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In news that shocks no one, Star Wars is kind of a big deal again. With the successful billion dollar box office trouncing that is Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, it’s not surprising that the followup projects to the reinvigorated franchise are drawing more attention. Specifically, the young Han Solo movie being written by Empire Strikes Back and Force Awakens co-writer Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jake, which will be directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord (The LEGO Movie, 21 Jump Street). While the movie won’t be released until 2018, a shortlist of actors was revealed though the response from fans had about as much excitement as Arthur and his Knights eating Sir Robin’s minstrels. I mean, what’s not to get excited about when you see the same list of young actors from every YA movie adaptation?
Look, I know Han Solo is an iconic character to a lot of people. I get that. I love Harrison Ford and I love the Han Solo he created in the original trilogy and The Force Awakens. But let’s be honest, Han requires about as much backstory as Boba Fett – zero. Han exists within the Star Wars universe as a philosophical foil for Luke (hokey religions and whatnot) and a romantic partner for Leia. He’s a pirate, a ne’er-do-well, a lovable rogue, and an archetypal character of the monomyth. Making a prequel movie feels like it might go the way of X-Men Origins: Wolverine in that Han can’t grow all that much because he needs to be at a certain place in order to match up with A New Hope. That kinda limits you since his character development only happens within the original trilogy and, presumably, the thirty year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Plus, the upcoming Rogue One, due for release in December of this year, is being described as a heist movie, which kinda takes the wind out of the sails of a movie focusing on a smuggler two years later. Really, the best we can hope for is the movie hinging on Han’s friendship with Chewbacca because if they do a “how Han Solo got the Millennium Falcon” type movie I swear to God I’m putting a blaster to my head.
For my money’s worth, the movie will probably be about the Kessel Run.
My point is that Han’s story is really only of interest when it intersects with the activities of the rebels. His selfishness is paramount to his triumphant return at the end of A New Hope and his “reluctant” yet continuing association with the rebellion throughout Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. The same goes for Luke. He’s drawn into the rebellion through happenstance and thus learns about his true heritage and “destiny,” I guess. But the final member of the heroic trio has been involved with the rebellion for much longer and it’s really because of her that there’s any Star Wars to begin with.
I’m talking about Princess Leia Organa and she deserves a prequel movie more than anyone!
Think about it: Leia is the princess of Alderaan who becomes integral to the rebellion’s survival by the beginning of A New Hope. She’s the one carrying the stolen plans to the Death Star and it’s because of her resourcefulness that R2-D2 gets away to deliver those plans, and her message, to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker. Without Leia there is no hero’s journey for Luke and there’s definitely no turn-a-new-leaf story for Han.
So what made Leia go from Princess to Rebel Leader? What pushed her into the crosshairs of a war with the Empire? Because that sounds way more compelling than the Smuggler’s Life movie in the works for Han. It’s essentially a coming of age movie that starts the moment Leia is adopted by Bail and Breha Organa and ends with her decision to commit to the rebellion. I mean, if you want an easy way for a movie prequel to tie into the anthology films, then this is it. Rogue One ends with the plans stolen and the Princess Leia film ends with her taking on the role of envoy to ensure the plans make it to the rebellion headquarters. The last shot is of her ship heading towards the beginning of A New Hope.
What ties the whole concept together is the potential character arc of Leia prior to the events of the original trilogy. For one, now that we’ve met Bail and Breha it kinda gives some context for how Leia might have responded to her position as Princess of Alderaan. Thanks to the prequel trilogy, we have a visual of the Organas:
Yeah, Leia had to have known she was adopted by the events of Star Wars, which opens up a lot of storytelling potential. How do the Organa’s explain their new daughter’s appearance? Has the Empire been keeping tabs on Leia the whole time? And since Bail knows Leia’s biological father was a very powerful Jedi, would he take steps to help her should she show signs of Force sensitivity? How would he take steps to help her if the Jedi have gone into hiding?
Leia’s prickly personality would certainly factor into the progression of the story as well. It’s clear, in hindsight, that Leia takes after Anakin more than Luke who tends to have more of Padme’s traits. Leia is strong-willed, stubborn, capable, and headstrong. Yes, she has a nurturing and romantic side, but Leia proves throughout the original trilogy that she’s a force to be reckoned with all on her own. Some of that could stem from being adopted and her sense of self-worth. Joining the rebellion may have given her something of importance to work towards, something that would make her feel like the title of “Princess” wasn’t just handed over but earned. Alternatively, Leia joining the rebellion could be her own act of rebellion. Perhaps Bail and Breha tried to keep a low profile under the thumb of the Empire to protect their daughter, but all Leia sees are her parents being subservient to the Empire’s cruelty. Furious at them, she takes more and more risks while helping the rebels, which puts her on the Empire’s watch list. And as a third option, Leia’s story could easily be about a high-born young woman whose eyes are opened to the truth of the Empire’s rule. She has everything and yet realizes it means nothing in a galaxy where the Empire reigns.
The only prequel idea we’re not doing is the Leia-falls-in-love-with-a-handsome-member-of-the-rebellion-who-makes-her-see-the-truth story. That is the worst possible scenario. Again, blaster to the head. Leia being involved in the rebellion has to be because of her agency, not because a pair of pretty eyes and some abs said, “Hey.”
I’m also aware that Star Wars Rebels will feature a teenage Leia in an upcoming episode, which is fantastic. It’s not surprising given the timeline of Rebels and how close the show is getting to the events of the original trilogy. But if Disney and Lucasfilm want to continue doing anthology films within the Star Wars universe, complete with prequels, then lining up Leia’s story matters just as much, if not more, than Han’s. Besides, Leia’s got a sharp tongue on her as well. You want some real fun? Let’s see what a typical day in the Alderaan court is like when Leia gets political.
If you want a really laid back, quirky, and open introduction to what comic book conventions should and can be, look no further than good old Portland and its offering of Rose City Comic Con (RCCC) to draw you in and make you a fan for life. Going strong in its fourth year, RCCC has a small yet plucky vibe that permeates the Oregon Convention Center with an inviting nature that’s sure to put any first-time or seasoned veteran at ease. The offerings of Media Guests, Exhibitors, Panels, and Artist Alley are no different than your typical con, but when these familiar staples are mixed in with a Retro Arcade (complete with old furniture and TV for your Nintendo Entertainment System needs), replicas of the Delorean and 60’s Batmobile, and elaborate spaces celebrating the University of Oregon’s football team you get the sense that Portland is injecting itself right into the heart of geek culture and we’re all better off for it.
For me, the floor of the con and its smattering of artists, writers, and talented craft-makers is the heart and soul of the two-day event. Admittedly, I’ve fallen off of waiting in line for panels mostly because I always feel like I’m missing something amid the exhibitors and artists. I like walking around and exploring the layout of the convention center. Undoubtedly, I always find something new – an artist, a writer, a comic, a thing – and I’d rather spend my time on the discovery instead of waiting in line. But that’s my preference. RCCC offered an amazing spread of panels this year that highlighted the history of comic books, representation in comics, geek culture, and spotlight celebrations of some kick-ass creative teams pushing the comic book industry forward. The panel schedule, however, was still light in comparison to other conventions, which allowed people the luxury of walking the floor (should the fancy strike them) with the chance of making those same discoveries.
This year, I had a lot of conversations with first or second-time exhibitors and it really started to hit home how important smaller conventions like RCCC are to creators trying to find an audience or in bolstering the confidence of artists struggling with the decision to pursue their art full time. It’s incredibly important to foster not just new fans but new creators to fill in the ranks for the next generation. And as vital as the internet and social media have become in distributing new voices, conventions are just as important in emphasizing the personal relationships built over love of a shared thing. Getting to meet your favorite artist, writer, actor, etc. and actually tell them, in person, is an incredible experience that allows us to put faces to names we only ever see on the cover of a book or the occasional article. It’s one of my favorite things to do at a con, talk to people who make the things I like. Granted, I’ve gotten a lot better at it over the years but I’ve found that a lot of writers and artists are just as open and nervous as I am, though the Artist Alley section felt suspiciously easy-going this time around. Probably because a majority of the people there were from the greater Portland area, taking the travel stress levels down immensely.
But I digress, I could wax poetic about the significance of conventions and their importance to fandoms for a lot longer than anyone would want to read about so here’s a quick list of highlights from the show!
Artist Alley – Like I said, this is where I spend most of my time at any con, but it was great getting to reconnect with people I’ve become friendly with via the website and podcast while meeting a lot of new artists as well. See the gallery below for websites and examples of their work!
Retrocade – This made my little retro-gamer heart soar! I swear they pilfered the television and couch from my grandparents’ basement! I had a lot of childhood memories rushing back! The wide array of pinball machines brought me back to those days hanging out in the local pizzeria with my cousins begging for quarters.
Costume Contest and Concert – While I understand putting the two together, it might be best to separate them in the future. I say this with a lot of love and respect for The Slants and Kirby Krackle because Lord knows the energy levels they want for their performances weren’t exactly being returned by the tired masses of geeks who just wanted to sit and look at some costumes. That said, wonderful performances all around! As for the costume contest it’s always a highlight of a con to see so much love and support given to people who put a lot of time and effort into expressing their love for a character or a particular fandom. Plus, I’m a sucker for fun, whimsy, and surprised faces on winners.
Media Guests – Carrie Fisher! Carrie Fisher! Carrie Fisher! Take the journey with me people! Friggin’ Princess Leia was right there! SQUEEEE! Ahem…moving on…(Carrie Fisher!)
Gallery – Gaze at the wonder of the art I procured!
“Big Barda” by Mike Henderson
“Spider-Gwen” by Rico Renzi
“Persephone” by Sara Talmadge
“Luci” by Robert Wilson IV
“Coffee Owl” by Jillian Lambert
by Jillian Lambert
“Delirium” by Chris Anderson
“Cowgirl” by Alisa Bishop
“Mie” by Emi Lenox