Tag Archives: Star Wars Original Trilogy

“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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Rebels Review: How Spark of Rebellion is Similar to the Original Trilogy

Why Star Wars Rebels is the Closest Production to the Original Trilogy in Many Years

SparkofRebellionDisney XD’s latest show Star Wars Rebels officially aired last week, and fans tuned into the show not really knowing what to expect from this new chapter of Star Wars. With a completely new cast of characters and stories, we were uncertain of the outcome of this show. I think it’s safe to say that most fans were pretty blown away with what was witnessed on-screen.

Setting up a new chapter in the ever expanding Star Wars universe was a bold and dangerous move, one that Disney executed wonderfully with this new series. This new adventure takes place in a dark period of Jedi history, following the attacks of the Jedi council and the rise of Darth Vader. These unlikely Rebels come together to rebel against the Imperial army and fight for justice and freedom. Even though Darth Vader and the Emperor exist in this timeline, there have been no sightings of either of them yet, but they have left their mark on the galaxy at large, and this new show shows the effect that it had on a much wider spectrum, and on a larger scale. It’s not quite as dark as The Revenge of the Sith set out to be, and it’s been toned to appeal to more of a family audience, but it still gets the message across well enough. These Star Wars television series are so fantastic, it makes me wonder why Lucas didn’t move from the original trilogy straight to the television series.

Kanan_Jedi_Reveal Continue reading

How Original- TWL Karl’s Corner #1

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In this first episode of “Karl’s Corner”, Karl discusses the appeal of the original version of the original trilogy. This new, shorter segment will be a supplement to the Wampa’s Lair and will be Karl’s means of discussing topics of personal interest to him. This first episode will delve into the awesomness that is the ORIGINAL trilogy!

Cramming: I’m Stuffed – SWBTF #14

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Welcome to Star Wars Beyond the Films!

This time on Star Wars Beyond the Films, your hosts Mark and Nathan discuss crowding of content in the Star Wars timeline, specifically in certain areas where there seem to be so many (albeit good) stories set in one, short span of time that you wonder how the characters could possibly get from one place to the next so quickly, and when they might have time to go to the restroom.

They also both had several, exciting announcements to make!

On Friday, March 23rd, Nathan and his girlfriend Jodi got engaged!

On March 18th, Mark become a father once again when Jaina, he and his wife’s little sword of the Jedi, was born!

A hearty congratulations to both of them!

Do we need more Han and Chewbacca stories, more Luke stories, and more stories of that kind (especially if they’re set right after Yavin or in other, heavily explored time periods), when there are already so many stories of the “Big Three”…. Will these stories need to be forcibly shoehorned in just to fit with the continuity and specific time-frames? And, will this be a problem, or something that fan’s enjoy and want?

Are certain parts of the timeline too packed? Does adding one more adventure hurt other stories integrity? Does it even matter?

Star Wars: Scoundrels was brought up in the discussion, but are the Big Three the only characters who could be susceptible to cramming? Will Scoundrels be more like Fast Five Star Wars style? Wait, Nathan’s actually excited about Scoundrels?!

Rebel Force was one of the latest additions to these timeframes, as was Death Troopers, and Shadow Games.
Are there Original Trilogy time frames that are lost to fandom? (Older works that have not been re-written or re-printed.)
Should there be more “Don’t go there” places in the timeline? Places where the EU should have to leave alone for now?
Do fans want more cramming of the OT timeline with more Big Three tales in-spite of that time being already a bit crowded with the main characters tales?

Did the old way of publishing cause more issues with stories being tread over?

In the Insider issue 132 there was an article, Star Wars: Expanding Empire, by Ryder Windham which garnered high praise from both hosts. This Insider article deals with many of these publishing issues.

Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell,  the Death Star plans, and a couple other story-lines that have been covered from multiple angles sometime create the potential for issues, yet when issues come up they are sometimes glossed over.
The Death Star Plans have been chronicled in: Interlude at Darkknell, Jedi Dawn, Dark Forces, Death Star, Shadow Games and possibly others.

On the other hand, Invasion was held back until after other stories had finished/were settled.
Should stories that are so interconnected be more well thought out vs, added to over the years with new info added with each new additions?
Another factor in this is: Does the format matter to you as a reader? Meaning, are games less important than the comics to you? Or do the comics mean less than the books? Do the books mean less than the movies? Do they all mean the same barring conflicts, and is it different for each individual?

Has continuity been a less important issue from the corporate perspective?
After much discussion the hosts feel that between 4 and 5 is the most crammed of all the Star Wars timeline. But they do see the merit in telling the back-story of the main characters. What about the other EU Characters though? Mara gets page time, but what about the Solo kids?

The Big Three are the touch stones of the EU in a lot of ways. They ARE the gateway to the EU for many first time readers.
And sometimes you’re not the reader the publisher was aiming at.

Mark rants about the New Jedi Order Era being shoehorned by it’s own “series” and the need of more Tales books, Tales of the New Jedi Order and so forth. Corran Horn’s leave of absence could be fun to explore. And new characters’ back-stories being explored could feel more like mining new information, instead of cramming.
Mark continued with his occasional feelings he gets from the marketing and publishing of the EU. Nathan draws attention to series that play into the other side of things, and balance was achieved.
Nathan brings up the Star Wars Adventure Journals and why they were so much fun, and how many of the Tales stories came from the Adventure Journals.

Nathan ponders on stories that could happen in the crammed timeframe that could work very well, and both hosts feel that crammed eras can have great stories. The stories just need to be done well, and not rushed. A Boba Fett’s past Flow chart may be needed.

Star Wars has proved time and again that it can make things work. You just have to roll with the punches. You can’t have a light side without a dark side, but you do need a Chosen One to bring balance to both sides of the Force!

Enjoy this episode of Star Wars Beyond the Films, and may the Force be with you!

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