Ladies and gents, I’m about to say something that will be very difficult for some of you to swallow. It might spark a little outrage. It may make you want to revoke my geek card. And given the gravity of what I’m about to confess, I can’t say that I’d blame you for trying. It’s hard to admit, but before this past week…I’d never seen Star Wars. Well, let me clarify – I’d never seen the ORIGINAL Star Wars trilogy. That’s right, it’s even worse than you thought; I started with the prequels.
Now before you try to abandon me on Hoth, let me attempt to defend myself. Episode I came out 5 days before my 12th birthday, and wasn’t exactly marketed as a continuation of a story you should already know and love. There wasn’t a “read me first” card that came along with your Phantom Menace ticket that said, “Have you seen Episodes IV-VI? If not, kindly GTFO.” There SHOULD have been. But there wasn’t. I knew there had been previous Star Wars movies, of course – I just didn’t understand the importance of having seen them in advance. To my sixth-grade brain, Phantom Menace was an origin story. It’s called Episode I, after all – wouldn’t it have made some sense to start there?
The reaction from rabid Star Wars fans is, overwhelmingly, NO. And they’ve got a point! Ewan McGregor has always been my Obi-Wan Kenobi. Lightsabers have always had the opportunity of being purple (if, and only if, you’re Samuel L. Jackson). Luke and Leia have always been siblings, and Darth Vader has always been their dad. When I think of ancillary characters in the series, I will always go first to Jar Jar Binks rather than Jawas (and perhaps that’s the biggest travesty of them all).
But there is one distinct advantage that comes with being a Star Wars untouchable like me: you get to look back at the series through the eyes of an adult. You can evaluate it with reason, rather than simple awe. You realize that Solo, not Skywalker, is the hero of the story. You better appreciate the underlying narrative about the complexity of human nature. You have an epiphany that the most compelling thing about the Dark Side is Emperor Palpatine’s ability to shoot laser beams out of his arms.
But perhaps what struck me the most, when watching Episodes IV-VI, was just how ahead of its time it was – in every way, but especially in terms of how it influenced the popular culture that came after it. I could spend hours talking about the grandeur of the universe of Star Wars – how each and every planet is distinct, the attention to detail on the spacecrafts – but ultimately, I decided not to. I want to stay a little more surface level than that, and simply discuss Star Wars’ contemporaries, and what exactly from the movie they ripped off. Let’s get started.
Millennium Falcon freight becomes Portal’s Companion Cubes.
Look at this! They’re identical! Sure, Portal went and added hearts to them and made them cutesy, but the dimensions and design are almost exact replicas of one another. Which just begs the question – what’s IN a companion cube? My money is on My Life Size Wicket.
Tauntauns are primitive Yoshis.
Neither is very obedient. Neither is especially fortuitous. Both are likely to leave you stranded in hostile environments. Only one is appropriate to cut open for warmth.
The Millennium Falcon is Serenity’s big brother.
This one has nothing at all to do with their appearance, but rather their general state of disrepair. What better way to examine their condition than to hear what their captains have to say about them?
Han Solo (on the Millennium Falcon): “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”
Mal Reynolds and Zoe Washburne (on Serenity): “Ship like this, she’ll be with you ’til the day you die.” “That’s because it’s a death trap, sir.”
Which leads nicely into my next point…
General Han Solo and Captain Malcolm Reynolds are the same person.
Whether they self-identify as a “scoundrel” or an “outlaw,” these gentlemen are on exactly the same page. Both have love/hate relationships with beautiful, capable women who outrank them. Both have the same second love (their respective derelict ships). Both wear very tight pants. Both have a temper and are quick on the draw, but are absolutely the man you want when you need to get something done (I’ll let you draw your own inferences there).
Luke Skywalker is Batman.
This one’s a reach. A big reach. Alright, I might be basing this entirely on the fact that Luke and Batman are equally skilled with grappling hooks. But that’s got to mean something, right? Grappling hooks aren’t exactly as user-friendly as, say, sporks. Hypothesis: Bruce Wayne is a decoy or a pseudonym. Take it or leave it.
So there you have it – a (very) quick look at how all roads lead back to Star Wars straight from the mouth of this (very sorry) classic Star Wars newbie. Hate on me if you gotta. Flame me in the comments if you feel the need. Just please, in the name of all that is good, do not leave me alone with Lando Calrissian.