Could it be that, as Star Wars fans, we’re already getting spoiled? We had to wait over 10 years between Episode III and Episode VII and now, just three months after the release of the latter, we can’t wait for the release of the first anthology film, Rogue One, in December. And we’ll have at least four more movies to look forward to after that. Fortunately, there are virtually endless ways, through many different media to get your Star Wars fix over the next nine months.
Sure, the options we’re going to invite you to explore can bridge that gap between films. But it’s also an amazing opportunity to get a deeper glimpse into what it takes to make those movies, as well as the finer details beyond the various characters, factions and technology we’ve come to know and love in that galaxy far, far away.
So soothe your Star Wars jones and check out these 11 Ways to Get Your Star Wars Fix Between Movies.
11 The Star Wars Holiday Special
We’re going to toss this one into the “so bad it’s good” pile. Because it truly is horrible. But hilariously horrible. The 98-minute special aired in 1978 and has never appeared anywhere in any official capacity since then, which is exactly how an embarrassed George Lucas wants it. Lucas reportedly once said at a Star Wars convention, “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” Although, somehow, he hasn’t been able to keep it off of YouTube. Aside from unintentional laughs, the only good thing it brought to Star Wars was the introduction of Boba Fett in an animated segment.
Most of the special is live action and completely nonsensical, centered around Chewbacca trying to get to his homeworld of Kashyyyk to celebrate a holiday called Life Day with his family. In between scenes of Han Solo and Chewie trying to get there, and Imperial forces searching for Rebels, there are bizarre variety sketches featuring ‘70s TV stars like Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman, a mind-boggling LSD-trip of an acrobatics segment, and sequences with the original cast looking extremely uncomfortable.
10 Disney attractions
We know that Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, but their relationship dates back even further. The Star Tours ride became the first non-Disney attraction at Disneyland in California way back in 1987. So, if you’re aching for Star Wars in between movies, you can actually feel like you’re a part of it if you’re anywhere near Disneyland, Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland or Disneyland Paris. It’s a motion simulator where you feel like you’re in a ship accidentally piloted by C-3PO, dipping and darting through various Star Wars landscapes… and space-scapes.
But there’s also Jedi Academy if you’re a young Padawan looking to get your Star Wars fix. Kids can drape on their Jedi robes, grab a toy lightsaber, receive training from actors posing as Jedi Masters, then battle foes like Darth Vader, Darth Maul and, most recently, Kylo Ren. Of course, that’s not all. Star Wars Land was announced last year, an entire Star Wars themed section with rides, attractions and restaurants to immerse yourself even deeper into that universe, coming soon to both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios.
9 Animated satires
No matter how much we love Star Wars, it’s fun to poke fun at the sillier aspects of it, from Luke whining about Tosche Station, to George Lucas’ infamous Special Edition changes, to little Anakin exclaiming “Yippee!” Over the past few years, a bunch of popular animated series have called out some of the goofiest moments of the films in hilarious satires.
The first to hit the small screen was Robot Chicken: Star Wars, in June 2007. In its inimitable stop-motion style, it suggests Vader doesn’t really have Force strangulation power, so “victims” just pretend to die so they don’t get slashed by his lightsaber; and the giant space slug that failed to eat the Millennium Falcon considers eating Chinese food instead. Two sequels would follow.
Just a few months later, Family Guy entered the satire arena with Blue Harvest, as the show’s main characters slipped into Star Wars roles, including Stewie, perfectly cast as Vader. AT-ATs are hilariously referred to as “giant robot camels” in that one. Even Disney’s Phineas and Ferb nicely got in on the action after the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm, with an hour-long episode that follows the events of A New Hope as Phineas, Ferb and friends (and foes) observe and interact alongside.
8 Lego Star Wars
We’re not even talking about the toys here, as awesome as they are. We’re talking about the various Lego Star Wars computer animated one-offs and miniseries that have sprouted up over the past few years. Lego and Lucasfilm’s partnership began back in 1999 with the brick sets and, at the moment, it's set to last at least until 2022.
In terms of animated content, it started in 2009 with The Quest for R2-D2, which was followed by various other specials like The Padawan Menace and The Empire Strikes Out. They were so successful that the three-part miniseries The Yoda Chronicles was created in 2013, which spawned a second four-part season, plus the 2015 five-part Droid Tales, and The Freemaker Adventures, which will debut this summer as a full series.
All of these non-canon masterpieces do a fascinating job of intertwining events from the films with new events and characters, while injecting some hilarious self-referential humor, some of which is hidden Easter-egg style, and some of which is on the nose, like the overconfident Darth Maul, and Yoda’s sarcastic asides.
7 Reference books
Star Wars reference books can often be just as entertaining as anything else. You can overload your brain with astoundingly minute details about Darth Vader’s suit, lightsaber construction, the intricacies of a Star Destroyer, and a ton more. There are loads of character guides and visual dictionaries. For example, you can learn everything you wanted to know about BB-8, Rey and the retooled Millennium Falcon in Star Wars The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary.
There are also a few books that masterfully blend reference material with fictional storytelling. Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side is a beautifully designed volume that collects a variety of ancient Sith texts and journals of Sith masters to tell the history of the Dark Side. On the other side of the Force, there’s the similar The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force. And there’s the upcoming Star Wars Propaganda: A History of Persuasive Art in the Galaxy, which is written like an in-universe history book examining the propaganda of the Empire.
If you want to dig in behind the scenes while you wait for Rogue One, try some of the many Star Wars documentaries that have been produced over the years. Pop in your Blu-rays for a ton of awesome making-of extras (including The Force Awakens, which will have a documentary extra when it hits shelves in April). Produced for the 2004 Star Wars Trilogy DVD set (and currently available on YouTube), Empire of Dreams is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at production of the original trilogy, including interviews with George Lucas, the main cast, and even actors who auditioned for key roles, like Kurt Russell (Han Solo) and Cindy Williams (Leia). And, at two and a half hours, it runs even longer than the average Star Wars movie.
As far as non-Lucasfilm-sanctioned documentaries go, it doesn’t get much better than The People vs. George Lucas. Debuting in 2010 and directed by Alexandre O. Philippe, it poses the question: Can Lucas do whatever he wants to with Star Wars, as the creator, or is it now in the hands of the fans? In particular, it questions what Lucas did with the Special Edition changes and the prequel trilogy.
5 Video games
There have been an almost endless supply of Star Wars video games released since 1982 for the original home consoles, like the Atari 2600, Intellivision and ColecoVision. We’ll spare you half an hour of reading the entire list and just jump ahead to today, with Battlefront. The Battlefront series began in 2004, but the 2015 iteration (considered a reboot of the franchise) takes it to a fun new level. You can play it first-or-third-person style as many different familiar characters, from Luke to Vader, and travel across planets familiar from all seven movies, including The Force Awakens’ Jakku.
There are also a handful of cool Lego Star Wars games. You can play through the plotlines of the original six movies, as just about any character, in 2007’s Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga. In 2011, a Clone Wars version was released. And after the June 28, 2016 release date, you’ll be able to play Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens to get your fix until Rogue One hits screens.
4 Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Get thee to Netflix! There, you’ll find both the original theatrical animated Clone Wars film (2008), as well as the six-season series (2008-2014). It tells the story of what happened between Episode II and Episode III, and we get a much more detailed look at the inner workings of the Jedi Order, with a focus on our friends Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
It’s also fascinating for its more intricate portrayal of the Dark Side of the Force. In the films, there are no real grey areas when it comes to Force users; you’re either a Jedi or a Sith. In Clone Wars, we have the clan of Nightsisters. They harness the Dark Side, but were only loyal to themselves, refusing to join Count Dooku and the Separatists. And we also get much more screen time and backstory for one of the films’ most tragically neglected characters: Darth Maul.
3 Star Wars Rebels
If you’ve already plowed through the entire Clone Wars series, then Rebels is a more contemporary way of getting your fix. Currently in its second season on Disney XD with a third already announced, it takes place 14 years after Revenge of the Sith and five years before A New Hope. While Revenge of the Sith made it seem as though the only Jedi who survived Order 66 were Yoda and Obi-Wan, Rebels tells us otherwise. In fact, a surviving Jedi named Kanan is one of the main Rebel characters.
Not only does it reach back to the Star Wars timeline’s recent past, bringing in Ahsoka Tano from Clone Wars, but it has also introduced the baddest baddies in the galaxy, Grand Moff Tarkin, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. Better yet, Vader is voiced by James Earl Jones himself. And those baddies use another sect of big bads to try to track down the remaining Jedi: the Inquisitors, who use cool gyroscopic double-bladed lightsabers.
The Star Wars novels were probably the harshest victim of the 2014 decanonization announcement, which banished an incredibly broad Expanded Universe to the “Legends” brand. They detailed not just the times just before, after, and in between the movies, but also ancient times before the Republic, times before the “rule of two” when there were armies of Sith, and times decades after Return of the Jedi.
While those are still often fascinating reads on their own, we do now have a series of great novels that take place within the official canon, released over the last couple of years. They're particularly interesting when it comes to getting some juicy backstory on the events and characters we‘ve now seen in The Force Awakens and as well as some characters we'll get to know in the forthcoming films.
And don’t forget there are amazing audiobook editions as well. Not only is it a convenient way to read the books when you’re on the go, but they spice up the drama with the sound effects and music from the movies.
There have been Star Wars comics just about as long as there has been Star Wars. Marvel issued the first comic in July 1977, with a nine-year run that began with a retelling of A New Hope, but veered off on its own by the seventh issue. Licensing then moved over to Dark Horse, who published a number of series from 1991-2014. Of course, all of this was deemed non-canon on April 25, 2014, now part of the “Legends” brand. There was even an eight-issue series called The Star Wars published by Dark Horse in 2013/14 that was based on George Lucas’ original script, with somewhat different characters and plotlines.
However, since Marvel and Lucasfilm are now part of one big, happy Disney family, Marvel began publishing Star Wars comics again in 2015 with stories that are now part of the new canon. Currently, there’s an ongoing Star Wars series and Star Wars: Darth Vader series, and there have been 11 other limited series, and most critics have loved just about all of them.
Any other Star Wars material fans should keep an eye out for? Let us know in the comments!