I remember the day my wife’s oldest kid became my son.
It wasn’t the day I took him to the store to help me pick out an engagement ring. It wasn’t the day I proposed to his mother. It wasn’t even the day of the wedding.
It was the day we all gathered in the living room to watch the Star Wars Saga in its entirety; he was 7 and his brother was 3.
We watched them chronologically, Episode I through VI, with a pause between II and III to hit up some Clone Wars cartoons. Blasphemous? Maybe. We also may or may not have watched the two ewok movies. I’ll never tell.
As the credits of Return of the Jedi rolled, he turned to me and excitedly asked, “Can we watch them again?!”
Yes. Yes we can.
But it means his first (and favorite) of the Star Wars movies is The Phantom Menace, Jar Jar notwithstanding. On one hand, the Yoda and Darth Vader reveals in The Empire Strikes Back were spoiled, on the other, his favorite character is Darth Maul.
Can’t fault him for that. My favorite character also suffered an untimely death. In fact, when he asked about my Boba Fett collection, he then declared that he was going to start a Darth Maul display – or as he calls it, his Maul Wall.
He asked me if I saw The Phantom Menace in the theater and I told him about how I camped out the night before with other fans. How we passed the time with trivia matches or listening to the one dude who brought his guitar and could play the John Williams music we adored. How I saw it three times that first day.
So when he had the opportunity to see a new Star Wars movie in the theater, the only thing he asked for his birthday was if we could camp out early to be the first ones to see The Force Awakens.
How could I say no?
We eventually added another brother to the family (my three sons!) and one of his first toys was a set of Star Wars character bath toys (except the Boba Fett, which I kept, of course). For his first birthday, he got (and still has) a plush R2-D2, because his middle name is Luke and every Luke should have their own astromech!
And it occurs to me that our family is made up of fans across three eras of Star Wars. Individually, we each have our own set of movies to call “ours,” the Star Wars movies to which we were first exposed and inevitably fell in love.
For my wife and I, it’s of course the original trilogy. For our older two boys, it’s the prequel movies and both Clone Wars series that made them fans. Our youngest, who’s 5 now, is just starting to show an interest in sitting through movies that don’t feature singing animated animals. And when the time is right, he not only gets all the movies already released, he’ll get to see his own trilogy in the theaters, Rebels (which is infinitely better than the Ewoks and Droids cartoons from my youth) and the anthology stand-alone films like Rogue One and next year’s Han Solo affair.
It’s never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan.
And as awesome as it is to have new Star Wars offerings for the foreseeable future, the best part is I get to share it with my family. They’ll never live through the void in which we suffered from Return of the Jedi in 1983 until The Phantom Menace in 1999.
My new hope is that when they become parents, Star Wars is be a way for them to bond with their families, too.
That way when my grandkids come to me and ask, “Gramps, what was it like in the ‘Wars’?!” I can tell them how it all began A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away …