One evening, on the quiet train ride back home from work, the scribbles and doodles of a young girl sitting in front of me caught my attention. She had a black pen in her hand, and with it, she was coloring the mask of the most fearsome guy in the galaxy: Darth Vader. I looked around, hoping someone else was watching this with me, but I was the only one paying attention. Right there in front of me was a young Star Wars fan with nothing but a pen and her imagination. She drew lightsabers and a second Darth Vader mask while quizzing her mother on basic Star Wars facts. She left the train a few stops later, and I mentally sent her a “May the Force be with you.” After I took her seat, the encounter got me thinking. How did this girl become a Star Wars fan?
Sitting in a darkened theater, waiting for the film to begin, was not how I became a Star Wars enthusiast. It was not until several years after its original release that I gained my fangirl status while watching it on the television in my living room. Many fans, however, will recall their first memory dating back to May 25, 1977--the first generation to experience Star Wars on the big screen. Over two decades later, the prequel trilogy introduced Star Wars to a brand new generation of children who laughed when Jar Jar's tongue got caught by Qui-Gon's Jedi reflexes and got paralyzed by the energy binders from Anakin's podracer. These instances, combined with other unfavorable elements, made some adults groan and dismiss the prequels entirely. Believe it or not, Star Wars is not just for the first generation. Star Wars also belongs to everyone who has followed, especially children.
Adults are not the only audience eagerly waiting for this new sequel trilogy. Many articles and blog posts about what adults want from these future films are everywhere, but no one has really considered children's opinions. What do they think happens to the galaxy far, far away after Episode VI? What do kids want to see in Star Wars: Episode VII? Do they want another Jar Jar character? I could already imagine the eye rolling from some fans upon reading that question, but children also have desires and hopes. Have you stopped to ask one of them for their opinions and thoughts? I did, and the responses I received were entertaining and very telling.
“I don't like Star Wars,” was what my younger cousin of 8 years old told me. “That's because you haven't been around me,” I told her. I asked her if she had seen anything related to Star Wars and the LEGO specials came up in the conversation, particularly LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace. “There was a school bus with children. I only saw one girl and a lot of boys. She looked mutated.” I laughed and appreciated her honesty. I clarified that the girl was a different species and that there was another human girl in the group. “Oh,” she said, but she still held onto the desire of seeing an equal amount of boys and girls on that bus.
Enter my close friend and her 6 year old daughter, who dressed up as Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars: the Clone Wars last Halloween. She expressed that she wanted more girls in the future movies, “especially ones who kick butt.” Another friend’s 7 year old nephew said that he wanted to have “cool aliens with tentacles and three legs!” The imagination is strong with that one. So far, the opinions are not so different from what the adults have expressed across the fan community, which is a call for diversity and gender equality in the future Star Wars films.
“Darth Vader, duh!” said the 6 year old niece of an old elementary school friend. The fallen Jedi clad in black is certainly one of the most iconic characters in popular culture, but given his demise in Return of the Jedi, children must have other favorites in mind with imagined roles for the sequel trilogy. To investigate further, Chris Hamilton of Star Wars Kidscast rounded up a few younglings after school one day and collected various opinions. From comedic to ingenious, the handful of children between the ages of 5 and 10 demonstrated that there is no limit to the imagination, especially when it came to plot ideas and character fates for the future movies.
“Chewbacca loses his fur.”
“Princess Leia gets 'carbon freezed,' but in the end [she and Han] get married.”
“R2-D2 gets a girlfriend.”
“Lando goes back to Tatooine to kill the Sarlacc!”
Master Yoda once said, “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is,” so why is it not acknowledged more often? We should not disregard their perspectives; we should embrace them. We should not dismiss them as childish thoughts; we should consider them as a different piece to a giant puzzle. With this new trilogy on the horizon, there will inevitably be little ones seated in the theater, and it will be their turn to have the awe-inspiring experience of watching Star Wars on the big screen for the first time. Keep in mind to not underestimate the younglings because they will be the ones to carry the torch and lead Star Wars into the future, just as the original generation did decades ago.