So it has been around 18 hours and, if you are like us, it has been enough time for you to have watched the trailer a couple dozen times. As I sat and watched and geeked out and reflected, a couple things jumped out at me that fit in with what I have already been talking about in my on-going series about Star Wars. Here are three quick thoughts with the first one being owed to my partner-in-crime, Fizz, for having texted to me this morning.
Han Solo as a Paul figure to the New Generation
In the three part look I put together, “A Theology of the Force”, the second part looked at the Force and belief. Han Solo was the archetype for the unbelieving, roguish, self-made man; a juxtaposition to Luke’s belief in destiny, adventure, and the ways of the Force. While Han eventually comes around to a semi-admission of faith when he says to Luke, “May the Force be with you,” we’re left wondering throughout the remainder of the films just how much our intrepid smuggler believed.
Fast forward thirty years and besides seeing him embrace Leia, we hear him confirming the “rumors” about what happened in the original trilogy. Han has become the Paul of the Star Wars universe. As one untimely born, having been the worst of sinners; a smuggler, pirate, gambler, and criminal, Han is now an evangelist for the very things he used to deny. And now he is empowering a new generation of “believers” to pick up the mantle of the Force as Luke did.
Also, as a quick nerd note, if any of you have been playing the recently released free Star Wars game, Star Wars: Uprising, in that game, the Empire quickly acts to shut down the Anoat Sector from hearing about the death of the Emperor and the second Death Star being destroyed. One can speculate this happened across the galaxy, and the rumors that now swirl is really the good news of the Emperor’s demise and the crippling defeat of the Empire. The First Order has now become the Sanhedrin, telling people that the tomb was only empty because the grave was robbed.
Kylo Ren continues the legacy of Darth Vader – Seeking power through the Dark Side
The rumors were true about the Dark Side, as well. Kylo Ren, who we know is played by Adam Driver, muses in the final trailer that he will finish what Vader started. This is clearly an allusion to Vader’s mission to, “hunt down and destroy the Jedi,” to quote Obi-Wan Kenobi. And while the clever twist on Kylo Ren is, supposedly, that he is a fanatical, cult-like devotee to Vader’s legacy, he is still out to gather power for himself as he trains in the Dark Side of the Force. It is yet to be seen what his history is, but Abrams has made it clear his motives are less cut-and-dry than Vader’s.
What continues to be true about Star Wars is that the Force represents a power struggle. Much less about a fantastical, mystical post-modern religion that fills the void of our culture’s loss of a Christian, moral center, and more about the post-modern notions of power and community. Very excited to see how this thread continues in a post-post-modern generation.
Star Wars is still, however a new, hero’s journey and a forging of new and old communities
When Rey is asked in the trailer, “Who are you?”, she remarks, “I’m no one.” Finn has been raised from birth as a stormtrooper and Imperial, and the trailer says he now has, “nothing to fight for.” Their admissions both embody the same spirit as Luke Skywalker, and both of them start anew on a desert planet, like Luke. We have known from the get-go that The Force Awakens is going to be a handing off to a new generation of heroes, but it looks like we are, thankfully, getting their story. It’s a new hero’s journey for a new generation. And like I said in my review of Star Wars, it is about, “a group of heroes fighting together to bring back peace and justice to the galaxy.” The unique part of The Force Awakens is the combination of the old community and joining it to the new, and also the re-joining of the old community. Many holes remain to be filled, but it goes without saying that these themes will be readdressed in only two months when I review the movie. I can’t wait two months, but I guess I have to. Until then, my heart is already in line.