Tag Archives: Artoo

“Sorry”: The Wedge Antilles Problem

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by: Joseph Tavano

Wedge Antilles is a beloved ancillary character in the Star Wars universe. He appears in all three movies in the original trilogy and in numerous Legends works. He is honored in cosplay, fandom, and pop culture.

Everyone loves Wedge. I love Wedge, too! He’s the everyman of Star Wars. The rebel soldier you wanted to be. The pilot in Red squadron you could see as yourself. The ultimate wingman, literally. He rolled deep with Luke Skywalker. He may not be able to use the Force, but he could whip the Empire with the best of him. He’s the friend you’d want with you in the trenches.

But, it wasn’t always that way.

Stay with me through this. There’s a happy ending. I promise.

If you think about the events of A New Hope from Wedge’s perspective, he wasn’t exactly the greatest hero the Rebel Alliance could have. There’s a reason he didn’t get a medal, even though he was one of only three rebel fighters that came home that day (excluding Han and Chewie).

Part I: The Battle of Yavin

Let’s walk through that fateful day and get into the head of Wedge Antilles.

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***

You wake up early. The atmosphere at Yavin Base is tense. The top brass is talking confident, but you can tell they’re worried. The Alliance just won their very first victory just a few days ago, and just barely escaped. It was a tough battle, but you made it through, even when others did not.

You’ve been training for this for a long time, and even though you’ve seen action, it’s all been in vain until now. The Rebels finally won one—a big one, for that matter. The Empire’s plans for their secret weapon were stolen! There may be a chance for victory yet. But in a stroke of terrible luck, Princess Leia’s ship was captured!

You didn’t know Leia personally, but you knew she was one of the leaders of the rebellion. As a member of congress, her top-secret missions for the rebels were important to the success of the entire effort. But now she is captured, and just yesterday Alderaan was destroyed. Things are NOT looking good. Leia is presumed dead, and the plans never made it back to Yavin. Your future and the future of the Rebel Alliance is in serious jeopardy.

Then, like a prayer answered, Leia returns to Yavin later that day, accompanied by a naive Outer Rim farmboy, two droids that look older than your parents, a wookiee with a crazy look in his eye, and a dirtbag who owns one of the ugliest ships you’ve ever seen.

She has the secret plans, but what happened to her?! This is getting weirder by the second. Oh, and the Empire is on their way to kill us all, so hopefully those plans will give us something we can use to fight back!

In the briefing, you sit next to that dopey farmboy. Why was he in here with the pilots? There’s no way he’s ever flown an X-Wing before. If that kid’s going into battle, the situation must be serious. But, he did help rescue the princess, so maybe he’s got something up his sleeve.

Then you hear the plan. It’s insane. You’re supposed to attack a huge battle station and hit an insanely small target with proton torpedoes? Only two meters wide?! In the middle of the entire room, you exclaim, “That’s impossible, even for a computer!”

The farmboy quips that he can hit womprats back home. You bite your tongue at the ridiculous comparison. Space battles and womprats don’t have much in common. It’s time to focus on the mission, not argue with a know-nothing kid who just showed up on base. You’re a soldier, and you’ve got a job to do.

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A little while afterwards, Red Squadron is assembled. It’s funny; once you’re in your X-Wing, you feel like an entirely different person. An entirely different person. You’re Red Two now, and you’re flying to victory, because defeat is not an option this time. The entire rebellion rests upon the edge of a knife, and if you fail, you and all your friends will be destroyed.

Unfortunately, things don’t go well. Rebel fighters are getting picked off like flies. Death is all around you. The rebellion is getting crushed at an alarming rate. Even Red Leader, the best pilot you know, couldn’t make the shot. There’s no way you’re going to make it through.

That farmboy is a liability. You’ve bailed him out already, taking out a TIE fighter for him because he couldn’t even shake it. And now he’s attempting a trench run with Darth Vader at his tail! He has to be nuts.

And, what’s he doing giving you orders?

This kid has been in an X-Wing cockpit for literally only a few minutes—you’ve been training for years! You had better help him out. This is crazy, crazy, crazy. You call him boss with hopes of giving him a confidence boost. If he doesn’t get blown up, it will be up to you and Biggs to finish the job.

Skeptical to the end, you still can’t pick up the exhaust port on your scanners. There’s no way a computer is going to hit this. Plus there’s that tower firing on us! This whole plan is shot! It will never work.

The kid’s fighter is busted up. He’s got a broken stabilizer. He’s a goner.

Now Vader’s on my tail. Screw this. If I’m gonna die, it’s not going to be on a fool’s errand like this.

Whoops! I got a little hit! Ship’s flying just fine, but it’s a great excuse to bail. The kid will never know otherwise. He’s even telling me there’s nothing more I can do.

“Sorry!”

***

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Biggs gets killed seconds after Wedge leaves the fight and Han Solo, a smuggler who has no business fighting this fight, bails out Luke, leaving him clear to make the deciding shot in the battle.

Let’s get a few things clear:

  • All of Red Squadron gave their lives to give Luke his opportunity to make that shot. All except Wedge.
  • Biggs acted as a decoy and a shield, sacrificing himself to buy Luke the time needed to get to the exhaust port.
  • Luke almost gets killed himself from a shot that takes out Artoo, but he doesn’t give up.
  • The only thing that bought Luke the time he needed was the Millennium Falcon saving the day.
  • Wedge’s ship shows absolutely no sign of damage or malfunction at all. In fact, Luke’s ship clearly takes more damage.
  • Wedge was a pessimist from the very start. Nearly every line he says in A New Hope is negative.

Wedge should not have left the trench run. Biggs didn’t fire another single shot, but he didn’t abandon the mission. Wedge could have bought Luke much more time than he had. He could have provided much needed interference between Vader and Luke. Artoo wouldn’t have been fried. Perhaps if Wedge didn’t bail, both he and Biggs would have made it out.

What kind of wingman bails at the last minute?!

This was a win-or-die battle. All the cards were on the table. And Wedge bailed because of a minor hit, and because a teenage boy told him to?! He could have at least doubled back. He was a seasoned pilot and a veteran rebel fighter. Wedge Antilles should have known better.

Part II: The Battle of Hoth

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I mentioned it at the beginning of the article: I like Wedge Antilles. And here’s why.

The Wedge Antilles that we meet three years after the Battle of Yavin is not the same soldier. He is confident, strong, and positive, almost to a fault. He’s right there leading the charge with Luke as the Rogue Squadron snowspeeders take on those AT-ATs. You see and hear a pilot ready for action.

Ready to prove himself.

The energy is palpable in his every line.

“Cables out; LET HER GO!”

“Nice shot, Jansen!”

Wedge Antilles is not only one of the most heroic fighters in the Battle of Hoth, he is also one of the great morale boosters for the Rebel Alliance. It is here that we see Wedge at his best; the true wingman we know and love.

Something clearly happened to the character between the films. Wedge must have deeply regretted how little he did at the Yavin. He must have doubted his decision to leave Luke in the trench. I can envision a scenario where Wedge Antilles realizes he has a lot to learn about being a hero, and over the course of the Star Wars saga, we see him grow and change into a true leader.

Wedge Antilles is on his own hero’s journey.

Wedge is anything but a static character. He grows and develops in the background and off-screen. He is always changing, always developing, and always rising to the challenge. The films may not be chronicling Wedge’s story, but his is no less a classic tale of heroism than Luke’s.

Not convinced yet? There’s more.

Part III: The Battle of Endor

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By the time of Return of the Jedi, Wedge has fought alongside Luke Skywalker for four years. He is a true believer and a leader of Rogue Squadron. As a veteran freedom fighter, he is looked upon as a hero of the Rebel Alliance. They’ve never stopped talking about his bravery and ingenuity at Hoth.

But, there is a lingering doubt still with Wedge. His personal failure all those years ago at the first Death Star is still in the back of his mind. But, there is one thing that he feels can redeem him, and it looms in the distance half completed but fully operational.

And there is Wedge Antilles, barreling through the superstructure with the Millennium Falcon literally flying into the belly of the beast, the heart of darkness, the most dangerous of missions. He was there when it exploded. He was right there racing out against the firestorm. Wedge would be right there till the end with Lando and Nien Numb, and this time, he saw it all the way through.

Conclusion

As the party raged on Endor all through the night, Wedge was finally able to greet his compatriots as equals—finally, a fearless and heroic wingman. He’s the perfect example of a dynamic character that has his own trajectory through the films: a complex, flawed man that goes on his own hero’s journey to achieve a status far greater than where he started.

And it’s done almost entirely in the background. Wedge’s story is told through his actions. His very little dialogue is only the cherry on top, so to speak. It only adds extra flavor to his character. If you were to watch all of Wedge’s scenes on mute, you’d see the same story. That is Lucas storytelling done right.

There’s a reason Wedge’s character was a pessimist at the beginning. Lucas saw an opportunity to develop one Rebel pilot to represent the entire rebellion. He started flawed and, by the end, came out of the fires of battle to be immortalized as a hero. Why else would it be Wedge who emerged as a hero of Hoth? Why else would he be right there in the middle of the second Death Star? The story doesn’t necessitate his fighter be there—Wedge was there to fulfill his own destiny, as laid out by the story.

But, don’t take my word for it. Watch the original trilogy again, and pay attention to Wedge’s trajectory through the films, from chump to hero. It’s all there, and it is truly amazing.

Nice shot, indeed.

See, I told you it would be a happy ending!

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Lessons from Star Wars: “Do or Do Not, There is No Try.”

For many people, Star Wars has been a force for inspiration in their lives. It has brought together like minded people, it has helped build friendships in a welcoming community of fans, and it’s been there for people who’ve needed a few hours of stress relief from a harsher reality. Sometimes though, it’s quite difficult to measure how much, or how little, an effect different aspects of a franchise can have on people. Star Wars has impacted my life mostly through the people I’ve met in the fan community, and through the building of skills such as writing (which you see me doing now) and speaking, and learning such things like building a website, about audio equipment, interview techniques, and many other skills I’ve come to develop. If you go back to the beginning though, back to the movies that started it all, you’ll find many, valuable, life lessons. I will be writing about some of these lessons, and thought I’d start with a classic scene, one of my favorite scenes in the Star Wars movies.

There is a scene in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back where Luke is training with Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah. Yoda is teaching him about the Force, concentration, and focus, when Luke’s X-wing he’d crash landed into the swamp starts sinking further into the mire. As Artoo sounds the alarm, Luke loses focus on his training and drops the stones Yoda was having him lift with the Force.

Looking at his X-wing that has sunk almost entirely beneath the surface, Luke says: “No, we’ll never get it out now!”
Yoda: “So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?”
Luke: “Master, moving stones around is one thing, but this is totally different!”
Yoda: “No. No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned”
Luke: *sighs* “Alright, I’ll give it a try.”
Yoda: “No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Luke sighs, and tries to lift the X-wing out of the swamp using the Force, and fails. He tells Yoda: “I can’t, it’s too big.”
Yoda: “Size matters not. Look at me; judge me by my size do you? Hmm? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. It’s energy, surrounds us, and binds us. Luminous beings are we! Not this crude matter. *touches Luke’s arm* You must feel the Force around you. Between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between land, and the ship.”
Luke stands up to leave saying: “You want the impossible.”
As Luke walks off, Yoda closes his eyes and reaches out to the X-wing through the Force. Artoo starts chiming and beeping excitedly as the X-wing, seemingly by magic, floats up out of the swamp, and to a very surprised Luke’s feet.
Luke turns to Yoda saying: “I don’t believe it!”

Blinking wisely, Yoda simply states: “That, is why you fail.”

“Impossible is only a word found in the dictionary of fools.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

There are many lessons that can be learned from Yoda. For instance the philosophies behind, ‘size matters not’, or ‘luminous beings are we’. However, today I’d like to focus on the differences between, and attitudes behind, trying vs doing. One thing I noticed right away was Luke’s negative attitude in the beginning. He started out with the assumption that it couldn’t be done, that he would fail, and in the end he lived up to that expectation. We’ve all heard of self fulfilling prophecies, but often we fail to recognize when we’re in the middle of one. Another way of looking at this is the idea that you get what you expect. If your mind is occupied with thinking about how or why you’ll fail, than it’s not thinking about creative ways to arrive at a solution. Some people tend to be stubborn, and when you tell them that they’ll fail, they try everything to not fail. But most people aren’t this way, and expecting anyone to do poorly, including yourself, is typically the fastest way to make sure they will do poorly!

“They succeed, because they think they can.” ~ Virgil

“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” ~ Les Brown

Luke is pretty sure before he tries that he won’t be able to succeed, but he only tells Yoda after failing that Yoda asks the impossible. Using the word ‘try’ can be used as an excuse. Anyone can say “I tried” and use that to excuse the end result. After all, if we tried, what more could be done? If we deem a task impossible, than we aren’t to blame when we fail, right? Obviously, there are times we sincerely try our best, and we don’t succeed. And that’s ok. Hopefully we learn from our efforts, even if we weren’t successful in that particular endeavor. But it’s the mindset behind the word ‘try’ that counts. Using the word ‘try’ to let ourselves off the hook when we don’t succeed is one way to ensure we don’t try our best.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ~ Jillian Michaels

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” ~ Pablo Picasso
What are you ‘trying’ to accomplish in your life right now? Don’t try, do! Decide you want something and chase after it! If you want to be a better person, become a better person! Take action and create goals where you can measure the results of your efforts. After all, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” according to Napoleon Hill. If you’re half-heartedly pursuing something, maybe it’s something you shouldn’t be putting your resources in. Or, maybe it’s something you need to re-invigorate and put more effort into. Why make the decision to do one or the other? Because if you don’t, that end goal that you’re putting effort into, but never arriving at, steals your time, money and energy, and becomes a discouraging part of your life. And if this is representative of how you approach everything, you drift through life, and life makes decisions for you. Sometimes this is easier. It’s easy to let others make decisions for you, to not make decisions, be embarrassed and fail at something. But the surest way to fail at accomplishing something is to never even start it.
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  ~ Zig Ziglar

“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

Legendary soccer player, Mia Hamm once said: “Success breeds success.” Scientifically known as ‘the winner effect’, this principle means that those who succeed are likely to succeed even more. Why? Well, this may be because people are habitual creatures, and succeeding becomes a habit. Or the people who succeed are just talented and more likely to continue succeeding, etc. I think both are true, but I also believe that success tends to build confidence, and if failing is discouraging, than succeeding is encouraging, and brings the enthusiasm and self-confidence needed to whole-heartedly pursue other goals. The confidence to create plans, and believe from past (successful) experiences those plans will work, thus having the motivation to carry those plans to the finish line. If you believe you’ll fail, why bother to follow through with plans, or even make them in the first place? And if you’ve succeeded before, why should you believe you’ll fail? While it sounds trite to tell you to ‘believe and you can do anything’, it seems evident that beliefs and perceptions are powerful things, capable of affecting us in ways we don’t fully understand.

So is that the real difference between trying and doing? That, as Yoda says, the only difference is in our mind, and how we approach things? Don’t quit and use “I tried” as an excuse. Don’t think that you’re helpless. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control how you choose to react to them. Try, and when you fail, try again with the determination to succeed. Keep doing something until you get it right. Perseverance, optimism and determination was what Yoda was looking for. Not perfection, it’s not about perfection. It’s about not giving up!

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” William E. Hickson

-Bethany Blanton (Co-founder and Associate Editor.)