The new year kicked off with the return of The Bad Batch for Season Two of the animated series. Although some time has passed since the destruction of Kamino at the end of Season One, Clone Force 99 and the galaxy as a whole are still very much living in the aftermath of the end of the Clone Wars and amid the early days of the Galactic Empire. In this context, it makes sense that the Separatists, although defeated militarily in the war, continue to have a lingering impact on the story.
In this episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester examine the role of the Separatists in the world-building and character development of The Bad Batch in the first three episodes of Season Two. The premise of “Spoils of War” and “Ruins of War” involves Clone Force 99 trying to steal a small portion of Dooku’s “war chest” from his home base of Serreno. Along the way, Omega and her brothers learn important new information about the Separatist leaders, the Empire, and the impact of the war on everyday people on Separatist worlds.
The third episode, “The Solitary Clone,” unfolds a similar eye-opening scenario for Crosshair. Reunited with fan-favorite Commander Cody, Crosshair can fall back into the familiar routine of blasting “clankers” and following orders to complete the mission. But he also learns first-hand that the new Empire is not interested in peace, only power, and ends the episode weighing Cody’s words about choices and consequences.
Across three story arcs in the first ten episodes, Andor has delivered top-notch Star Wars storytelling. In the latest episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester analyze the two-part finale. Written by showrunner Tony Gilroy, who also wrote the first three episodes, the finale brings the first season of Andor to an exciting and dramatic conclusion.
Gilroy started Cassian’s story in Andor on Ferrix, and the finale returns to the planet by bringing almost all of the major characters to the same location for the climactic events. Only Mon Mothma, trapped in her own tightening vise by the Empire, remains stuck on Coruscant. Starting with Cassian himself and extending to the other characters drawn into the gravity well of his story by the events of the series, each of the character arcs in Andor receives a fitting and impactful culmination. Without a doubt, Andor has raised the bar for Star Wars stories on Disney+ in the years ahead.
Episodes eight to ten of Andor center on a common theme: everyone is trapped in a literal or metaphorical prison. In this episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss how writer Beau Willimon used this theme as the keystone for all of the characters in this story arc.
Cassian, of course, spends this arc in the Narkina 5 prison facility, where the Empire uses convict labor in a prison-industrial complex to produce countless components necessary for the military-industrial complex necessary to sustain its galactic tyranny. Kino Loy, played by the amazing Andy Serkis, is both a literal inmate and a metaphorical prisoner of the gamified labor regime within the facility. Others play along too, at least until they realize the game is rigged and they can never “win” their freedom.
Beyond Narkina 5, the theme pervades the other characters’ stories, too. On Ferrix, we see the ways Bix, Paak, Brasso, and Maarva suffer under Imperial occupation. On Coruscant, Syril thinks his connection with Dedra and the ISB are his ticket upward, only to discover how trapped he remains. Dedra perceives her upward trajectory continuing, but she remains bound within an ISB mindset. Elsewhere on the capital planet, Mon Mothma confronts the reality of her seemingly inescapable personal situation, including a demand for a terrible family sacrifice, and her newly revealed cousin Vel faces a similar personal toll. Luthen Rael, the “axis” of the burgeoning rebellion, struggles to unite the disparate factions of the incipient Rebellion, personified in Saw Gerrera’s certainty that he is the only one with clarity of purpose. Despite his machinations and his successful Aldhani heist, Luthen admits that he is trapped by the obligations and burdens of his unbreakable commitment to sacrifice everything for the Rebellion.
Cassian, at least, ends the arc by escaping the prison and swimming to shore. Whether any of the other characters can break free of their confinement remains to be seen.
After its first three episodes launching Cassian’s character journey, Andor quickly propels him into a plotline drawn from his ultimate fate in Rogue One: a risky heist from a secure Imperial facility that plays a crucial role in the fate of the Rebellion against the Empire. In this episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester examine the fourth through seventh episodes of Andor and break down what the heist storyline means for all of the key characters in the series.
For Cassian, his interactions with the other six members of the heist team teach him important lessons about himself, the possibilities for his future, and the personal and galactic nature of rebellion. As we had speculated, he ends the heist still unwilling to commit to the Rebel cause – but his return to Ferrix and his tourism to Niamos quickly show him that Nemik was correct: the pace of the Empire’s oppression has outpaced his ability to comprehend it. In the Imperial subplot, the success of the Aldhani heist changes the opportunities and possibilities for Dedra Meero and the ISB. In the Rebellion subplot, it reinforces that the price of rebellion will not only be personal for Luthen Rael and Mom Mothma, but also galaxy-wide as the Empire cracks down. Amid her political struggle against tyranny, Mon faces another kind of oppressive environment at home.
On September 21, Star Wars: Andor launched on Disney+ with a three-episode premiere. On Hyperspace Theories, we analyzed how those episodes set in motion the character journey for Cassian Andor from his life on Ferrix, and the preceding years in flashbacks, to become the Rebel operative and hero we see in Rogue One. The fourth episode of Andor, released on September 28, greatly expands the scope of the series and broadens the character arcs and plotlines far beyond the personal path of the titular character.
On today’s episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester revisit the roots of the podcast in Star Wars speculation. We analyze the first four episodes of Andor, the scenes in the official trailers that did not occur in those episodes, the publicly available list of writers and directors for all twelve episodes, and Tony Gilroy’s prior Star Wars storytelling in Rogue One. Examining these sources, we consider what they suggest about the story structure, themes, and character arcs in the remaining eight episodes of the first season. Knowing that the series was thoroughly planned before entering production, and overseen throughout by Gilroy as showrunner, provides more confidence than other recent Star Wars live-action productions that speculation from the early episodes and other evidence creates the opportunity to accurately draw inferences and make predictions that align with the storyteller’s carefully developed tale.
The newly premiered Andor is the biggest and most ambitious Star Wars Disney+ streaming series yet. Created by showrunner Tony Gilroy, who oversaw the rewrites and reshoots that salvaged the theatrical release of Rogue One, Andor is a prequel to a prequel: beginning five years before that film, it will bring its principal characters to the events of Rogue One, which itself leads directly into A New Hope and the Original Trilogy. The first season of Andor includes 12 episodes, with 12 more planned for a second (and final) season that enters production later this year. From the trailers, interviews, press conference, and other promotion, it seems clear that Andor is intended to mark the entry of the Star Wars franchise into the “prestige television” space alongside series such as The Crown, Game of Thrones, or The Expanse.
For its premiere on September 21, 2022, however, Andor released a trio of episodes focused almost entirely on the titular character, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and the immediate desperate aftermath of a particular incident. In this episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss how these episodes reintroduce Cassian to the audience at a very different point in his life compared to the seasoned Rebel Alliance operative from Rogue One. The episodes also make effective use of flashbacks to reach even farther back in his past – before, we learn, he even went by the name Cassian Andor – to lay the groundwork for the character arc that begins to develop in these early episodes of the series. In addition to the core story about Cassian, we consider the many new characters introduced in Andor, some of whom appear destined to play important roles in the series beyond the initial episodes.
If you missed it during the early rounds of publicity and promotion in late August, be sure to catch up on the Andor coverage at Fangirls Going Rogue and FANgirl Blog now that series has launched into its weekly release schedule for the remaining nine episodes of the first season.
The latest episode of Hyperspace Theories discusses the full story unfurled in the newest six-episode Disney+ series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU): Ms. Marvel, featuring the origin story of teenage heroine Kamala Khan. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester are joined by longtime FANgirl Blog contributor Priya Chhaya, an historian and advocate for representation in storytelling and nonfiction alike.
First introduced in the comics, Kamala Khan stands out as Marvel’s first Pakistani-American and Muslim superhero. Like the comics, the Ms. Marvel series showcases Kamala’s family, friends, faith, and community as integral aspects of her personal identity both before and after she acquires her superpowers. At the same time, her story includes universal themes than resonate with audience members who do not share her heritage or religion, such as overprotective parents, sibling resentment, and a multi-generational immigrant experience in the United States. In addition, Ms. Marvel is prominently a story about mothers and daughters, too often still a rarity in blockbuster entertainment and other popular fiction. Kamala’s story is also unusual in featuring an intact family unit.
The Ms. Marvel series also places significant emotional prominence on an important event in the 20th century history of South Asia: the Partition of India at the end of British imperial occupation, creating new borders and the new country of Pakistan. (Subsequently, East Pakistan became the independent nation of Bangladesh.) The Partition not only sparked religiously motivated violence in India, but also the largest mass migration in human history as millions of Muslim refugees fled to Pakistan. Ms. Marvel highlights the Partition in the flashback love story of Aisha and Hasan, as well as its lingering ramifications in the lives of Sana, Muneeba, and Kamala. Although the Clandestines and the Department of Damage Control serve as Kamala’s overt antagonists in the series, Ms. Marvel perhaps suggests that the real villain is the generational trauma of imperialism.
This episode of Hyperspace Theories offers the third discussion in our three-part analysis of Obi-Wan Kenobi, following our previous commentary on the first two and middle three components of the Disney+ series. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester first break down the trio of major character arcs resolved in Part VI: the content and consequences of the second showdown in Obi-Wan Kenobi between Obi-Wan and Vader, and how Reva’s parallel subplot further illuminates their choices while defining her own. We also examine how Part VI contains deliberate ambiguity regarding Reva’s exact motivations in seeking to kill Luke on Tatooine, before her change of heart and merciful compassion from Obi-Wan.
We then return to the Hero’s Journey aspects of the series. On its own terms, Obi-Wan Kenobi concludes a full progression through Christopher Vogler’s cinematic model of the journey. Viewed through the lens of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, by contrast, Obi-Wan Kenobi contains the Departure and Initiation phases of the hero’s transformation. The Return phase is not absent from the character’s story, though – it appears in A New Hope. Only then does the moment finally arrive for Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi to complete his Hero’s Journey, synthesizing his character development from the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars, and Obi-Wan Kenobi to attain the highest state of mastery.
In our newest episode, Hyperspace Theories continues our analysis of Obi-Wan Kenobi with a discussion of Parts III, IV, and V of the Disney+ limited series. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester examine how, after Parts I and II launched Obi-Wan on his mythic adventure, the next three episodes propel him through an extended progression of trials and tribulations that return the broken man into the Jedi General he used to be and push him toward the serene Jedi Master he ultimately becomes. Elements of both Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and Christopher Vogler’s cinematic hero’s journey illustrate the mythic structure of Obi-Wan’s personal challenges.
Importantly, Obi-Wan Kenobi advances its protagonist’s character arc through the influence of three significant female characters: Leia, Tala, and Reva. Each plays a different role in shaping Obi-Wan’s rediscovery of himself and reconnection with the Force through the events on Daiyu, Mapuzo, Nur, and Jabiim. In a twist on Campbell, it is Roken and Vader, not a woman, who present the biggest temptations that might divert Obi-Wan from his path. By the conclusion of Part V, Obi-Wan has moved through his trials and overcome their obstacles. In our next episode, we’ll discuss how Obi-Wan Kenobi resolves its character arc for the Jedi Master in Part VI, as well as how that arc plays forward into the ultimate culmination of his Hero’s Journey in A New Hope and the Original Trilogy.
Hyperspace Theories podcast returns to the realm of Star Wars storytelling with this month’s episode, in which Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss The Book of Boba Fett. In addition to its seven chapter, we also consider insights from the Disney Gallery episode exploring the development and production of the Disney+ series.
We begin with the titular character. The first four episodes of The Book of Boba Fett portray two sets of events in his life: his experiences from his escape from the Sarlaac Pit until his appearance in “The Tragedy” chapter of The Mandalorian season two to reclaim his father’s armor, and his return to Tatooine to establish himself as “daimyo” upon the throne previously occupied by Jabba the Hutt and Bib Fortuna. Each of these storylines contains some interesting ideas for Fett’s character development, but both fail to meet the potential of those ideas. In addition, the series at times relies heavily on homages to famous cinema (like Lawrence of Arabia or The Godfather) and references to previous Star Wars material (including comics, books, and videogames) without challenging or subverting some of the damaging tropes frequently found in those sources, particularly in the thin characterization of the female characters and the fate of the indigenous Tusken tribe that welcomed Fett into its community. Although the finale episode delivers exciting Star Wars action sequences, it ends on a meta-referential note: Fett himself wonders aloud whether he should have been pursuing the objective of becoming daimyo in the first place.
Even more jarring, the fifth and sixth chapters of The Book of Boba Fett barely even include him at all. Instead, the focus on events that we would have expected to appear in season three of The Mandalorian, including Din Djarin’s return to the Armorer’s covert, his acquisition of a new starship to replace the RazorCrest, and his paternal caring for Grogu. Another appearance by Ahsoka Tano delivers unexpected emotion for Din in doing what’s right for Grogu, as well as for the audience with dialogue overtly linking her current role in the galaxy to her past with the Skywalker family. A surprisingly lengthy appearance by Luke reveals more about Grogu, while also testing both Luke and Grogu in their commitment to the Jedi path. Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and Dave Filoni, respectively, these two episodes offer far stronger Star Wars storytelling than the rest of The Book of Boba Fett.
This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories rings in the new year with the storytelling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss the six episodes of the Christmas-themed Disney+ series Hawkeye. Though the show may have one character name in its title, like the other MCU series to date it also is very much an ensemble story.
Clint Barton has been the MCU’s Hawkeye through four Avengers films and several others. In Endgame, we learn that Clint responded to the Snap taking away his family by becoming the ruthless and vengeful assassin Ronin, murdering crime lords and other “deserving” foes until Natasha Romanoff managed to restore his hope, changing his heart just as he had once given her the chance to change hers. In Hawkeye, everything spirals outward from these events: Clint’s grief for Natasha, his commitment to honoring the sacrifice she made to give him a life with his family, and his responsibility for his actions as Ronin.
But while Clint creates the circumstances in which Hawkeye‘s story can unfold, the series at its heart is the story of three women: Kate Bishop, Yelena Belova, and Maya Lopez. Each must face difficult truths and choose their own path forward after their interactions with Clint’s past and present. Obsessed with vengeance for Ronin’s murder of her father, Maya discovers that Clint is not the monster she thought, and the real monsters are the ones closest to her. Driven by certainty that Clint does not deserve to live either if Natasha is gone, Yelena is challenged to face her grief, accept Natasha’s sacrifice, and confront whether assassin-for-hire is really the path she wants to walk.
Kate Bishop, meanwhile, evolves from a talented young woman ringing a tower bell with an arrow on a dare to a superhero committed to doing the right thing, even if it means risking her own life in single combat against a ferocious foe to save the life of her mother – who she then promptly has arrested for her crimes on Christmas. Much of Hawkeye plays out through the trope of the reluctant mentor and the overeager pupil, but the contrasts (and comparisons) between Clint and Kate only serve to show the audience why Kate is ready to take on the mantle of Hawkeye. But not simply to replicate how Clint fulfilled that role; rather, Kate will become her own version of Hawkeye, perhaps even as more of a team leader. In Hawkeye, Kate proves her skill and her heart to Clint and to the audience – and to herself.
Hyperspace Theories concludes our three-part analysis of Season Two of The Mandalorian with a discussion of the character arc for the titular hero, Din Djarin, over the span of the sixteen chapters in the series to date. Although much of Season Two involves Din’s interactions with a progression of allies and adversaries, old and new, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester examine how each of those episodes reveals more about Din and shapes his ultimate choices in the series.
Most prominently, Season Two constantly tests Din’s understanding of what it means to be a Mandalorian. In Season One, Din centered his identity on the Armorer’s covert and the Bounty Hunter Guild. In Season Two, Din learns that the Mandalorian identity isn’t as straightforward as he thought, particularly in his encounters with Bo-Katan Kryze and Boba Fett. His sense of honor is tested by Cobb Vanth, the Passenger, and Ahsoka Tano as well as Kryze and Fett. To fulfill his quest to deliver Grogu to the Jedi, Din works with trusted allies like Greef Carga and Cara Dune, and chooses to rely upon those he initially treats warily, including Vanth, Tano, and Mayfeld. By season’s end, Din inadvertently has won the revered Darksaber from Moff Gideon in single combat, confronting him not only with the decision about what kind of Mandalorian he wants to be as an individual, but also with his role in the fate and future of the Mandalorians writ large.
Of course, we can’t discuss Din’s story without considering his bond with Grogu, a/k/a Baby Yoda or The Child. What began as a seemingly simple quest to return the young one to his kind evolves over the season into a strong parental bond. It is no coincidence that the man who repeatedly and consistently insisted he would never remove his helmet does so twice in the last two episodes of the season – both times because of Grogu.
With Season Three of The Mandalorian in production, we briefly speculate on how Din’s character arc, and the unresolved plot threads from the first two seasons, may play out in the upcoming chapters of the series.
Hyperspace Theories returns with another discussion of Season Two of The Mandalorian. In this episode, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester analyze how The Mandalorian series advances the story of the Mandalorians: a people, a culture, and a feared faction in galactic war and peace. We also speculate about how the information revealed in Season Two may provide clues to what else we’ll learn about Mandalorians in The Book of Boba Fett at the end of the year and Season Three of The Mandalorian later in 2022.
Before looking to future stories, though, we start with how the Mandalorians were introduced in the franchise’s past. Revealed in fiction and nonfiction paratexts, the lore surrounding Boba Fett’s armor and its mysterious connection to the equally mysterious Mandalorian super-commandos predates even the conclusion of the Original Trilogy in Return of the Jedi. In the era of Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Legends) tales, the Mandalorians appeared in a wide variety of popular story formats, including novels, comics, and videogames, as well as fan cosplay groups. A major shift occurred in the second season of The Clone Wars animated series, when George Lucas began to unfold his own version of Mandalorian culture, politics, and role in the galaxy. Dave Filoni subsequently evolved those ideas further in the Star Wars Rebels animated series and the Siege of Mandalore arc of The Clone Wars‘ seventh season, as well as the ongoing The Mandalorian series.
What these stories portray, over roughly thirty years of in-universe events, is the Mandalorians collectively undergoing a story of their own. Like the Jedi, the Mandalorians face tragedy by the end of the Clone Wars, and then a slow attempt to rebuild. As with the Jedi, we watch the story unfold through the eyes of key characters like Duchess Satine, Bo-Katan Kryze, Pre Vizsla, and later Sabine Wren, Din Djarin, and Moff Gideon. In the Disney+ series, perhaps the Mandalorians may have a more optimistic fate ahead.
For this variant episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester turn once again to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to discuss the storytelling, characterization, and creative twists on the monomyth in Loki, the six-episode Disney+ series which recently concluded. In addition to discussing the character arcs of the core cast – Loki, Sylvie, Mobius, and Renslayer – we delve into the weighty themes and significant philosophical ideas underlying the series. We offer high praise for the successful collaboration of director Kate Herron and head writer Michael Waldron, who is poised to write the screenplay for the previously announced Star Wars movie being produced by MCU guru Kevin Feige. Loki certainly benefits from a second watch, which makes even more apparent the clever writing and honed storytelling in the series.
Season One of The Mandalorian concluded with a two-part story arc consisting of “Chapter 7: The Reckoning” and “Chapter 8: Redemption.” In this episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester analyze how the finale episodes pay off the storytelling and characterization set up during the course of the season. We also look ahead to how the threads left open at the end of Season One may lay the groundwork for the stories to come in Season Two.
The finale episodes of Season One provide compelling character development for the titular Mandalorian (whose real name, we learn, is Din Djarin), as well as further evolving Baby Yoda’s understanding of the Force, a change of heart by Greef Carga, and the fateful sacrifices of Kuill and IG-11 to save the Child from Imperial captivity. We also discuss the humorous sequence at the opening of Chapter 8, involving the two biker scouts with Baby Yoda, and examine the storytelling impact and thematic purpose of humor in conveying a moral message to the audience. And of course we have to talk about the incredible new villain, Moff Gideon – who, it is revealed in the last moments of the season, is in possession of the Darksaber, an important relic of Mandalorian culture.
With Season Two of The Mandalorian premiering at the end of the month, our latest episode of Hyperspace Theories revisits the stories told in Season One. Between the three-episode opening arc and the two-episode conclusion falls a trio of distinct episodes that build and develop a number of important character dynamics. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss Chapter Four: Sanctuary, Chapter Five: The Gunslinger, and Chapter Six: The Prisoner and what they contribute to The Mandalorian’s story progression.
Many of those developments involve the show’s central and titular character. Like the middle of a Campbellian journey, Mando faces tests and trials while encountering allies and enemies. These episodes, for example, reinforce Mando’s distaste for droids and his sworn commitment to never remove his helmet around other people. They also show his worldly experience, his tactical combat prowess and creativity, and the code of honor that plays a role in determining which adversaries he defeats but leaves alive – and which ones he kills. And of course, his relationship with his ward, Baby Yoda, advances too, with a little prompting from Cara Dune, Omera, and Pelli Motto, as well as Mando’s own burgeoning affection for the child.
Check back soon for our next episode, also to be released before Season Two begins, when we will discuss the finale episodes of Season One.
For this episode of Hyperspace Theories, the show comes full circle. Joining Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester for our continuing discussion of The Clone Wars Season Seven is Megan Crouse, a familiar name to long-time readers of FANgirl Blog – and our guest on the second-ever episode of the podcast. Megan wrote reviews of The Clone Wars episodes during Seasons Four and Five when they originally aired on Cartoon Network, as well as contributing book reviews and other articles. Since then, Megan has gone on to write for StarWars.Com, Star Wars Insider magazine, Den of Geek, and other websites. Welcome back, Megan!
The focus of our discussion is the second arc of Season Seven, which tells a story of Ahsoka's struggle to redefine her identity relatively soon after her resignation from the Jedi Order at the end of Season Five. Her thinking about herself is influenced by her interaction with the two sisters she meets early in the first episode: Trace and Rafa Martez. As Dave Filoni explained on Clone Wars Download, the sisters represent two possibilities for who Ahsoka could become: the earnest and compassion Trace, or the cynical and selfish Rafa. Over the course of the four episodes, Ahsoka makes her choice – and in the process helps Rafa realize that she can make different choices for herself and her sister, too.
In addition to discussing Ahsoka and the Martez sisters, we discuss other themes highlighted by this story arc, particularly how the Jedi Order has been morally compromised. We also share thoughts about how this arc relates to other stories from The Clone Wars, including the novel Dark Disciple and the first two episodes of the final Siege of Mandalore arc, which had already aired by the time of recording.
For the latest episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester discuss the first three episodes of Star Wars: The Mandalorian, now available on the Disney+ streaming service. The untitled premiere episode, Chapter Two: The Child, and Chapter Three: The Sun collectively form the introductory story arc for the as-yet-unnamed titular character.
In addition to the character development of the Mandalorian, we consider his interactions with the Bounty Hunter Guild and his Mandalorian clan, as well as his backstory flashback to the Clone Wars. And no conversation about these episodes would be complete without addressing the small green alien in the room: Baby Yoda.
We conclude our discussion by looking ahead to the final five episodes of the first season, in particular anticipating the arrival of Gina Carano’s Cara Dune and Ming Na Wen’s Fennec Shand.
This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories takes us from books to fashion to movies, with plenty in between. Six months out from the release of The Rise of Skywalker, Tricia, B.J., and Kay look ahead to what might come next for Star Wars and its fans.
We begin, though, in the present: discussing the recently released novel Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. Taking place shortly after the defeat of the Empire, the book is the first in a trilogy telling the story of a group of pilots, each flying a different type of starfighter, who are tasked with tracking down an elite Imperial starfighter wing. We evaluate the book on its own terms, how it works to kick off a trilogy, and its relationship to Freed’s other work. As big fans of the X-Wing novel series in the Expanded Universe (Legends) era – featuring the tales of Rogue Squadron by Mike Stackpole and Wraith Squadron by Aaron Allston – we also consider how Alphabet Squadron compares and contrasts with those beloved stories. (For more, you can check out Kay’s review of the novel, too.)
Earlier this month, Tricia and B.J. had the opportunity to attend San Diego Comic-Con as credentialed media for Fangirls Going Rogue, and they share some of their insights and reactions from the convention here on Hyperspace Theories, too. We start with the Her Universe Fashion Show, which Kay was able to follow along thanks to livestreams and social media. The work of the designers was impressive as always! Tricia talks about some of the other geek fashion she covered at the convention, as well. We also talk about the Star Wars panels at SDCC, including the Lucasfilm Publishing panel and a bit of Star Wars comics news, along with several other panels examining the role of women in pop culture and the entertainment industry.
One of the SDCC panels Tricia attended gathered a group of experts to discuss how fans and fandoms display their reactions and emotions when long-running stories end. We take this idea as a starting point to look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars, both of which reach highly anticipated endpoints this year. With Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, the MCU drew to close a ten-year, 22-movie epic storyline and resolved the fates of a number of prominent characters from the series. In December, The Rise of Skywalker will conclude a nine-movie, four-decade Skywalker Saga story told in the Star Wars films. We note the similarities and differences in the two franchises, and consider how the reactions to the end of the MCU’s Phase Three may or may not necessarily transpose to the aftermath of Episode IX. In particular, the Phase 4 slate of new films and Disney+ series announced at SDCC keeps the MCU moving forward at a fast pace, and with great strides in improving the diversity of the talent on screen and behind the scenes at Marvel Studios. By contrast, Lucasfilm currently is scheduled to have a three-year break before the next film and has only two Disney+ series announced for that time period; on the other hand, Star Wars tells stories in animation, books, and comics that continue to advance the same singular storyline in a way that Marvel does not. Although both the MCU and Star Wars will pivot in new directions, we expect to see some significant differences in how the franchises and their fandoms react and adapt going forward.
We have the future, the past, and the present to discuss in this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories. With Celebration Chicago in the rear-view mirror and December’s movie still half a year away, Kay, Tricia, and B.J. still have plenty of Star Wars to talk about.
We begin with the Vanity Fair cover story on The Rise of Skywalker, featuring an article by Lev Grossman and photographs by Annie Leibowitz. As is typical for these pieces, we learned a few new character and planet names, but very little other new information – especially following so closely on the heels of similar interview answers given at Celebration. Likewise, Leibowitz’s composite style provides imagery presumably intended to convey the tone and spirit of the film, but they are traditional behind-the-scenes snapshots or on-set stills. But we did get much better looks at the costumes for Rey and Zorri Bliss, much to Kay’s excitement.
Our storytelling segment travels over sixty years back in time on the Star Wars in-universe chronology, to the era when the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic – though the seeds of the Order’s demise already had begun to grow. The novel Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray focuses on the teacher-pupil relationship between Qui-Gon Jinn and a teenage Obi-Wan Kenobi a number of years before The Phantom Menace. She spins a tale of trust and friendship, as well as prophecy, ethical dilemmas, and the political power of governments, leaders, corporations, and the Jedi. One of the new characters is Rael Averross, also an iconoclast to the Jedi Order – but in a quite different manner than Qui-Gon. What they have in common is that both are former apprentices to Dooku, who appears only briefly in flashbacks in Master & Apprentice. The fallen Jedi turned Sith Lord is central figure of the full-cast audiobook Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott, released two weeks after Gray’s novel, which also includes Rael and Asajj Ventress from The Clone Wars. Between the two stories, the backstory to Episode I gains a considerable amount of new perspective.
This month’s world-building segment takes us to Anaheim, California, where Tricia attended the official grand opening of the Galaxy’s Edge expansion at Disneyland. She shares her reactions to the new land, including the setting, inhabitants, food and drink, and of course the ride Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. She also gives a behind-the-scenes peek at the dedication ceremony and formal opening of the ride, with VIPs in attendance including Star Wars animation guru Dave Filoni and Captain Marvel’s Brie Larson. One prominent new character in Galaxy’s Edge is Resistance spy Vi Moradi, who appears in Delilah Dawson’s novel Phasma and August’s upcoming Black Spire. In the park, Vi is portrayed by cast member Alex Marshall-Brown, who has been sharing her experience on Instagram and Twitter.
Vanity Fair‘s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Links
On Episode 44 of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia, B.J. and Kay discuss Star Wars Celebration in Chicago and share our reactions to, and favorite moments from, the convention. The convention was definitely a busy one: we didn’t even have time to record the episode live at the con, but hopefully the clearer audio quality is a worthwhile tradeoff.
We begin, of course, with the Episode IX panel that kicked off the convention on Friday morning, April 12. In addition to the panel itself, we give our initial impression of the movie’s title, The Rise of Skywalker, and the teaser trailer unveiled at the conclusion of the panel – including a surprise appearance by the Emperor’s Ian McDiarmid on the Celebration stage.
We then talk about a wide range of other experiences from the convention. Panels discussed include The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian, Galaxy’s Edge, and Claudia Gray’s writer workshop. Other topics include merchandise, cosplay, the fan-organized Ahsoka Lives picture, and the fun of socializing with friends from all over the country and around the world. We also offer some constructive criticism on several of the logistical problems that arose before and during the convention, in the hope that these issues can be resolved for Celebration Anaheim in 2020.
We conclude the show with our favorite moments from the convention. For each of us, these were more personally important than anything else – but that’s what conventions like Celebration are really all about.
FANgirl Coverage of Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019:
Many Star Wars fans, including the team here at FANgirl, have long urged the franchise to release a novel centered on Padmé and her political career. That moment has finally arrived from Disney Lucasfilm Press, in the form of the Young Adult novel Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston, who previously wrote the YA novel Ahsoka.
As usual, we begin with our meta segment, in which we consider influential forces and figures that have shaped the Star Wars franchise. Part of what makes this Padmé novel special is that Johnston is one of the first Star Wars creators from the Prequel Trilogy generation to attain the opportunity to contribute as a professional. In interviews, she shares that she first saw The Phantom Menace on her fifteenth birthday, and immediately built her fandom around Padmé, Sabé, and the rest of Amidala’s handmaidens. From fanfic to her career as a published author to books about Ahsoka and Padmé, Johnston brings priorities, values, and emphases to her Star Wars work that differ greatly from most contributors from the Original Trilogy generation. As even more peers from her generation join the franchise, Star Wars will broaden with new perspectives from new voices.
We share our reactions to Queen’s Shadow in the storytelling segment. Padmé and Sabé are the principal characters, but the book has a lot of other elements to discuss, as well. In addition to the handmaidens from the Prequel Trilogy films, the novel includes appearances from characters in The Clone Wars animated series and connections to Claudia Gray’s novel Leia: Princess of Alderaan. Also noteworthy are several of Johnston’s new characters, as well as the variety of different forms of representation she includes in the story.
For the world-building segment, we discuss the recently revealed details about Black Spire Outpost on Batuu, opening later this year at that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge expansions at Disneyland (May 31) and Disney World (August 29). From cast member costumes to food and beverage options, in-universe toys and attire for purchase, the Imagineers have developed an impressive range of immersive qualities for the theme parks. Fortunately, Disney has anticipated the high demand for the openings, and has several guest-flow control measures prepared to keep the experience from being overwhelmed by dense crowds.
April brings the Star Wars Celebration convention in Chicago. Hyperspace Theories will be there, so check back for our coverage from the event.
Hyperspace Theories visits The Dark Side in this month’s episode. That’s right, Tricia Barr has a new Star Wars book, which just released in French and Spanish language editions.
Before we talk about the book, though, Tricia, B.J., and Kay share our reactions to the latest announcements about the live-action television series for the Disney+ streaming service set to launch next year. Diego Luna returns to play Cassian Andor is a series set prior to the events of Rogue One. Considering Cassian has been in the fight since he was six years old, there’s a lot of story potential in his backstory. In addition, Lucasfilm announced the principal cast for The Mandalorian, including Pedro Pascal in the titular role and a variety of other familiar faces.
Each episode, our meta segment is based on the theme of how to speculate wisely about upcoming Star Wars tales. Sometimes that means knowing when to be careful not to draw any big storytelling inferences from material that doesn’t warrant it. This month, that idea definitely applies to a tweet from director – and trusted advisor to J.J. Abrams – Ava DuVernay, who tweeted a photograph of her friend Victoria Mahoney, second unit director on Episode IX, in her office at Pinewood Studios. On the wall behind Mahoney is a “mood board” of imagery, most of which has no direct connection to Star Wars – although the picture of Mahoney in a pink fluffy coat and Vader helmet is certainly the centerpiece. The inspiration on the mood board ranges from Patty Shepard in the spaghetti western The Man Called Noon (1973) to a book of portraits by painter Kehinde Wiley. Though it may not tell us any details about Episode IX, the tweet does give us a stronger sense of Mahoney’s visual eye and the talent she brings to the film.
Our storytelling segment features Tricia sharing her thoughts about writing The Dark Side, a new title from Hachette Heroes. Written from an in-universe perspective, the book examines the dark side of the Force through the lens of the characters who wield it, including the Sith, fallen Jedi, the Nightsisters of Dathomir, and the Empire’s Inquisitors. In addition to movie characters like Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, and Count Dooku, the book also addresses characters featured in animation and other stories, such as Asajj Ventress, Mother Talzin, the Seventh Sister, and the extended story of Maul, formerly Darth. Although an English edition has not yet been announced, the French (ISBN 978-2017003809) and Spanish (ISBN 978-8416857418) editions are on sale now.
Our world-building segment spins off from the news of the Cassian Andor television series. We consider how the Star Wars franchise over time has involved a balance between open-ended stories with no inherent conclusion and closed-ended tales constrained, at least to some extent, by known endpoints. The Mandalorian and Episode IX are examples of the former, while the Cassian series and The Queen’s Shadow fall into the latter, and some stories, such as Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Resistance, have elements of both. In the first six to seven years of the Disney era, the franchise has leaned heavily on backstory and closed-ended stories. While this makes sense to steer clear of the Sequel Trilogy during its development, we consider the implications for the franchise and the fandom that choice has created.
Thanks to Darth Real Life, it’s been a while since our last episode. Hyperspace Theories returns with a conversation about the exciting new developments in Star Wars television.
First, though, we briefly discuss some of the other recent Star Wars news. Episode IX has begun filming, and several new cast members were announced. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy’s contract has been extended through 2021, though Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed a slowdown in the pace of Star Wars movie production following Episode IX. There may be fewer films in the works for the moment, but Star Wars television is surging ahead.
Our meta segment considers the announcement of The Mandalorian, a live-action series for the upcoming direct-to-consumer streaming service from Disney. The show’s creator, executive producer, and writer is Jon Favreau, whose extensive body of work includes Iron Man and Iron Man 2 for Marvel, the live-action Jungle Book and The Lion King for Disney, his own project Chef, and directing episodes of Revolution and The Orville for television. He also has a history with Star Wars, voicing Mandalorian Death Watch leader Pre Viszla on The Clone Wars. Another figure from that series, Dave Filoni, has a prominent part in The Mandalorian: he is an executive producer and will direct its first episode. We speculate about the influences Favreau and Filoni will bring to the live-action show, and how its release on the streaming service might affect the tone and content of its episodes. We also share our thoughts on the other episodic directors announced for the project: Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok).
Like Lucasfilm, our storytelling segment revisits The Clone Wars after the news from the summer that twelve more episodes are in production. We speculate about which remaining untold story arcs might appears in these new episodes, based on information previously revealed at Star Wars Celebration panels and some arcs already produced in other formats, such as Dark Disciple and Son of Dathomir. Based on the trailer, the long-awaited “Siege of Mandalore” story appears to be included, which will create connections with existing arcs of The Clone Wars, Revenge of the Sith, the Ahsoka novel, and Star Wars Rebels. We also share in the fandom’s excitement to see more stories from The Clone Wars and the return of the fan-favorite voice cast.
For our world-building segment we analyze the premiere episodes of Star Wars Resistance, the new animated series airing on the Disney Channel. We start with the galaxy-level world-building in the series, including the New Republic, the Resistance, and the First Order at a point in time six months before The Force Awakens. We then turn to the Colossus, the fuel depot and its residents that serve as the location for the first season, and discuss how the characters and their story arcs are constructed with that environment in mind. (Note: if you have not yet seen the show, this part of our discussion includes major spoilers for the opening episode, “The Recruit,” and some references to the following episodes, “The Triple Dark” and “Fuel for the Fire,” which are available for early viewing through DisneyNOW, Hulu, and other providers.)
There’s much to discuss on this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories. Tricia, B.J., and Kay begin with a quick look at the recent Star Wars news since our last episode, including reports of Keri Russell and Billy Dee Williams joining the cast of Episode IX, updates to the Lucasfilm corporate website, and the delay of Indiana Jones 5.
For the meta segment, we revisit a foundational topic in Star Wars – the Force – from the perspective of the third storytelling trio in The Last Jedi: Rey, Luke, and Kylo Ren. In addition to those characters, the movie and other recent Star Wars tales reveal more insight into the nature of the light side and dark side, and the role of the Jedi Order as an institution in serving, sometimes unsuccessfully, the principle of balance in the Force. We also share our thoughts on some points raised in discussions among online Star Wars fandom on these topics.
The storytelling segment centers on the Hero’s Journey for Han in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Unlike the other films of the Disney era, Solo draws upon the classical monomyth framework described by Joseph Campbell, rather than the modern cinematic model developed by Christopher Vogler. This has interesting implications for the structure of the story as well as the portrayals of the main characters.
Our world-building segment focuses on an article from Tom & Lorenzo analyzing Rey’s costumes in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Their insights include the symbolism of the colors and clothing styles, as well as interconnections with costumes in previous Star Wars movies for Luke, Han, and Leia.
Last month Solo: A Story Wars Story hit theaters, and the newest episode of Hyperspace Theories features Tricia Barr, B.J. Priester, and Kay sharing our reactions and analysis. Needless to say, the episode is chock full of spoilers for Solo. You have been warned!
With the home-video release already reaching our personal screens, Tricia Barr, B.J. Priester, and Kay Serna continue our analysis of The Last Jedi. First, though, we make a brief detour for a “Spoilers Beware” segment to share our reactions to the series finale episodes of Star Wars Rebels and the teaser trailer for Solo: A Star War Story, both of which aired since the three of us recorded together.
We begin our discussion on The Last Jedi with the “Expanded Edition” story contained in the novelization of the film by Jason Fry. We consider how the novelization adds to the story of the movie, including new scenes and character points-of-view. We also examine the ways in which the book avoids elaborating or clarifying on story points where the film is best left to speak for itself, or where fan speculation and opinion is better kept unrestricted.
For the world-building segment we discuss the impact of Snoke’s death on the First Order and the progress of the story going forward into Episode IX. Both Kylo Ren and Hux are portrayed as characters with significant disadvantages in leading such a large entity, including their inexperience and personal traits. This is potentially a weakness the Resistance could exploit, but the instability in the First Order also could make its leaders very dangerous.
In our storytelling segment, we analyze another character triangle envisioned by Rian Johnson in writing the script, as noted on page 111 of The Art of The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak. This month we consider the triangle centered on Poe Dameron, and how his interactions with General Leia Organa and Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo shape his path from hotshot flyboy to Resistance leader.
In a Star Wars Battlefront II focused episode, Kay hosts a roundtable of gamers to break down the story mode. The panel includes Linda Hansen-Raj (FANgirl, StarWars.com), Kelly Knox (StarWars.com), and Bria LaVorgna (Tosche Station, White Hot Room).
The Last Jedi provides no shortage of topics for discussion, and this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories provides the first opportunity for Tricia Barr, B.J. Priester, and Kay to dig deep into the story told in the movie and the storytelling decisions behind it.
First, though, we kick off with a brief Spoilers Beware segment to share our first reactions to the mid-season trailer for Star Wars Rebels. The trailer previews the final seven episodes of the animated series, which concludes its four-season run with two episodes on Monday, February 19, two more on February 26, and a three-episode Rebels “movie” finale on March 6.
Our meta segment about how to speculate wisely often delves into topics such as the storytellers who are creating Star Wars and the sources that inspire them. This time, we have the opportunity to lift the veil after the fact and examine the creative process behind The Last Jedi after the fact. The lens for our discussion is the book The Art of The Last Jedi by Phil Szostak, published the same day as the movie’s release with a foreword by Rian Johnson. The book is filled with a wide variety of intriguing concept art from the film’s production, and its prose provides a behind-the-scenes look at how Johnson’s story came together.
The world-building segment considers the balance that every new Star Wars movie must strike in the new era of annual film releases: the balance between tapping into the power of fans’ nostalgia for the Star Wars stories already told and the need to tell a story that stands on its own within the franchise. Although conventional wisdom suggests that The Force Awakens leaned too heavily on nostalgia and the story structure of A New Hope while The Last Jedi took more risks and broke new ground, we use Episode VIII’s dramatic under-performing at the Chinese box office as an angle to discuss the ways The Last Jedi, and particularly its use of Luke Skywalker, may have relied too much on nostalgia and the expense of the new characters.
Our storytelling segment returns to another idea drawn from The Art of The Last Jedi. In the book, Rian Johnson explains that the character dynamics in the film are structured around three “triangles” of characters, with a principal hero (Rey, Finn, or Poe) at the apex of each. In this episode we discuss Finn’s triangle, in which his character development takes places between the contrasting influences of Rose and DJ in urging him to face and choose his destiny.
The wait is over, and The Last Jedi has arrived! Even having seen the movie only a few times each, we already have so much to analyze and discuss from Episode VIII. Before we delve into any of that, though, we share our initial reactions to the movie. Tricia Barr, B.J. Priester, and Kay Serna are joined by Looking For Leia producer and director Annalise Ophelian to break down our rollercoasters of emotion from experiencing The Last Jedi.
Naturally, this episode carries a massive SPOILER WARNING, as we do not hesitate to get into the biggest and most surprising moments in the movie.
We begin by considering whether the talking points, trailers, and other promotion for The Last Jedi provided fans with accurate guidance on what the movie ultimately would unfold. We then talk about the themes and influences that first caught our attention in watching the film. From the big picture we transition to our reactions to the arcs for the principal characters, including Rey and Kylo Ren, Rose and Finn, Poe and Holdo, Leia, and Luke. We conclude by picking our favorite moments from The Last Jedi.
Needless to say, this movie will provide topics for discussion on the podcast for many months to come.
This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories marks our final show of speculation before the release of The Last Jedi, which no doubt will bring months of analysis – and future speculation – to the Star Wars fandom galaxy. Excitement and anticipation abounds!
Before turning to the imminent Episode VIII, though, Tricia, B.J., and Kay first consider the recent announcement that Lucasfilm has hired Rian Johnson to develop more Star Wars films. “In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga,” the press release said, “Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.” We share our thoughts on the possibilities offered by this new direction in Star Wars movies, as well as how they may relate to the other films in development at Lucasfilm. In addition, the announcement clarified Johnson’s role in the trilogy of films as “the first of which he is also set to write and direct.” We express our hope that the remaining two movies will provide opportunities for more diversity in the screenwriting and directing positions in the Star Wars franchise, especially in light of the commercial and critical success of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok.
Promotion for The Last Jedi has been in full swing, with more hints about the direction of the story and characters. We break down our thoughts on the international trailer, which takes a more story-driven approach than last month’s U.S. trailer, as well as additional footage seen in various television advertisements for the movie and the cover story on The Last Jedi in the Thanksgiving week issue of Entertainment Weekly. Tricia shares her insights from the media preview of the newest version of the Star Tours ride at Walt Disney World, which includes the battle sequence on Crait as well as several characters from the movie. While a variety of new glimpses from the film have emerged, we conclude that most of the story’s key developments and secrets remain hidden. Fortunately, it’s time for The Last Jedi speculation to end.
It seems clear that the nature of the Force, the light side and the dark side, and the role of the Jedi in the galaxy will be significant themes in The Last Jedi. With that in mind, our worldbuilding segment considers some of the recent lore and themes about the Force revealed in other materials, including Star Wars Rebels.
Finally, the storytelling segment evaluates a prominent trend in recent Star Wars publishing: the use of in-universe storytelling as a mechanism to tell fun Star Wars tales without pinning down specific facts or events as any form of objective truth. Delilah Dawson’s novel Phasma, for example, has a frame story with an unreliable narrator, leaving open the possibility that any part of the story could be incorrect or misunderstood by its participants. Similarly, The Legends of Luke Skywalker by Ken Liu uses a frame story – deckhands on a ship sharing the tall tales they have been told about Luke – as a mechanism to deliver some fantastical adventures for the Jedi Knight. At the same time, each tale in the book illustrates a core aspect of what makes Luke an heroic figure in the galaxy, showing that even the most outrageously improbable legends still have a grain of truth at their core. The anthology From A Certain Point of View also contains a number of short stories that likely don’t hold up as having actually happened, at least the way they’re told in the book, but nevertheless contain key themes and morals to the story that fit right in with the Star Wars galaxy.
Tricia Barr, BJ Priester and Kay from FANgirl Blog discuss changes in directors on Episode IX, Star Wars animation and Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray.
The Star Wars movie news keeps coming, and we delve into it on this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories. We begin with one of the recent photos from the Untitled Han Solo movie shared on socialmedia by director Ron Howard. Does the image and its caption – “Spicey?” – hint at the appearance of the long-notorious spice mines as well as the legendary Kessel Run in the film?
The big developments since our last episode, though, involved Episode IX: Colin Trevorrow is no longer involved in the movie as either writer or director, and J.J. Abrams is returning to Star Wars to direct and co-write the second sequel to The Force Awakens. Tricia, B.J., and Kay discuss our reactions to and analysis of the news, including the official announcements from Lucasfilm as well as the reports in the Hollywood industry trades. While the removal of Trevorrow from the project is a positive change, the sources of the conflict that led to his departure were very much predictable at the time he was hired; the upheaval in the production process at this point, about four months prior to the intended start of principal photography, was preventable if a sounder hire had been made in the first instance. Fortunately, after the box office and fandom success of The Force Awakens Abrams had enough influence and credibility with the Disney brass to insist on pushing back Episode IX’s release date to December 2019, giving him at least six additional months to work on the script. Abrams has essentially the same amount of time to work on Episode IX’s screenplay as for The Force Awakens – but this time with considerably less work needed on the world-building and character arcs compared to kicking off the trilogy. Overall, though, we’re certainly far more optimistic about Episode IX with Abrams at the helm than we were a few weeks ago.
We also share areas of concern with Abrams’ leadership of Episode IX. On The Force Awakens, Abrams often worked in seclusion at Bad Robot in Santa Monica, in contrast to Rian Johnson’s work in residence at Lucasfilm while writing and completing The Last Jedi. With the Story Group and other members of the creative brain trust at Lucasfilm having accomplished some great successes in interconnectivity and long-term payoffs over the course of stories released since 2015, it would be a shame if Abrams’ return also meant a recurrence of the lack of communication that led to key creative executives at Lucasfilm being unaware of major storytelling decisions made while finalizing The Force Awakens until the film’s release. Similarly, Abram’s co-writer on The Force Awakens was the esteemed Lawrence Kasdan; his writing partner on Episode IX is Chris Terrio, who won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Argo but also wrote the screenplays for Batman v Superman and Justice League, which like Rogue One ended up undergoing substantial revision, if not re-envisioning, during reshoots. Finally, while Abrams is certainly a known quantity and trusted creator to Lucasfilm, it is disappointing to see yet again that two middle-aged white men have been handed the keys a Star Wars film – and this time, one that has to provide satisfying, empowering, and worthy conclusions to the Sequel Trilogy character arcs of Rey and Leia.
For all the upheaval in the production processes on the Star Wars films over the last few years, though, lots of great Star Wars stories are being told outside the movies. In this month’s episode we discuss the second season of LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, the first eight Force of Destiny animated shorts, and the young-adult novel Leia, Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray. We have high praise for each of them, although as longtime Star Wars books fandom participants, each of us was particularly excited to finally see the kind of official young Leia book we’ve always thought the character deserved. As part of the Journey to The Last Jedi publishing program, Gray’s novel also contains some intriguing hints for Episode VIII, including some that are overt and others that left us wondering – and speculating.
On this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia, B.J., and Kay delve into the Star Wars news revealed at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim. We begin with our reactions to the Behind the Scenes reel for The Last Jedi shown during the Star Wars segment of the Live Action Movies panel, then break down our highlights and favorite moments from the video. As usual, we also speculate about what the reel might reveal about the film, its story, and the character arcs.
Next we turn to the teaser posters revealed online shortly after the panel presentation ended. The color red is certainly a noticeable theme in the art, along with the obscured faces.
After talking about The Last Jedi, we talk about the other big Star Wars news from D23: the Disney Parks announcements of the official name for “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” at Disneyland and Hollywood Studios, as well as a luxury resort hotel in Florida. Star Wars entertainment will be part of our real world sooner than we think. The Battlefront II videogame and Star Wars fiction publishing also were included in the D23 presentations.
Finally, since our last episode the new director for the untitled Han Solo movie, Ron Howard, was officially announced by Lucasfilm. We share our thoughts on Howard as a director and his role in bringing the movie to its culmination.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Behind the Scenes on YouTube
Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser posters via @starwars on Twitter: set one and set two
Gallery of panel presentation images via Star Wars on Facebook
In this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories, Tricia, B.J., and Kay look ahead to the next Star Wars movie and consider how the books have supplemented the previous one.
We begin with a brief Spoilers Beware segment sharing our reactions to several items about The Last Jedi in the news recently, including John Boyega showing Finn’s blaster, Oscar Isaac discussing filming a physical interaction with Carrie Fisher, and Rian Johnson’s storytelling tweak to the ending of The Force Awakens.
Our meta segment on speculating wisely delves in detail into the Vanity Fair features on The Last Jedi from the magazine’s June issue. We talk about our favorite images from the Annie Liebowitz photo spread, as well as some intriguing nuggets of information revealed in the text of the cover story and supplemental online content. These include Rian Johnson’s approach to the characters and world-building during his writing process, the role of the Story Group in Star Wars storytelling, and Kathleen Kennedy’s latest remarks about the future of General Organa in Episode IX.
In the storytelling segment we discuss three books released in connection with Rogue One: Alexander Freed’s novelization of the movie, Beth Revis’ Rebel Rising, and Greg Rucka’s Guardians of the Whills. We emphasize how the books add layers to the characterization and motivations of the key characters in the film, especially Jyn but also Chirrut and Baze, Cassian, and Mon Mothma.
In this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories, we discuss Star Wars storytelling from a range of mediums, including books, television, and movies. Kay, Tricia, and B.J. are joined by FANgirl contributor Linda for our discussion and conversation.
Before getting into storytelling analysis, we share our reactions to recent officially released Star Wars news. We talk about the toy box character images for The Last Jedi, the announcement of major panels at Celebration for The Last Jedi and the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars, and the beginning of principal photography for the young Han Solo standalone movie, which also included confirmation of several additional cast members.
For our meta segment, instead of examining our usual theme of speculating wisely we delve into the ongoing problem of unapproved spoiler leaks made by individuals with review copies of books. The situation garnered widespread attention this month in connection with Chuck Wendig’s new novel Aftermath: Empire’s End. While some amount of leaks on social media has been typical, this time major genre sites such as Mashable and io9 reported on an interlude in the book prior to the book’s release. Although screener episodes of television shows present a similar risk, Star Wars fandom has been fairly lucky in that regard compared to extensive leaks seen in The Walking Dead fandom. We discuss the obligations owed by reviewers to other fans, as well as potential reactions by Lucasfilm or other franchises to reduce the occurrence of these spoilers.
Star Wars Rebels aired a pair of episodes centered on Sabine Wren, “Trials of the Darksaber” and “Legacy of Mandalore,” that take the focus of our world-building segment. We examine Sabine’s story arc over the three seasons of the show, culminating in these episodes, especially the development of her interactions with Ezra and Kanan. We note in particular, too, the importance of “Legacy of Mandalore” as a mother-daughter story, which so far have been sparse in Star Wars. With their inclusion of the Darksaber legend and the political upheaval within the culture, these episodes also position Mandalorians as a powerful third faction in the galaxy along with the Jedi and Sith or the Rebellion and the Empire.
The storytelling segment this month revisits Rogue One to analyze the controversial use of computer-generated effects to create the faces of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia in the film. While storytelling sometimes requires the inclusion of certain characters due to the context or themes of a tale, only the live-action cinema side of Star Wars raises the issue of casting those roles with actors. In Rogue One some characters were played by their original actors, others were recast, and CG was used for Tarkin and Leia. Guy Henry’s interviews with Business Insider and The Hollywood Reporter provide insight into the creative process of performing the role, but do not answer the question whether it was necessary to digitally substitute the late Peter Cushing’s face for Henry’s. With the Han Solo movie also recasting several iconic characters, we share our thought on whether Lucasfilm should ever repeat the digital-face technique after Rogue One.
This month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories continues our discussion of storytelling lessons to be learned from Rogue One. In addition, we look ahead to the next Star Wars film and share our thoughts on the legacy of Carrie Fisher.
We begin with our reactions to the newly revealed title of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. The title has connections to The Force Awakens, of course, as well as to familiar themes from other Star Wars stories and the Legends tales. We also ponder the potential implications of the red lettering used in the title announcement.
In our meta segment on speculating wisely, we evaluate the role of movie trailers in speculation on future Star Wars films. For both that film and The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm has released trailers which seek to convey the tone, themes, and feel of the story but which include scenes and dialogue that do not appear in the final film. We discuss the merits and risks of this approach, particularly if the franchise is trying to maintain a lockdown on spoilers. On the other hand, it is now clear that both The Force Awakens and Rogue One were undergoing major editing, reshoots and pickups, dialogue replacement, and others changes in the months, even final weeks, before the films’ releases. With Rogue One in particular, some of the seeming inconsistencies in the characterization of Jyn Erso in the early trailers compared to the later trailers and advertisements may have arisen from the changes made during Tony Gilroy’s significant reworking of the story. This raises a comparison to Star Wars Rebels, which, like The Clone Wars before it, has a consistent track record of trailers that include scenes and dialogue matching the final episodes to air. We wonder whether Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, which already is deep into editing and seems to have avoided the mad dash revising of the previous two films, will have trailers and marketing more comparable to Rebels than those movies.
Our segment on world-building also revisits the production process of Rogue One and its ramifications on the story and characters. Relying on the information revealed in The Art of Rogue One, as well as a number of recent interviews by the film’s editors, we discuss major shifts in the development process. The stage of development for the characters and story of Rogue One include the initial treatment and sizzle reel by John Knoll, creative development in 2014 led by Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta culminating in a screenplay by Whitta, a script rewrite by Chris Weitz (including, among other things, the creation of Chirut and Baze), principal photography by Edwards in 2015, extensive script revisions and reshoots from Tony Gilroy in the summer of 2016, and then final editing of the film into its ultimate form. We discuss how these instances of significant rethinking, over a relatively short span of time, impacted the tone, feel, and internal consistency of the plot and characters.
This month’s storytelling segment is dedicated to Carrie Fisher. In addition to talking about her importance as Leia Organa, both within the story and to fandom and the real world, we also share our thoughts on Carrie Fisher as a storyteller herself. From her script doctoring to Postcards from the Edge and The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher could make us laugh and cry, and sometimes both at the same time.
Tricia Barr, BJ Priester and Kay ponder the imminent possibilities for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, out December 16th. Looking ahead to Episode VIII, they consider Rian Johnson's impact on the franchise, including a look at his film camp. Star Wars Rebels Season 3 gives us a chance to discuss fan service versus character growth.
This month Lucasfilm released the full-length theatrical trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. After our first recording of our reactions to the trailer was mangled by a pack of electronic gremlins, we sat down to record them again. In the meantime, several more interesting comments about the film emerged in the entertainment press, so we were able take those into account in our comments on the trailer this time.
This trailer for Rogue One is notable in several respects. For one, it continues the trend we've discussed previously: portraying Jyn much more as an inspiring leader taking charge of a mission against the Empire, rather than the belligerent criminal reluctantly conscripted into the Rebellion we saw in the first teaser. This also calls to mind Kathleen Kennedy's description of Jyn back in June, but with more emphasis on Jyn as "a kind of Joan of Arc in the story" rather than as a "streetwise delinquent."
In addition, this trailer has marked differences from the trailers for The Force Awakens last year. It appears to flow roughly in chronological order for the film: from Jyn's childhood to her liberation from Imperial custody by the Rebels, to the Yavin base and on to Jedha, and then to Scarif. The Rogue One trailer also reveals much more about the story of the film: who the protagonist characters are and what they are fighting for. While we still wonder whether the timeline placement in relation to the other Star Wars films will be clear enough to the casual audience who hasn't been paying close attention to the marketing of Rogue One to date, this trailer is a definite improvement in providing an "elevator pitch" for the movie to those fans. Now we have a better sense of who these characters are, and why we should root for them.
Check out the episode for our full thoughts on the trailer, including Director Krennic, Galen Erso, Darth Vader, and more.
We’re beginning to learn more about the production and story of Rogue One, and these developments are the focus of this month’s episode of Hyperspace Theories.
Whether based on information revealed previously or the newer details, speculation about Rogue One has to take into account the involvement of a significant new player in the movie’s production: Tony Gilroy. The Hollywood Reporter disclosed his prominent role in both the filming of reshoots and the editing of the film in post-production. Subsequently the latest teaser trailer confirmed that Gilroy also is a co-screenwriter – Rogue One has “story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta” and “screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy” in the credits. Under the WGA’s rules for awarding writing credit, this means Gilroy made major additional contributions to the screenplay after Weitz’s version, which itself was a complete reworking of Whitta’s draft. Gilroy is highly regarded for his work on the Bourne movie series, produced by Frank Marshall, as well as his own project, Michael Clayton. He also previously worked with Gareth Edwards in completing Godzilla, so the collaboration on Rogue One seems to be a natural fit. Further insight into Gilroy’s perspective on storytelling and movie-making appears in his BAFTA screenwriter’s lecture, which is definitely worth the time.
Before concluding our meta segment on speculating wisely, we also discussed Kathleen Kennedy’s comments on the importance of female executives in the development process, and Kay shared her thoughts on Carrie Fisher’s appearance at Wizard World.
Our world-building segment turns to the two Rogue One teaser trailers released recently. One aired on NBC during the Olympics; the other premiered in Japan. We share our reactions to the two trailers, and note how they convey different messages about the story of the movie and its characters.
For the storytelling segment, we turn to the characters of Rogue One. So far the most has been shared about the lead, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. She spoke to EW about her character, as well as to Kyle Buchanan at Vulture, who sharedseveralouttakes on Twitter. Additionally, Forest Whitaker at EW offered some intriguing insights into Saw Gerrera at the time of Rogue One, including a fascinating parallel with none other than Darth Vader. While hardcore Star Wars fans have been excited by what’s been revealed so far about the movie, we noted the ongoing discussion in fandom and the media about whether the marketing has been doing enough to reach casual fans. The Hollywood Reporter noted that reaction in China has been muted, especially compared to other properties, like the Marvel films, which already have a large established presence in the country.
We conclude the episode with our plot bunny giveaway, with inspiration drawn from the Rogue One trailers.
For the July episode of Hyperspace Theories, our topic of discussion naturally is Star Wars Celebration Europe, held in London on July 15-16, 2016. Tricia Barr and B.J. Priester attended the convention, and Kay caught up on all the excitement with the official livestream from The Star Wars Show and the other great video content shared on the official Star Wars YouTube channel.
The show opens with overall reactions to Celebration. In the end Tricia, BJ and Kay agree with the assessment of Graeme McMillan’s article in The Hollywood Reporter that the convention focused on the fans and their engagement with and passion for the franchise, rather than on breaking news or seeking coverage in the entertainment media. One major theme of Celebration, like last year’s convention in Anaheim, was how much Lucasfilm understands and appreciates the importance of the fans to Star Wars’ success. Another interesting theme at Celebration was Lucasfilm’s goal of leading the push into the future of storytelling mediums. Tricia and B.J. both got to experience the ILMxLAB virtual reality short story “Trials on Tatooine.” The interaction between technology and storytelling also played a big part in the panel on STEM Heroes & Heroines of Star Wars that Tricia organized.
Discussion moves on to the two tentpoles of Celebration Europe this year. For the upcoming standalone movie Rogue One, the Hyperspace Theories team analyzes the panel, the sizzle reel, and the exhibit of costumes on the show floor. For Star Wars Rebels, the big news is the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the iconic villains of the Star Wars Legends tales, as the featured adversary for the Ghost crew in Season Three. Our last episode covered the 25th anniversary of Heir to the Empire, the novel in which Thrawn was introduced; at Celebration, we learned that author Timothy Zahn also is returning to pen the new novel Thrawn to reintroduce the character’s story leading up to his appearance in Rebels.
The show concludes with the Future Filmmakers panel, which was light on information but gave a lot of insight into the directors of the next Star Wars films. Rian Johnson shared a list of classic movies that comprised a “film camp” he held as inspiration for the people working on Episode VIII. Phil Lord and Chris Miller brought both humor and heart, as well as new Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich, for their untitled movie.
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This month on Hyperspace Theories, we discuss how the music of Star Wars enhances the storytelling inThe Force Awakens. Joining Tricia, B.J., and Kay for the episode is Sarah Woloski, who co-hosts Fangirls Going Rogue with Tricia and Teresa and Skywalking Through Neverland with her husband Richard. All four of us have instrumental musical backgrounds, and we share how our experiences learning and performing music have shaped our appreciation of the music of Star Wars.
In previous episodes, we’ve used the meta segment – where we talk about how to speculate wisely – to analyze the impacts of some of the foundational figures in Star Wars storytelling, including George Lucas, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and more. This month, we add maestro John Williams to the list. Of course, his amazing career spans dozens of famous movies and numerous famous musicals themes –Jaws,Indiana Jones,Superman,E.T., andJurassic Park, to name only a few – but just as Star Wars is in a class by itself in cinema history, so too is Williams’ iconic Star Wars music. As much as anyone, Williams has added to the language of Star Wars storytelling with the themes, melodies, motifs, and other musical details weaved throughout the Star Wars films. From the powerful tones of the “Main Theme,” “Imperial March,” and “Duel of the Fates” to lyrical refrains like “Han Solo and the Princess,” “Yoda’s Theme,” and the “Force Theme,” the music adds considerable depth and emotional weight to the story.
In the worldbuilding segment, we consider how the soundtrack ofThe Force Awakenselaborates upon the characters and storytelling in the movie. Williams has described his use of deliberate musical connections to the previous films in some respects, while also shaping new music for other places in the film. Among the tracks we discuss are “The Scavenger” and “Rey’s Theme” for the new heroine, Kylo Ren’s motif for the new villain, “Torn Apart” for the fateful showdown, “March of the Resistance” and “Scherzo for X-wings” for the new heroes fighting back against the First Order, and “The Journey Home” and “The Jedi Steps” that bring the movie to a close.
With so much to say about Williams and his music, we’ll resume with our other usual segments in the next episode. Stay tuned for more analysis ofThe Force Awakensand the future of Star Wars storytelling.
You can also listen to Hyperspace Theories atLibsynordownloadthe show there. Or subscribeon iTunes. If you listen, please rate us and write a review as a simple offer of gratitude. Hyperspace Theories is now available onStitcher, as well.