since…my fandom has deepened over time and especially as more of an adult. That’s so ridiculous. I’m like, I really like the politics. I love it. Like, I am really motivated and animated by politics and lore and the opportunity to go be in a world. And I think the thing I really love about Star Wars, and have loved as I’ve sort of rediscovered it, is that I’ve been able to define that fandom for myself. There’s so many different entry points into a galaxy far, far away that it doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone and that’s okay. Like, five years ago, even just being a part of this conversation, I probably would have run and hid and been like, “You don’t really want to talk to me.”

You all are talking about action figures and I’m like, “Did I have an action figure?” No. But now I’m just like, “I like Star Wars a lot and it’s different for me than it is for other people,” and what keeps me coming back is different because I don’t have that really visceral childhood nostalgia. But I think that’s what is so great about it, is that you don’t have to have discovered it when you were two years old — though it’s great if you did! And all of the stories and the richness around fandom of Star Wars, you know, is as diverse as the community itself and that is something I really, really love about it and have come to understand as I’ve gotten older and started to just admit that I really like the machinations of trade policy. That’s just who I am.

Kristin Baver: Katie, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone give that answer. “I come to Star Wars for the politics.” And I’m here for it and I love it.

Katie Barnes: Sorry, I just do! I love The Mandalorian because I’m like “Yes, what is happening?” Not even just “Who are these people?” But like, “No. What is happening?” Like, where are we in terms of the timeline and who’s in charge? My friends all told me I needed to watch other shows because of the geopolitics. That’s what they sold me on, and that’s just the person I am. I read Supreme Court cases for fun and I don’t have a law degree, so…

Bria LaVorgna: Please tell me you’ve read Bloodline by Claudia Gray because if you love the Star Wars politics you’ll love Bloodine.

Dustin Diehl: Yeah.

Katie Barnes: I’m taking all recommendations for the things that I need in my life.

Bria LaVorgna: Bloodline. [Bria points to a promotional poster on her wall from the book’s launch.]

Katie Barnes: Thank you.

Dustin Diehl: I’m glad everyone else went first because I feel like my answer would be shades of everything. But what I thought, Kristin, you said that hit me, but also then on the flip side of the same coin, you do have those archetypes in those characters that you recognize and you can latch onto. I think for me it was also recognizing that and having that as a stable entry point. But then, the thing that keeps me going is the in-between characters. It’s such a huge franchise in a huge galaxy and there are so many different stories. It’s unlike other franchises in that way, at least for me, in that you’re not stuck with just this limited number of characters. There’s an infinite number and there continues to be infinite numbers of characters, hopefully, knock on wood forever and ever. That even if you don’t see yourself right away, there’s the chance so you haven’t…and I think as a kid, I had in the back of my head, like, even if I don’t necessarily see me, I know that I can exist in this world because there are infinite possibilities. The fact that a side character that had one second of screen time could end up as an action figure, it’s like, “Hey, you can have your own story in Star Wars and never have to cross paths with Luke and still have your own adventure.” And I think that’s what keeps me coming back. There’s enough adventure and enough space for everyone. No pun intended.

Kristin Baver: Well, and Dustin you just mentioned something that struck me. I think part of what was important for me with the action figures growing up was the ability to kind of write your own Star Wars stories with that playtime.

Dustin Diehl: Yes, yes!

Kristin Baver: And I like how you put it that if you don’t see yourself, it’s not that you don’t exist there because you definitely could. Star Wars is for everyone and the galaxy is filled with more characters than we can possibly imagine it seems.

Dan Brooks: On that note, one thing that I think Star Wars is really successful at is having these kind of grand macro plots but personal stories inside of that. I think George Lucas was especially brilliant at that. I think the prequels, frankly, don’t get enough credit for it. You’ve got the story of, “Well, how does a democracy crumble?” But within that you’ve got this deeply personal story of, “How does a man turn evil?” and just a handful of characters that it’s focusing on. So, you know, on one hand if you’re interested in the politics side you’re getting that, but if you want the character drama, it’s giving you that also. It’s just dressed up with lightsabers and fast ships, and it’s just an amazing mix in the end.

Kristin Baver: And one thing that Star Wars also does really well is, it asks “What does it take for a man to become evil?” but then it also asks “What does it take for that man to be redeemed?”

Dan Brooks: Yeah.

Kristin Baver: And it allows you to experience the full breadth of that story without having — other than, arguably, Palpatine — characters who are very clearly good, very clearly bad. Everyone has the capacity for good and evil except, I’m going to say, Palpatine. Palpatine is just only bad.

[Dan and Dustin laugh.]

Kristin Baver: He’s evil all day.

Dan Brooks: He’s the only one.

Kristin Baver: He’s the only one. And I’m sure some folks would disagree with me there, but…

Dan Brooks: Watto was a pretty irredeemable jerk, I would argue.

Kristin Baver: But there’s a difference between being a jerk and orchestrating the entire Clone Wars so that you can take over with the evil Empire. Like two different levels.

Dan Brooks: Yeah, that’s true.

Kristin Baver: I mean, Watto also had slaves. Not a great look.

Katie Barnes: Yeah, not great.

Kristin Baver: Yeah. Really awful and repugnant. But not Palpatine level for me.

Dan Brooks: No.

Bria LaVorgna: There’s a really good quote from Battlefront II. I know I’m being so on brand right now.

Kristin Baver: You are!

Bria LaVorgna: But there’s a great Luke Skywalker line…

Dan Brooks: Your check is in the mail, Bria. Don’t worry.

[Everyone laughs.]

Bria LaVorgna: But there’s this great quote that Luke Skywalker says to Del Meeko. He says: “A choice to be better.” I think about that a lot because Star Wars shows us that there’s good, that there’s evil. It shows us that you make that choice and then above all…just the underlying message for me is that of hope. There’s always hope that things will get better and that people will make the choice to be better and that’s something that I really, really like about the franchise.

Dan Brooks: Yeah, that’s funny, because I was gonna say, that’s the thing for me. The reason I think that I connected with it and why I still love it and get something out of it is, it makes me feel like I can do anything. I get that from the behind-the-scenes, real-life story of Star Wars and George Lucas, and from Luke Skywalker, who has always been my favorite character in anything. On all levels it’s just inspiring for me.

Next thing I wanted to ask: What is your favorite Star Wars anything? It could be a movie, a comic book, a toy, whatever.

Bria LaVorgna: This is too broad a question. How can I possibly answer that?

[Everyone laughs.]

Dan Brooks: Just pick the one thing you love the most! It could be anything.

Kristin Baver: [Laughs] Wow!

Katie Barnes: Okay, this is very specific.

Dan Brooks: Go ahead.

Katie Barnes: I really like the starfighter mode of Battlefront II.

Dan Brooks: Okay.

Katie Barnes: In a TIE fighter. I don’t love flying an X-wing nearly as much. [Laughs] And I don’t know what that says about me, but it is [true]. My favorite thing is flying a TIE fighter and shooting stuff.

Dan Brooks: Why?

Katie Barnes: I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. It’s just like…I hate the noise that they make, it sounds like people screaming. It’s terrible. But I just love it and I get so amped. And I love the stars and I think that’s why. I would play that mode any day, every day.

Dan Brooks: That’s awesome.

Katie Barnes: Yeah, I know it’s a little weird, but here we are.

Bria LaVorgna: I’m gonna stare at my Star Wars bookshelf. I can’t…

Dustin Diehl: Yeah, I was gonna say, while Bria looks for a favorite…

Kristin Baver: This is so hard!

Bria LaVorgna: This isn’t fair, Dan!

Dustin Diehl: I think I’m gonna cheat a little bit and not have it be a physical thing, but more of like a memory. I think my favorite Star Wars thing was my first Celebration that I ever went to, which was Celebration V in Orlando. I was already into Star Wars and it wasn’t like a reignition necessarily, but similar to your story, Dan, it was like a turning point for me. I felt an immediate camaraderie with everyone there. And it was just so nice to be like, “I don’t know what these people do for their day jobs. I don’t know who they are in their personal lives.” But we were there and we were together and it just felt great. I met so many amazing people. And yeah, that was crazy for me. I did the overnight line to see Jon Stewart interview George Lucas and I got one of the last wristbands. Like that whole experience for me was just what Star Wars for me is about — it’s just being there with people, lack of sleep, really good content.

[Dustin and Dan laugh.]

Dustin Diehl: That will, I think, stick with me as like, my favorite Star Wars.

Dan Brooks: Yeah, I have to say, the first time I went to Celebration, and I’m not — I know I work for Lucasfilm, I’m not just saying this — I was really struck by the positive vibe that you just pick up on walking around, you know? I’ve been to a lot of different conventions. I can’t say that I got that feeling in every single one, but I think the difference is people who have something that they share, all being together. It’s just a powerful thing. I don’t think I’ve ever really felt that anywhere else.

Dustin Diehl: And it’s good to be reminded of that because I feel like the in-between times it can get a little dark, right? Online is a terrible place sometimes and people, you know, you just get pulled in, I think, to some of the negativity, unfortunately. But I think going to those events and being back with your people and getting that energy again, it reminds you that there is hope…back to Bria’s comment.

[Dan laughs.]

Kristin Baver: Yeah, and Star Wars Celebration to me always just feels like getting one giant hug from the fandom in this weird way. My first Celebration, I actually went to cover news for StarWars.com in 2017. I had never gone before because I was not a big convention person. I hate standing in lines, especially for the bathroom. So I went to cover things and I was really struck by how much excitement there was, but also just how amazing it was that you could be walking from your hotel to the convention center and see a cosplayer and stop them and have a great conversation about Star Wars. It was like, being in a town where everybody who was there for that weekend also loved the same thing that you did and no matter who you ran into you’d be instant friends because you had an opening and an entry point and something to discuss.

Bria LaVorgna: My favorite things at Celebration are when everyone’s in the bar or the hotels afterwards because everything is just sort of chill. Like, you’ve seen everything that’s happened for the day and everyone there just loves Star Wars and you can turn around and, “Oh my god, there’s Christopher Sean.” And, “Oh my god, there’s Peter Mayhew.” And everyone’s just there because they want to hang out and talk and it’s a very special environment you don’t necessarily get at other cons.

Dan Brooks: Is that your final answer for favorite Star Wars anything? The bar?

[Kristin laughs.]

Bria LaVorgna: Me? No, no!

Kristin Baver: [Laughs] The bar at Celebration! No, no! We just started talking about other stuff. We were hoping you would forget the question, Dan.

Bria LaVorgna: No! I got it, though! I got it. I have my answer. It is Aaron Allston’s X-wing books, specifically the Wraith Squadron ones and Starfighters of Adumar. That is, if someone makes me answer my favorite Star Wars book it’s Starfighters of Adumar. I was lucky enough to meet Aaron multiple times before he passed back in 2014, and he could not have been nicer. I mean me and my friends are a bunch of young 20-somethings who are like, “Oh my god, Wraith Squadron!” And he just took it with good humor and those characters always connected well with me because the race in particular were a bunch of misfits who just wanted to pull pranks with Ewoks and have a good time and who were working through all of their trauma and I just I loved them so much. And anytime I need a pick-me-up, I pick up Starfighters of Adumar and I just laugh the entire time and then cry two pages later and then I’m laughing five pages after that.

Dan Brooks: I’ve heard those books are really good.

Bria LaVorgna: So good.

Dustin Diehl: And Aaron is so great. I have a funny Celebration story with him. He was getting on one of the trams from the convention center back to the hotel, and a friend I was with was like, “Who is that kind of kooky-looking guy with, like, really thick glasses?” And I was like, “Come sit next to us! Come sit next to us!” He was such a sweet guy.

Dan Brooks: That’s great.

Bria LaVorgna: I was at a con where he was about two or three weeks after X-Wing: Mercy Kill came out and it was the Monday morning of the con and it just turned into a panel where all of us would just be like, “Okay, but tell us about this thing in the book. We have concerns. Can you help us work through these issues?” And it was the best panel I’ve ever been to because it was just all of us nerding out about this book with this very kind man who was more than happy to answer the ridiculous questions we were throwing at him.

Dan Brooks: That’s a great way to settle an argument about a book — if you could just bring the author over.

[Dustin laughs.]

Kristin Baver: He has the answer and it’s canon. You can’t argue it.

Dan Brooks: I’ll give my pick for my favorite Star Wars anything. I’m going with the first thing that comes to mind, and it’s my original Kenner Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker. Again, it’s like, the feeling it evokes in me and everything it represents. It’s my favorite character from my favorite movie, and I remember…I told the story about watching Empire and Jedi, and after I did that I went up into the attic with my best friend to get all of my Star Wars toys that were stored up there for years. And when you’re 12 and you don’t look at something, from when I was maybe like four or five years old, that feels like such a long time. It feels like you’re an archaeologist uncovering something ancient. That’s like a lifetime when you’re that young. And I remember we took the crates down and I didn’t really know what was in there, and I took out my Darth Vader carrying case and I shook it. I could hear there was stuff in it, and when we cracked it open, every slot was filled with a toy. So it was like finding a treasure or something. And I remembered the Luke — I remembered having it when I was a kid and he was still in there. So it’s just something that I really cherish. And Kristin I’ll pass it over to you.

Kristin Baver: Man, this is still so hard! I’ve come up with seven different answers while you guys were all talking. I’m going to go back to my original answer though inspired, Katie, by your drilling down into something. I’m gonna say my favorite Star Wars anything is the introduction of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back because it completely subverts expectations and even now when I watch it — and I’ve seen it countless times — I just adore the weirdness of that whole sequence. He’s arguing with Artoo about the little lamp and cackling to himself. And I don’t know if he’s just crazy because he’s been by himself for a long time. He’s, like, super quarantined.

[Dustin laughs.]

Or if he’s just putting on this affectation to test Luke. I still can’t decide because half the time when I watch it, I’m like, “Oh no, he’s been alone too long with those snakes!” And then the other half I’m like, “Oh no, he’s just messing with Luke to make sure that he’s pure of heart. I get it.” But I go back and forth, but you know, just the brilliance of Frank Oz and also George Lucas putting so much of the emotional and spiritual weight of that sequel on the tiny, tiny shoulders of Jedi Master Yoda.

Dan Brooks: What does Star Wars mean to you today? And who wants to take that first?

Bria LaVorgna: You’re giving us softballs here. Come on.

Kristin Baver: Wait, I know. Dan can go first. Dan should go first. It’s your question.

Bria LaVorgna: Yeah, Dan.

Kristin Baver: Go ahead. Go ahead.

Katie Barnes: Yeah. Yeah.

Dan Brooks: The tables have turned!

Kristin Baver: I love how we all dog piled. We all have teamed up. It’s all on Dan now.

Dan Brooks: Yeah. Well, what does it mean to me today? In many ways, I think it still means a lot of the same things. You know, it’s a feeling that you can do anything. You’re not limited. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from. Work hard, be kind, and you can do it. And I still get that message from it. But it’s changed over the years for me. I mean, I think one thread that I’ve picked up on here is the idea of community. I’ve had friends who were into it, you know, but nothing on the scale of like, going to a Celebration and meeting people who share that. When I was in college, my friends — who are still my best friends — none of them were into Star Wars. So I just had long stretches where I just enjoyed it as a solitary thing.

And the other thing I would say is — I wrote about this on StarWars.com — Luke’s arc in Last Jedi, it was really interesting seeing that as I was getting older. Just the idea that he had regrets about things that he did. It was like he was still teaching me, you know, as I was getting older — that you’ve made mistakes and it’s okay and you have to learn from those things. And I think that’s important. Especially for those of us who grew up with him, I just thought it was a good message to take from that character and just another way that that character can mean something to people.

But yeah, when it comes down to it, they’re still my favorite movies. And I’m excited to share them with my kids now.

Kristin Baver: Hmm. Yeah, and to echo something that you just said, there is a great theme that runs through all of Star Wars about found family. And it doesn’t matter, you can be no one from nowhere or you can be related to the greatest Force-wielding dynasty known in the age of the Empire. It doesn’t matter. You’re capable of good and evil. You are the product of your own choices and decisions and you get to decide also who you’re going to spend your time with. Your found family are the people that you go on adventures with and you put your neck out and sometimes they save your skin and sometimes you save theirs and I think that’s just such a fantastic theme to carry through. But also, the older I’ve gotten, the more I think that that resonates for me. And I think this was very true when I saw The Force Awakens and just seeing Rey coming into her own. I think I’ve said this before, probably on StarWars.com, but I think because Rey has that moment where she feels very lost and like, she’s just waiting and waiting and waiting for years and she doesn’t know really what to do next and she’s just stuck. And I think probably when I saw that movie I was feeling that way but I didn’t recognize it yet. Man, this is a meandering answer that isn’t answering your question at all. I can hear it now.

Dan Brooks: Go ahead. Just go with it.

Kristin Baver: When I have to edit this later I’m going to be so mad at myself. So I think what Star Wars means to me now is that you get to make your own destiny. [Kristin drops an imaginary mic.] That’s it.

Bria LaVorgna: I feel like you guys have covered a lot of what could possibly be in my answer because Kristin did a lot of the stuff about found family and that’s always been a huge thing that I’ve really, really loved about Star Wars. And like you said, again, coming back to the Battlefront II quote because that’s what I do.

[Dan and Dustin laugh.]

You have the opportunity to make the choice to do better. That’s something I’ve thought a lot about getting a tattoo of just because the words resonated so heavily with me. And I guess to me Star Wars, it’s hope and especially over the last couple years, hope has been something that almost feels like it’s been in short commodity. So being able to come back to stories like this where, you know, the good guys do win and democracy and justice can be restored to the galaxy is something very meaningful. And then also, like Dan said, the community. I’ve made so many friends because of these space movies! Like friends who I’ve started only knowing online and then at Celebration Chicago I see them standing by the AT-AT. And you just see [a fan dressed as] Iden Versio sprinting across the con floor to tackle hug someone. True story, by the way. It’s, you know, it’s those bonds you make. And even though online can be a little tricky to navigate some times, I would never want to give up being part of this community because it has brought so many good things to my life and so many friends who I hold very dear to my heart.

Kristin Baver: Bria, I love that what you just said was essentially you love the found family in the story and then you have also found a found family among the community. Look at that synergy.

[Kristin and Katie laugh.]

Dustin Diehl: Mmm hmm.

Katie Barnes: I think for me as a writer in particular, Star Wars is a place that implores me to be creative and encourages me to think about things differently. To go and play in a different space and to think about the shapes that storytelling can take. And I think that’s something that’s been really important for me in my professional life when, you know, I’m just bogged down with my job, which is writing. And then I can watch an episode of The Mandalorian and just think about how powerful and impactful good writing can be. You know, which in some ways, I mean, I’m the person that talked about taxes and trade policy so I am the boring person but…

Kristin Baver: You love what you love!

Katie Barnes: [Laughs] I am who I am. I like it because it helps me be better at my job. But, you know, writing is, of course, it’s not just a job, it’s who you are. And in that sense I really love that Star Wars has become an integral part of that process for me in both being personally and also professionally fulfilling and essential. Yeah. Disney will love that answer. Synergy.

[Everyone laughs.]

Kristin Baver: The check is in the mail, Katie.

Katie Barnes: Yeah, great.

[Kristin and Katie laugh.]

Dustin Diehl: I don’t think mine is going to be that creative because I was gonna go with the family one, too, which has been taken. But it is, like, I think that’s what it means for me, right? I have not only my real-life, real-world family with my dad being the one who introduced me — he’s still the one who I always go to all the midnight showings with. I bring my family along. So to me Star Wars will always be my real family. But then to the point that was made about the found family, I have expanded that definition of family through Star Wars. It’s not just the people I grew up with and the people I’m related to, but it’s the people that I’ve connected with through this franchise, whether they be personal friends or co-workers that I’ve been able to hook in to the fandom or ones that I’ve met through online communities or through Celebration. So in the obvious way that theme fits really nicely with Star Wars as well, and, Kristin, your new book!

Kristin Baver: I worked so hard not to shill it this entire time. There were a couple moments where I was like, “I could say Skywalker: A Family at War. But I’m not gonna.” Not gonna say it… [Whispers] Available now.

Dustin Diehl: We got you. We got you.

Kristin Baver: Thank you. Thank you.

Dustin Diehl: But yeah, it still means that to me, I think.

Dan Brooks: Very nice. [Dan’s kids open the door and squeal with delight in background.] There it is. I think we gotta say goodbye. They’re excited.

Bria LaVorgna: Okay, what does Star Wars means to them? Come on.

Kristin Baver: Yeah. Put ‘em on the spot.

[Dustin laughs.]

Dan Brooks: Well, for Ben, if it means he gets to skip naptime, then he’ll say it’s his favorite thing in the world. That’s what most things revolve around.

Kristin Baver: Nice.

Dustin Diehl: He’s gonna miss those naps in about 10-15 years, man.

Dan Brooks: Yeah.

Bria LaVorgna: I want naptime back.

Kristin Baver: Kids don’t know how lucky they have it. Honestly.

This discussion has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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“You Are Truly On Board a Ship”: Inside Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 11:00

For Ann Morrow Johnson, an architect and artist currently making the impossible real at Disney Parks, there’s a lot to love about Star Wars. “As an Imagineer, I’m definitely the type of person who enjoys walking around the Parks, and I love that the trash cans are themed to the same environment that you see at the castles or any of the lands. Star Wars is that on steroids,” she tells StarWars.com. “I think if you look at any of the scenes of the movies — everything from an ice-cream maker to the species in the background — I just think there’s such depth and grit of specificity in worldbuilding. It’s an incredible universe to explore.”

Johnson is exploring that universe, or galaxy far, far away, in a manner never previously attempted as executive producer and creative director of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the immersive vacation experience opening 2022 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will offer fans a two-night itinerary, in which guests find themselves traveling aboard the Halycon starship and living out their own Star Wars story. If that sounds like something only Star Wars fans could dream up, that’s because it was.

“This project is a really fun one because it really did generate out of classic, blue-sky, Imagineers sitting around talking about what would be fun. What are the types of experiences that we just think our guests, or frankly, we, want to experience in the world? And so this absolutely came out of a conversation about, ‘Don’t you just want to sleep on a starcruiser? Like, how cool would it be if you got to live out a Star Wars story over multiple days?’”

A journey on the Halcyon will go something like this. You’ll arrive at the Galactic Starcruiser Terminal at Walt Disney World and check in for a two-night experience before entering a Launch Pod for transport to the stars. (You’ll even get to watch from windows as the world beneath gets smaller and smaller.) Following the jump to hyperspace, you’ll soon dock with the Halcyon, board, and the story starts. But to paraphrase a famous Star Wars quote, that’s only where the fun begins.

“Over your two-day, two-night vacation, you will get to not just wield a lightsaber and learn how to operate the controls at the front of the ship. It’s possible, because it’s Star Wars, that things might go awry and over the course of those two days, two nights, you’ll be called into action to actually get wrapped up in that overall galactic conflict. And depending on which path you choose — how you choose to play, which characters you choose to interact with, where you choose to be at any given time — will determine the story that you live out and get to see unfold.” To wit, Johnson says that guests can align with the Resistance (the story is set between Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, same as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) or betray them. As for how that impacts one’s vacation, we’ll have to wait to find out.

One driving element for Johnson and the entire team bringing Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser to life is immersion. It’s their goal to make fans feel like they’re really on a starship in Star Wars. “You are truly on board a ship,” she says. “When you look out the window, you will see a galaxy far, far away. When you’re at the front of the ship, you’ll see us moving forward. If you’re on the starboard side, you’ll see it moving to the side. On the port side, same deal. And just like any other cruise, we have an itinerary. So we have a set list of planets that we will visit. It’s possible that we might take a detour or two if we find ourselves in unexpected circumstances. But you will be able to see those planets, other ships, maybe the occasional asteroid field, out the window as we cruise from place to place. On board we have a whole host of characters who are joining us on our adventure, and that’s everything from the crew of the ship to a few folks that you might recognize from the movies, and they’ll need our help over the course of our adventure.” Who might those movie characters be? “I can tell you that it’s possible we might run into Rey, Chewbacca, and if we play our cards wrong, Kylo Ren.”

The immersion factor does not stop there. The makers of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser want fans to be active participants. “We are encouraging our guests to be in full cosplay,” she says. “So if you want to have Twi’lek lekku and a full robe, we are all for it aboard the Halcyon. And then we will treat you like the well-heeled galactic traveler that you are.” And you will be traveling in style.

If you’re wondering just what kind of ship the Halcyon is, think more Lando’s elegant Millennium Falcon, and less Han’s beat-up hand-me-down. “This is the Coruscant, Canto Bight, Dryden’s yacht, Orient Express of space,” Johnson says. “The food, the dining, the overall experience is an upscale, refined version of Star Wars that guests haven’t gotten a chance to step into yet.” While it all sounds like a dream vacation for Star Wars aficionados, Johnson also points out that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be just as enjoyable for those who can’t tell their Wookiees from their Ewoks.

“I deeply believe that this has to be fun for people who love Star Wars and the people who love them,” she says. “So if you have never heard of Chewbacca before, or you’ve never heard of a lightsaber before, our goal is that you still have a great time. If you want to sit back, drink a space cocktail, and watch it all happen, that’s awesome. Have a fantastic space cruise.”

The opening of Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be exciting for the Star Wars faithful and Disney Parks enthusiasts, but also the result of years of work for Johnson. As someone who fell in love with the worldbuilding of Star Wars, she’s most looking forward to seeing fans experience the details and hidden surprises that await. “There are so many things to love, from the characters that we’re creating to the music we’re working on to the tastings with the chefs,” she says. “But I gotta say, there’s this one design detail in the Crown of Corellia dining room where our guests will get to see a repulsor column. The Halcyon was built long ago, right when repulsors were first en vogue, and in a sort of starcruiser-modernism way, the Halcyon celebrates the technology by placing its repulsor columns in the center of the Crown of Corellia dining room for everyone to see. As a design fan and Star Wars nerd, those two things coming together has been extremely fun to see coming to life aboard the ship.”

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, the immersive vacation experience, opens in 2022 at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

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Dan Brooks is a writer and the editor of StarWars.com. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Meet the Artists Behind Disney+’s Stunning Star Wars Day Art

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 09:55

Fan art has been part of the Star Wars story for decades. It’s how many, no matter where they’re from or when they discovered Star Wars, express their love of the saga. And in celebration of Star Wars Day, Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company are honoring the tradition of Star Wars fan art with something of a digital exhibit on Disney+. Fifteen creators from around the world were commissioned for a Disney+ artwork takeover, all with unique styles and interpretations of various Star Wars movies and series — from Cole Thompson’s powerful use of color for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi to Salvador Anguiano’s elegant Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith painting. StarWars.com is honored to feature these works below, along with exclusive commentary from many of the artists.

Star Wars Saga Mural

Zi Xu (New Jersey)

“This was an absolutely incredible experience, and I am so grateful to have had the privilege of working with such a wonderful team at Lucasfilm and also with the incredible artists over at Poster Posse/MEOCKA.

“To me, the core of Star Wars is the balance of good and evil that rules over the universe, so I wanted that balance to be reflected in my illustration. Getting this job felt absolutely surreal because I remember when Episode VII had just come out. I pulled an all-nighter marathoning the entire series up to that point so I could see the newest one with my friends the next day. After I saw it, I had a period of three months where I drew Star Wars fan art all the time! So going from that to doing official mural art for Lucasfilm was like, wow! How did this happen? What a dream come true.”

Star Wars: A New Hope

Erin Gallagher (California)

“For me, being born one year before Return of the Jedi was released, the original trilogy was always in the ether. It was played on VHS and cable TV; I knew who Luke’s dad was and I very much enjoyed Ewoks. As I got a little older I actually watched the films in order, with purpose, and understood what all the fuss was about. When I was a teenager, Episode I came out and it was the biggest thing ever in pop culture — it was a must-see, must-discuss event in my circle. Now as an adult, to see the how much the Star Wars universe has grown over the years is mind-blowing.

“As much as I love the sequels and the [greater story], it always comes back to A New Hope for me — the one that started it all. The beginning of our heroes’ journey is very special, and I took that to heart when creating this artwork. I wanted to convey the sense of wonder people felt when they first entered Luke and Leia’s world. I wanted to hint at things to come while staying true to A New Hope as its own creation, when it was a weird, unexpected movie like nothing else people had seen in theaters. I think most artists have lists of projects they dream of working on, and working with Star Wars has been one for me, but this particular project, my illustration being on people’s televisions all over the world, is something I hadn’t even considered — and I’m so grateful to be involved.”

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

AJ Frena (Pennsylvania)

“My mom is an OG fan, and one of my first memories is watching A New Hope with her on a box TV. When I was a pre-teen, a Star Wars exhibit opened up at the local science museum and, of course, we went together. Many of the original puppets and models were there, including the tauntaun. I wanted to reflect these memories in my piece.”

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Cole Thompson (Glasgow, UK)

“Watching Return of the Jedi on VHS as a toddler was my first memory of Star Wars ever. That was how I was introduced to all these iconic characters and landscapes. I grew up with the prequel trilogy, and going to see Revenge of the Sith on opening day when I was eight years old was something I’ll never forget.

Star Wars has always been in my life, influencing me as a filmmaker and as an illustrator. I love doing weird concepts of creatures and having that ‘sky’s the limit’ attitude to designing them. I was very fortunate to be chosen by Lucasfilm to illustrate a piece based on my first Star Wars film, and wanted to use the strongest elements of that memory. I always associate Return of the Jedi with the color green: the forests of Endor, Luke’s lightsaber, Leia’s camouflage poncho. A visual that always creeped me out as a kid was that amazing shot of Luke and Vader’s lightsabers clashing, illuminating the Emperor’s ghoulish grin with those yellow eyes. As a huge fan of horror films, I decided to really emphasize what scared me as a kid: each side of the illustration is dedicated to the vivid colors of green and red. The contrasting colors bleed into the endless robe and corpse-like face of the Emperor, making him look as terrifying as I remembered him to be.”

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Dorthea Taylor (Georgia)

“The first movie fan art I illustrated was a Star Wars poster. I can’t make this up. It was literally my first alternative movie poster. As a creative person, I fell in love with the groundbreaking cinematography and creativity in the films. That was a big part of the movies’ appeal, along with the storytelling. That glossy black Darth Vader helmet with the beautiful blue highlights took my breath away. (Why is it that the villains and the aliens were always the coolest things on the screen?)

“With each film the franchise seemed to up the ante as far as creativity. When given the choice of which movie I wanted to illustrate, Darth Maul and Queen Amidala immediately came to mind. I knew that The Phantom Menace would be one of my top choices. I was always fascinated by the fierce makeup on Maul (Like I said, VILLAINS!) and the beautifully intricate costumes of Queen Amidala. I knew I wanted to create a poster that would showcase both characters.”

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Monica M. Magaña (Vancouver, Canada)

Star Wars has always been a source of immense inspiration to me. I grew up with my dad taking me to see the prequels when I was very young. I remember being in awe of the fantastic worlds that Anakin and Obi-Wan traveled to. When I got a little older my uncle lent me his VHS set of the original trilogy to watch, and it became a cornerstone of my love for the series. Going to Disneyland to ride Star Tours was always a favorite and I loved getting to see the series implemented at the Parks more and more.

“I wanted to get across some of that youthful awe that I remember with my piece and one of the biggest things that always stuck out to me was the bright colors of the lightsabers. I wanted my piece to be as illuminated as the lightsabers themselves. Even though my piece is digitally created, I also wanted to try and get a traditional media feel since I have such a love for Drew Struzan’s original poster art and all the hand-painted matte paintings used in the original trilogy. I used some customized brushes to give my paint strokes a more natural feel.”

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Salvador Anguiano (Mexico)

“I was introduced to Star Wars when I was around six years old. Back then I didn’t have any friends because I was the quiet, shy kid in a new school but this one kid would talk — quite loudly — about these movies with aliens and laser swords and this scary bad guy all dressed in black to anyone who’d listen. This one time he caught a glimpse of me nearby, eavesdropping on him, and he just came up to me and asked if I had seen Star Wars. He became my first friend back in elementary school, all the way up till high school. That’s what Star Wars means to me: friendship.

“All the way from elementary school to college, Star Wars has been there for me. My mom got me the Return of the Jedi VHS and I’d watch it every day. I made a few friends at school playing with Star Wars figures, saw the prequel trilogy at the theater with the girl who would become my wife, my kid and I watched The Clone Wars show together. Star Wars has been a constant source of great moments throughout my whole life.

“When we were given the chance to choose a movie I immediately had Revenge of the Sith as my first choice, because at the core of it, it really is about friendship. It is the tale of Anakin and Obi-Wan falling out and each one choosing the opposing sides of the Force, which is the subject on which I based my whole piece around, with each character looking in the opposite direction. And I think the expression on their face helps tell the whole story.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Lekelefac Fonge (Maryland)

“Like so many others, Star Wars has been extremely influential in my life. It taught me to reach into the deepest depths of my imagination and to explore and embrace the strange, the weird, and the magical. Working on this project has been an absolute dream and my goal was to illustrate the magic and wonder that each of these characters that we hold so dear exude. From the mysteriousness of the Force to the amazing vehicle and ship designs, down to the creative costume designs, Star Wars has always been groundbreaking and trendsetting and I try to treat my own work the same way in hopes that when people see my art, they simply whisper, ‘Wow.'”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Salena Barnes (Berlin, Germany)

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Chris Christodoulou (London, UK)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Talisa Almonte (New York)

“I’ve always been a fan of the Star Wars films and will never forget my earliest memory: dragging my dad to see Revenge of the Sith in theaters, and coming out so in awe by the costumes, characters, and world. I really wanted to create a piece that highlights the main characters but also, in a way, transports the viewer into the space and main objective of the film I was illustrating. In my case, having Rogue One, it’s centered around Jyn and her journey, so I wanted my artwork to focus mainly on her but also highlight some of the key imagery of the film like the Death Star, the X-wings, Scarif, and the beach battle.

“Having this memory of my father and I watching Star Wars as a kid and receiving the news of this project a week after his passing made this project feel like I was creating a new memory of Star Wars in his honor. Participating in this project has been nothing short of a dream come true and to share this experience alongside so many other talented artists really makes this experience a highlight of my career as an artist.

Not to mention, Rogue One happens to be one of my favorites, so that was also a plus.”

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Kwasi Amankwah (Illinois)

“As the little brother of two older siblings, Star Wars was introduced to me very early on. From toys, comic books, and movies, the extensive Star Wars world has always been a part of my life and helped drive my creativity. The best word to describe working on this project is surreal. Star Wars is arguably one of the biggest franchises in the world and to be given the keys to bring my artistic viewpoint was just so unreal. It was a dream project and to be a part of it alongside all of these talented artists is an honor.”

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Cryssy Cheung (New York)

“When I received the brief to create artwork for The Clone Wars, I knew immediately that I needed to design a piece inspired by the incredible ‘Siege of Mandalore’ story arc. My goal was to highlight the tense relationship between Ahsoka and Maul, but at the same time show the partnership between Ahsoka and Rex.

“Inspired by Mandalorian architecture and armor design, I wanted to contrast art deco-style design elements with the dynamic lines of Mandalorian soldiers in flight. The dark mood and dramatic lighting reflects the serious, emotional moments in the story and the overall color palette is based on Ahsoka’s character coloring.”

Doaly (UK)

“For me, The Mandalorian is a Western at heart — the story of a lone gunfighter — and I wanted my piece to reflect that gritty aesthetic/style. I knew I wanted Mando front and center, but also his father-son relationship between him and Grogu was key for me against this beautiful sunset scene.”

Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Eddie Holly (California)

Star Wars means a lot to me. I grew up loving Star Wars movies, the toys, and video games. Most of my nerdy collection is Star Wars-themed. I think every kid or adult back in the day wanted to be a Jedi or Sith Lord wielding a lightsaber at some point.

“Being a fan of The Clone Wars and Rebels shows really helped inspire this art for The Bad Batch. It’s a show I have been looking forward to watching and I am happy to be able to contribute something for its debut.”

Check out Amazon for an exclusive range of products featuring this fan-made artwork.

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Dan Brooks is a writer and the editor of StarWars.com. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #DisneyPlus

The Bad Batch Lead the Charge in New Star Wars Day Merchandise

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 09:00

To celebrate May the 4th, in addition to a galaxy of deals there’s a slew of new products available celebrating some of your favorite characters and eras. From Clone Force 99 — the elite soldiers at the center of Star Wars: The Bad Batch, now streaming on Disney+ — to the Skywalker saga and beyond, here are some of our favorite items revealed today or made recently available.

Wrecker Bust by Diamond Select Toys

Boom! The Bad Batch bruiser, Wrecker, will soon arrive on your collectibles shelf in a meticulously-detailed bust.

Pins by FiGPiN

Add Omega, Tech, Echo, Wrecker, Crosshair, and Hunter to your collection.

The Bad Batch Bobbleheads from Funko

Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, Echo, and newcomer Omega — available exclusively at Target — get the Funko Pop! treatment.

The Bad Batch Items from shopDisney

Show your love of The Bad Batch with mugs, shirts, a pin, and a hat, plus other galactic goods from all eras of the saga.

Yoda Shoes by Adidas

Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Legacy Lightsabers from Disney Parks

The reforged Skywalker lightsaber and Leia Organa’s rose-gold lightsaber join Dok-Ondar’s collection inside the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort — and online at shopDisney — along with other parks exclusives including a set of Star Tours plushies and an R2-D2 spirit jersey.

Grogu Solar-Powered Waver from FanWraps

You don’t have to pilot the Razor Crest to take this bounty on your next adventure.

Bags by Herschel Supply

Keep the Child, Grogu, secure in a backpack that unzips to reveal an adorable liner.

Special Edition Xbox Controller from Razer

Celebrate 50 years of Lucasfilm history with a special edition game controller featuring Darth Vader and the original Star Wars logo.

Prop Replicas from Regal Robot

Collect these limited edition, stunningly detailed Holochess Prop Replicas, but don’t forget: Let the Wookiee win.

Iced Tea from The Republic of Tea

Out of bone broth? No problem. Sip a refreshing cup of Blueberry Bounty iced tea.

Jewelry by RockLove

Three new sterling silver pieces include a necklace of Grogu meditating, the Mudhorn signet engraved with the words “Clan of Two,” and a pair of Wicket the Ewok earrings limited to just 1,000 pairs.

Apparel and Swimwear by RSVLTS

Classic characters and motifs get a fresh spin on button-up shirts and new swim trunks.

Droid Stamps from USPS

Droids have been handling extremely important messages for decades. Now you can also use them to send your own letters. Learn more about the stamps at a virtual First Day of Issue Ceremony later this morning.

For a full list of all the featured Star Wars Day products and new reveals, check out this downloadable PDF.

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Star Wars: The Bad Batch is Here!

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 08:00

This Star Wars Day, you can celebrate with five new friends.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch, the new animated series starring an elite team of clones — Hunter, Wrecker, Tech, Crosshair, and Echo — has arrived on Disney+! Premiering in honor of May the 4th, the first episode is now streaming, with the second arriving Friday, May 7. Subsequent episodes will premiere on Fridays. 

The Bad Batch follows the elite and experimental troopers of Clone Force 99 (first introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch, as they prefer to be called — who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army — each possess a singular exceptional skill, which makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew.

For more on Star Wars: The Bad Batch, check out StarWars.com’s in-depth coverage:

And stay tuned to StarWars.com for The Bad Batch episode guides, additional exclusive interviews, and much more!

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Bad Batch First Look: “Aftermath”

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 07:45

Star Wars: The Bad Batch is finally here! The new Original Series, available only on Disney+, tells the story of the elite squad Clone Force 99, a.k.a. the Bad Batch, in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. The epic 70-minute premiere, “Aftermath,” is now streaming; before you jump in, check out a selection of preview images from the debut episode below!

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Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #TheBad Batch

Happy Star Wars Day!

Tue, 05/04/2021 - 07:00

Happy Star Wars Day to all fans of a galaxy far, far away! 

Whether you’re watching the first episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch on Disney+, marathoning the movies, cooking a Star Wars recipe, or just wearing your favorite Star Wars T-shirt, we hope you have a great day celebrating any way you see fit.

There’s a lot happening for Star Wars Day, and we don’t want you to miss any of it. So set your scanners below for a full rundown of what you can do today:

Thank you to all Star Wars fans across the galaxy. The 4th will be with you…always.

Until the Revenge of the 5th…

Epic Stories. Tons of TV. Live Sports.Get the Disney Bundle

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #StarWarsDay

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