Anticipation ahead of Star Wars: Rogue One

As we await the premiere of Rogue One with the giddiness of a child who still believes in a large, old man who breaks into homes and gives candy and presents to strangers – we reflect on our expectations and the role the franchise plays in our lives.

Many of us have been waiting for over a year for the much anticipated Star Wars: Rogue One. In this post, the ProfsDoPop team share their expectations, hopes, and fears for this movie – as well as rituals they will partake in as part of this cinematic experience. Four of us – Adam, Alix, Art and Joan – will be posting our reactions to Rogue One on opening weekend. Andrew will be posting his reactions following the holidays. 

Adam:  I have been a junkie on Star Wars since I saw the first one in the theaters with my mom and dad.  It has a place in the family heart. Actually, it has a place in the “brothers three” (my two and me) collective heart.  We played with the toys, we became the characters in our own play, and now the next generation is seeing them with us. I will be seeing RO twice at least – once with my local crew of geeks, nerds, and fans, and once when I head north to spend time with the family over the holiday break. I will speak to the experience of seeing it opening weekend in a future post. Here, this will be what I am looking forward to when seeing it with one of my brothers and his son … a member of that next generation.

First, know that I am really excited for this film. I appreciate that the franchise is putting the pieces together this way. I am also excited that, except for small moments with recognizable characters, this is a wholly near-standalone story. That itself should inject some fuel into the mythos that is Star Wars.  Second, I am not an Expanded Universe person. The only book I ever read outside films was Splinter in the Mind’s Eye, because the cover was awesome. So, I am not caught in that particular fan canon conversation (therefore, I am perfectly fine with how the narratives are being woven together). I also think the timeliness of this particular story arc, given the political climate, is going to offer some interesting parallels and insights into what it means to be a citizen, to live by your conscious, to acquiesce, and to “rebel.”

I am elated by the fact that I am able to be part of this experience with my nephews and niece (she is a bit too young yet, but we’ll get her there). I am looking forward to seeing their faces when they experience a new story for the first time, as they start to make the connections to what they have been watching, and they begin to construct their own fandom and myths in their minds.  These moments become our family stories – our family mythology – and they are all connected around something that started in 1977 or 1978 – me, mom, dad, and a scroll of credits on the screen.  

Alix: You should know something about me when it comes to movies/NetFlix releases/so on. When I’m excited about something or really looking forward to it – I do not, DO NOT, like to watch extended trailers. Or sometimes even teasers. I don’t want to see highlights of the story – I don’t want to have any idea what the main plot points are. When I’m looking forward to experiencing something or taking part in something – I don’t like it to be piecemeal – I want to wait until it is ready to be watched/experienced/whatever. Sometimes I feel like watching those extended trailers is like opening up a book you just got and are super-excited to read and reading the first paragraph of random chapters before actually starting the book from the beginning. I try to avoid blog posts, stolen pictures from sets, rumors – and so on.

SO – with Rogue One I have actively avoided much of the content that is available as I want to go into that theater with as little information and as few expectations as possible. I, of course, saw a theatrical trailer when I saw Doctor Strange (but would have avoided it if possible). I am very excited to see another female-led Star Wars film. Also – it’s seems like a smart move story-wise to do a prequel of some sort – especially since Disney threw out so much of what was previously considered cannon (and clearly – that was what they planned to do hence the reason they made that move).  

Art: Okay, let me just be clear upfront, of all my geekdoms Star Wars tops the list. When Alix says things such as “who can choose between Star Trek and Star Wars,” I say “I can: Star Wars.” I don’t know if it is the renegade princess turned general, the swashbuckling smuggler, or wide-eyed jedi that first sucked me in, but I can tell you that I spent my childhood immersed in toys that allowed me to recreate, create, and begin again with stories and exploits for these characters. My frame of reference for good and bad are the Force and the Dark Side. I love Star Wars.

So, when a new Star Wars movie comes out, you are likely to find my butt in the theater. For these reasons, it is going to be hard to top the experience of Episode 7 for me, but there is no need to top it. Just give me rebels fighting the Empire and I am there. From what I have seen in the trailers, I am super excited about Rogue One. The dark, gritty shooting reminds me of Empire Strikes Back and the story of a young upstart joining a team in order to help them take the day takes me back to the original. It looks and feels like Star Wars to me.

So, come the 16th, you know where I will be. With the giddy anticipation of a child, I will be staring with awe and wonder at a screen welcoming me back to Star Wars.  

Jedi JoanJoan: A few vignettes: Watching Return of the Jedi in theatres during the 90s re-release. I was about 7 or 8 and the theatre was so packed — and this was before reserved seats — that I sat by myself next to some strangers because we couldn’t all find seats together. So weirdly, even though I’m a generation too young for it, I have some of that watching-star-wars-as-a-kid type nostalgia. A handful of years later, my brother, my cousin and I had sleep-overs where we used legos and twist-ties and paperclips and other random junk to make our own pod-racers which we would hold aloft as we ran in circles around the basement. In 2010, my (then) boyfriend and I would connect over hockey and the Legend of Zelda but the more I pulled him toward Harry Potter, the more he’d pull me to Kashyyyk and Tatooine and Alderaan and Hoth. He and his friends make a language out of Star Wars quotes, turning it into an art of call and response. When the car is stalling: “hear me baby, hold together”; when someone is being oblivious: “do you mean Old BEN KENOBI?! ”; In greeting and departing, “May the Force be with You,” “Always.”

Leading up to Episode VII last December, Jeff (the past-boyfriend, current-fiance, future-hubby) and I watched the Clone Wars animated series that covers the period of time between Episode II and Episode III. The texture and complexity of that series — yet again a piece of exemplary children’s media for all ages — slowly garnered my affection, particularly for Asajj Ventress, Ahsoka Tano, Padme Amidala, Plo Koon, a wookie named Gunji and Ewan McGregor’s version of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Not only did it add a Thrones-esque level of intrigue that is particularly enjoyable for yours truly, but it gained political salience and it taught me a great deal about the difference between story and plot, as well as the limitations of author intent — sorry, George.

Since my new OT3 hopped on the screen last year in all their delicious difference (that’s “diversity” for the not-quite-woke-yet), I have been SO ON BOARD the bandwagon Millennium Falcon. Since The Force Awakens, I got my own pair of violet lightsabers, one modeled after Ahsoka’s and one chosen for me by the Force (Jeff won it in a naming contest!), I did my first Jedi cosplay, I’ve participated in Force for Change, and I’ve been theorizing about Rey’s ancestry with the best of em (my money is on Kenobi blood, tho obvi Obi is too old to be her dad (though not her GRANDdad!)). Since the election I’ve been sharing memes of Padme watching the galactic senate in horror as they explode with “thunderous applause.”

I think Rogue One arrives into EXACTLY the right socio-political moment for it to strike some VERY deep chords and discords in this country. After all, Star Wars is nothing if not an American folktale full of our most deeply held values, many of which are locked in conflict: futurism and traditionalism, community participation and independent leadership, critical thought and solidarity, free speech and domesticity.

For those, like myself, who have thrown themselves into the Star Wars canon and extended fan apocrypha, it’s not difficult to draw parallels between our current political crises and the events of The Old Republic. For the sake of our own republic, I hope the themes of Rogue One start to ring a few bells.

Of Liberty.

Because liberty bells.

Get it?

I’ll leave now…

P.S. Jeff and I will probably be cosplaying to the show. We’re going to the Arclight Hollywood. If you read this and you’re there, say Hi!

Andrew and R2Ds at DragonConAndrew: A long time ago, in this galaxy right here…

I am 10. My brothers Fred, Jim, and I find three seats near the front so we can sit together to watch Star Wars. Then it starts: space ships, a princess, androids, the scoundrel smuggler pilot, a farm boy, the Milennium Falcon (coolest ship ever!), aliens, light sabers, battles, and more battles, and Darth Vader. I sit in absolute astonishment. When the movie ends, applause breaks out immediately. For the next couple of months every time someone asks me if I want to see Star Wars, I say “Yes!” I can’t tell you exactly how many times I saw Star Wars in the theatre. Easily around twenty. My friends thought I was crazy. I was. I am. A fan. A fanatic. Repeat this pattern for Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I read the books. I have Star Wars toys coming out of my ears. I get into the extended universe. I’m in deep. Really deep. Fast forward 22 years…

Phantom Menace is about to come out. I stand in line for 26 hours to get tickets. Then stand in line for 24 hours to get seats. I’m super excited. My friends show up. We clamor in and get our seats. The lights go down. The LucasFilm logo comes up and cheers erupt. When it is over I try to convince myself that it’s a good movie. I can’t. It is utter garbage. It’s complete shit. The plot is as useless as algebra is to a tauntaun. I’ve never seen a group of great actors act so horrifically all at the same time. It has no heart. It has no soul. It’s like a dead body.  And Jar-Jar makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little. I am not disappointed. I am heartbroken. I don’t bother to see the other prequels in the theatre. I do not do anything Star Wars related for 16 years, until The Force Awakens.

Expectations? Low. Purposefully low. I never want to feel the way I felt when I walked out of A Phantom Menace again.

Coming up on the ProfsDoPop Blog:


Alix:  So, four us – me, Adam, Art and Joanwill be posting our reactions to Rogue One on ProfsDoPop on opening weekend (and yes – I did buy tickets at approximately 12:01 a.m. on November 28 – one minute after they went on sale). (Joan: HOLY CRAP! I saw this and realized I hadn’t bought tickets yet and almost had a panic attack. Luckily, Fandango. This is not meant to be an add for Fandango, but if they’d like to give me some free movie tickets, not no.)

Andrew: The reasons I will miss opening night are especially important in their own right. As Art and I (2016) have pointed out, going to see a movie, or any act of consumption is not merely an act of consumption. It is also an act of participation, and many acts of participation are also rituals. This is where my missing opening night comes in.

I live in Tennessee. My brother’s family and my parents live in the Saint Louis area. My other brother lives on the big island of Hawaii. Given the costs of flying to the mainland, we only get to see Fred once per year at Christmas. So it has become a ritual to see the winter blockbuster movie together while he is here. In fact, this year we will be celebrating the ten-year anniversary of this practice. This ritual goes back to 2006, Fred’s first year in Hawaii. When he came back for the holidays we went to see Rocky Balboa (2006).

We’ve seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Avatar, Tron: Legacy, and a number of others that I cannot remember off the top of my head. I do know this though. We take this ritual seriously enough that when Fred was unable to come home, we skipped seeing a movie in 2011.

We love this ritual. All of us piling into the car as we did when we were kids, making stupid annoying noises, as we drive to the theatre. There are the goofy inside jokes as we wait in line to get popcorn, candy, and soda. There’s the way we climb the stairs in the theatre and take over a half a row of seats. There the side and sly and sarcastic remarks about the commercials and infotainment that comes on before the lights go down. These happenings occur every trip, and they are part and parcel of the bonding, of the ritual of going to see a movie together as a family. It’s something that only happens once every twelve months, and we cherish it.

And on that note – Happy Star Wars, Happy Holidays, and Happy Rituals from the ProfsDoPop team! Stay tuned for more on the blog.

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