Someone pinch me. I need a confirmation that I’m awake, because recently I read that new Star Wars films are in the works. I don’t remember finding an old lamp and rubbing it, and I don’t think my prayers from when I was 12 years old count, so I’m not sure how exactly my wish got granted for an extension on the single greatest saga ever. But here it is!
I won’t lie; the news had me nervous, as well. Any time you love something so dearly and then you hear that the band is getting back together to give it another go, your first inclination is to create some sacred cows in your mind and build walls around them. But then you never get any more of the very thing you love. What you love becomes static, and imagination is the exact opposite of that. Imagination is about exploration, about asking more questions.
Star Wars is too big to contain in a single trilogy. Or even two trilogies. The wonderful thing about a well-constructed fictional universe is that you have, well, an entire universe to play with! And in the last 30 years, so much excellent material has been written about that universe that it begs the question: How would it all look on the big screen set to a big score with new characters to love and new adventures to thrill to?
As a father, I’m excited at the idea that this new wave of movies will be there for a new generation of young fans. My first experience was in 1977 and it changed my life. My eldest daughter grew up in love with Amidala, had a cardboard cutout of her in her room, and costumed with me at the premieres of all three prequels. But my six-year-old twins only know what they see on a television. They have yet to get caught up in the cultural experience that happens with a new Star Wars movie. For them, the upcoming new chapters will be THEIR personal Star Wars. And it will be exciting to see it through their eyes.
Figuratively speaking, I have another 6,000 “kids” who costume as Imperials all around the world in the 501st Legion and the idea that they will enjoy another wave of excitement to celebrate in-costume is a dream come true. I remember the days between the trilogies when the Star Wars vibe was in hibernation, and it was difficult to justify costuming and celebrating the franchise. The excitement generated over the prequels was the incubator that allowed the 501st to grow to what it is now. So the thought that we’re ready now to receive new films and support them and celebrate them properly is reward for a lot of hard work.
A reporter once interviewed me about the 501st Legion and all the excitement surrounding conventions and the movie premieres. He saw the endless line of Stormtroopers and the banners and the smiling kids. His question was simple: “How long do you expect this to last? I mean, once Episode III is gone, then surely the party will be over and your group will get tired and go home. Don’t you think you’ve peaked?”
I think about what he said and I have to smile. The love for Star Wars has only gotten bigger every year. With the advent of new adventures and new opportunities to explore heroes and villains and a thousand amazing concepts, the sky is the limit. I am so excited about the future and what it holds. My Stormtrooper armor is all polished and ready to go. I fully expect I’ll be trooping with a new wave of fans for as long as my boot leather holds out. And well past that. Maybe by that time I’ll be trooping with my grandchildren…
Albin Johnson was a lowly Stormtrooper on Detention Block 2551 before Lord Vader lost a bet and allowed him to found the 501st Legion, “Vader’s Fist.” He’s also man-servant to R2-KT, “the pink Imperial droid with the heart of gold.” You can learn more at 501st.com and r2kt.com or follow Albin’s off-duty antics at albinjohnson.com.