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Exclusief: 16 pagina’s van het nieuwe boek van Dark Empire auteur Tom Veitch

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Dark Empire

Voor velen is het wellicht moeilijk voor te stellen maar eind jaren ’80, begin jaren ’90, was Star Wars ‘dood’. Films stonden niet op de planning, de Droids en Ewoks animatieseries behoorden (net als de Marvel comics) tot het verleden, de Expanded Universe bestond nog niet en in de speelgoedwinkels was ook niks te vinden.

In 1991 kwam echter een ommekeer toen Lucasfilm de franchise nieuw leven in blies: een boektrilogie én een nieuwe stripboekenreeks waarin de avonturen van Han, Leia en Luke in de jaren na Return of the Jedi te lezen waren.

Voor de stripboekenreeks (die Dark Empire) heette werden tekenaar Cam Kennedy en schrijver Tom Veitch ingehuurd. Samen met Timothy Zahn (die de befaamde Thrawn trilogy schreef) zijn deze heren als grondleggers belangrijk geweest in deze Star Wars Renaissance.

In de volgende jaren zou Veitch nog meer doen: scenario’s voor de comics Dark Empire II, Tales of the Jedi en Empire’s End en daarnaast ook nog het korte verhaal over Greedo voor het Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina boek.

Enige tijd geleden heb ik meermaals contact gehad met hem en tot mijn verrassing vertelde hij dat hij bezig is met een boek waarin zijn Star Wars memoires te lezen zijn. Dit boek zal later dit jaar verschijnen, maar… Star Wars Awakens heeft (samen met mijn eigen site StarWarsInterviews.com) een speciale wereldprimeur: van Tom mogen we (als eerste!) een selectie van 16 pagina’s uit dit boek publiceren.

Hieronder doet Tom Veitch uit de doeken hoe Dark Empire tot stand kwam. Hoe met de kritiek van Timothy Zahn op zijn verhaal werd omgegaan, hoe een oudere Luke, Han en Leia werden neergezet, de creatie van Anakin Solo, waarom Thrawn onorigineel was en waarom de clone van The Emperor een goed idee was.

Een absolute must-read voor fans van Dark Empire, de oude Expanded Universe en alle andere Star Wars fans.

The following is a section from my new book about my experiences creating expanded universe Star Wars comics in the 1990s. (Dark Empire & Tales of the Jedi). The book will be released later this year. ~ Tom Veitch

A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY NOT TOO FAR AWAY…

For about five years in the early 21st century I owned a bookstore in Bennington, Vermont. We specialized in old and rare books. But our shop also had lots of interesting books in every category, about forty thousand books altogether.

One of the highlights of those years was a series of talks I gave on the Star Wars movies and my experiences working on Star Wars comics. Guests at these talks generally numbered about ten, sitting in captain’s chairs around a big rustic mahogany table that was a replica of a table where Ernest Hemingway entertained guests at in his house in Key West.

These were free-wheeling talks, focused mainly on my ideas about the Jedi Knights and the two sides of the Force — light side and dark side. The talks also morphed into question and answer sessions in which my “students” would argue Star Wars trivia. And frankly, that was a lot of fun!

What follows is based on a transcript of a session in which we discussed Tim Zahn (author of the best-selling Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire) and the back-and-forth he and I had while we were writing our respective works.

__________________________

Q: So how did Dark Empire evolve, from your first proposals to when it was finally published by Dark Horse Comics?

TOM: As I already mentioned, I first approached Mr. Lucas in November of 1988. After a year of discussion, negotiation, and story treatments, on September 25, 1989 I submitted to Lucasfilm a 50 page synopsis for 144 pages of Star Wars comics, to be drawn and painted by Cam Kennedy and published as three 48 page books.

Q: This was before Tim Zahn proposed his novels?

TOM: Yeah. In terms of the creative timeline, the basic concepts for Dark Empire were proposed and accepted a year before Tim was hired by Bantam. And our project was fully outlined and plotted and approved by Lucas about a month before Zahn came on board.

Q: Can you give us more detail?

TOM: Sure. The way it went was like this: After our outline for three 48-page issues was approved, in October 1989, Lucasfilm told me they were going to approach Bantam about doing a new Star Wars novel, and they asked me if I would like to write a novelization of Dark Empire. I said sure, absolutely, and got very excited about the prospect.

Then, when they talked to Bantam, the editors there said they would love to do a new Star Wars book, but they would prefer to have one of their contract writers invent his own Star Wars story. In fact they had somebody in mind — Timothy Zahn, who was a rising star in the world of science fiction.

Zahn is quoted as saying, “It was just after four o’clock on November 6, 1989, and I was three days into writing my first novel for my new publisher, Bantam Books, when the phone rang. It was my agent. ‘Tim,’ he said after the usual pleasantries, ‘we have a very interesting offer here.'”

After that, Lucasfilm called me and said that Bantam had hired Zahn to do a book, also post-ROTJ, but different from Dark Empire. I was disappointed, but I offered to talk with the new writer and co-ordinate ideas and plotlines.

That didn’t happen. Instead, as I gather, somebody at Bantam suggested to Lucasfilm that they be allowed to generate their own comics and graphic novels, beginning with an adaptation of Zahn’s book! At the time it was public knowledge that graphic novels were making a lot of money — DC’s Arkham Asylum (by Grant Morrison, published October 1989) reportedly grossed $4.5 million in direct market sales.

Thankfully Lucasfilm honored our agreement. Besides, they were already in contract negotiations with Marvel at that point, so Bantam’s suggestion was a non-starter.

Q: So Dark Empire was still at Marvel at that point?

TOM: Yes it was. Archie Goodwin was our editor and we were rolling. …But then a curious chain of events began.

Bantam decided to keep Zahn in the dark about the existence of Dark Empire until he had finished plotting Heir to the Empire. My suggestion that we collaborate on the post-ROTJ timeline fell on deaf ears.

Indeed, when he turned in his own synopsis for Heir to the Empire, he was apparently unaware that the comics project even existed. Then, once his synopsis was approved, somebody got the idea of asking him to critique the story treatment I had written for Dark Empire.

Q: That sounds like one of those situations that people in the movie industry like to get into – everybody “giving notes” on projects that are already in motion. …Was that a big problem for you?

TOM: Not really. It was just a pain in the ass. And it reminded me that the “carte blanche” we had received initially had caveats – even after our outline was fully approved!

Anyway, one fine day I received a copy of Zahn’s detailed notes on Dark Empire. Along with it, I received a copy of his synopsis of Heir to the Empire. And Lucasfilm asked if I would respond to Tim’s critique and as write my own comments on his plot!

Q: Amazing.

TOM: One problem was that neither Archie Goodwin nor Cam and I liked Tim’s plot. It seemed rather pedestrian and unexciting. It wandered through a lot of scenes that were a rehash of the movies, but the pacing was non-cinematic and not much fun, visually speaking. Worse yet, the new characters were clearly knock-offs of characters from the films. For example, the character “Talon Karrde” was a Han Solo/Lando Calrissian clone. And “Admiral Thrawn” was a substitute for Darth Vader and Peter Cushing (as Grand Moff Tarkin). Another character, the dark Jedi “Jorus C’baoth” shared the qualities of both Vader and The Emperor.

Substitute villains who are similar to well-known villains can be o.k., but usually you have to spend a lot of time making people believe in them. Our idea was to build on the tremendous power that the Emperor, Jabba the Hutt, and Boba Fett already held over the viewer’s imagination. And rather than having a new character try to convert Luke to the Dark Side, we would show that the very essence of the Dark Side — the Emperor — still lives, more powerful than ever.

Q: And Luke falls under his spell. Which is cool, but as you know, some people didn’t like that you brought back the Emperor.

TOM: I sympathize…but these folks were probably unfamiliar with the history of movie serials and comics, where great villains never completely die — they always return. Star Wars, as you know, was partly based on Flash Gordon, a movie serial and comic strip in which the principal villain, the evil emperor Ming the Merciless, is never completely killed off. For instance, consider the 1980 Flash Gordon movie where Max von Sydow as Ming is impaled by his own war rocket (of which Flash had taken control). After a vain attempt to stop Flash attacking him, Ming ultimately points his ring at himself and he vanishes. Then, just before the credits begin, his ring is retrieved by an unknown individual, and the words “The End” and a question mark appear, as Ming’s evil laughter plays in the background, hinting he isn’t really dead. (from Wikipedia)

Q: Zahn said in an interview that bringing back the Emperor goes against the story of Return of the Jedi, where we see the Emperor destroyed by Darth Vader.

TOM:  Zahn misses something essential about that ROTJ scene: When the Emperor dares Luke to “strike me down”, he seems utterly indifferent to his own death! He feels that whatever the outcome of this confrontation with Luke, he, Palpatine, will conquer:

EMPEROR: Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenseless.  Take your weapon!  Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete.

It was my thesis that in ROTJ the Emperor chose this moment to come out of his deep seclusion in the Imperial City, because he no longer feared for the safety of his physical body. His mastery of the Dark Side had become such that he was now ready to make a transition he had been working toward for many years — namely the replacement of his aging, diseased, and crippled body with a young clone! Tempting Luke to strike him in anger with a lightsaber could thus accomplish two things: It would bring Luke over to the dark side…and it would mark the moment when Palpatine made the transition to his clone body.

Luke, as we know, resisted the temptation to kill the Emperor. Then Vader hurled the Emperor down the deep reactor shaft, and we saw a series of blue flashes marking the Emperor’s demise. The blue flashes represented the Emperor’s living energy, his conscious dark force, leaving his body. And according to our story, his consciousness was translated across the Galaxy almost instantaneously and entered a new youthful body. Using cloned bodies Palpatine could live forever…and rule the Empire for thousands of years!

Q: It’s interesting, I think Palpatine alludes to living forever in the prequels.

TOM: That he does. Here’s a quote from Revenge of the Sith:

ANAKIN: Just help me save Padme’s life. I can’t live without her. I won’t let her die. I want the power to stop death.

PALPATINE: To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret.

I believe Palpatine is referring to his own Sith master, Darth Plagueis, a canonical character who is supposed to have manipulated the midichlorians to achieve immortality and even create life.

Q: If the Emperor was going to continue to rule the Galaxy, he obviously was going to have to do something about his aging flesh.

TOM: Exactly. And if you ask me, the films nicely foreshadow Dark Empire and the Emperor’s scheme to live and rule the Galaxy … forever.

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GALAXY IN CHAOS

Q: Are you going to cover any more of Zahn’s criticisms?

TOM: Sure. He raised a few interesting points, as did some of the readers of the finished comic. I’d especially like to address the question of “Force Storms”, which appear right in the first chapter of our story.

Q: I thought the “Force Storm” worked, because it cuts to the chase regarding Luke and the Emperor confronting each other. But if the Emperor can make these energy storms, what does he need a Deathstar for? He could control the Galaxy by striking with raw Force energy!

TOM: Exactly. And that was one of the questions that Tim Zahn raised as well. But as a logical writer, he should have realized that since the Empire built two Death Stars, obviously the “Force Storm” must have limitations as an instrument of destruction!

In fact, in the Dark Empire Glossary which we provided to Lucasfilm (and to West End Games, for their Dark Empire Sourcebook), a Force Storm is defined thus:

Tornado of energy released by great disturbances in the Force. Also called Energy Storm. Unpredictable, but powerful Dark Side adepts have had limited success in purposely creating such storms.

And in my response to Zahn, I said:

“What is the mechanism of a Force Storm? I would suggest that it is a function of two powerful minds focused on each other: Luke and the Emperor. It’s as if a wormhole in the Force has opened between them, causing a massive release of energy. The Emperor, unlike Luke, has learned how to use this rare event to his advantage.”

That’s the explanation we used in the finished comic book. But in my letter to Zahn, I also mentioned there could be other explanations, equally as valid — for instance having to do with something (such as a Sith holocron) Luke found in the Imperial Palace. That’s just part of the fun, you know — dreaming up imaginative special effect sequences — and then figuring out the logic of how and why they can happen. If the logic can’t be found, then yes, the effects should be jettisoned.

Q: What if the use of the Force in this way was a recent discovery by the Emperor? He might have unearthed that bit of sorcery from ancient Sith archives, or from powers locked in Sith temples.

TOM: Sure. That works. And speaking of logic, I’ll tell you something else. In the films the Death Stars are portrayed as the ultimate technological weapon you would use to control a Galaxy of thousands (or even millions) of inhabited star systems. But did you ever consider that the logic of the Death Star is deeply flawed?

Q: You mean it was vulnerable to being destroyed by a tiny X-Wing?

TOM: No, not just that. The Death Star is an extremely impractical use of hyperspace travel. The realistic way to control a Galaxy (if I may use the word “realistic” relative to a science fiction fantasy) is by firing hyperspace missiles from stationary bases. You can build an untold number of such projectiles, each capable of destroying a planet. And when a system gets uppity or joins the Rebellion, you simply launch one of these faster-than-light missiles and they are obliterated.

Q: That sounds like your “Galaxy Gun” from Dark Empire!

TOM: Yes. My theory is that Lucas was so focused on the Death Star idea, that he missed the flawed logic and the impracticality of it.

Q: But so did everybody who saw the movie. I mean, it was so cool. And so big.

TOM: Definitely awesome. But once the Galaxy Gun concept hit the light of day in our comics, Death Stars became obsolete. In fact, in the J.J. Abrams film, The Force Awakens, they used our concept as the basis for the hyperspace superweapon mounted on Starkiller Base. This weapon is described as “capable of destroying entire star systems halfway across the galaxy.” It is also described as the result of an evolution in “hyperspace tunneling.”

Q: Then it’s really an adaptation of the Galaxy Gun?

TOM: Yes it is. But it’s not that difficult to understand that all kinds of hyperspace weapons are inevitable, once you posit hyperspace travel. Lucas overlooked that fact because he was hypnotized by the Death Star idea.

Q: You could say the same about Star Trek. I don’t think they have used lightspeed weaponry yet, but they could. If they haven’t, it might be because they are more about characters than technology.

TOM: I believe phasers and photon torpedoes can be fired while a warp speed. But as far as I know nobody has fully explored the implications of that. …The fact of the matter is that faster-than-light missiles or projectiles could truly master a galaxy. But they would also result in galaxy-wide wars between competing technological cultures. Sort of like the situation we have on earth right now, with a number of countries already armed with nuclear-tipped missiles. Extrapolate that situation to a galaxy – or THE Galaxy – and you have a truly explosive situation.

As a matter of fact, that’s another of the built-in flaws of the Star Wars saga. Thousands upon thousands of independent planetary systems would be functionally autonomous and hidden from the prying eyes of “the Empire”. It would take an unthinkably massive surveillance and control network to bring a Galaxy under a central government. You think we have trouble with Iran or North Korea developing nuclear weapons deep inside a mountain? Imagine the technologies of war being developed in secret — or even in the open — by independent civilizations on thousands, or perhaps millions, of planets!

Q: And then there is the “illegal” arms trade. Out of sight out of mind. The possibilities are mind boggling.

TOM: Yes, I can imagine that in a real Star Wars Galaxy hyperspace weapons would be developed and traded all over the place. And every peaceful planet would have to worry about planet-busting missiles popping out of hyperspace at any time…with nobody knowing who launched them!

Q: I wonder if anybody on Star Trek ever thought a beaming a bomb aboard the Enterprise or from the Enterprise to another vessel?

TOM: I believe the concept was used at least once on Star Trek Voyager. Google “Star Trek transporter bomb” for lots of discussion on this.

Q: With the proliferation of nukes here on earth, what do you think is going to happen?

TOM: Oh, I think there is going to be a nuclear war. A big one. I have no idea when, but I think it is inevitable. Probably in this century. …Did you know they are already developing autonomous submersible nuclear torpedoes that will circle the earth’s oceans undetected? Imagine a coastal city suddenly demolished, and nobody knows who did it!

Q: That’s terrible.

TOM: And we are all praying it doesn’t happen. But it will. And we need to believe that, in order to do something to prevent it. …Now, can we get back to Star Wars?

Q: Definitely. Real life is too scary! … Can you say more about Zahn’s plot for the post-ROTJ Galaxy?

TOM: Sure. What’s especially interesting, from my point-of-view, is that Zahn’s plot provides a basis for saying that without the thousands of Jedi Knights who once formed the backbone of the Old Republic, the new confederation is a precarious one and “long years of struggle ensued.”

Q: I liked that you have the Rebels using captured Star Destroyers against the remnants of the Empire.

TOM: That idea was original with us. One of these captured Star Destroyers, commanded by Luke Skywalker and Lando Calrissian, crashes on the Imperial planet (now named Coruscant by Tim Zahn). And as our book opens, Princess Leia and her husband Han Solo, together with the Wookiee Chewbacca and the protocol droid C-3PO, are on a mission to rescue Luke and Lando.

Q: Tim didn’t like the idea that you could crash land a Star Destroyer?

TOM: Right. In his critique of my 50-page synopsis, he took a proton torpedo to that idea:

“A Star Destroyer is a mile long. If something that size crashed into the Imperial City, the city and more of the surrounding county would be gone, devastated by a combination of the direct impact, the ground and atmospheric shock waves, and the firestorm and probably earthquake. There most certainly wouldn’t be any fighting going on around it.”

TOM: Tim’s critique was interesting, but I strongly disagreed. I explained to Tim that hugely expensive Star Destroyers would be equipped with anti-gravity devices (also called “repulsor lift”) for emergency touch-downs and surviving crash-landings. The technology is widely available, and the ship designers would use it. Deflector shields (and even tractor beams) could also be incorporated into braking devices.

Q: I guess he hadn’t seen The Force Awakens.  (laughs)

TOM: Or Rogue One. My main point, however, was that the image of a Star Destroyer lying broken and helpless on the surface of a planet is just too cool not to use. All that technological power — now become so much junk. The creators of The Force Awakens clearly agreed, for the opening scenes of the 2015 movie show the heroine, Rey, scavenging parts for resale off a crashed Star Destroyer.

Q: And in Rogue One we see a Star Destroyer hovering over a city. That means they were definitely deploying anti-grav technology on those giant ships.

TOM: Tim had another argument about ships of very large size having to stay in space “well away from planet-sized bodies.” As he put it, “It takes an incredible amount of energy to move a quarter cubic mile of metal up and down a gravity well.”

Q: That sounds rational.

TOM: It’s based on the physics of energized propulsion and repulsion. …Nobody knows how anti-gravity will work, once it is discovered or invented. But it is very easy to theorize that it will involve some yet to be understood law of physics that allows you to reverse an existing gravity field. So, if you are over a planet, you potentially have the planet’s entire gravity field as your “power source”.

Q: Right. It also seems like Tim was inclined to give precedence to old-fashioned Newtonian physics over imagination!

TOM: Keep in mind nobody yet knows what we will ultimately learn about gravity waves. Will they be manipulated like electromagnetic waves?

Q: Yeah, and what about all the strange possibilities of quantum physics?

TOM: To give Tim his due, not every Star Destroyer would be able to survive a crash-landing. For example, can you imagine a ship that size hitting a planet point first!

Q: Cool Star Destroyer crashes have been used all over the place, in games, animated films, comics… I think I saw one or two in your comics.

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AGING THE CHARACTERS

TOM: Since Dark Empire takes place five or six years after the end of Return of the Jedi, the characters have matured quite a bit. Luke is now a fully realized Jedi, manly and battle-hardened.

Han and Leia are married. We wanted to move beyond the kind of teenage feuding that characterized their earlier years and bring out a new theme: the never-ending war has given them little time to enjoy their relationship. Indeed, months pass where they don’t see each other at all, and the brief reunions are intense and passionate. They care about each other.

Q: That’s interesting. They kind of used that in The Force Awakens too.

TOM: To good effect, I thought. These are people who have been fighting a never-ending war. They are both battle-hardened and battle-weary.

Q: But Han and Leia were estranged in The Force Awakens. I didn’t care for that.

TOM: Me too. …In any case, in Dark Empire Leia’s Jedi powers, under the guidance of Luke, have begun to develop — although she has yet to take up the lightsaber. My plan was to give Leia more intuitive and mental or psychic powers rather than the athletic abilities that Luke demonstrated. She didn’t really take to the idea of cutting off arms and legs in battle. That said, she would come to own a lightsaber, bestowed upon her by the “fallen Jedi” Vima Da Boda.

Tim Zahn complained about this too, saying that Leia should have a lightsaber at the beginning of Dark Empire, and be fully trained in its use. He also objected to Leia using the Force “to blow up droids”. I explained to him that the Jedi don’t “blow up” things, but they do use telekenisis to move the inner components of droids and assault weapons, causing them to self-destruct.

This is the same power Yoda used to raise the X-Wing in The Empire Strikes Back. So it follows that Luke doesn’t blow up AT-ATs. He uses his lightsaber to deflect and return their fire. Then he uses telekinesis to tip them over.

Q: I wonder if using the Force to blow up stuff should be totally off limits?

TOM: The question of “blowing up” came up in meetings I held early on with a local Star Wars club — a group of enthusiastic guys and girls who were deeply into the West End Star Wars roleplaying game. As we discussed and agreed, the Light Side of the Force is not explosive — although it is likely it could initiate a powerful concussion wave.

Q: O.K., but what about the Dark Side? The Emperor’s lightning bolts ought to be able to blow up a few things.

TOM: Agreed. The electrical discharges emitted by the Emperor, which seem to be a major power of the Sith Lords, could easily ignite rocket fuel or even start a fire in garbage compactor! So let me ask everybody here today — can the Dark Side “blow things up”?

Q: Well, we know that Luke blew up the Death Star using the Force to guide a torpedo. Does that count?

Q: Concussion waves are good. A Jedi of the Light Side could hit something with one of those.

Q: Dark Jedi Exar Kun killed people with “Force blasts” in Tales of the Jedi, as I recall. I don’t know if good Jedi ever did that.

TOM: Not to my knowledge.

Q: I am thinking that the Dark Side of the Force could interfere with matter at the atomic level … maybe even cause a small nuclear explosion. Why couldn’t advanced Light Jedi do that?

TOM: Maybe a Jedi could do that in special circumstances, with highly focused meditation. Or by mastering the physics of Force Storms. This goes along with the idea that Dark Side powers are available to very advanced Jedi, if the need arises. Since the Force “surrounds and penetrates us”, terrible things may be possible to one who learns the Dark Side of the Force.

Q: There’s a rumor going around that Luke will create Force explosions in Star Wars VIII. But that is just fan speculation at this point. [Note: He didn’t.]

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CHILDREN OF THE JEDI

TOM: To continue, our plan from the get-go was that Han and Leia would have a child. The Jedi lineage will continue! As it turned out, Zahn beat us to it, giving Han and Leia two children, Jacen and Jaina. So our Solo child was the third, a son named after his grandfather Anakin.

Q: Ah, the famous Jedi Anakin Solo! …Why did you name him Anakin?

TOM: My idea was to call him “Anakin” because he would embody both the light and dark aspects of the Skywalker lineage and suffer great inner conflict in his life. As it turned out, this was how Kasdan and Abrams came to visualize Han and Leia’s son Ben aka Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. In their story, the Dark Side takes over the personality of Ben Solo.

Q: That doesn’t happen to Anakin.

TOM: My plan was that the Light Side would win out in Anakin after inner battles between the two sides of his being. As I understand it, subsequent Expanded Universe writers chose to make the Light Side consistently strong in Anakin, and that he died a hero. I have no problem with that, but a lot of stories about Anakin’s inner conflict didn’t get told!

Q: What about Chewbacca?

TOM: Our intention was that Chewie would appear essentially the same as he did in the films. So would Boba Fett for that matter! And the R2D2 and C3PO are in good shape, and fully functional, although C3P0 would complain about his “aging joints”.

Q: Did Tim Zahn have any more complaints about Dark Empire?

TOM: A few. One thing he didn’t like was my statement that “the power of all the Jedi who have gone before is focused in Luke Skywalker.” …Now, I can see how one could argue with that statement. But Tim’s critique was, I thought, curiously out of touch with the nature of both the Force and the Jedi. He said: “Knowledge of the Force is a highly individual and personal thing, coming from one’s OWN talent and efforts to develop that talent. To say that dead Jedi can pass on their power is to infinitely cheapen the concept, reducing it to little more than a spiritual bank account with transfer privileges…”

Q: And you disagreed?

TOM: I certainly did. Here’s my full response, which was passed to Tim. I’d be happy to argue it here, if you like:

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MY RESPONSE TO TIM

Now Tim doesn’t like the idea of “the power of all the Jedi who have gone before” being focused in Luke. I think it follows logically from the fact, shown in the films, that the Jedi don’t break off communication when they die. There would be a tremendous need, among the fallen Jedi, to right the great wrong done to their Company. They wouldn’t just drift off to the Elysian Fields (as Zahn shows Obi-Wan doing in his plot outline).

Thus the idea of focusing on Luke, the last of their kind — the last hope for the Jedi.

I disagree that knowledge of the Force is merely “a highly individual and personal thing”, a kind of talent that one develops. Indeed, we know the Force is “an energy field created by all living things that binds the universe together”. The Jedi Knights were trained to tap into this collective energy, and use it in combat or for other magical purposes.

Yes, that takes a certain talent and skill — and an individual relationship to this vast well of power… But the ultimate talent for using the Force comes not from the ego or “one’s own efforts”, but from “letting go” the ego’s need to control. The Force then “becomes strong in you”, suggesting a kind of mystical sharing, through feeling — a conscious relationship to this collective and all-pervasive energy.

I think it’s Tim who misses the mark when he reduces knowledge of the Force to a “highly individual and personal thing, coming from one’s OWN [his caps] talent and efforts to develop that talent.” He would (it seems) reduce what is essentially an Eastern idea to the ordinary Western struggle for heroic identity.

Needless to day, Tim’s idea contradicts the way Luke learned to let go of the need to control and to “feel the Force” in the very first Star Wars film.

Q: Hard to argue with that. Luke gives up his personal effort when he battles the remote aboard the Falcon … and when he destroys the Death Star.

Q: It sounds like Tim was on a mission to change Star Wars into an old-fashioned outer space shoot-em up.

TOM: I have no comment on that. But I would remind folks that the idea of “collective mind” goes back to the beginnings of science fiction, and was wonderfully expressed in the movie Forbidden Planet — a movie that had a big effect on George Lucas.

Q: You mean with the planetary machine that brings to life your unconscious demons?

TOM: Exactly. And who can forget all the stories of super-brained aliens whose shared consciousness is far beyond the knowledge and talent of earth’s greatest scientists. …Tim apparently wanted to reduce everything back to a safe and highly predictable level in which spiritual or transcendent forces are no longer part of the picture.

Q: Did you guys argue about any other things?

TOM: There were a few minor points, such as whether the spires on the Pinnacle Moon were geologically possible. And there was another big dispute about the Dark Side and the relationships of “dark Jedi” on planet Byss — the secret throne-world of the Emperor in the Galactic core, permeated with the Dark Side of the Force. Again, according to Zahn:

“The dark side of the force is a path of selfishness, a seeking for personal gain above all else. There cannot be, by definition, any kind of genuine friendship or cooperation between Dark Jedi; only mastery and subservience based on power. A stable society of them simply cannot exist. …An entire world of dark-side adepts would be embroiled in continual, violent war with itself as each member sought for power over all the others. There would be temporary alliances which, after achieving power, would disintegrate in internal battle and in turn be overthrown by a new temporary alliance of its enemies. Given that, there are only two ways that the Emperor could hold onto any kind of permanent power: either he is so powerful that NO combination of the others is stronger (which seems unlikely with a whole planet full of them to choose from) — or else he must be powerful enough to destroy all the others, in which case the whole concept of Byss goes out the window. …[Veitch] ignores the reality of what the dark side is. The “adepts of the dark side” would never have helped the Emperor get a new body and thus regain power over them.”

Q: I guess Tim never heard of Nazi Germany!

TOM: Yeah, in fact there are so many historical precedents of stable societies permeated by evil, what he says just seems silly.

Q: And who can forget Lord of the Rings, for godsakes! The One Ring holds a mystical dark power to bind whole populations. In a way, a Dark Lord of the Sith, such as Palpatine, is a mirror of Sauron, ruler of Mordor.

TOM: We could have a long discussion about the parallels of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars …In any case, Tim and I disagreed. And I tried to ground my answer to him in the Star Wars movies themselves, which, curiously enough, are built around the idea of a stable society ruled by the Dark Side — a society called “The Empire”!

Q: Whoops. Sorry, Tim. No Death Stars for you!

TOM: To complete the discussion here’s a portion of my long response to Tim:

______________________

RESPONSE TO TIM ON COOPERATION OF DARK JEDI

Tim says there cannot, by definition, be any kind of cooperation between Dark Jedi, and a stable society of them cannot exist.

I disagree. The attempt to create a stable society based on the power of the Dark Side is what the Emperor — and STAR WARS — is all about.

The Emperor clearly has an ongoing relationship with Vader (”my friend” he calls him). The Emperor also confers with other strangely garbed figures in Return of the Jedi. Like all “dark side politicians”, he is a man of relationships — when he needs them.

The respect the Emperor shows for anyone who can use the Force is based on the hope that these powerful people will capitulate to his will and become useful to him.

The same principle would be behind the “society of Dark Adepts” on Byss.

Now, why would a whole group of Adepts submit to the Emperor, when they could overthrow him, etc., as Tim suggests?

Why did the Assassins Guild submit to Hassan I Sabbah? Whey do the dark angels serve Satan? Why did the Gestapo serve Hitler? Why did Caligula reign over Rome? What about Genghis Kahn, Alexander the Great, the Pharoahs, etc. etc.?

A dark magician can have trusted servants. Lesser power users will serve one who is clearly their superior. Sometimes, yes, they will scheme against him, attempt to bring him down, and so forth. But from the three existing STAR WARS films we get a distinct impression that the Emperor is secure in his inner circle. And it is this security that gives him the confidence to reach out to control a galaxy.

A strange peace reigns on Byss … the peace of satiated vampires. All rewards flow from the center — and each Adept receives exactly what he desires. If he should desire too much, then yes, then he can be eliminated.

It’s all written in human history. Byss can be nothing more than the experience of men. (And, it should be noted, not everyone on Byss uses the Force, although all (or most) are under the spell of the Dark Side. Most of the inhabitants of the Emperor’s throne world are ordinary galactic citizens who have “earned the privilege” to move to Byss … or else were lured here by the promise of an “idyllic refuge”.)

______________________

THE SECRETS OF THE FORCE

TOM: Tim had what I considered to be a conflicted understanding the hero and his quest. For him, being a Jedi came down to “individual talent and effort”.  But Tim also understood that “learning dark side secrets” meant surrendering to the dark side of the Force:

“The dark side has no ‘secrets’ that Luke can learn and use, not  unless he goes to the dark side himself. The dark side is about motivations and ethics, not something as simple and neutral as technique. It would be like Luke deciding to learn judo from the Emperor…”

Q: I get the feeling Tim wouldn’t approve of the blind warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe, the character in Rogue One who takes on opponents with his staff, with great skill, despite being blind.

TOM: Good point. It seems that for some writers, Eastern martial arts are “techniques” separate from a spiritual and moral core. The opposite is the case, of course. And that’s the essence of Star Wars. That connection between inner and outer worlds was what our story is about. It was always about mental and spiritual conflict — not simply learning tricks and techniques.

Q: But in your story, Luke believed he could apprentice himself to the Emperor and not “surrender to the dark side”.

TOM: Exactly. But Luke also knew that he carried the heritage of Darth Vader in his blood. From The Empire Strikes Back onward, his struggle was very much about human psychology and “the inner war with the Shadow” — the Shadow being an aspect of himself !

Q: Who can forget Luke’s confrontation with himself in the Dark Side Tree on Dagobah? He saw his own face inside Darth Vader’s helmet!

TOM: It’s all there in the films, in the relationship of Luke and his father, and the teachings of Yoda. The war of good and evil is as much inner as it is outer. If it is only outside yourself and your “techniques”, there is only endless combat and numberless deaths.

Star Wars is as much about a war in the mind and spirit as it is about ships blasting each other with death rays. That’s what makes it the films the huge success they are. Star Wars is about the use of cosmic energies — the Force — through the awakening of intuitive knowledge.

Q: One thing your exchange with Zahn proves to me — Star Wars is many things to many people. Everybody finds what he wants in it.

TOM: That’s very true. And in fact, if you read a lot of the Expanded Universe stories, you can see how most writers project their own psychology and personal narratives into the work.

_____________________

LIGHT MIND / DARK MIND

TOM: At the time I sent in my original proposal, I didn’t quite know how the story would end, except that Luke and Leia would overpower the Emperor by joining their minds in the Force. Tim had a problem with that, of course. He said my idea was “an insult to the Star Wars philosophy”. He said that the idea that Luke and Leia would use mental power to destroy the Emperor was “completely and absolutely WRONG.” [his caps]

Q: Weird.

TOM: Well, I think he might have misunderstood what I wrote in the proposal, about “whole areas of the dark mind falling to the light side of the Force…” I also said that at that moment “everything Luke has learned about the dark side is transmuted and turned against the Emperor.”

Q: He must have missed the word “transmuted”.

TOM: I don’t know. He accused me of violating the code of the Jedi by “tampering with the very soul” of the Emperor — as if Palpatine had a soul!

Q: You know, your feisty exchange with Tim Zahn makes me think of a couple of twelve-point bucks battling for dominion in the forests of Endor.  (laughs)

TOM: No doubt there was some of that in it. But basically it was a clash of two different views of life … and of Star Wars. Readers will have to decide the argument for themselves.

Q: And did you write a critique of Heir to the Empire?

TOM: I wrote a short critique. I really didn’t like the idea of subjecting Tim to a long list of “notes”. Overall, I was disappointed with his book. As a story it seemed derivative and uninspired. But my main problem, which I wrote to Lucasfilm, was that I found his book curiously uncinematic. I felt (and still feel) that all Star Wars novels need to be highly visual and give you the impression you might be sitting in a theater. I told him Heir to the Empire didn’t feel at all like watching a movie. Fortunately Tim took that criticism to heart and his subsequent work was a definite improvement.

Q: You saw those books before publication?

TOM: Yes, they sent me the manuscripts, so that I’d make sure our stories were coordinated. But I wasn’t asked to give any more notes — nor was he. The one good thing from our spirited exchange in 1990 was that everybody backed off and let Cam and I finish Dark Empire. A couple years later somebody at LucasArts complimented me on my responses to Zahn’s critique. “Boy, you two guys really got into it,” she said. “It was like a lightsaber duel. He was out to destroy you, but your comebacks to Tim were spot on.”

______________________

Geboren toen de opnames van A New Hope van start gingen. Voormalig assistent van Anthony Daniels. Auteur van de 'Star Wars Interviews' boekenreeks waarvoor hij 180+ cast en crewleden interviewde. Trots op zijn vermeldingen in de credits van de boeken The Making of Return of the Jedi, Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor, The Star Wars Historical Sourcebook, The Star Wars Archives en Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

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Moet je nu (opnieuw) beginnen aan Star Wars Battlefront II?

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Je mag het huis niet uit. Buiten lijkt een coronabesmetting op de loer te liggen. We moeten in isolatie in onze eigen huizen. Buiten lijkt ver weg. Gelukkig is er binnen genoeg te doen. Dit is de perfecte tijd om Star Wars Battlefront II (opnieuw) te starten. 

 

Er is geen game die ik meer heb moeten verdedigen dan Star Wars Battlefront II. Waar ik sinds de aankondiging van het spel enorm uitkeek naar de release (het eerste deel werd mijn meest gespeelde spel op mijn Xbox One ooit), werd de launch van het spel volledig onderuitgehaald doordat er lootboxen in de game zouden gaan zitten.  Electronic Arts had hun gretige handjes om de game geplaatst om het geniale werk van gameontwikkelaar DICE teniet te doen door de game te doorspekken met boxen die spelers konden kopen met echt geld. Normaliter is dat geen probleem wanneer het puur om cosmetische items gaat. Maar in Battlefront II lag het net wat anders. En iedereen wist de game massaal te negeren. De game is inmiddels meer dan twee jaar oud, is voor een spotprijs te koop en heeft alle problemen vervangen door bijzonder veel extra content. Geloof me, dit is het moment om met z’n allen terug te keren!

Battlefront II: wat Battlefront (2015) had moeten zijn

De eerste Battlefront van EA (2015) was een heerlijke shooter die geplaagd werd door het gebrek aan content. De basisgame was vrij kaal en alle uitbreidingen waren prijzig waardoor de community verdeeld werd. Deel twee zou het anders gaan doen. Er waren beloftes voor gigantische gevechten, grafische prachten die het realisme aan zouden tikken en er moest veel meer content komen dan in het eerste spel. Meer dan drie keer zoveel zelfs. Ook kwam er een volledige singleplayer, iets wat in het eerste spel compleet miste. Dit gaf een nieuw verhaal vanuit de ogen van The Empire. Want wat is de impact op mensen die The Emperor dienen wanneer de tweede Death Star boven de bosmaan van Endor ontploft, met Palpatine daarbij? Daarnaast zou de Season Pass verdwijnen en alle content na release gratis zijn. Als toefje op de taart werd studio Criterion (van Burnout) ingeschakeld om de vliegmissies voor hun rekening te nemen om meer snelheid toe te voegen. De belofte was gigantisch en nooit eerder keek ik zo enorm uit naar de release van een game.

 

 

Lootboxen

Iedereen had het over lootboxen toen de game verscheen. Het was mogelijk om behoorlijk wat extra’s vrij te spelen (at random, dat wel) door lootboxen te openen. Nieuwe en sterkere wapens, betere krachten, dat soort dingen. Dingen die best wat impact hebben op het spel. Wanneer je de digitale portemonnee trok had je dus duidelijk een voorsprong op gamers die dat niet deden. Pay to win, een drama. Elke website had het er over en vergat dat er, onder de lootboxen, een verdomd toffe game zat. Ja, de verhalende stand was misschien niet zo diepgaand als dat we hadden gehoopt, maar de multiplayer was van een bijzonder hoog niveau. Nooit eerder konden we als gamers het Star Wars-universum beleven zoals hier. Grafisch zag het er zo bizar goed uit en elk geluidje klopte met onze herinneringen uit de films. De actie knalde van het scherm, de geluiden lieten menig geluidsinstallatie bewijzen waarom ze zo duur waren. Er was een flink aantal locaties aanwezig, bekende personages, het speelde fantastisch. Maar niemand zag het, want lootboxen.

 

Echter, wat deze huidige generatie spelcomputers ons heeft geleerd, is dat games met een valse start vaak sterker terug kunnen komen. Omdat ontwikkelaars toch door gaan, steeds aan de game kan blijven sleutelen en feedback vanuit de fans van harte mee wil nemen in het proces. Dit zagen we al bij titels als Ghost Recon: Wildlands, For Honor en Rainbow Six: Siege. De oplettende lezer merkt dat Ubisoft dus als bedrijf bijna synoniem staat voor deze aanpak. Maar ook Battlefront II heeft deze tactiek toe weten te passen. Zo bracht DICE al een maand na de originele release de eerste grote update voor de game, gelinkt aan de release van The Last Jedi in de bioscopen. Met nieuwe maps en modi, Finn en Captain Phasma speelbaar en nieuwe voertuigen. De map op Crait is grafisch een lust voor het oog. Net zoals in de film spatten de rode korrels in het rond bij elke impact van een laser blast. Ook werd het verhaal uitgebreid voor de eenzame speler met Resurrection. Enkele nieuwe levels gingen verder waar de originele game ophield. En alles was uiteraard gratis.

 

 

Gratis uitbreidingen

Helaas vonden de bioscoopgangers The Last Jedi niet de beste Star Wars-film ooit (om het maar even zacht uit te drukken). De complete fanbase werd uit elkaar gedreven. Je vond de film geweldig of helemaal ruk. Wanneer je marketing van je game dan draait om zo’n film… yikes. Gelukkig bracht DICE niet veel later de mode Ewok Hunt, waarin je in de nacht op Endor met Ewok op Stormtroopers kon jagen. Het voelde haast als Star Wars-horror maar was een grote hit. Season 2 bracht content rondom de film Solo. Wederom nieuwe levels, modi, en mogelijkheden om te spelen. Lightsabergevechten werden opnieuw uitgerold om ze cinematischer te maken, er verscheen een offline Star Fightermodus en waren er meer manieren om jouw soldaat aan te passen. En, jawel, het bracht een hele hoop Clone Troopers. Je gaat nooit de fout in met Clone Troopers wanneer je het mij vraagt. Daarnaast werden Solo en Lando uit de film toegevoegd als speelbare personages. Een hele sterke update, maar ook Solo deed het in de bioscopen niet bijzonder goed. Wederom omdat de fanbase zo verstrooid was door The Last Jedi besloten veel fans de film te negeren. Als statement richting Disney. Heel jammer, want hierdoor werd de film een flop. En dat is zonde, wat Solo is awesome. En die content in de game? Volledig gratis, wederom.

 

Season 3 werd later toegevoegd en is tot op heden nog steeds mijn meest favoriete stukje DLC voor de game. Want jawel, eindelijk werd het mogelijk. We mochten eindelijk in deze grafische pracht de Clone Wars beleven vanaf de bekende slagvelden. Stap in de schoenen van een Clone en betreed het gevecht op Geonosis. Dice wist hier echt uit te pakken en bracht gevechten groter dan ooit. Daarnaast combineerde ze verschillende speelmodi in een enkele mode. Wanneer je ronde A wint, verplaatst het gevecht naar een andere locatie. Het brengt een grotere schaal naar de game. Ook werden Obi-Wan Kenobi, Grievous, Anakin Skywalker en Dooku speelbaar. DICE bracht meer balans in de game, meer offline manieren van spelen en nieuwe mogelijkheden qua gameplay. En geloof me, je hebt Battlefront II pas echt gespeeld wanneer je de Clone Wars gevochten hebt. Geonosis bleek een geweldig theater te zijn voor vieze, stoffige oorlogsvoering waarin de ontploffingen rijk zijn. En je raadt het al, ook de Clone Wars zijn volledig gratis te downloaden. 

 

Season 4 bracht een nieuwe map op Felucia en een zogenaamde’Large Scene singleplayer mode’ die geïnspireerd werd op de originele Battlefront II. Het was ook de intrede voor de Clone Commando’s. Iets wat spelers van Star Wars Republic Commando best kunnen waarderen gok ik zo. Snel werd dit opgevolgd met content uit de derde Star Wars-film sinds de release van de game. The Rise of Skywalker is ook volledig in de game te vinden. En dat brengt je zelfs de mogelijkheid om als BB-8 te spelen, iets wat compleet nieuwe manieren van spelen met zich mee weet te nemen. Het is allemaal wederom compleet gratis.

 

 

Nee, Battlefront II is niet meer die game die geteisterd werd door lootboxen. Het is ook niet meer de game die iets meer dan twee jaar geleden verscheen. Het is een gigantische bulk aan content, met enorm veel manieren van spelen, gecombineerd met alle momenten uit de Star Wars Saga. En het verdient het om gespeeld te worden. Dus pluk die game van een digitale winkel en geef het (opnieuw) een kans. Buiten is Corona te vinden, je moet toch binnen gaan blijven de komende tijd. DICE heeft Battlefront II niet laten vallen. En dat moeten wij ook niet doen.

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Star Wars in 2020

De Skywalker saga kwam in 2019 ten einde, wat kunnen we in 2020 verwachten op Star Wars gebied?

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Star Wars in 2020

Het einde van een tijdperk: eerder deze maand is de sequel trilogy van Disney’s Lucasfilm geëindigd met de release van The Rise of Skywalker. Met de komst van Disney+ is er voor de megastudio echter de mogelijkheid om grote Star Wars producties naar het ‘kleine scherm’ te brengen en inmiddels weten we ook dat dit de komende jaren de tendens zal zijn. Maar wat kunnen we allemaal aan Star Wars content verwachten in 2020?

Voor het eerst sinds 2014 zal er in 2020 (overigens ook in 2021) geen Star Wars film in de bioscoop verschijnen. Dit betekent echter zeker niet dat aankomend jaar geen nieuwe Star Wars content zal brengen.

Januari: de Star Wars film van 2022 en Project Luminous

Hoewel we geen nieuwe content verwachten in januari wordt het wel een maand met enkele nieuwe aankondigingen. Zo weten we al langer dat er vanaf december 2022 nieuwe Star Wars films zullen verschijnen. Naar alle waarschijnlijkheid zal Lucasfilm in de komende weken bekendmaken wie deze film gaat schrijven en/of regisseren.

Gezien het opstappen van Colin Trevorrow (oorspronkelijk schrijver/regisseur van Episode IX) en de ontslagen van Lord en Miller (oorspronkelijke schrijvers/regisseurs van Solo: A Star Wars Story) is het inmiddels duidelijk dat een dergelijke aankondiging weinig hoeft te betekenen. Toch zal Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy – wiens contract in 2021 afloopt – niet opnieuw de plank willen misslaan met deze belangrijke regisseurskeuze. Hopelijk komen we bij deze aankondiging ook te weten of de film een losstaande spin-off gaat worden of dat deze toch weer deel gaat uitmaken van een trilogie. Dit laatste lijkt echter onwaarschijnlijk, gezien de recente uitspraken van Kennedy in een interview met de LA Times. Daarin noemde ze trilogieën per definitie ‘beperkend’ in het creëren van nieuwe verhalen en wil ze deze traditionele structuur van drie acts ondergeschikt maken aan het verhaal. Daarmee lijkt het erop dat de drie toekomstige Star Wars films (2022, 2024 en 2026) geen deel zullen uitmaken van een trilogie.

“I think it gives us a more open-ended view of storytelling and doesn’t lock us into this three-act structure,” zei Kennedy. “We’re not going to have some finite number and fit it into a box. We’re really going to let the story dictate that.”

Verder verwachten we in januari meer te horen over Project Luminous. Dit aanstaande project omvat een samenhangend geheel van verhalen die zullen worden verteld in de vorm van stripboeken en boeken. Op zichzelf klinkt dit misschien nog niet heel spannend, toch is er binnen de fanbase die zich in de verhalen verdiept genoeg reden om enthousiast te zijn. Dit heeft enerzijds te maken met de namen die zijn verbonden aan dit project, maar vooral ook wat het thema bij de aankondiging van Project Luminous lijkt te impliceren. Is de Force in gevaar?

Project Luminous

De aankondiging van Project Luminous vond plaats op Star Wars Celebration Chicago.

Februari: The Clone Wars krijgt een slotseizoen

In februari verschijnt het langverwachte laatste seizoen van de animatieserie The Clone Wars exclusief op Disney+. Dit seizoen zal onder leiding van bedenker Dave Filoni hopelijk eindelijk een passend en bevredigend einde bieden. Op dit moment zijn de eerste zes seizoenen van de serie beschikbaar op Disney+, dus er is nog tijd om de serie te kijken voordat je in het nieuwe seizoen duikt! Het laatste seizoen zal twaalf afleveringen tellen, waarbij o.a. de Siege of Mandalore als verhaal de revue zal passeren.

Lente: een nieuwe LEGO game en de UHD Blu-ray set?

Hoewel de releasedata van de nieuwe LEGO game en de 4K Blu-ray set van de Skywalker saga niet officieel zijn onthuld, lijkt een release in de lente voor beiden waarschijnlijk.

De laatste LEGO Star Wars game die is uitgekomen was gebaseerd op The Force Awakens. De aanstaande nieuwe game zal alle Skywalker sagafilms omvatten, zoals de titel en trailer ook aantonen. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga wordt door vaste ontwikkelaar TT Games ontwikkeld in een nieuwe engine en zal zoveel mogelijk originele stemacteurs bevatten, waaronder Billy Dee Williams als Lando Calrissian. In de game zul je zelf kunnen kiezen in welke volgorde je de sagafilms wil doorlopen, waarbij elke film vijf missies zal hebben met daarmee dus een totaal van 45 missies in de game. Het vechten zal naar eigen zeggen diepgaander zijn dan in voorgaande LEGO games en uiteraard verwachten wij ook weer de nodige grappen die tegelijkertijd zowel de belangrijkste momenten uit de saga parodiëren als dat deze worden geëerbiedigd.

Onlangs verscheen de 4K Blu-ray set van de Skywalker Saga op verschillende Amerikaanse webshops, waaronder Amazon en Best Buy. Het ligt in de lijn der verwachting dat The Rise of Skywalker medio april fysiek uit zal komen (in navolging van een digitale release eind maart), waarbij kort daarna tevens de volledige Skywalker Saga zowel op DVD, Blu-ray en 4K Blu-ray als set zal verschijnen. De week van Star Wars dag (4 mei 2020) of ergens rondom de verjaardag van de franchise (25 mei 2020) lijkt mij persoonlijk geen slechte gok voor de release van deze sets, al is het op dit moment nog koffiedik kijken wanneer de set exact zal verschijnen.

Juni: de opnames van de Cassian Andor en Obi-Wan Kenobi Disney+ series

Vrijdag 27 december verscheen de laatste aflevering van het debuutseizoen van The Mandalorian op Disney+. Gelukkig is men al sinds oktober druk bezig met het produceren van het tweede seizoen, maar in de tussentijd is het wachten op meer nieuws en aankondigingen omtrent andere Star Wars Disney+ series. Twee series waarvan we nu al weten dat ze eraan komen gaan over Cassian Andor en Obi-Wan Kenobi. We verwachten echter niet dat deze series al in 2020 zullen lanceren, het jaar daarop is waarschijnlijk een meer realistische inschatting. Op dit moment ziet het ernaar uit dat beide series in juni zullen beginnen met filmen, waarna we waarschijnlijk mondjesmaat meer nieuws gevoerd zullen krijgen in de vorm van o.a. gelekte foto’s en beelden. Voor officieel en groot Star Wars nieuws zullen we echter tot eind augustus moeten wachten.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) en Kathleen Kennedy (president van Lucasfilm) bij de aankondiging van de Kenobi-serie op de D23 Expo in augustus 2019. Beeld: StarWars.com

Augustus: Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim

Eind augustus vindt opnieuw het grootste internationale Star Wars evenement ter wereld plaats in Anaheim, Californië. Niet toevallig vlak naast Disneyland en dus ook Galaxy’s Edge. Nu de toekomst van Star Wars films en series relatief open ligt hopen we op dit evenement meer te horen over de toekomstplannen van de franchise in de vorm van nieuwe aankondigingen en andere verrassingen.

Het lijkt wat vroeg om hier al beelden van de Cassian Andor- en Kenobi-serie te kunnen zien, maar mogelijk heeft men toch een korte teaser of behind the scenes beelden paraat voor de aanwezige fans. Verder verwachten we meer te horen over de film die in 2022 gepland staat te verschijnen, met mogelijk ook een tipje van de sluier over wat er daarna volgt.

Star Wars Celebration Anaheim

Star Wars Celebration vindt plaats op 27-30 augustus in Anaheim, Californië (Verenigde Staten).

De kans is echter groter dat de focus van Star Wars Celebration – gezien het feit dat we dan nog steeds lange tijd van de films uit 2024 en 2026 verwijderd zijn – vooral op Disney+ series ligt. We verwachten sowieso een trailer voor het tweede seizoen van The Mandalorian, dat in de herfst van 2020 zal verschijnen. Momenteel zullen de mensen van Lucasfilm en Disney tevens hard aan het werk zijn om ideeën uit te werken en nieuwe series binnen het Star Wars universum vorm te geven. Waar Marvel op de D23 Expo van augustus 2019 vele nieuwe live-action series aankondigde bleef Star Wars toch wat achter met enkel The Mandalorian, een Cassian Andor- en een Kenobi-serie op Disney’s eigen streamingdienst. Onze hoop is dan ook dat Lucasfilm op Celebration een vierde en misschien ook wel een vijfde serie aankondigt voor Disney+ om de tijd naar en tussen de aankomende films te overbruggen.

Herfst: het tweede seizoen van The Mandalorian

Op de dag dat het eerste seizoen van The Mandalorian eindigde, maakte bedenker en schrijver Jon Favreau bekend dat we in de herfst van 2020 het tweede seizoen tegemoet kunnen zien. Naar verwachting zullen in het tweede seizoen opnieuw verschillende regisseurs rouleren om de serie op de juiste manier in beeld te brengen, waaronder dit keer ook Jon Favreau zelf en Carl Weathers (in de serie te zien als Greef Karga). De enige hint die Favreau verder kon geven was deze foto op zijn Instagram, waarop we een Gamorrean zien.

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Season 2 of #TheMandalorian coming Fall 2020

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Star Wars in 2020: een nieuw decennium, een nieuw begin

Tot zover de verwachte Star Wars releases in 2020: zijn wij nog iets vergeten of heb jij een specifieke release waar je het meest naar uitkijkt? Laat het ons weten!

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Laten we het hebben over het populairste personage in The Mandalorian

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The Mandalorian

Laten we even de tijd nemen om het te hebben over het meest besproken personage uit The Mandalorian. Als je spoilers wilt voorkomen, lees dan niet verder. Dit artikel bevat verwijzingen naar in ieder geval de eerste twee afleveringen van de serie.
(meer…)

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Heroes Dutch Comic Con Wintereditie 2019

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Op 23 en 24 november vond er alweer een editie van Heroes Dutch Comic Con in de Utrechtse Jaarbeurs. Alweer was Star Wars Awakens aanwezig en alweer was het in onze beleving een uiterst succesvol evenement, dus ja: alweer gaat dit een overwegend positief verslag worden.

Maar wat valt er eigenlijk nog te zeggen over ‘s lands grootste pop-culture evenement wat al niet tig keer de revue is gepasseerd? Toen ik de voorgaande verslagen van HDCC op deze site nog eens bekeek vielen me twee zaken op die elke keer terugkeren:

Het was groter en beter georganiseerd dan de vorige keer. Ook deze keer had ik het idee dat dit het geval was, er was immers een extra hal (boven) bijgekomen. Ondanks de grootte van het evenement én het feit dat het al weken uitverkocht was voelde het niet overcrowded. Een heldere indeling en ruime opzet van de hallen én (in mijn beleving) veel meer horacapunten verdienen een pluim.

De gastenlijst kan naar mijn mening beter. Dit blijft mijn enige punt van kritiek. Niet omdat door pure pech – waar de organisatie helemaal niets aan kon doen – er wat afzeggingen waren, maar omdat er wederom geen enkele Star Wars gast was (de laatste keer was in 2017 met Wilding en Suotamo). De wél aanwezige gasten van de laatste edities lijken met name op een jonger, vrouwelijk publiek gericht te zijn. Niks mis mee, maar dit zou wat diverser kunnen? Tip: volgende editie veteraan Carl Weathers (Rocky, Predator, The Mandalorian) uitnodigen om *knipoog* het testosterongehalte te verhogen?

Los van deze twee zaken was er zat prijzenswaardig: de grote diversiteit aan activiteiten bijvoorbeeld. Asmodee had een grote hoeveelheid tafels waar speldemonstraties (zoals X-Wing en Keyforge) werden gegeven, er was een Frozen springkasteel voor de kleintjes (?), men kon meedoen aan een filmquiz (waarvan de Star Wars editie gewonnen werd door de redactie), Q&A’s, fotoshoots, fanclubs (zoals de Droid Builders en Dutch Garrison)… en uiteraard een grote hal vol merchandise.

Dennis en Ramon namens Star Wars Awakens met o.a. BB-8 (gebouwd door Roel).

Een saai verslagje? Goed punt, maar het evenement was dat absoluut niet. Gelukkig hoeven we niet lang te wachten op de volgende editie: op 28 en 29 maart 2020 zal alweer de voorjaarseditie plaatsvinden. En ja, dan zijn we alweer van de partij om hopelijk alweer vol lof te zijn… maar laten we duimen dat het niet alweer Star Wars gastloos zal zijn.

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