Welcome to Star Wars Day – May the Fourth be with you!
In the spring of 1977 all of my 11- and 12-year-old friends were abuzz about some new science fiction moving coming out. Me? I was a die-hard Trekker. I knew my “Star Trek” inside and out and really wasn’t interested in other science fiction shows. The hype, however, was relentless. News stories about long lines at theaters and people gushing about this new movie made it inevitable that we would go see it.
I wish I could remember the date my family finally saw “Star Wars.” It would have been sometime in June or July of 1977. We went to the theater with my aunt, uncle and cousins. It was there at the Parkway Theater in Longmont, Colo., that my life changed. What I saw blew my mind. I left the theater thinking – no, feeling – I was Luke Skywalker. Anything that resembled a gun became a blaster and every stick a lightsaber.
Yeah, I still loved “Star Trek,” but this “Star Wars” thing raised the bar way out of transporter range for the Enterprise. It wasn’t long before you had dueling Star Wars and Star Trek movies. “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” came out in 1979, followed by “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980 and so on. Each sequel upped the ante and as a fan of both franchises, I loved it.
Star Trek continued to boldly go on in the movies but Star Wars ended with “Return of the Jedi” in 1983. We continued to get new Star Trek movies and even several new television series. Star Wars, however, fell silent for 16 years, kept alive by numerous books and the occasional update to the old trilogy.
Then came 1999 and the first of three prequels to Star Wars came out. To mark the occasion, the Star Wars Celebration was held in Denver. It was rainy, muddy and way overcrowded but as memorable as any of the movies. It was like one big promotion for “The Phantom Menace.” We got to see and meet several of the new actors and view props from all four of the movies.
The best part for me was asking Sandy to be my wife while we stood in a muddy line in a light drizzle to see one of the actors. It was kind of impromptu but it felt right with the Force. We did a more formal proposal later on Mother’s Day. But for the moment I was as happy as my 11-year-old self was 22 years earlier.
Since then we have had two more prequels and last year a long-awaited sequel. Most people didn’t care for the prequels. At the time, I thought they were awesome. They just haven’t stood the test of time like the original trilogy did. Now we have the new movies. I was giddy with anticipation when “The Force Awakens” was comOne: A Star Wars Story” comes out in December and tells the tale of how the Death Star plans were stolen, leading into the original “Star Wars” movie.
Before we get to that, Star Trek is striking back. This year is the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek” and we will be treated to not only a new movie but a new television series as well. “Star Trek Beyond” comes to theaters this summer and the new television show is set to air next January on CBS.
Having Star Wars and Star Trek leapfrogging each other again is beyond exciting. I’m remaining ever hopeful that some day the two franchises will cross over on the big screen. Sure, one happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and the other is a couple hundred years in the future. But this is science fiction and anything is possible.
Ironically, with this being Star Wars Day and so much in the works for both Star Wars and Star Trek, tomorrow brings us the newest Captain America movie. “Captain America: Civil War” may be the third movie for Cap but it more resembles a third Avengers movie. Anymore it seems all the Marvel movies are so closely tied together that they’re one big anthology. One story is just the next chapter in an epic saga.
You have to give credit to Disney for buying up Marvel and Lucasfilm. It was a stroke of genius and now we get to benefit from Disney’s desire to cash in on its investment by making more of these popular films. It’s like nerd paradise.
Speaking of films, I have to interject something here. I just saw a trailer for “Dear Eleanor.” No, it’s not a science fiction show at all. What’s special about it is that it was partly filmed in my hometown of Niwot, Colo. The opening scene of the trailer is downtown Niwot made to look like a California town in 1962.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program. If you are at all interested in this kind of stuff there are some events coming up that you might want to put on your calendar. Free Comic Book Day is coming up on May 7 at a comic book store near you.
Space City Comic Con is coming to NRG Center Memorial Day weekend, May 27-29, and Comicpalooza is returning to the George R. Brown Convention center June 17-19.
It would be most logical for you to boldly go to these events. After all, the Force will be with you, always.