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My 10 Favorite Star Wars Things From the Disney Era

These are hard times for Lucasfilm. That isn’t news.

I thought about what to write for a time like this. Does Lucasfilm need new leadership? Maybe, but that’s what literally everyone is saying right now. There isn’t much I can contribute on that front.

The writers’/actors’ strike has thrown studios into chaos. Future release dates are best ignored, whether you’re a fan of television or feature films. There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the strike.

Add to that recent comments by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who said the studio intends to pull back from producing Marvel and Star Wars content. It’s worth noting those comments came all of five months after he said the complete opposite.

Star Wars: Ahsoka premiers on Disney+ in less than a month. So I thought it might be a good time to review my 10 most favorite Star Wars things that have happened within the Disney era. This was a surprisingly easy list to make, even in an environment where making “top 10 most hated” lists are far more common and click-baity. I have never particularly cared about the popularity of my opinions, but these are some of the things I remind myself of when I hear the over-worn phrase “Disney has ruined Star Wars.”

Other than number one, this list is in random order.

New John Williams Star Wars Music

In the lead up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), I kept reminding myself that not only were new films coming, but I would get new John Williams Star Wars music, something I never thought possible after 2005.

The sequel trilogy of films allowed me to process and appreciate the musical score separately from the films they’re associated with. Williams showed he hasn’t lost a beat with his three scores for the sequel trilogy, introducing new, distinct themes while really pushing the emotion of the music through his compositions. I would argue his score for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) is his most emotional offering since the prequel trilogy era.

My favorite musical moments from the sequel trilogy include the walk up to Maz’s castle in TFA, the opening space battle and reprisal of the Luke-Leia theme in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), and the OST cues for the Old Death Star, Final Saber Battle and Destiny of a Jedi in TROS.

John Williams is an absolute treasure and we will never see anyone like him again. I am eternally thankful he is still with us and the music he made for the sequel trilogy, in my mind, stands up to all of his previous Star Wars work.

Escape from Kessel

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) was the most pure fun I’ve had with any Disney-era Star Wars project. It was exactly what it needed to be - a fun, shoot-em-up adventure story that details key events in the young life of a signature Star Wars hero, Han Solo.

The fun reaches its peak in the escape from Kessel sequence, where the action runs at a dizzying pace. John Powell’s musical score soars here as Han, Lando, Qi’ra, Tobias and company make a death-defying escape from Kessel with 12 canisters of coaxium fuel. Shooting and explosions are coming from every direction as Chewbacca makes a key life decision while loading the fuel onto the Millennium Falcon, Lando loses a valued partner and Han steps up to fulfill a dream he’s always had, at flying ships of this caliber.

Ron Howard excels at his direction throughout this sequence, with several subplots playing perfectly into the overriding action of escaping the dirty mining planet, only to encounter more threatening adversaries in the subsequent scenes. The escape from Kessel is the ideal blend of Star Wars action and storytelling.

All of Obi-Wan Kenobi

I once wrote the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi was the number one most-wanted story I wanted to see told in some form, and Deborah Chow, Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen delivered everything I could have ever asked for from this show and more.

I wanted to see an Obi-Wan haunted by his failure and to find the inner strength to grow from the experience. That process takes more than one scene or one line of dialogue. We needed to see the consequences of the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005), and this show allowed us to dig deep into those emotions. McGregor played the part to perfection, showing the doubt and atrophy of Obi-Wan’s decade-long seclusion in the Tatooine desert.

Obi-Wan’s ability to transition from a character looking behind him into a character that is looking forward was the process I needed to see, and I was enthralled by every second. The two clashes with Darth Vader show the two sides of this transition, allowing this version of the character to become the one I personally identify with more than any other in the saga.

Atmosphere of Andor

I looked at the 12 episodes of Star Wars: Andor (2022) more critically than any other project that came before it. I cited its lack of Star Wars elements throughout as a reason to downgrade it in my mind. Subsequent viewings have allowed me to appreciate the show, what it intended to be and its place within the greater saga.

Showrunner Tony Gilroy and his team did a magnificent job of conveying atmosphere and mood in every setting in the show. You’re struck with the sense at the hopelessness but also determination of these every day, flawed people occupying unglamorous parts of the galaxy. The filming locations in the hills of Aldhani, the run-down town of Ferrix and the cityscapes of Coruscant were perfectly chosen and are well-integrated into the overall look of the show, which carries a gritty sophistication that pushes the boundaries of the saga in a positive direction. Hoping for more of the same in season 2.

Galaxy's Edge

I am fortunate to have been to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Orlando a handful of times. Are there basic aspects of the land I would change? Absolutely. Does it ever fail to fill me with awe and wonder at the scale and detail? No, it doesn’t. To get the feel of walking around a small town embedded within that galaxy is an achievement that stands alone.

I can see Galaxy’s Edge acting as a kind of tradition parents pass down to their children over the course of time. A parent will be as excited to take their child there the first time as the parent was the first time he or she walked through that tunnel the first time themselves. And in that regard, Galaxy’s Edge acts as the ideal three-dimensional embodiment of Star Wars.

Episode 2 of The Mandalorian

Star Wars: The Mandalorian (2019) injected a much-needed boost of freshness and energy into the franchise when it launched. It was the signature show of Disney Plus, the first streaming service offered by the company.

I feel particular affection towards the second episode of the series, The Child, which aired on November 15, 2019. Din Djarin, the as-yet unnamed Mandalorian was down on his luck. He still had ineffective, mismatched armor in need of constant repair and had his ship, the Razor Crest, scavenged by Jawas.

There’s a gorgeous scene when Djarin and his young charge are seen walking across the desert with the sun low in the sky and Ludwig Goransson’s forlorn music playing in the background. At this point in the story, Djarin is damaged, flawed, disarmed and running low on his luck. This makes him identifiable and worthy of emotional investment by the audience. It remains my favorite episode of the show, three seasons in.

Boba Fett's Sarlacc Escape

In my view, George’s Star Wars sensibilities are best shown in Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett (2021-22). I have a lot of affection for both shows because of this, through the character growth both of them show in the title characters.

Since 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Fett’s survival has been a constant source of debate. His return was confirmed in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, but Book of Boba Fett goes into deep and necessary detail about how he survived. The sequence where Fett is stuck in the Sarlacc’s slimy digestive innards is one of those scenes that was pulled straight from fans’ collective imaginations and onto the screen.

It’s not a long sequence, but it sets the stage for a fascinating story of how the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunter found a second lease on life in the Tatooine desert.

Luke Skywalker’s Life After Endor

Luke Skywalker’s return in the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian was moving for millions of fans around the world. In that memorable scene aboard Moff Gideon’s Imperial Cruiser, we see Luke at his best, cutting down dozens of Death Troopers like they’re nothing. It was the warrior Luke many of us wished to see for decades.

But the Luke that intrigues me the most is the serene, teacher Luke that we see in Book of Boba Fett. While the use of deep fake facial technology is a worthy debate for another time, here, Luke exemplifies the calm of a Jedi who has conquered his past, been through the most toll-extracting battles and now spends his days in quiet contemplation while training youthful Grogu on the unoccupied planet of Ossus.

The Expanded Universe of books from 1991-2013 gave us lots of the warrior version of Luke. But this version, to me, was a more realistic portrayal of the man after Return of the Jedi, with his hardest battles well behind him, existing in a time of peace and tranquility.

Tales of the Jedi

For more than 15 years, Lucasfilm Animation has been turning out top-notch stories across The Clone Wars, Rebels and The Bad Batch. Tales of the Jedi premiered with six short episodes on October 26, 2022 that delve into the backstories of Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano.

I found the Dooku stories the most intriguing, showing key events that turned this respected but edgy Jedi Master into one of the most influential Sith Lords in the saga. The music by Kevin Kiner is extraordinary as Dooku’s fall to the darkness is handled in ideal fashion.

The format of the show is ideally suited for focusing on one character in the midst of larger events happening around them. A season 2 has been announced, and hopefully, we get more of the same from the animation studio.

Season 7 of the Clone Wars

The Clone Wars represent the last Star Wars stories that came straight from George Lucas. For that reason alone, I elevate those seven seasons well above other, more recent offerings from the franchise.

The show was abruptly and rather stupidly canceled by Disney in early 2013, just a few months after it had purchased Lucasfilm. A sixth season was already finished by that point, and was put out on Netflix on March 7, 2014.

In a wise reversal by Disney, the seventh season, which was already well into development, was announced at San Diego Comic Con by Dave Filoni on July 19, 2018.

Season 7 took us up to, and through the events of ROTS, featuring the show’s two most prominent characters, Ahsoka and Captain Rex. The Order 66 sequence was harrowing and the final scenes of the show are as emotional as Star Wars gets. No dialogue, stunning visuals, stirring music and the sense that one story has ended and another begun, all done with the highest level of expertise the medium offers.
Brad Monastiere
Follow me on Threads @bmonastiere
The Bearded Trio - The Site For Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, John Williams and a whole lot more.


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