Star Wars: My Favorite Heroes from the Saga

Star Wars is, in its purest form, a story of heroes and villains.  That’s one of the reasons why Joseph Campbell was so attracted to it and wrote about it in the Power of the Myth.

Since this week is the release of the Last Jedi, I decided to list my favorite heroes and villains from Star Wars. Today, I will list my favorite heroes.

But first some explanations.  No characters introduced in The Force Awakens will be listed.  We don’t know their fate so they may not stay good. Second, I include any Star Wars I’ve seen or read.  I  have not read all of the EU nor have I read all of the new canons, so this list is not pretending to be definitive. Not in the slightest.  Also, this list is not in any type of order.

Cut Lawquane:  Yes, he is a deserter.  No, that doesn’t mean he is not a hero.  He was made to be a soldier, but decided not to be.  More importantly, he decided to have a family, and to them, he was their protector and his hero.  So from a certain point of view, he does have a heroes story to tell. It is also one of the most compelling one-offs in all of Star Wars.

Hera Syndulla:  To me, she is the best leader in the Star Wars saga.  She cares for her people, but she sees the bigger picture.  If someone were to write a leadership book from her point of view, I would buy it in a second.

R2D2:  If being a hero is putting others before yourself than R2D2 qualifies.  Far too many times, R2 risks personal injury, and annihilation, to save his friends and the republic.  He is fearless, but he does have a heart of gold.

Leia: Leia is THE leader in the Star Wars saga.  She was born and raised to do this.  She accepted the role long before we met her and handled it maturely.  She is the same age as Luke, but her experience has made her far wiser. Unlike most people on this list, her heroes journey started as a child. The fact that she never has wavered makes her one of the greatest in the saga.

Han Solo:  He is the reluctant hero.  He doesn’t want to be the hero; he just can’t help himself. And he probably never does it for the bigger cause.  Being heroic for his friends is good enough. When you think about it, he is a poor scoundrel.

Luke:  Luke is THE hero of the saga.  So far, the story has been about him or the coming of him.  The fact that this was thrust upon him and that eventually gets control of his power is a testament to the type of hero he wanted to become.  Sure he is whiney, but he is one of the most powerful people in the galaxy with no understanding of why he is or how he can control it. Even in Jedi, when he comes to grips with it, he acts as if he is in control, but he knows what he is doing is risky.  In Jedi, he wants to be the hero, but he isn’t completely sold on the outcome.  I can’t wait for Thursday night to see where his journey goes next.

Obi-Wan:  He is the perfect Jedi, in that he does have faults.  He would have left the Jedi for a woman if she wished.  He shows favor and sometimes a blind eye towards his friends. Yet, he always attempts to do the right thing.  Sometimes this means for the greater good; other times it could be to save just one Jedi’s soul.

Asajj Ventress:  Sometimes the hero’s journey takes a long route through the villain’s timeline.  But if you don’t believe Ventress belongs on this list, read Christie Golden’s Dark Disciple.  Golden creates a multi-layered story of a multi-layered character.  It’s the best Star Wars book I’ve read yet.

Ashoka:  Ashoka, more than any other character on this list, learns.  She learns from her mistakes.  She learns from the mistakes of others.  She understands there are rules and that sometimes laws are worthless if they mean losing your soul to abide by them.  Throughout the Clone Wars, she has tremendous growth.  She went from being my least favorite character to my favorite.

Yes, there are people I left off the list.  Yoda for instance.  I’m not saying he isn’t a hero. I’m saying he is not one of my favorites. He too often gets caught up in what a Jedi should be he forgets what they actually are individual. Others have moments, and some characters are heroic but not truly heroes (this is how I classify Lando).

So…who are your favorite heroes from the saga?

 

StarWars-ing: In Defense of Star Wars Rebels

KananCrew.pngOf course, this week is the release of Star Wars The Last Jedi.  We won’t have any thoughts on that front until we see the movie, but we still want to talk Star Wars so let’s talk about Rebels.

In the past, I’ve done some episode by episode recaps of both The Clone Wars and Rebels.  (I really should continue that).

I can unequivocally state that The Clone Wars is far superior to Rebels.  The Clone Wars, as a friend of mine pointed out, makes the prequels means something.  They are that good.

Rebels will never get to those heights. Many a fan has said so on various social media. In fact, many Star Wars fans that whose opinion I completely respect have given up on it.

I understand.  The lead character can be annoying.  Sometimes the force works in very illogical ways on the show and considering the force is something that doesn’t have to play by the rules of logic says something about the liberties taken with the force.  The show often finds a groove and then completely takes itself out of that groove (something Clone Wars did as well but it seems to happen more regularly with Rebels). Most egregiously, Rebels kills off a major Star Wars character even though the show hasn’t really earned that honor.

Yet, even with all of its flaws, I love the show.

Ezra is annoying but so was Luke and Anakin.  I’m not elevating him to their status, but he does follow their tradition.  If you were basically an all-powerful being as a teenager you would have a hard time coming to grips with authority – good or bad.  However, he does have a slight charm to him and you do worry about him.  Because he isn’t Luke or Anakin, you have no real idea of where he is going in the story.  He can die a hero or wait long enough to see himself become a villain.  Or just stay a hero.

What really helps Rebels is that the rest of the characters are fantastic.  Kanan has just the right amount of brooding and hope in his voice that you root for him.  Hera might be my favorite leader (she cares but sees the bigger picture) in all of Star Wars and if I was in a tight situation in space, it’s her I want piloting the ship. Zeb provides just enough comic relief without becoming campy, and Chopper is a perfect droid.  If I did have a complaint it would be about Sabine.  Not that her character is bad; I would actually rather the show have split and watched her lead her on show in which she leads the fight for Mandalore.

The animation is very good and sometimes great. Thrawn is a great villain as was the Inquisitor, Seventh Sister, and Fifth Brother. Introducing The Bendu, voiced by the great Tom Baker, brought another dimension to the legend of the Jedi. Having a member of the Empire turn and become part of the rebellion was also a great plot addition.

Again, I think the showrunning lacks some consistency, but Rebels is a great piece of the Star Wars canon. The Clone Wars will be the gold leader for Star Wars animation, but the Rebels provide a great backstory to other cells of the rebellion. Its function is to flesh out the universe of Star Wars and it does it very well. And for the most part, it’s just fun. Star Wars is at it greatest when it is at its darkest; however, fun Star Wars can also be great Star Wars.

That being said, I also have no problem with people skipping it.  I am a firm believer in make your own canon.

StarWars-ing: Episode VIII Breaks A Weird Streak For Me

We have our tickets for Thursday all lined up.  We are doing the special six o’clock thing at one of the local movie chains.  We have been doing our best to steer clear of spoilers.

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And seeing the second installment of a Star Wars group of three is a first for me.

I saw A New Hope and Return of the Jedi in their original runs. I saw The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith in their initial runs. I missed Empire Strikes Back and Attack of the Clones in the theaters on their original runs.  I did see Empire in the 90s.

I remember learning about the plot of Empire from one of those read along 45 rpm record storybooks.  I also remember grilling my friend on it on the drive from our small town to the theater.  He handled my twenty-minute interrogation well. Attack was a little different, in that I did get to see it before Sith thanks to the DVD.

The reasons for missing those installments was basically me putting other people ahead of myself even if it was begrudgingly.  The one time we did go to the movies during the Empire run we saw Airplane instead.  Now, Airplane is a classic, and it’s what a sick relative wanted to see.  I don’t regret going see it.  I just wish my mom would have trusted me to go see Empire alone (I was 6 going on 7). I could actually hear the sounds of the Empire attacking Hoth through the small twin cinema walls. And there is only one scene I actually remembered from Airplane because it was very impressionable on a young lad.

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In 2014, we attended the London Comic Con during a break in a study hall in Edinburgh.  I got to meet Robert Hayes, the star of Airplane.  I told him the above story.  He responded with, “I bet the only scene you remembered was the boobs jiggling across the screen.”  We both then just laughed, and he signed my photo and took a picture with me.

I really wish I had a cool story for Attack, but I don’t.  In fact, like the film, the story is best left untold.

 

 

Comic Con-ing: Mrs. Nola Nerd’s Wizard World New Orleans 2018

As con season approaches, our first con of 2018 will be Wizard World New Orleans. We’ve been to WWNOLA since its inception and have enjoyed ourselves every year. This year will surely follow suit! Here’s a look at some people I am looking forward to seeing.

Mr. Nola Nerd and I decided to do a photo op with Mr. Stan Lee. We have met him three times and have his autograph on a comic, on a photo, and on my Mallrats poster; however, we do not have any photos with him and us. Since he is in such high demand, his people have to move the line quickly and they do not allow photographs at the table. We know he is winding down on the con circuit (we were at the London Film and Comic Con in 2014, which was he final European appearance, and it was INSANE; they had to put him in his own building) and we figured this might be our last chance to have a photo with Stan “The Man” Lee. Like Mr. Nola Nerd said in his last blog, we might bring our baby countdown sign to have in the photo with us. I am sure Miss Nola Nerd Baby will love that photo growing up!

Jason Momoa is attending and although we met him at Space City Con in 2014, that was before I had my Game of Thrones poster. I now have about twenty people on the poster (the latest being Jerome Flynn aka Bronn thanks to my dear friend David getting him for me at Rhode Island Comic Con). He was awesome to meet in person and I cannot wait to meet him again. I would love to have an Aquaman picture signed as well, but thanks to baby, I will be limiting it to just my poster.

The announcement that made me scream with happiness was David Tennant! I never thought I would be lucky enough to meet him in person. I have a Doctor Who poster that I would love to have him sign, but I also want a photo of him as Ten, as Kilgrave from Jessica Jones (WOW that performance!), and as Scrooge McDuck from the new Duck Tales! Of course, that’s simply not possible right now, so I have to narrow my choice down to one. I am fairly certain it will be a photo of Ten. I have to see his wonderful face!

One of my absolute favorite shows growing up was Boy Meets World. In fact, I just finished rewatching the entire series on Hulu. I was the same age as most of the cast, so I completely related to them and their teen struggles. I am super excited to meet Rider Strong, who portrayed Shawn Hunter, and Will Friedle, who portrayed Eric Matthews. I am hoping to get a cast picture with Ben Savage (Cory Matthews) and Danielle Fishel (Topanga Lawrence). Hopefully one day I can meet them as well!

Those are my top celebrity guests. If I were rich, I would meet Jenna Coleman again. I have a picture of her as Clara signed and she is on my poster for Doctor Who; however, Kurt and I are really into the PBS drama Victoria. We would love to get her as that character, but like I said previously, baby comes first.

I would also love to meet Ian Somerhalder. Now, I have never seen a single episode of The Vampire Diaries in my life. So why do I want to meet him. One word: LOST! I was obsessed with LOST and I have several autographs from different cast members. I was crushed when Boone “left the show,” so I would love to add him to my collection. Alas, he will have to wait for another con.

A few other cool guests that we have already met are Nichelle Nichols, who plays Uhura in Star Trek, Jon Heder, who is Napoleon Dynamite, and the Fonz himself, Henry Winkler. All extremely lovely people and if you are a fan, I definitely recommend meeting them.

So that’s it so far for Wizard World. Of course, there are other guests that will be there, but unfortunately I have not seen the shows that they have been in. Besides, I can’t meet everybody, right?! The addiction has to stop somewhere. *wink* Besides, I haven’t even gotten into the comic book artists and creators I want to meet! That will have to be saved for another post.

ComicCon-ing: My Top Two Guests at Wizard World New Orleans

Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple will create a blog for her top guests soon at Wizard World New Orleans, so I figured I would strike first with mine.

Far and away, the top guest for me is Charisma Carpenter. When I started collecting autographs, it was because of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The first New Orleans Wizard World had quite a few Buffy guests, and yes I met almost all of them. The one I did not meet I met later in Houston.  In fact, in cleaning out the nursery, we realized we have to relocate my photo-op with James Marsters. Every single Buffy guest we have met has been fantastic.  At Star Wars Celebration, we even got to meet Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was someone we never thought I would get to meet.  Charisma Carpenter has attended a lot of cons, just not ones near me. Cordelia is by far one of my favorite characters, and no, not only because she is gorgeous. Over the course of both Buffy and Angel, her role had one of the best and most satisfying arcs of growth on the show(s).  So far so, the writers did not know where to take her character anymore.  That is not a bad thing; in fact, I would argue that she went from a one-note role to a complete character.

Howard Chaykin is next on my list. Yes, meeting a comic book creator is at the top of my list. Why not? We met him at Wizard World Philly, and he put himself at the top of the list for the most entertaining guest of any category at any con. This time I just want to purchase some sketches from him so I can hang up at the Nola Nerd Lounge or, if appropriate, Nursery.

Now, there are plenty of other people I want to meet at the con.  We already have a photo op with Stan Lee (and I am seriously thinking about bringing the weeks until baby sign).  The other people on my list are also on the Mrs.’s list. I let her fangirl about those, but don’t think for a second I am not fanboying about them as well.

Wizard World New Orleans will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Center at 900 Convention Center Boulevard.  There is plenty of parking nearby, but we always opt to park at the far end of the convention center, under the bridge, because it is usually the best deal. The con will be Jan 5 from 4-9pm, Jan 6 from 10-7, and Jan 7 from 10-4. You can buy VIP packages, photo ops, and autograph tickets now!

ComicCon-ing: Con Season Approaches

Well, actually, con season is actually year round, but for us, it is usually busiest during the first four months.

First, there is Wizard World New Orleans. It is also one of the first cons of the year in the US taking place during the first full weekend in January.  While we do more in-depth previews of the con in upcoming blogs, generally speaking, it is always a great con. For me, Wizard World New Orleans usually has some fantastic panels, including some on New Orleans itself. Also, it’s right in the center of everything.  It’s at the foot of the CBD and a short walk to the French Quarter. Unlike a lot of other cons, you aren’t stuck eating con food since you have world class restaurants just a few blocks away.

The next con we usually attend is Pensacon. Pensacola is a quick drive from NOLA if you want to make to make just a one day trip.  However, we totally recommend going all three days. Pensacola hosts Pensacon with events occurring all over the downtown area. Plus, their guest lists always has something for almost every fandom there is. This con is a couple of weeks before Miss Nola Nerd Baby is due, so who knows…she might make her world premiere in Florida!

Usually, the next con for us is Star Wars Celebration, but there will not be one this year. This is great for us because Miss Nola Nerd Baby will be here and we will be too busy spoiling her to have attended this year.  But we do have some cosplay ideas for 2019 that involve her!

She might make her first appearance at Comicpalooza. We had such a great time last year at the con that we would love to go again.  We were part of their podcast series and did one live on the floor and had a great time doing it.

But it’s too soon to plan that trip. If she’s like me, she will be a fussy baby. If she’s like her mom, she will be perfect. 🙂

Basically, the point of this blog is that going to cons is part of who we are. We want that to be part of who is as well. We want her to get hooked on comics and nerdy stuff.  We will spend less money on these cons because of her, but we still will go. We have to be the people we are to be the parents we want to be. A lot of the things I love and a lot of the things Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple loves are things that our parents enjoyed.

So see you at a con!

 

 

Reviewing: Justice League Kicks

We haven’t been the biggest fan of the DCEU.  Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were overwrought and contradictory.  Beautiful to look at but frustrating to watch and listen to the words coming out of the actors’ mouths. So they were a lot like the Star Wars prequels to us.

However, we both enjoyed Justice League. It had some flaws, particularly the poor CGI with the main villain.  However, the story was good if not very deep.  Plus, it made the superheroes more human.  I know this will upset a lot of people, but I honestly think the reason people seem to like Marvel more is not because of the superheroes but because Marvel makes them human.  Watching gods can be boring unless they explore their human side.  This is especially true for Superman.  If he isn’t as human AND a son of Krypton, he has nothing stopping him from being a real god on earth.  And if you have read the excellent Injustice comics, this might not be necessarily a good thing.  As well as that comic and game series has done, I don’t think that would play well in the theaters.  And let’s face it comic book fans, these movies are not made for us.  They are not boutique films; they are made for people who only know about comics from going to the movies.

This might lead the works far from their source material, but it’s the reality of comic book movies. For the second time, DC has humanized them.  They expertly did this will Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman.  Zach Snyder (until I read something by him that says Justice League is not his vision, I’m giving him credit) doesn’t reach those heights but attempts to.  They introduce three new characters successfully. The action is fantastic. I walked out with a smile on my face and want to see the movie again.  Again, it does have flaws, but they did not spoil my enjoyment of the film.

However, the best moment of the film came when Wonder Woman was fighting.  This was when Miss Nola Nerd Baby decided to kick hard enough for me to feel it for the first time.  Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple just grabbed my hand, and there she was acting like the Wonder Woman she will be.

For that, Justice League will always be one of my favorite movie experiences ever!