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The Hero’s Journey and Star Wars

Throughout history, from the Greek myths to Star Wars and beyond, there are common threads that run through a majority of humanity’s heroic tales.  Regardless of the cultural context, time period, or which particular hero, there are certain elements that seem to always appear in these myths.  Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, calls this the “monomyth,” or the “hero’s journey.”

George Lucas’ Star Wars is steeped in myth. While writing Star Wars, Lucas became fascinated with Joseph Campbell’s book on myth and heroic archetypes The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  While not necessarily the basis of his story, he was certainly influenced by his obsession with the monomyth.  You can see elements of this theory throughout the saga, but especially in Luke’s journey from boyhood to Jedi-hood.

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Traditionally, the hero’s journey has 17 individual stages, which we will look at in-depth a little bit further down.  Not all hero’s necessarily experience all 17 stages during their journey, and oftentimes these stages appear in a different order depending on the story.  These events, however, are relatively persistent throughout the history of human storytelling.

Below we will look at each stage of the hero’s journey and how we see this mythological journey play out in the Star Wars universe.  Fair warning, this article is a bit longer than… well, than anything else we’ve put out.  I tried to shorten it, but there isn’t really a spot to split this article into two parts.

  1. The Call to Adventure– The hero’s story typically begins in a relatively normal situation before receiving a call to head off into the unknown.  In A New Hope we find Luke living the life of a typical moisture farmer.  He dreams of bigger things, but is constantly needed by his Uncle Owen to help with the harvest.  This normalcy comes to a halt when R2-D2 arrives on the Lars’ homestead intent on delivering a message to one Benjamin W. Kenobi.  After a run in with a band of Tusken Raiders, we are introduced to Obi-Wan Kenobi, the hero’s mentor.  R2-D2’s message serves as Luke’s call to adventure.alec-guinness-as-ben-obi-wan-kenobi-in-star
  2. Refusal of the Call– In most myths, the hero refuses to leave the normalcy of his/her day to day life, at least at first.  This could be due to a sense of obligation, fear of the unknown, or a whole range of range of reasons.  When Luke meets Kenobi, he is asked to join him on a quest to Alderaan to aid the fledgling rebellion.  But Luke, worried about shirking his responsibility to his uncle and his moisture farm, tells Kenobi that he has no business going out on some galactic mission with an old hermit he just met.
  3. Supernatural Aid– After the hero has committed to the quest, either consciously or unconsciously, the mentor will present the hero with something that will help the hero during the quest.  In A New Hope, Luke is presented with his father’s lightsaber (“An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”), but this is not the only supernatural aid he receives.  Kenobi also introduces him to the ways of the Force, which starts Luke on his journey to his “apotheosis.”  Luke continues learning the ways of the Force throughout the saga.
  4. Crossing the Threshold– When the hero crosses the threshold and begin their quest, they leave their normal life behind and venture into the unknown.  When Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed by the Empire he joins Kenobi on his journey.  Their first stop is the wretched hive of scum and villainy which is the Mos Eisley Cantina where Luke is immediately threatened by Dr. Evazan and his cohort Ponda Baba.  Evazan and Baba are one of many encounters Luke has with “Threshold Guardians,” whose primary function in myth is to be an asshole that stands in the way of the hero, which is even more appropriate when you consider Ponda Baba looks like he has an ass for a chin.  Luke’s crossing the threshold of the cantina is a physical representation of him leaving his innocence behind and crossing over into the unknown.Ponda_Baba
  5. Belly of the Whale– The belly of the whale represents the final separation from the hero’s normal life.  In this stage, the hero faces some sort of peril, and is showing a willingness to change.  This particular stage can be applied to several different events throughout the original trilogy.  Luke is always yearning to leave Tatooine behind, and when given the opportunity literally enters into the belly of the Falcon, leaving behind his previous life.  Other examples include Luke and his cohorts getting pulled into the Death Star via tractor beam, the unfriendly meeting with the Dionaga in the trash compactor, and Luke’s descent into the mystical Tree Cave on Dagobah.
  6. The Road of Trials– The road of trials is exactly what it sounds like, a series of tests that the person must undergo to begin their transformation.  This  stage is probably one of the most common elements of the hero’s journey.  We see this when Luke enters the Death Star to save Princess Leia; when he jumps on the Millennium Falcon’s quad-laser turret to battle incoming Tie Fighters; when Luke trains to become a Jedi on Dagobah, and later battles Vader on Cloud City.  In Return of the Jedi, we see Luke face off against the Rancor beneath Jabba’s throne, and later face Vader and the Emperor.  Luke passes a majority of these trials, but does have his share of failures such as his inability to defeat Vader in Empire Strikes Back, which costs him a hand.
  7. The Meeting with the Goddess– In this stage the hero experiences unconditional love.  This is often represented by the hero finding the person that he/she loves most completely.  This is point of some embarrassment for some Star Wars fans since the Goddess Luke meets and falls in love with is his sister Leia.  This love remains unconditional when it is discovered that they are siblings, although it does develop into a familial love once their family ties are discovered.LukeLeiaKiss
  8. Woman as Temptress–  The hero will often face temptations that cold cause him to stray from their quest.  Luke is not tempted by an honest-to-God woman, instead he is tempted by the power of the Dark Side.  This temptation is most prominent in the finale of Return of the Jedi when Vader threatens his sister.  In a fit of rage, Luke relentlessly attacks Vader, and almost kills him, before finally rejecting the pull of the Dark Side.
  9. Atonement with the Father– This is the part of the journey when the hero must confront whatever holds the ultimate power in their life.  In many myths this is the father, or a father figure, who has power over life and death.  All of the previous events have been shepherding the hero to this place, and it will effect everything that is to follow.  The Original Trilogy is about the maturation of Luke into a Hero, but the inclusion of the prequels re-frames the story, and shifts the focus to the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, which is brought about by his son Luke.  At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke is able to call his father back from the Dark Side proving that despite all of his loss and anger, Vader still has the capacity to do what’s right.darth-vader-death
  10. Apotheosis– This occurs when the hero either dies a physical death or dies to the self, the hero moves to a state of divine knowledge, love, and compassion.  One could also look at it like a period of rest and fulfillment before the hero begin their return home.  We can see Luke reach his apotheosis in A New Hope when he lets go of his reliance on technology and trusts completely in the Force, which allows him to destroy the Death Star.  In Return of the Jedi, Luke reaches his ultimate apotheosis when he turns his back on the Dark Side, throws aside his lightsaber, and refuses to perpetuate the continuous circle of violence regardless of the consequences.
  11. The Ultimate Boon– The ultimate boon is when the hero obtains the object of their quest. The ultimate boon in Star Wars is the destruction of the tyrannical Galactic Empire so the galaxy can once again know peace.  In A New Hope, this comes in the form of the destruction of the Death Star, and in Return of the Jedi it comes in the… well, the destruction of the Death Star with the added bonus of the literal fall of Emperor Sheev Palpatine.
  12. Refusal of the Return– Having found enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.  We don’t really see this in Star Wars.  Although he’s very whiny, Luke is pretty selfless.  This isn’t to say he hasn’t changed though.  At the end of Return of the Jedi we find a much wiser, but more solemn, person than the wide-eyed farmboy we first met on Tatooine.
  13. The Magic Flight– Sometimes the hero must escape with his/her prize, and it can be just as dangerous as the journey itself.  This occurs in all three films, but is seen most prominently in Return of the Jedi, when Luke must escape the second Death Star before its destruction.
  14. Rescue from Without– Just as the hero usually needs the help of friends as they set out on their quest, often they need someone to bring them back to everyday life.  At the beginning of Return of the Jedi, we see a Luke Skywalker that appears to be toeing the line of the Dark Side.  He dresses in all black, appears to Force-choke the Gamorrean guards in Jabba’s palace, and is relatively quick to violence throughout the movie.  This reaches its peak when Luke channels his anger and hatred to defeat Vader on the second Death Star.  There is a telling moment, when Luke is standing over the the defeated Vader and stares down at his own robotic hand.  At this moment, Luke realizes just how close he’s come to the Dark Side and makes a conscious decision to turn away from that path.  We could attribute this solely to Luke, but Luke has the love of friends, the teachings of his masters, and the belief that his father can still be saved, that there is still good in him, and this is what brings him back to the good.
  15. The Crossing of the Return Threshold– When the hero returns to everyday life, he/she must retain the wisdom gained on the quest,and figure out how to share this wisdom with the rest of the world.  We don’t see this in the films per se, but it is implied that Luke, having become the last of the Jedi, must rebuild the Order thus sharing his newly found wisdom with the galaxy.
  16. Master of Two Worlds– In this step the hero achieves a balance between the material and the spiritual world, and the person becomes competent in both the inner and outer worlds.  At the end of Return, it appears that Luke has turned away from his old life of simplicity and has taken on the mantel of wisdom and serenity.  He has gone from ignorant farmboy, to Galactic hero, to the last of the Jedi Order.1384290403016267812
  17. Freedom to Live– Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the present moment, and not living in the past or future.  Not to beat a dead Bantha, but again at the end of Return of the Jedi, when Luke casts aside his lightsaber and refuses to give in to the Dark Side, he is no longer concerned with death.  He knows that by throwing away his weapon he most likely will not survive, but refuses to continue the destructive circle of violence by killing his father.

You can see that these stages of the Hero’s Journey occur multiple times throughout the films.  Despite the obvious homages to Cambell’s theory, Lucas does include personal flourishes that give the story additional depth.  For instance, one of the most iconic images in Star Wars is when Luke stares off into the twin sunset of Tatooine.  This imagery conjures up a sense that nothing will ever be the same, that this might be Luke’s last moment of innocence.  Additionally, the score by John Williams  provides us with a sense of awe and urgency – that this journey is increasingly important.

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Another key area where Lucas diverges from Cambell is that in Campbell’s idea of myth, the hero is the sole focus of the story and other characters are merely a means to an end. The side characters are just tools to help in the maturation and growth of the hero. Lucas, however, focuses on how the struggles faced by the hero are just as real to all of the other characters involved. The fate of the entire galaxy is at stake, and all of the characters are vital to the success of the hero’s mission.  This idea can be seen in all of the movies, but especially in Return of the Jedi when the destruction of the second Death Star relies on Han and Leia leading a strike force to disable the shield generator, Luke to bring take on Vader and Sheev, and the entire Rebel Fleet to fight through overwhelming numbers to try to destroy the reactor core of the Death Star.  In fact, it seems that all of the redemptive moments in the saga occur specifically through social relationships, and these in turn help the hero develop. In fact, the only true individualists we see in the saga are the Sith who use everyone as a means to their own end.

Most myths, including Star Wars, are fantasy, but this does not mean it is simply mindless entertainment.  By relegating it to that status, we ignore the potential for learning and growth that myth provides.  The Star Wars universe is alien to our own, but this allows us to view our cultures problems through the lens of our popular culture.  This, in turn, encourages us to reflect on the moral issues presented through the fantasy setting, thus allowing us to think on these issue in a way we might not have been able to any other way.

Luke Skywalker did not Fall to the Dark Side and is not Kylo F*@#ing Ren

Over the past week or so, theories have been floating around the internet that 1) Luke Skywalker actually turned to the dark side at the end of Return of the Jedi, and 2) Kylo Ren, the new masked villain from Star Wars: the Force Awakens, is actually Luke Skywalker.  For some reason, these theories have made me much angrier than they should have.  I am not going to say that I spent days stewing over how ridiculous these theories are, but I’m not NOT going to say that either.  In fact, as soon as I read these theories I immediately messaged my friend Jeff from the Imperial Talker (the Kenobi to my Luke), and made sure I wasn’t taking crazy pill.  It bothered me so much I decided to offer a counterarguments as to why Luke Skywalker did not (and should not) fall to the dark side and, therefore, could not (and should not) be Kylo Ren.  Instead of just going on an angry internet rant, I will instead try to provide logical counter-arguments to both claims, because I believe in civil discourse.

Pictured: NOT Luke Skywalker

Pictured: NOT Luke Skywalker

Let’s look at the theory that Luke fell to the dark side in Return of the Jedi first.  I read this theory in an opinion piece posted at Huffington Post (if you’d like to read it in it’s entirety, click here).  The idea is that Luke did not actually turn away from the dark side as it appears in the film, but, instead, gave himself to the dark side in order to save his friends and defeat the Vader and Emperor Sheev Palpatine.

The author begins his argument at the Tree Cave in Empire Strikes Back.  In the film, Luke enters the Tree Cave fastening his weapon belt (much to the chagrin of Yoda) and in a trippy, slow-motion scene in which he encounters Vader, ignites his lightsaber and beheads him to reveal that it is actually his own face under the helmet (Mindfreak!?).  The author believes that this is foreshadowing Luke’s own fall to the Dark Side.  I, on the other hand, feel it is more of a symbolic warning to Luke that if he isn’t careful he will make the same mistakes his father did.

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He then uses the following quote issued from Yoda to Luke as he sets off to save his friends to show that Yoda has already predicted Luke’s fall:

Only a fully trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer Vader and his emperor. If you end your training now… if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did… you will become an agent of evil.

But what he leaves out is the second part of the conversation in which Yoda says this to Luke:

Strong is Vader. Mind what you have learned.  Save you it can.

Yoda is still giving Luke advice on how to defeat Vader and not stray to the dark side, which would be pointless if Yoda was 100% certain that Luke leaving Dagobah would inherently lead to his fall.  Earlier in Empire Strikes Back, when Luke asks Yoda if his friends will die on Cloud City, Yoda responds saying, “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”  Yoda can and does make sound judgements throughout the saga, but he cannot predict the future because it is constantly in a state of flux.  He and Ben also tell Luke that the only way to defeat Vader is to kill him because there is no good left in Vader.  Luke, however, proves both of them wrong on this point, but we will get back into that farther down the page.  My point is, Luke’s failure at the cave is part of Luke’s “Road of Trials” and doesn’t necessitate his fall.  These are learning moments in the hero’s journey (another article on that in the works) that allow for growth towards the hero’s ultimate “apotheosis.”

The next part of the article centers on Luke’s change of character in Return of the Jedi.  This movie shows us a much darker Luke than we are accustomed to seeing.  When two Gamorean guards attempt to bar is entrance to Jabba’s throne room, Luke sends them scrambling back to the wall clutching their throats with a subtle wave of his hand.  Using the Force Choke is obviously not a behavior we would expect of a Jedi.  He is also pretty quick to cut down any of Jabba’s cronies that stand in his way in order to save his friends.  I believe that this does hint that Luke is slowly beginning to be pulled to the dark side (there is a great article on the seduction of the dark side over at Imperial Talker).

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Later in the film, Luke is goaded into trying to strike the Emperor down in hatred.  Luke does indeed show that he is on a slippery slope to full on dark side.  In the final duel between Vader and Luke, Luke constantly struggle between continuing to fight and trying to draw his father back to the good.   Eventually Vader tries to draw Luke out of hiding by threatening his sister Leia.  This drives Luke into a rage and he relentlessly attacks Vader until he cuts off his hand and towers over him about to deliver the final strike.  This attack was almost certainly fueled by anger and fear, which again suggests Luke is toeing the line of the dark side. The author suggests that Luke giving into his anger proves he hasn’t been a good guy at all in Return of the Jedi.  Instead, he believes, Luke failed his Jedi training and is not able to withstand the power of Vader.  The following quote is directly from the article:

When I first saw this scene as a kid I remember being completely confused. I thought that of course Luke turned — but only a little bit. After all, he needed the power from the dark side to beat his dad… right? And he acted like a complete maniac but it was only temporary and phew! he came back from the edge!

This, people, is a plot hole. It doesn’t make any sense in terms of the story and also Luke’s character. It doesn’t follow Luke’s motivation at all because he quite clearly doesn’t have any motivation to stay a good guy. He’s just seen what he could do with his dark powers (defeat the bad guys, save people).

Let me first address his point that Luke has failed his Jedi training.  If we look at the final scene between Luke and Yoda, which I will quote directly out of the annotated screenplay) we see this conversation:

Luke: Master Yoda, you can’t die.
Yoda: Strong am I in the Force… but not that strong! Twilight is upon me, and soon night must fall.  That is the way of things… the way of the Force
Luke: But I need your help.  I’ve come back to complete the training.
Yoda: No more training do you require.  Already know you that which you need.
Yoda sighs, lying back on the beck
Luke: Then I am a Jedi.
Yoda: (shakes his head) Ohhh.  Not yet.  One thing remains: Vader.  You must confront Vader.  Then, only then, a Jedi will you be.  And confront him you will.

Do you see how that changes things for the author’s theory?  Luke did not fail.  Vader was his final test, and Luke passes (although it did get a little hairy there for a bit).  As Luke is standing over Vader, Luke stops his attack and stares at his fallen father then at his own robotic hand, turns off his lightsaber and tosses it aside. This is not a plot hole.  Luke passed the test.  While he did rely on fear and anger to overpower Vader, it is the goodness in him that makes him stop and throw away his weapon.  Luke  tells the Emperor that he has lost and that he is a Jedi like his father before him.  Unless he lying (which is what the theory says) Luke is obviously choosing to turn his back on the Dark Side.  I am not sure why the author sees this as out of character for Luke.  He has been relatively selfless throughout the entire trilogy, always placing the needs of others over his own.  Why is that any different than what he did in this instance?  He was about to take Vader’s life even though he constantly mentions to both Vader and Kenobi that he senses good in him.  This would have been a selfish act unbefitting of a Jedi, but Luke’s selfless personality and the desire to redeem his father snaps him out of his rage and he refuses to finish the task.

My biggest issue with this theory is that if we assume that Luke did in fact turn to the dark side it would ruin the entire point not just the Original Trilogy, but the saga as well.  Anakin is the tragic hero who, in an attempt to save the life of the woman he loved, gets ensnared by Dark Lord of the Sith.  Luke’s tale, on the other hand, is one of redemption.  Luke  is tempted to use the dark side just as his father was, but instead of falling as his father did, he is able to resist its pull.  In doing so, Luke is able to not only embody the actual return of the Jedi (which is the title of the film, mind you), but he also becomes the catalyst for the redemption of his father.

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It also doesn’t make sense in the context of the ending of the film, as well as the recently released four issue miniseries Shattered Empire.  If Luke truly did turn to the dark side, why would he then attend the Ewokian celebration on Endor?  And remember, Luke was visited by both of his mentors and his father during this celebration.  Surely these three would be able to sense if Luke had truly turned evil, right?  And in Shattered Empire, which takes place shortly after the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke is still clearly good and serving alongside the Rebels as they attempt to stop the Emperor’s postmortem call for the destruction of several planets as well as put a stop to the remaining Imperial factions throughout the galaxy.  In fact, at the end of Shattered Empire Luke and the newly minted Rebel pilot Shera Bey set off on a mission to recover some ancient Jedi relics taken from the Jedi Temple after its destruction.  I don’t want to give away spoilers since, unlike Return of the Jedi, Shattered Empire is not thirty years old, but the end of Shattered Empire clearly depicts a Luke that cares for others, which is very unlike the individualistic nature shown by the Sith.

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There’s a lot to unpack in that first theory because the source article was itself a long article.  I will say that I actually do respect the guy the wrote the first theory.  He put a lot of thought into it and backed it up with some quotes (although there are several quotes he left out that sink the theory), but you can tell he’s a big fan of the Wars.  Now we will look at the second theory that Luke Skywalker is in fact KYLO REN.  This theory, on the other hand, is absurd.

The theory goes something like this: we don’t see Luke Skywalker in the trailer, but what if we did?  What if he is actually the masked villain with the fancy, cross-guard lightsaber we see trotting through the snow and looking menacing? Because, why not?

Side note: There’s not a lot of information about the Knights of Ren.  What we we know is, the Knights of Ren is an organization that appears to begin shortly after the end of Return of the Jedi.  The Ren in Kylo’s name is actually a surname taken on by the members similar to how the Sith used “Darth” as a title, although judging from some of the interviews I’ve read it seems that the Knights aren’t actually Sith Lords.  I know it’s confusing for some that the Knights of Ren aren’t Sith.  I mean, Kylo wears all black, wields a red lightsaber, and uses the Force… sounds an awful like all of the other Sith we know.

The first problem with this theory is the argument I laid out above.  Luke turning to the dark side cheapens the saga and would stand in contrast to Luke’s character throughout the trilogy.  If this premise is correct then the possibility of Luke being Kylo plummets to somewhere around 0%, but that’s too easy.  As you can see from the 1,600(ish) words above, I overthink these things.

Another problem with this theory is the we already know that Adam Driver is playing Kylo Ren…  Some have argued that Driver is a body double for Mark Hamill, but if that’s the case then that’s the worse decision since Senator Binks putting forth the motion to grant Chancellor Palpatine emergency powers.  Adam Driver is a really slim, really tall 20-30 something with long black hair and no facial hair.  Judging from pictures of Mark Hamill floating around the internet, he’s not exactly String Bean, has a full beard, and definitely does not have black hair.  They are about as far apart as you can get from each other as far as body type is concerned.  Oh and we’ve already seen pictures of Adam Driver as Kylo Ren sans-mask.

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Pictured: NOT Luke Skywalker

Oh, and we’ve seen some behind the scenes photos of Mark Hamill in full Kenobi-garb:

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Pictured: NOT Kylo Ren

Lastly, it appears that Kylo Ren is serving under Supreme Leader Snoke, played by Andy Serkis, who heads the First Order.  If Luke were actually Kylo Ren, that would mean he would serve under some other guy.  Luke was instrumental in defeating the two most feared in the galaxy.  He bested Vader in combat, took blasts of Force Lightning like a champ, and is most likely one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy now.  Why in the world would he subjugate himself to some other guy we’ve never even heard of?  It just doesn’t make any sense.

So, to summarize, for those of you that scrolled to the bottom just to see the conclusion: Luke Skywalker turning to the dark side would cheapen the Original Trilogy, and when you look at all of the evidence doesn’t make any sense.  Even worse though, is the idea that Kylo Ren is actually Luke Skywalker.  It’s hard for me to express just how absurd that theory is, especially given the reasons I laid out above.  I get that people love to theorize about the upcoming Star Wars film, but please at least try to make it fit into the existing continuity.

 

 

What Star Wars Means to 4LN

 

My childhood was forever changed the first time I saw Star Wars. I actually can’t even remember life before Star Wars since I have an older brother, seven years older, he was a HUGE Star Wars fan. My brother Danny had all the action figures and knew the lines to all the movies. Slowly though, his fandom started to disintegrate and he began to lose interest in the greatest science fiction epic ever told. Though, for me, that passion never died. Actually, in recent months my fandom has actually been relit with the recent release of the Marvel Comics Star Wars titles. At the moment I am reading Darth Vader and Star Wars. I’m waiting to pick up all of Princess Leia once it’s finished and I’m still on the fence about Kanan: The Last Padawan,  but Cameron really loves it so I may be picking that up in the coming day, or bumming them off him.

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My Darth Vader tattoo.

 

When I think about Star Wars, I think about Darth Vader. For some reason, he has always been my favorite character.  After all, if there were no Darth Vader, there would be no Star Wars. Since 1977, Star Wars has forever changed pop culture from film to comic books. It’s easy to say that everyone has been impacted by Star Wars in one way or another. I’m such a fan of the movies, my girlfriend hates watching them with me because I can quote the original trilogy line for line. As much as I love Revenge of The Sith (My favorite of the prequels) I only let myself watch it once a year, since I always end up crying when Obi Wan says “You were the chosen one! I loved you like a brother!” Tears, tears everywhere. With all that being said, in light of today, check out what Star Wars means to all of us here at Four Letter Nerd along with some of our friends who have written for us over the last year, and May the 4th be with you.

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Cameron Clark: Star Wars has had a huge impact on who I am as a nerd.  I have seen the movies more times than I can count, played the video games, gotten a tattoo of an X-wing, and even wrote my fifty page college thesis on Philosophical, Theological, and Mythological Themes in Star Wars.  The original trilogy  changed so many facets of pop culture that it’s hard to quantify, while the prequel trilogy made way for a whole new generation of Star Wars fans.  I remember my dad taking me to see the re-release when I was about 11 years old and my fandom exploded.  Now I get to share that fandom with my sons (one of them is still a baby so he doesn’t care all that much).  My toddler usually gets frustrated when I first turn on Star Wars Rebels because it’s not one of “his shows,” but as soon as the opening music plays and the action starts, he is all in.  I think that’s what it has become for me – not only something I enjoy, but something I can enjoy with my wife Paige, and our kids.

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Cameron today in his cubicle.

 

Stephen Andrew: “F**k Star Wars, I’m not into the stupid nerd shit. Losers. Kirk > Skywalker.”

That’s how Bill thinks I feel about Star Wars. In reality… That’s entirely accurate. I’M KIDDING. I will admit to being the 4LNer with the least amount of personal interest in Star Wars, but that doesn’t change the fact that my life, like most people’s, has been greatly impacted by Star Wars. I remember seeing the movies for the first time when the re-released them in theaters in the mid-90’s. Return of the Jedi has been my favorite ever since. There was just something about that cocky-ass attitude of Luke’s that resonated with me. He has this swagger about him in that movie that is just so… f**king cool. Then there was Han. How could you not like Han? He was such a badass. Around the time of the theatrical re-releases, Kellog’s had this promo on their cereals where you could get a free Stormtrooper Han action figure with so many proofs of purchase. I made my mom buy as many boxes of cereal as it took so that I could send in for that immediately. It took so long for it to get there that by the time it arrived I had forgotten about it and when I opened the small white box that it came addressed to me in I got crazy excited.

I even saw every one of the second trilogy films on opening night at midnight. All of them. I liked them. I didn’t LOVE them, but I liked them. Star Wars may not excite me like it does many other people, but it’s been a big part of my life that I can’t deny. I’m eager to see what J.J. Abrams does with Episode 7, and I trust Disney has mapped out a plan that will bring us thrilling new Star Wars movies that will please both new and old fans alike.

Cody Russell: I’ll never forget being 12 years old and going to see the 20th anniversary editions of the original trilogy in theaters. We had watched the Star Wars movies so many times at home with our dad, between this and Indiana Jones, our VCR (remember those?????) had to be hurting. The excitement of standing in line knowing I was about to see Darth Vader air choke some crew members on the big screen was overwhelming. People were in full costume, whipping around those (then new to market) light sabers, and the place was just teeming with fandom. Star Wars is not only iconic to popular culture, but is a part of almost every American’s childhood in some way or fashion. I can’t count how many times my brothers and I would reenact the powerful plot twisting scene of “Luke, I am your father!” If my brain was a hamster, it had definitely been in the microwave too long when I first saw that scene. Ultimately, Star Wars has a deeper meaning for me as well. It portrays the concept of life that everyone seems to chase, that we are all on a journey of a greater purpose. That we all have something deep within us that is meant for greater things, and how we choose to live our life can affect the way our world exists. Why do you think Ancestory.Com is a big thing now? because everyone’s trying to figure out if they have a Darth Vader as a father, or a great great great grand father or something down the line, duh! Seriously though, it portrays the message that past mistakes don’t have to control your future. I just love Star Wars, and I’m so glad that we get to see the next chapter this year! May the 4th be with you!

Jeff Merrick: We live in a time today when nerdy obsessions (comic book characters, fantasy, science fiction) are considered mainstream. This was not the case for me when I was growing up. I cared nothing for fantasy, comic books and most sci-fi (other than Batman: The Animated Series, because what preteen boy didn’t love Batman: The Animated Series), but I loved Start Wars. Star Wars was the first nerdy thing I cared about and was, in my opinion, the first mainstream nerd brand. All of my friends and I (much to the annoyance of those around us) could quote pages and pages of dialogue from the trendsetting trilogy set a long time ago in a galaxy far away. So for me, Star Wars was like a gateway drug (interesting comparison I came up with now that I read it again) that opened the way for my appreciation of other future elements of nerd culture that I would welcome into my life years later.

Jason Hill: I remember watching Episode IV: A New Hope on VHS with my dad. He would tell me about the time he waited two hours around the block to see this in theaters before putting the tape in the player. He had this mysticism in his eyes when he talked about it. I soon understood why. This was my first foray into space. I think I was six when I first watched Star Wars. This was before science taught me about what planets and asteroids were. I just remember seeing the huge ships and colorful landscapes and thinking “Wow, could this even be real?” The special effects mesmerized my brain before the cynicism set in. Now, there are CG effects that far surpass the ones Star Wars had, and I try to find the imperfections and tell people how it “doesn’t look real”. But Star Wars took me on a magical journey that I believed, and that is why it’s one of my favorites.

Austin Carter: Star Wars is like a door for me. It was the door that opened my eyes to different worlds, and a door that introduced me to the idea that there can be more to life than what we can see. Star Wars was my entrance into the world of fantasy and all the rewarding things it has to offer. Without Star Wars, I wouldn’t have developed the love for Music that I have, or the moral ideas and values that are present in our world. Star Wars has taught me a lot about myself, and many values I have to this day. Star Wars holds a special place in my heart, and is my favorite universe to reside in. I still look up to Obi-Wan Kenobi to this day, and can only hope to be as incredible as he is. I couldn’t even put it to words what it means to me.

Steven Boyd- ComicCollectorLive.comSTAR WARS is one of the most influential movie franchises of all time. I was only 4 when the first film came out, so STAR WARS reminds me of some of the best parts of my childhood (and as I read back over my list, kudos to STAR WARS for reinventing marketing): Christmas, Saturday morning cartoons and cereal, random trips to BURGER KING, read along books, those plastic BEN COOPER costumes you wear at Halloween, playing outside in the snow pretending I’m on Hoth, and most of all, a common bond with other people. To this day, you can walk up to someone you don’t know, talk about STAR WARS and the walls of unfamiliarity instantly come down. So for a mythology that spans universes and galaxies far, far away, STAR WARS has made our world a much smaller (and better) place to live in by bringing us closer…and that’s something politicians and world leaders can’t always do.

Be sure to get hyped for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens coming out this December!