Star Wars The Force Awakens: Pre-Movie Thoughts

Han Solo, Chewie, Rey, BB8 & Finn.The hype has been building up forever, and tonight I’m going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yes!

I’m also going tomorrow.

But I’m not a crazy nerd or anything, I’m doing it for my kids. Yeah, that’s it. I’m screening it tonight to make sure there’s nothing too intense for my 7-year-old. Also if the kids do need to step out or ask ten thousand questions, I’ll have seen it once already and (hopefully) won’t be as annoyed by the distractions.

It’s a happy accident that I’ll get to see it twice in 24 hours.

Plus, unlike my dad and brother, I think the best part of seeing a movie like this is seeing it early with the die-hard fans who clap and cheer. Part of the fun of going to the movies is the atmosphere, and you couldn’t ask for better energy than a theater crammed full of excited fans.

My wife and I saw the Hunger Games on opening night, not because we loved the series but because we happened to have a babysitter. The theater was full of teen girls with Catniss braids who were super excited. Made the whole experience more fun. Also saw one of the Potter movies that way, with a crowd full of teens who had grown up on Potter. Way fun.

So anyway, I’ll be there tonight with my nerds.


I’m going into this with the same expectations I had for the prequels: Anything Star Wars is pretty awesome (though the animated Clone Wars series makes me re-think that). I enjoy seeing the title, hearing the theme music kick in and watching the opening crawl. I love hearing the sound effects in the theater again and watching a light saber come to life with that shiny glow.

Even if the movie sucks, I’ll enjoy those things.

At least the first time around. And maybe the second.

That’s how it went with The Phantom Menace. As crappy as that movie is, I enjoyed it the first time around. I could overlook the ridiculous plot and the bad kid acting and just enjoy being in the Star Wars universe again. When I saw it the second time I dragged my entire family (I was 20 at the time, so this was my parents and my brother… probably the last time we all saw a movie together).

With all that’s gone into The Force Awakens I don’t think we’ll see anything like Jar Jar Binks. The early headlines say it’s good. But we’ll see.

From all I’ve seen in the trailers, the new characters and the diversity, bringing back the old characters—I think we have reason to be excited.

But either way, it’s going back to Star Wars, and that’s fun.

A Word on Diversity

As I’ve re-watched the originals and the prequels with my kids in preparation for Episode VII, the lack of diversity stands out as a real issue. The prequels were mildly better, but the original is a sea of white men. As much as Princess Leia broke barriers for female characters as the damsel who could fight her way out of her own distress, the rest of the series is awful for women.

I think there are only three women in the original series with speaking roles: Leia, Aunt Beru and Mon Mothma. (So that means Leia is the only woman who speaks in Empire Strikes Back.)

That kind of lack of role models sucks when you’ve got a daughter excited about the series.

And most of the characters are white. We did get Lando in the original series, and Mace Windu, Jengo Fett and Bail Organa in the prequels, but that’s about it—supporting roles. I think there are a couple Rebel pilots who aren’t white in the originals (only in Jedi, usually pilots with death scenes) and apparently Lando brought some diversity to the extra on Bespin, but otherwise it’s white guys as far as you can see. In the first one, every Rebel soldier and Imperial officer is a white guy. The Rebel Alliance didn’t even have any aliens back then (I’d chalk it up to George Lucas skimping on the special effects, except we saw plenty of aliens in the Cantina scene). Even for someone living in Minnesota, not having any diversity in your extras seems like a bit much.

Kind of reminds me of the inexplicable lack of Asians in Firefly/Serenity.

(Maybe we could give partial credit for Red Six, the burly X-Wing pilot in A New Hope? But then they named him Porkins.)

We’ve got a long way to go to see some diversity in our Sci-Fi. (Here’s a study that shows where we’re at: 8 out of 100 protagonists of color, and six of those were Will Smith.)

So some may claim it’s pandering (or worse) to see a black man and a woman fronting the new Star Wars, but it’s long overdo. Princess Leia was certainly ground-breaking, but she was often relegated to the sidelines. We’ll see how Force Awakens turns out, but I have a hunch Rey will not be sidelined like that.

I probably sound like I’m downplaying my expectations here, but I will be honest—on the diversity front, as a dad of a white girl and a black boy, I’m excited to see Rey and Finn.

You may scoff and think it’s not a big deal, but my 7-year-old certainly notices. The fact that he can see a role model who looks like him and isn’t a villain or a supporting character, someone he can actually get an action figure of—that’s pretty cool.

I also admit I think BB8 is pretty awesome. I hope the character lives up to the hype in the actual movie.

Less than three hours until all the feels.

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