Thursday, November 16, 2017

"The Last Jedi" Prediction Bingo Squares

I've been wanting to write about my predictions regarding the upcoming "Star Wars" film, "The Last Jedi", but each of my attempts has fallen short, mostly because I haven't really found an entertaining way of presenting them. Then Jenny Nicholson from YouTube went ahead and figured out how to do it: A Bingo card:


So I've decided to copy her idea so that I can finally put myself on-the-record for what I expect from this next film.

And, for the record, my expectations are REALLY high. Like, I'm probably expecting WAY too much from this movie, but I honestly can't really help it. So screw it! LET'S RIDE THIS HYPE TRAIN STRAIGHT INTO A BRICK WALL! WOO!

To make this interesting, I'm going to deliberately try not to use any of Jenny's predictions, and if I have one that's similar, I'll make it more specific to keep it interesting. Like Jenny, I'm going to make a bunch of baseless predictions since it would be boring if I got most of these right. These are still actual predictions of mine, don't get me wrong, but (for the most part) I'm specifically picking ones that don't have a lot of evidence to back them up. For each square, I've included a chunk about what I mean by my predictions.



B1) Luke trained Rey's mother
I'm going to start off with my first prediction regarding Rey's origins, which is that her mother was, in fact, one of the new Jedi Luke was training before Kylo Ren ruined it all. This makes a lot more sense once you hear some of my other predictions, but the short reason for why I believe this one is because I sincerely doubt that Rey's parents would be someone we know, but I also sincerely doubt that the identity of her parents would be something irrelevant. I'm also guessing that he trained her mother as opposed to her father because reasons.

B2) Rey is not related by blood to the Skywalkers
This ties into the previous one a bit, but regardless of who Rey's parents are, I think it's very, very important to her character and to the themes of this new trilogy that she NOT be related to Anakin Skywalker by blood. I'll get deeper into why later, but it's mostly just that the character who represents the Skywalker legacy (Kylo Ren) believes that his blood entitles him to a certain destiny, and I believe one of the themes of this trilogy is that circumstance and power do not make you a hero, and making Rey special because she's related to Anakin would essentially send the message that heroes have to be chosen.

B3) Kylo Ren and Rey are the new Chosen Ones
In the previous film, and in the trailers for this one, we get the impression that Kylo Ren is ridiculously overpowered. He froze a blaster bolt in mid-air and held it for minutes without even thinking consciously about it. Luke and Snoke both talk about how much raw power he has. If he has even more power than Luke, it raises an interesting question. Trigger warning: I'm about to talk about the prequels and midi-chlorians. The main reason why Anakin Skywalker was so strong was because his father literally was the Force. He had a biological advantage. And while this passed on to Luke and Leia, through Luke we get the impression that, strong as he may be, Anakin was still stronger, implying that the biological advantage weakens with each generation, particularly if one of the parents wasn't Force-sensitive. By this logic, since Han Solo wasn't Force-sensitive, Ben Solo should have been less Force-sensitive than Luke or Leia, but this is not the case. This suggests to me that there's something more going on with Kylo Ren, and I suspect it's the same something that's going on with Rey. Specifically, I don't think Kylo Ren or Rey get their power through a midi-chlorian-based connection to the Force, but that they are the new "Chosen Ones" in the same way that Anakin was. I'll get more into that later. 

B4) The origins of the Jedi will be problematic
Based on what Han said in TFA, we can presume that Luke's hideout is the location of the first Jedi Temple, and what better reason would he have to go there but to learn the origins of the Jedi so that he can help rebuild the Order correctly this time. However, given his cynical disposition and insistence that the Jedi need to end, I presume that not only did Luke learn the origin of the Jedi Order, but he was shaken by it. I believe something regarding the Order's origins will partially convince Luke that the Jedi were meant to fail, hence why he decided to remain in exile: To allow the Jedi to fade out of existence.

B5) Luke left Rey on Jakku
She won't find out for a while, but I believe that Luke is the one who stranded Rey on Jakku. She didn't know who he was at the time and she may not even recognize him right away in present day (maybe because of the beard). But if we're presuming that her mother was a Jedi-in-training, her having a daughter might have been a deal-breaker because of the whole emotional attachment thing. But I don't just believe this because of my prediction regarding Rey's mother, I believe it because it's just too much of a coincidence that Luke's buddy Lor San Tekka (the guy who Kylo Ren killed at the beginning of TFA) just so happened to be within walking distance of Rey's home. Frankly, I think that this was the moment that the Force decided that Luke was unfit to bring balance to the Force, as he was willing to prioritize the resurrection of the Jedi over the happiness of Rey and her family, just as the old Jedi Order made a nasty habit of breaking up happy couples and taking children from their parents.

I1) Luke will stop training Rey
You know that moment in the trailer where Luke is all like, "I've seen this raw strength only once before. It didn't scare me enough then. It does now"? Well, I predict that he'll initially agree to train her, perhaps even believing that the Force means for him to train her, but once he realizes who Rey actually is and the power she holds, he will realize that he shouldn't be training her. He won't explain why beyond simply what happened with the first person he saw with that kind of power (probably Kylo Ren), but I suspect that it won't just be out of fear. Luke is a Jedi and cannot be ruled by fear. Instead, I think he'll believe that training Rey will doom her to repeat the mistakes of the Jedi and that in order for there to be balance in the Force, Rey will have to find her own path. At that point, I believe Rey will continue to train herself (she seemed to be pretty auto-didactic in TFA) and Luke will watch, but not help. Eventually, they'll leave the planet and Luke will come with, but I don't believe he will ever agree to train her again after seeing her raw strength.

I2) Rey was not born with her Force-sensitivity
This is partially tying into my belief that what makes Rey special can't be interpreted as a birthright, but also kind of a necessity in terms of the whole "Luke left Rey on Jakku" theory, since if Luke is the one who took her, he would have sensed her power, and even if that's something Luke has to consciously do, if her mother was Force-sensitive, Luke probably would have thought to check Rey out. I believe that while the Force was potentially quite strong with her (the Force flows through all things), he also would have sensed that she was likely blind to it, as most people are, suggesting she had an important destiny, but not as a Jedi. Furthermore, this would resolve the biggest problem "Star Wars" fans have with the midi-chlorians, which is that it suggests that there has to be a biological component in order for the Force to work, but if Rey has incredible power despite having a low midi-chlorian count, it would suggest that her power was not innate, but given to her later in life. An "awakening", if you will. More specifically, I believe that the Force has decided that it was a bad idea for one person (Anakin) to bring balance to the Force, because one person cannot adequately embody both Sides at the same time, even someone whose father is literally the Force itself. As such, I believe the Force "awakened" both Kylo Ren and Rey to a much deeper connection to the Force so that they could sort of be joint-Chosen Ones like I talked about earlier. Essentially, Kylo Ren will be the embodiment of the Dark Side, but with a hint of the Light Side (which may be why he always feels seduced by the Light Side), and Rey will be the embodiment of the Light Side, but with a hint of the Dark Side (which we'll see more in this movie). They'll be yin and yang, representing the balance of the Force.

I3) The Knights of Ren hate the Sith as much as the Jedi
I was very happy with TFA when it was made clear that Kylo Ren was not a Sith, nor did he specifically revere the Sith. We don't yet know much about the Knights of Ren beyond that, but I personally believe that the Knights of Ren are modeled more after the Jedi than the Sith since they don't seem to have the "Rule of Two" and the way Kylo Ren seems to think of the Dark Side feels less in line with the way the Sith saw the Dark Side and more in line with the way the Jedi saw the Light Side, like how Kylo Ren talks about the Light Side seducing him the way a Jedi might talk about the Dark Side seducing them. I think the Knights of Ren see themselves as Jedi that were freed from the dogmatic thinking that the Dark Side was evil. I even think some of the Knights of Ren were former students of Luke's that helped Kylo Ren kill Luke's loyal Jedi students.

I4) Phasma's helmet once again stays on for the entire movie
I thought it was really interesting how after the photoshoot with Gwendoline Christie dressed as Phasma with her helmet off was released, it was immediately clarified by LucasFilm as not being canonical. To me, this either implies that Phasma's face doesn't JUST look like Gwendoline Christie (like she's got scars or something) or LucasFilm is making a point of never, ever, ever showing Captain Phasma's face without a helmet in canon. Given how most people think Boba Fett stopped being cool the moment we saw him without his helmet (personally I disagree... I think Boba Fett was never cool in the first place), I wouldn't be surprised if LucasFilm has decided that they won't repeat that perceived mistake.

I5) Finn will ask Leia to let him leave the Resistance, and Leia will permit it
We already know from interviews that Finn will be the reluctant hero again and that he'll have a change of heart, partially thanks to a new character named Rose Tico, but to get a LITTLE more specific, I think that once Finn finishes recovering from his wounds, he will ask Leia to let him leave the Resistance in a moment that will mirror the scene from "The Empire Strikes Back" when Han asked General Rieeken on Hoth to leave so he could pay back Jabba. Similarly to that scene, I believe Finn will emphasize that, as a defector, he's got pretty much everyone in the First Order wanting to kill him specifically, so if he doesn't take off for the Outer Rim, he's a dead man. And I think Leia will respond with a familiar phrase: "A death's mark is not an easy thing to live with. You're a good fighter, Finn. I hate to lose you." This would both be a nice callback and highlight Leia's growth as a leader (and possibly her certainty that Finn won't actually go through with it, just as Han didn't).

N1) Rey has psychometry
OK, so, "psychometry" is a rare Force ability where a person can touch an object and know about its history. While this mostly just existed in side-stories that have since been rendered non-canon after Disney took over, there is still a canonical example of a character with psychometry, and it is defined as such in the canonical novel, "Dark Disciple". Now, obviously, the movies aren't going to get that technical on us, and they probably won't use the word "psychometry" (possibly because Luke won't actually know it has a name), but I do think that Rey will once again demonstrate her ability to see into the history of an important object, just as she did with Anakin's lightsaber.

N2) Finn will come back to save Poe (again)
While I'm not sure if Poe will actually get captured again like he did in TFA, I do think that part of the reason Finn will stop himself from leaving the Resistance is because Poe will get himself in trouble and Finn will decide to save him again. Though I doubt they'll call out the line explicitly, I see this as mirroring the "that's two you owe me" line from "Empire".

FREE) Luke and Leia will reunite
The free space is this prediction because, while it hasn't technically been confirmed, it's so damn likely that I would be surprised if it didn't happen.

N4) There will be "Stormpilot" queerbaiting
In case you don't know "Stormpilot" refers to the ship between Finn and Poe. If you don't know what "shipping" is... welcome to the Internet! Anyway, while it's been confirmed that there won't be a big romance subplot in this movie, we DO know that LucasFilm is fully aware of how many fans are hoping that Finn and Poe will end up being more than just friends, so I'm actually expecting that there will be a "wink-wink-nudge-nudge" moment between the two that won't be explicit, but will definitely be intended to queerbait the Stormpilot shippers. I'm hoping it doesn't happen (insert argument for why queerbaiting is problematic here), but Disney is getting pretty infamous for doing half-measures on LGBT representation lately, so... yeah. I mean, I'm not really a Stormpilot shipper and even I think that if they're going to deliberately tease this, they should just commit to it. It's only weird if you make it weird.

N5) Luke has a red lightsaber
This is probably a weird one. If you look at most of the new toys with Luke, you'll notice they don't include a lightsaber. We have seen Luke with a lightsaber in some promo images, but the lightsaber appears to be Anakin's lightsaber, and Luke's green lightsaber seems completely MIA. I believe he had to create a new lightsaber from scratch. However, in the new canon, it's established that a lightsaber's color isn't decided until a Jedi has bonded with it. It's also said that kyber crystals are inherently attuned to the Light Side, so in order for a Dark Side Force user to construct one, they have to dominate it through the Force, turning it red in the process. I believe that when Luke tried to construct a new lightsaber, he was surprised and disturbed to find that the Force was resisting him and that the kyber crystals were refusing to attune with him, essentially leaving him no choice but to exert his dominance over it, turning it red. I believe he is deeply ashamed by having to do this, and as such, only uses the lightsaber in dire situations. So I believe we'll see Luke use Anakin's blue lightsaber at first, but at a certain point, he'll be forced to use his new red lightsaber. HOWEVER...

G1) Luke is and will always be a Jedi
As jaded and cynical as Luke has become, I believe he is still dedicated to being a Jedi. Even knowing everything he knows, and even believing that the Jedi need to end, he also knows that he still has a vital role to play as the last Jedi and has resigned himself to his fate. He will not fall to the Dark Side (at least not completely) and he will not stop being a Jedi. That part of his character is too vital. But I'm not saying that Luke won't end up being an antagonist. I think this film will emphasize that "Jedi" is not synonymous with "good guy". Rey's goals are likely the greatest good, but Luke can disagree without turning "bad". If you really look hard at the Jedi throughout "Star Wars" canon, you'll see that they are not always the good guys, and I think that Luke essentially filling a "bad guy" role while still maintaining his identity as a Jedi is the best way for the movie to drive home that the Jedi have to end. The lines are probably going to start getting blurrier.

G2) Rey will call herself a Skywalker
This is probably my most wild theory, but I like it, so I'm including it. Essentially, I agree with all the speculation that Rey will ultimately become a Grey or Neutral Force user, but I think it will go beyond that. I think ultimately, she and Kylo Ren will create a new Order to replace both the Jedi and the Sith/Knights of Ren that is more universal. It will not emphasize the Light or the Dark Side, but rather preach a balance between the two. Now, I've already said that Rey will not be a Skywalker by blood, but in "Star Wars", names aren't just about blood, they're about identity. That's why Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader and why Ben Solo became Kylo Ren. Now from a meta-narrative standpoint, it makes perfect sense for the Jedi to end and be replaced with something new and more universal so that the Skywalker Saga can be about something other than a black-and-white battle between the Light and Dark Sides, but from a franchise-building perspective, it's a terrible idea because you're expecting your audience to accept that the Jedi and Sith are gone and from now on, all Force users will be a part of this new Order. Even if you get them to accept that conceptually, "Jedi" has been in the zeitgeist for so long that whatever you'd call this new Order would generally just be called "the new Jedi Order" by lazy or casual fans. Unless, of course, you called this new Order something fans are already familiar with, something that symbolizes bringing balance to the Force, and something that has deep meaning. Additionally, I've already brought up how this new trilogy seems to be emphasizing that the fate of the galaxy can't just depend upon Anakin's family tree forever or it'll start to seem like an aristocracy. The torch will have to be carried by new, unrelated characters like Rey who are heroes for reasons other than their parentage. However, the main "Star Wars" saga is officially considered to be "The Skywalker Saga", so how can you have a "Skywalker Saga" if the main character isn't necessarily a Skywalker? Simple: "Skywalker" stops meaning a family. I think this episode will delve into what it actually means to be a Skywalker, and more specifically, what Anakin Skywalker's true purpose was. Remember, Anakin was a Chosen One that would bring balance to the Force, and the Jedi took this to mean that he would destroy the Sith, and he did, but they didn't realize that it also meant he would destroy the Jedi. The meaning, it would seem, is that Anakin was destined to destroy the failed dichotomy between Light and Dark and clear the slate for a new, more balanced generation, and I believe that they will honor him by assuming his name as a title. That's right, I believe that Force-sensitives in the "Star Wars" universe will stop calling themselves Jedi and Sith and instead start calling themselves Skywalkers, regardless of what "Side" they're on, and I believe it will begin by Rey calling herself Rey Skywalker. And if you think that's confusing because it's also a last name... well, who actually still uses it as a surname? As far as we know, Shmi Skywalker had no living relatives, and Leia never had the Skywalker surname to begin with, so neither did her son. Luke is the only Skywalker left, and he's probably not going to survive this trilogy, so the name is free for the taking. I for one would be thrilled if this is the direction they go down. The idea of an Order that actively tries to get Light and Dark Side users to complement one another rather than oppose one another is much more interesting to me than rehashing the same conflicts over and over again, and I think the idea of calling Force users Skywalkers is great, because I hate having to keep saying "Force users" when I'm not talking about characters that are explicitly Jedi or Sith or Knights of Ren or what-have-you.

G3) Leia will ask Kylo Ren to kill her
During that moment we see in the trailers where Kylo Ren is about to kill Leia, you can pretty much tell that Leia knows. Of course she does. She may not have trained with Luke, but she's always been able to sense things through the Force. She even did it in TFA after Kylo Ren killed Han. And while she believed that there was still good in Kylo Ren when she sent Han off to bring their son back, his failure probably shook her. She's probably afraid that she's truly lost her son to Snoke. But in this moment, I believe she'll sense his conflict, but rather than try to talk him out of it, she'll dare him to kill her. It won't be out of resignation, but out of desperation. In her mind there are only two possibilities: Either her son is truly dead, in which case, there's nothing she can do, so she might as well end Kylo Ren's doubt, or her son is still in there, in which case, daring him to go through with it will just bring his conflict into crystal-clear focus. She won't beg for her life... it's not in her nature. But even after what he did to Han, she will tell her son it's OK and trust him to make the right call. And it'll work. More on this in a minute.

G4) Luke will cut off Kylo Ren's hand
While Leia may hold out hope for her son, I doubt Luke has it in him to be objective about Kylo Ren anymore. Just as Obi-Wan gave up on Darth Vader after watching him murder trainees and facing off with him directly, I believe that Luke has become convinced that Kylo Ren is now beyond saving. I believe that Luke will have another confrontation with Kylo Ren to mirror Luke's fight with Darth Vader in "The Empire Strikes Back", but in a surprise twist, Luke will be playing the role of Darth Vader this time around (hence the red lightsaber) and will lop off Kylo Ren's hand to drive that point home.

G5) Rey will save Kylo Ren's life
Once Luke disarms Kylo Ren, I believe there will be a moment somewhat evocative of the moment in "Revenge of the Sith" when Mace Windu had Darth Sidious pinned. Luke will decide that he has to kill him, not necessarily because "he's too dangerous to be left alive", but because he sees no other way forward. Kylo Ren has rejected the Light Side, he betrayed Luke and his fellow students, and he killed his own father. If he lets him live, he will just continue down the Dark Side, and as a Jedi, he simply cannot allow that. He won't be driven by revenge or fear, but he will reason that he can't treat Kylo Ren as special just because of his relation to him. However, Rey will refuse to accept this. Maybe she'll have heard about Kylo Ren sparing Leia, maybe she'll just sense some kind of deeper connection, or maybe it's just because, unlike Luke, she sees a better way forward. Whatever the reason, I believe Rey will betray Luke, save Kylo Ren, and help him escape. I believe Luke will try to talk her out of it ("This is not going to go the way you think!"), but just as Luke once had to reject the insistence of Obi-Wan and Yoda that Darth Vader had to be destroyed, Rey will reject Luke's insistence that Kylo Ren has to be destroyed so that she can save him just as Luke once saved Vader. More on that in a minute.

O1) There are no more Force ghosts
Similar to how I believe that Luke will have to resort to turning a kyber crystal red in order to build a new lightsaber, I think that the Force will show other signs of abandoning Luke for what he did to Rey. Specifically, I see him losing his connection with the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin. I don't think they're gone completely, but I think Luke has just stopped hearing from them.

O2) Rey will convince Kylo Ren that they should train one another
This is what I believe the whole Rey-saving-Kylo-from-Luke thing will culminate into. Essentially, everyone seems to be predicting that either Rey will agree to be taught by Kylo Ren or Kylo Ren will start his redemption arc and start training under her. Well... why not both? If Rey decides she needs to understand the Dark Side and also realizes that, while Kylo Ren will never leave the Dark Side, she can at least help him become sane again, she may convince him that they are both better off learning from one another rather than learning from Luke or Snoke, who perhaps represent the last vestiges of the old guard that must be destroyed in order for true balance to be achieved. She will offer to teach him what she's learned about the Jedi (because, just to emphasize, Kylo Ren didn't start his training under Luke until he was 23 and probably didn't get very far before Snoke started corrupting him, which is probably one reason why his abilities are so unrefined and why his lightsaber is so junky) so that he can teach her about the Dark Side. The film may not present all of this information in an obvious fashion. In fact, the film may not help us understand Rey's reasoning at all. All we might see is her saving Kylo Ren from Luke, helping him escape, and then asking him to train her in the ways of the Dark Side, making it LOOK like Rey is going to turn, when in reality, she's simply trying to understand how to bring balance between the Light and Dark Sides and bring an end to the centuries of conflict started by the Jedi and the Sith. Rey will try to bring Ben back, not through conflict, but through connecting with him, learning with him, and understanding him. I don't think they will fall in love (though I suppose it's possible), but I do believe they will not fit a traditional student-teacher model and instead treat each other as equals, complementing one another, though ultimately, Rey will be the one to take the lead.

O3) Leia will die, but not because of Kylo Ren
Ultimately, I think Leia's bluff will work and Kylo Ren will be unable to go through with assassinating Leia, but... I still don't think Leia will survive this film. I know originally she was supposed to, but now that they've said she will not posthumously be in Episode IX, I think they're more likely to kill her off in Episode VIII than kill her off-screen before Episode IX. An off-screen death would just be so frustrating, but at the same time, I don't have a LOT of confidence in this prediction since LucasFilm might have felt it would have been disrespectful to give Leia a death scene a mere year after Carrie Fisher passed away. Then again, Carrie Fisher was a tough old lady, so she probably wouldn't have minded much. We'll see, but I'm putting my chips on her not surviving to the end of this movie.

O4) The New Republic will fall into apathy and chaos
This isn't a very wild prediction, I know, but it's important to keep in mind that the status quo is different in this trilogy than it was during the original trilogy. Despite their name, the Resistance is more-or-less defending the status quo: the New Republic. However, during TFA, the new Galactic Senate was destroyed by Starkiller Base, and the New Republic was already having the same problems with indecisiveness that the Old Republic had. Even though Starkiller Base was destroyed, the First Order still delivered a very powerful blow, so unless the New Republic acts quickly, it's just a matter of time before the First Order gets back on its feet. And of course, without the Senate, the New Republic will be a chicken with its head cut off, and I'm willing to bet that the people with the means to help the Resistance pull the New Republic from the brink will ultimately fail them due to their own selfishness or lack of urgency, and essentially they'll allow the First Order to assume control of the galaxy, leaving the Resistance as the last hope to stop them and then maybe find a better system of government than a Republic since that doesn't seem to be working out all too well. This will likely fit into the same theme as what's going on with the Jedi, specifically that the Old Republic and the Jedi were destroyed for a reason, and just trying to rebuild carbon copies of them will just end the same way.

O5) Rey will take back Anakin's lightsaber from Luke
And finally, I believe that just as Rey reclaimed Anakin's lightsaber from Kylo Ren at the end of TFA, she will also reclaim it from Luke.at the end of TLJ, probably so that she can stop him from killing Kylo Ren. Just as her claiming the lightsaber from Kylo Ren was a way of saying that he was unworthy of it because of his obsession with the Dark Side and his insistence that it was his by birthright, Luke will also be unworthy of the mantle of Anakin Skywalker for being unable to let go of the Jedi, even as he realizes they are destined to become extinct.

So that's my Bingo card of predictions for "The Last Jedi"! Maybe I'll even be right about some of them!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Rogue One: The Star Wars Movie Where Everyone is Boba Fett

I liked "Rogue One". I have a hard time articulating WHY I like it, but I can't pretend I don't like it.

And I'm not really here to argue why I shouldn't like the movie, or why the movie is really objectively bad. I'm not even all that convinced that it is bad. If it were bad, I imagine a lot more people would have disliked it. This is kind of an argument I've seen literary nerds paint themselves into with "Harry Potter". They'll spend a lot of time arguing why "Harry Potter" isn't good, but then they realize that the problems with "Harry Potter" don't stop anyone from enjoying it for reasons they can't necessarily figure out. And if virtually everybody likes something, how can you argue that it's "bad"? What does "bad" even mean in that context?

So, no, "Rogue One" is probably good, otherwise I doubt so many people would like it. But I feel like it's worth pointing out something about its characters.

They're all Boba Fett.

If you're less well-versed in "Star Wars", allow me to explain.

In "The Empire Strikes Back" (retroactively known as "Star Wars: Episode V"), Darth Vader hires a bunch of bounty hunters to find the Millennium Falcon after his own troops perpetually fail to do so. Among these bounty hunters is a guy named Boba Fett. He is not explicitly named at any point in "Empire", but we know his name for other reasons I'll get into in a moment. In any case, he's the only bounty hunter to successfully track down the Millennium Falcon for Vader, and he leads the Empire to Bespin before the good guys get there, mostly because he wants to collect the pre-established bounty on Han Solo. We see him do one clever thing (anticipate Han Solo's clever trick of hiding in space garbage), he says a few lines ("As you wish", "He's no good to me dead", and "Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold"), it's implied that he has a thing for disintegrating his targets, and he has a really cool outfit.

So if you don't know much about Boba Fett, it probably seems like he's a fairly uninteresting character. And you'd be right, but you'd also be wrong, because Boba Fett is one of the most popular characters in the entire franchise, particularly among old-school "Star Wars" fans.

There are a lot of speculated reasons as to why, but the real reason is pretty simple: Marketing.

The original "Star Wars" was insanely popular. Like, "Avengers" popular. It was a phenomenon, and so the studio was all over marketing the upcoming sequel, and once Lucasfilm had developed the character of Boba Fett based on older designs and concepts for Darth Vader (the character everybody loved), the marketing team decided to lean heavily into the character. They made toys, he made mall appearances, he was on posters, and he was in an animated short that was included in the infamous "Star Wars Holiday Special". Boba Fett was sold as a new villain who would basically be Darth Vader's right hand in the sequel, and fans ate him up. In the time leading up to the new movie, fans speculated wildly about this character, his background, his skills, etc. Then the movie came out and it was AMAZING. Like, seriously, "Empire Strikes Back" is, to this day, regarded as the best "Star Wars" film, and it probably deserves it.

But the thing about Boba Fett is that his role was severely diminished over the course of rewrites and edits for the final film. He doesn't really do all that much and he has no close relationship with anyone, even Vader. He's no one's right hand. He's just kind of there, wearing a helmet. Is he happy? Sad? Mischievous? Bored? Smarmy? The answer to all is yes and no because he's always silent and wearing a helmet. He's Schrodinger's Bounty Hunter.

This turned out to be kind of perfect for Boba Fett. Because of how he was marketed and received by all the fans, his appearance in the film kind of confirmed everybody's speculation about him. If you were a kid and you bought a Boba Fett toy and you imagined a crazy backstory about him, his actions in "Empire" probably fit within the framework that you imagined for the character. It probably didn't directly confirm anything either, but you were able to fill in the blanks.

You know how some movies can sometimes "feel" more violent than they actually are because they leave certain things to the imagination? Like the ear-cutting-off scene in "Reservoir Dogs" for example? Well, Boba Fett is a character that gets more interesting because everything about him is left to the imagination, and everyone in the film acts like he's a more interesting character for unspoken, nonspecific reasons. And so, if you went into the film expecting him to be a cool character, you left the film feeling like he was, indeed, a cool character.

"The Force Awakens" deliberately replayed this tactic with the character Captain Phasma, and it worked gangbusters. Hell, I went into the movie KNOWING that Phasma was basically just an attempt to capture Fett Lightning in a bottle again, and it worked. I went into that movie expecting Phasma to be awesome, and I left that movie hoping that Phasma somehow survived Starkiller Base, despite Phasma never actually doing anything all that important or cool. It just kind of works.

But the joke about Boba Fett is that as they continue to include him in canonical materials, he continues to fail to live up to his own hype. In "Return of the Jedi", he stands around and gets killed in the most embarrassing way possible. In "Attack of the Clones", he's a kid who watches his father get his head cut off. In the "Clone Wars" cartoons, he gets to show off some impressive skills, but he ultimately gets used by a bunch of bounty hunters and fails to kill the Jedi who killed his father.

Boba Fett's subtextual reputation is that he's a cool, badass, world-class bounty hunter, but in actual text, he's a marginally-competent screw-up who almost always works for somebody else and almost always fails.

Boba Fett succeeds as a character because of the magic of "projection". We as an audience go in with the pre-conceived notion that he's a badass, so everything he does or says is taken within that presumed context, reaffirming that previously-held belief, even if there's an equally-valid context that would do the exact opposite.

That brings us to "Rogue One", where, as the title of this post suggests, every character is Boba Fett.

Every character was well-established in marketing and other canonical media produced by Disney so that when we went into the movie, we got the gist of the characters and wanted to like them. Then, when we saw the movie, they behaved in ways that allowed us to project those preconceived character traits onto them, and so our expectations of how we would feel about those characters came through and allowed us to build them up as complex, interesting characters. It also helped that pretty much all of the actors were great in bringing a lot of weight to these characters.

If you watch "Rogue One", it feels like every character has a really cool and interesting personality or backstory. You aren't really sure WHY it feels that way, but it just sort of does.

It's the Wile E. Coyote running over a cliff logic. It's only a problem if you look down. Otherwise, you can just keep running on air.

But if we're being honest, very few characters in the film actually earn the reputations that we project onto them. The film doesn't give any of the characters a real arc, we don't really see them do much to build up the character traits we assume they have, and they act like they know and care about each other even though they don't really have any reason to.

It's a magic trick, is what I'm saying.

Now, like a magic trick, it probably doesn't matter if I tell you it's a magic trick, or even how the magic trick is done. You'll still be entertained, and that's perfectly fine. See, it doesn't really matter WHY you think a character is well-defined or interesting, just THAT you think a character is well-defined and interesting. Most good movies do this by showing us scenes of them developing or establishing themselves in interesting ways, but sometimes movies can get away with doing this in unconventional ways.

"Avengers" did this by making a bunch of other movies that established these characters ahead of time so the movie could focus on action. "Rogue One" did this by applying the Boba Fett formula to virtually all of the characters.

Is that cheap? Maybe, but if your brain is interested in these characters, why should you care whether or not those ideas came from the movie itself or if the movie just tricked your imagination into doing its work for it? Isn't it equally impressive that a movie can do that?

Well... yeah! Kind of! I think "Rogue One" and its cast, crew, and marketing team deserve props for making me care about characters that (let's be honest here) don't really do all that much. Magic tricks aren't easy to pull off, and given the positive reception of the film, I don't think anyone can argue that they didn't successfully pull it off.

Sure, tricking people into believing that you made the Statue of Liberty disappear isn't as impressive as actually making the Statue of Liberty disappear, but it's still impressive, isn't it? I mean, I certainly can't do that. Can you?

The only problem with this method of character establishment is that it doesn't work very well in the long-term. Part of the reason "Attack of the Clones" is considered the worst "Star Wars" movie of all time is because it's the first movie that Boba Fett is in where his presence actively contradicts people's imagined, projected character traits and backstories for him. We see what he's like as a child. We find out where he comes from. We see him without his helmet on. We learn where he got his ship. There's nothing to project onto. I personally don't think he has a BAD backstory (in fact, I actually think it's pretty interesting, particularly in "Clone Wars"), but I didn't go into that movie with decades of baseless, imagined adventures of Boba Fett, bounty hunter extraordinaire. If you did, your reception of the character's portrayal in "Attack of the Clones" probably sounded something like this:


So this is the danger of the Boba Fett Method: It's a really shoddy foundation for a long-term character that you want to build upon. Boba Fett was cool until they started treating him like an actual character.

Luckily, "Rogue One" avoids this by not being a foundational film. If any of these characters will ever be seen again, it will be as side characters. If their backstories are ever told, it will be in books or video games that most people never see. This is a one-shot side-story. So the fact that none of these characters have substantial depth to them isn't really a problem, so long as you believe they do for the duration of the one film that they're all in.

This, in general, is the power of "Star Wars", and a large part of why I love it so much. It's such a massive, broadly-defined universe that it's just a playground for the imagination. "Rogue One" is the first movie in the franchise to make that playground the main attraction, and I think it worked.

Take my personal favorite character of the film, Chirrut Imwe. He's blind and believes in the Force. It's implied that he's at least Force-sensitive because he's able to "see" things, like Jyn's Kyber crystal, and because he defends a Jedi temple. However, it's also implied that he's not a Jedi because he doesn't manipulate the Force or use a lightsaber. He just sort of trusts in the Force and lets it guide him. He's more passive. He also has a dependent relationship on the more cynical and brute-force character, Baze Malbus.

Based on those simple things (as well as Donnie Yen's performance), I was able to imagine an entire character from whole cloth. It's not that I HAD to, I WANTED to. I ENJOYED doing the movie's work for it. The movie never once defines his abilities in any concrete terms, but I did within moments of being introduced to him, so it knew it didn't have to.

That's how basically the entire movie works. It eschews exposition and character development because they know that if they make the characters just intriguing enough, the audience will do that for them and they can just skip to the action sequences.

One could make a compelling argument that that's lazy, and maybe it is, but one man's "lazy" is another man's "efficient". The writers didn't have to expend energy rigidly defining any of these characters, and that allowed them to focus their energy elsewhere. One could argue that they didn't do any of those other things significantly better as a result, but that doesn't really matter since they still did them pretty well.

So, yeah. "Rogue One" tricked most of us into liking a bunch of characters that we really had no specific reasons to like.

I still like them anyway, and you probably do too.

That said, if somebody DOESN'T like the movie, it's probably because they weren't willing to do the movie's homework for it. They EXPECTED more concrete character development and exposition, and when they didn't get it, they rightly didn't enjoy the rest of the movie.

You can't fault the viewer for that anymore than you can fault someone who isn't fooled by a magic trick. The whole point of a magic trick is to fool you, so if it doesn't work, that's the magician's fault.

I've seen a lot of people get up in arms over people who bring up a lot of valid criticism for the film and explain why they didn't like it. When someone says that they thought the characters were poorly-defined and didn't really do anything all that interesting, I see a lot of fans get really offended by this. And it makes sense. In their minds, these characters WERE well-defined and interesting, so hearing somebody suggest otherwise sounds absurd. But these people are always hard-pressed to actually refute those claims, and ultimately they decide to just sneer and dismiss the negative criticism or attack the person making it.

Look, guys, I know we all like to think we're not unintelligent, gullible film-goers, and that we only like movies that are well-crafted and deep, but I've got news for you.

ALL fiction is about tricking you into believing things that aren't real.

Some fiction tries harder at forging a believable illusion than others, but in the end, it's still all just pretend.

It's entirely possible, and in fact, very, very likely that you enjoy at least one movie that is objectively terrible. That doesn't make you a bad person.

This is actually a problem I see with "Star Wars" fans in general, and I think it first bubbled to the the surface during the prequels. "Star Wars" fans don't want to admit that they like the movies for sometimes rather silly reasons. They want to feel mature in their admiration of the franchise, and so they try to build up this mythology around the quality of the original films.

But let's get real here. "Star Wars" was a good movie that used very stock characters and tropes in a very visually-stunning and imaginative way. "The Empire Strikes Back" was an objectively good film that built upon that foundation and made it go deeper and took it in directions nobody expected. "Return of the Jedi" was wall-to-wall fanservice that was inoffensive enough that most people didn't really realize that it wasn't all that good. The prequels are OK movies that didn't live up to decades of hype and nostalgia that over-sold the original films. "The Force Awakens" was a competently made retread of the original "Star Wars" with some really interesting new characters.

"Rogue One" is a magic trick that is very competently-made, but entirely hinges on whether or not you are willing to care about characters for pretty shallow reasons.

This is a franchise about space wizards and laser swords. Can we as a fandom finally learn to be OK with that?