3 years have passed since we jumped into the new era of Star Wars with release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Since that day, fans have been given four films, two new Star Wars’ animated series, live action television adaptation announcements, and more information than anyone could have possibly imagined. Through it all, there have been ups, downs, and plenty of shakeups. With the end of the Skywalker Saga already in sight with next year’s release of Episode IX, let’s take a moment to reflect on the film that started Disney’s involvement with the iconic franchise.
The Force Awakens literally woke up the Star Wars fandom, bringing in a whole new wave of excitement to the somewhat dormant base. The last theatrical Star Wars release was the animated feature Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which kicked off a hit series that was the only real lifeblood of direct content to fans worldwide. There wasn’t much else for anyone to get excited about. With the film series in the books, it really seemed like the big screen treatment might finally be over, even if fans had a sneaking suspicion that it wasn’t the end.
Disney blew us all away. Not only surprising the world with their purchase of Lucasfilm back in 2013, but with the immediate announcement of a sequel trilogy that would begin with Episode VII. Shortly after, fans also received the shocking news that the entire Star Wars Expanded Universe would no longer be canon, creating a wave of mystery around what was going to happen in these new films. For the first time in a long time, fans didn’t know what to expect and a flurry of anxious anticipation followed.
But, what matters most is the extremely exciting period that followed, leading right up to the big premiere. Fans were energized: We were ready. Star Wars was fun again, and that’s really made this film such an important part of the Star Wars saga. We were getting back the best of it, and it was only the beginning.
The first teaser trailer dropped. Almost immediately, cosplays were being drafted, fans were drawing up fan theories, and the world wanted December 2015 to arrive at hyperspeed. “There’s been an awakening…have you felt it” was repeated time and time again. New faces, new droids, new lightsabers. There were so many questions and so many guesses at what was to come. We literally had no idea how to process it, but for that brief time period, everyone came together and celebrated the magic of it all.
Flash forward to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim and the opening panel. Fans met the entire cast of The Force Awakens, saw BB-8 roll on stage for his first ever public appearance, and learned more about the team behind the film. Mark Hamill stood in front of the crowd, arm and arm with Carrie Fisher, letting us know we were not only fans, but family. It was such an amazing experience, which brought everyone to the moment we had all been waiting for…the first full length trailer for the film.
Never before in my experience with Star Wars, have I felt such a powerful connection to the fandom than in the convention hall that early April Morning. As you can see from the highlight trailer above, everyone eagerly watched the screen as the trailer began, pulling in the iconic scenery, Rey speeding past a fallen Star Destroyer, Luke’s lightsaber being recovered, and finally, the reveal of Han and Chewie. The screen went black, and Harrison’s unforgettable line, “Chewie, we’re home!” echoed across the room. Immediately, fans blew up. Never again will there be such an amazing response. The energy carried throughout the event, and ultimately, set the tone for what the film meant for fans.
The level of positivity was astounding. To see so many people wanting to know more about Rey, Finn, Kylo, and the rest of the cast was so empowering. Fans had more to connect with, people to relate to. There was a strong sense of diversity, and that’s something that the fandom proudly embraced. The adventure was set, and we were ready for whatever came next. Ticket sales set record numbers, and online purchasing for opening night tickets literally broke the internet.
Then, the night came where we all came together and went back to the galaxy far far away. The lines took up the entire theater with costumed fans out in full force. It was finally happening. Star Wars was back, and there was no turning back. Despite the mixed reactions that would follow, we all got something unique and special with this film, all coming down to the connections it made leading up to the event itself. The Force Awakens symbolizes the power behind Star Wars and its fans. We are all a part of something special, and no matter what, we all have something to get excited about.
3 years later, I still feel the magic that came from 2015. That positive wave of energy has carried over ever since, especially when the fandom wasn’t on the same page. It doesn’t matter how you feel about the films that have been produced since. The Force Awakens revived us all and we owe our thanks to all that has come since then. Star Wars is just as big as it ever has been, bringing something in for everyone. Now we wait for what the future holds, in hope that it will be just as invigorating. Happy 3rd Anniversary and May the Force be with you!
The Disney Diaries will be returning in a big way. Going into the new year, we will be posting two entries of The Disney Diaries a month, introducing brand new and exciting adventures from all across the Disney universe. Stay tuned and don’t miss out!