I saw the original trilogy for the first time when the films were re-released in theaters in the 90s. My only other experiences with sci-fi to that point were Star Trek: The Next Generation and Quantum Leap. "Space opera" wasn’t even a phrase in my vocabulary (yes, I know – very sad). I walked out of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in amazement. I couldn’t believe that anything like that was made when it was made. It still held up (and still does). I was first in line to see the next two as they came to the local theater. I could have rented them on VHS, but I wanted to experience them big.
I awaited the prequels eagerly. I thought myself incredibly lucky to be able to see the evolution of Darth Vader so soon. Maybe I was late to the game, but most Star Wars fans had to wait 20 years for this story... this next huge piece in the Star Wars universe. Though I remember not falling crazy in love with Star Wars Episode I: A Phantom Menace, I was thrilled just to be experiencing a new Star Wars film along with thousands and thousands of other fans. Everyone was excited – more excited than at any other film I’ve been to.
The prequels came and went. I enjoyed them - the effects, the fights, the creatures. What really got me about these movies was the history and information about a whole new timeline. I was fascinated by the time of multiple Jedi knights and the rise of the Emperor. Still, Star Wars hovered in my mild fandom area. Around 2000, in between the prequels, I discovered the novels of the Expanded Universe thanks to a female co-worker who was obsessed with them but as soon as she quit, I lost my endless supply and fell out of touch with Star Wars.
Then in 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars came along.
For some reason, it pulled me into the Star Wars universe like nothing else had. Well not just for some reason, for many! From the further exploration of the timeline that had so intrigued me, to a new lead female character that though young was full of potential, the idea of seeing more of Anakin’s descent to the dark side, learning more about Yoda, the new and striking visual style – and many more things (I was so jazzed when they announced that it would be a continuing series).
The Clone Wars movie really opened my eyes to the awesome that is Star Wars. I finally saw the copious amount of histories, timelines, and guides available as the magical tomes they are. I re-watched the original trilogy and the prequels for the first time in years. I delved into the Expanded Universe, starting with comics from Dark Horse. I devoured everything I could, and I know I’ve still only made the tiniest scratch. It’s been so much fun to fall into this vast universe and meet all the fascinating characters and explore bizarre worlds, and it will just continue. It is an infinite world that won’t go anywhere as long as fans believe. And I’ve met enough Star Wars fans to know that not only are they the best, but once you’re a fan, you’re a fan for life. You pass it on to your children, friends, anyone who will listen.
Because of The Clone Wars, I was able to look back. I was able to see, really for the first time, just what Star Wars meant and the impact it had when it was released as well as its continuing impact on films and fans.
Cross-posted at Newsarama.