Star Wars Architects

(Welcome to A Different Point of View, a column where we explore the supporting characters, planets and objects of the Star Wars universe and discuss why they deserve more time in the spotlight.)

Last week’s column dived deep into the mysterious moon of Jedha and all the secrets it could be hiding. But there was also a quick aside about “all-knowing ancient aliens” just begging for their own moment in the twin suns. And since I have precisely no-chill when it comes to the most ancient xenoarchaeology and mythological aspects of the Star Wars lore, that moment is now. It’s time for Lucasfilm to really commit to bringing back The Architects.  

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Star Wars Jedha

(Welcome to A Different Point of View, a column where we explore the supporting characters, planets and objects of the Star Wars universe and discuss why they deserve more time in the spotlight.)

Despite a stubborn fascination with the Skywalker legacy, Star Wars is a smorgasbord of narrative hooks just waiting for their moment in the twin suns. Every new entry into the lore — be it film, show, book, or comic — adds to the diversity and complexity of a galaxy far, far away. Up until now in this series, I’ve focused on minor characters who could carry their own stories. But Star Wars is more than just the people inhabiting it. It’s a living, breathing universe full of nooks and crannies to explore. That includes places and objects. 

Which brings us to Jedha, a dusty moon with quite a few parallels to Earth’s Israel. Even with only a quick smattering of lore, Lucasfilm has hinted there are secrets hidden beneath its dunes. I say it’s time to crack open those mysteries.

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The Last Duel True Story

It has been a turbulent few years in Hollywood. The industry has been forced to deal with latent racism with the #OscarsSoWhite movement as well as the festering, dangerous misogyny brought to light by the #MeToo revolution. Conversations about the lack of diversity and inclusion both in front of the camera and behind it have spurred action. An industry like Hollywood takes time to move towards a more equal playing field. But the increase in diverse storytellers and actors announced for upcoming film and television projects shows promise.

Which is how it comes as a shock that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck would team up for the first time since Good Will Hunting to tell the story of two men fighting to the death over the alleged rape of a woman. What’s even more of a shock is that the actors, along with director Ridley Scott, were taken aback by the immediate backlash.

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The Case For Sansa Stark

(Welcome to Debate of Thrones, where a panel of Citadel-trained experts explain why someone deserves, or doesn’t deserve, to sit on the Iron Throne. In this edition: no one in the Seven Kingdoms is as mentally equipped to lead the nation as Sansa Stark.)

When the people of the Seven Kingdoms think of a perfect monarch, what traits do we look for? Nobility. Dignity. Justice. Mercy. Grace. Strength. Loyalty. Kindness. How often do the gods grant us that boon? Perhaps once in every several centuries. The last few years have seen Westernos ripped apart by lesser kings and queens. Greedy and wrathful and mad, the Targaryen royals and Baratheons that followed them sowed war and death from Dorne to The Wall. And now the choice appears to be between a despotic Targaryen queen raised in foreign lands or an alleged Targaryen king who grew up the bastard son of Lord Eddard Stark. But what if there was another choice? A better choice for the realm? Lady Sansa Stark of Winterfell.

Over the course of the last seven years — since before the opening salvos of the War of the Five Kings — Sansa has been at the center of every major event. From a terrified child to the steadfast Lady of Winterfell, Sansa Stark has proven time and again that she has the mettle and the temperament to take, and hold, the Iron Throne.

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Is Arya Stark Azor Ahai

This article contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8.

For eight seasons, Game of Thrones built up the confrontation between the Night King and the champions of the living. Since the pilot episode, the undead have been a slow burn threat creeping closer to take out those who cannot put aside their petty differences and ally themselves against the Night King’s existential threat. Now, that threat is done thanks to Arya Stark.

Trained under a succession of the most deadly assassins in the world, the choice by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss to have Arya strike the killing blow makes sense. She trained with the Faceless Men, assassins renown throughout the world for their discretion as well as never failing to get the job done. The group is rumored to even be responsible for the destruction of Old Valyria, as their organization began as a slave uprising against their dragonlord masters. Eight years of learning the art of becoming silent death paid off when Arya Stark slid that Valyrian steel knife into the Night King’s chest.

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(Welcome to A Different Point of View, a column where we explore the supporting characters of the Star Wars universe and discuss why they deserve more time in the spotlight.)

With Star Wars Celebration — Chicago Edition officially over, fans around the world have seen their first look at Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and how Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) story might play out. But while Rey’s narrative is front-and-center in the Disney era of Lucasfilm, there is another with that name that deserves recognition on the big screen. First Order Admiral Rae Sloane.  

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Shadow and Bone Netflix Series

In American pop culture, when people think of the fantasy genre, they usually think of the same things: magic, wizards, elves, orcs, fairies, dragons, a European Middle Ages setting. Despite the genre predating these concepts, the unprecedented influence of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings has so thoroughly wedged itself in our collective consciousness that it can seem impossible to disentangle. Everything from A Wizard of Earthsea and Harry Potter to The Dark Tower and Game of Thrones has found inspiration from Tolkien’s works. But there are so many other mythologies out there, waiting to be built and discovered. One of them, created in 2012 by author Leigh Bardugo, is unlike anything mainstream audiences have ever seen: Shadow & Bone, the first part of the Grisha Trilogy.

Originally set to be a film franchise by Dreamworks, the rights to the “Grishaverse” recently moved to Netflix. Eric Heisserer, the writer behind the streaming service’s horror film Bird Box, is set to be showrunner. This should give you some idea of what kind of tone to expect. While Bardugo’s series is sold as Young Adult, that doesn’t stop her from dealing in body horror and dark themes, all set against a backdrop based on Russian mythology instead of Nordic (where Tolkien mostly pulled from). The result is something worth checking out, for a number of reasons.

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(Welcome to A Different Point of View, a column where we explore the supporting characters of the Star Wars universe and discuss why they deserve more time in the spotlight.)

Out of all of the characters in the Star Wars galaxy, no species gets a shorter shaft than the droids. Created to fill gaps in everything from manual labor to cultural translation, there are probably more droids than organic beings in George Lucas’ universe. Yet for all their omnipresence, Star Wars has barely scratched the surface of what it truly means to have so many artificial life forms.

Whether you see Star Wars as science-fiction or science-fantasy, the apathy towards this huge chunk of the narrative weirds me out. After all, the foundational cornerstone of science-fiction asks whether or not constructs created by man have souls and aspirations. Teenaged Mary Shelley might not have known what a “robot” was when she created the sci-fi genre over a bored long weekend, but Frankenstein’s monster set into motion decades of questions that boil down to “What does it mean to be sentient?”

The time has never been better for Star Wars to pop the hood and examine the long, horrifying history of the treatment of droids.

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Movie Ticket Subscription Service - Theater

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: here’s how movie theaters can win back audiences.)

If you have even a passing interest in the business of movies, you’ll know movie theaters aren’t doing too great. Attendance by movie-goers in the United States and Canada hit record lows last year. Countless think pieces have been written about how streaming services and increased theater ticket prices (not to mention the concession stand extortion) are killing cinema. To hear some analysts talk, the end of cinema is nigh.

Nonsense.

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Daredevil Season 3

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: let’s read between the lines of Marvel’s statement about Daredevil and learn how to speak publicist.)

Every few years, something happens in the world of superhero entertainment that requires…massaging. Maybe a rumor crops up about casting or a character’s fate. Maybe a director or a writer drops out of a project. Maybe an entire series implodes unexpectedly. But the very nature of superhero films being based on decades of source material that is easily accessible means studios have had to thread a very small needle to keep their secrets.

Enter the publicist. Ostensibly a job that is half herding cats and half schmoozer, the true core of being a great publicist is to be an accomplished liar. This is a compliment. The words publicists put forth are in the public forever and will be parsed immediately by fans and journalists alike. Good PR hugs the wall of truth as it slides past a chasm of bald-faced lies.

Marvel, in particular, in all of their various forms and studios and divisions, is a master of lies. They lied about the title of Avengers: Endgame for months. They even went so far as to put a whole fake Hulk in the trailer for Infinity War rather than let on that Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) would be in the Hulkbuster suit. So when they released a statement about the cancellation of Netflix’s Daredevil, it helps to have a Publicist-Whisperer on deck to explain what they really mean.

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