I was first introduced to Star Wars in 1997 at the 20th anniversary re-release in theatres. They absolutely blew me away. Han Solo became my first crush. I was so worried about him at the end of Empire Strikes Back being frozen in carbonite! Princess Leia became one of the first badass female action heros I was exposed to who would rather grab a blaster and defend herself than sit around waiting to be rescued.
After seeing the movies I was hooked. We had some action figures, but I preferred playing Star Wars with legos. Now they didn’t make Star Wars legos back then so I just found minifigs that were close enough, like I had one with black legs, a white shirt and a smirk on his face for Han. My brother would make me a make-shift Millennium Falcon and we would go on adventures throughout the house. I spent many nights fascinated by the ships and vehicles books learning every detail. We even had a guide to the many planets of the Star Wars universe which I was enchanted by. I read several of the EU books, but mostly I just liked hearing the summaries from my brother.
In the days before DVRs, Netflix and iPads existed to entertain children, my brother and I would spend our spare time as children watching, and rewatching and watching again the gold VHS box set. One of the first video games I ever played was Super Star Wars ESB for SNES (it was really hard!). As I grew older I absolutely loved Rogue Squadron and Shadows of the Empire on N64. I also had this badass PC game called Droid Works where you build your own droid and go on missions. It was super cool.
Being a Star Wars fan at that time, not so cool. It is so strange to see how mainstream it has become when we were made fun of relentlessly for liking it growing up. And one thing was clear which I was told many times by male and female classmates: Star Wars is not for girls. Whatever negative outcomes that came from being a Star Wars fan was nothing compared to the magic that galaxy far, far away brought me and others.
When word of a new set of Star Wars movies hit me I was ecstatic. My brother recorded the trailer for The Phantom Menace and we watched it every single morning before school until the movie came out. Some people will disagree with me, but I loved the movie. I loved the strong female Padme/Queen Amidala was (and her awesome wardrobe) and I was actually entertained by Jar Jar Binks, although it sounds like I was the only one. We added this movie to our VHS rotation. I remember seeing Attack of the Clones at the midnight opening and then missing school for sleeping in the next day, but showing up for last period to take a biology quiz. Apparently “Star Wars” was not a good enough excuse for the Assistant Principal. Watching that epic volcano fight scene in Revenge of the Sith had me at the edge of my seat. No matter what people say about the prequels, learning the story of how that sweet little boy became Darth Vader was a wonderful story.
Sharing Star Wars with others has also brought me joy from the fandom. I loved going to San Diego Comic Con and Toronto Fan Expo and seeing the cosplayers and fellow enthusiasts. In college it was so amazing to meet other female Star Wars fans. Then 3 years ago I met the love of my life, someone who shared my affinity for Star Wars and clearly exceeded it (he works on a friggin Star Wars video game!). It is clear to see our love of Star Wars in our home from our Han and Leia hand towels to Darth Vader cookie jar. Tonight will be a very special day in my life. I never thought I would see an Episode 7, but most of all I am fortunate to be sharing with with my amazing husband and wonderful friends.
Thank you to my parents for fostering and encouraging a love for this amazing universe.
I dedicate this to the biggest Star Wars fan I know and the best big brother a girl could ask for Matt Regan
And a final word: May the force be with you, always