Last week, a thing of beauty happened. Disney released the trailer for the “The Rise of Skywalker,” the ninth — and supposedly final — installment of the “Star Wars” saga.
There will undoubtedly be spin-offs, but this will be the conclusion of the story which began with the “A New Hope” in 1977.
I watched the two-minute preview about 30 times on Friday alone — not to mention the countless podcasts and YouTube videos breaking down every detail of the trailer. This sequel trilogy has received mixed reviews, but I love them, and I have no shame in my obsession.
There was a time when being a sci-fi or fantasy fan was a source of embarrassment. You didn’t talk about how much you loved “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” or superheroes or dragons. That stuff was for kids. If you talk to my parents or grandparents, it’s still for kids.
But they would be wrong. With “Avengers: Endgame,” “The Rise of Skywalker” and “Game of Thrones,” so-called kids’ stuff is all the talk of April. Season-premier parties and opening-night showings are circled on nearly every adult’s calender. These adults will don themed shirts and even costumes. There will be laughs, nail-bitings and — dare I say — tears shed.
Why do adults love this stuff? I’d venture to say it doesn’t have as much to do with the action as it does with the emotion.
First, there’s the nostalgic element. I’ve been watching “Star Wars” movies my entire life. “Return of the Jedi” is one of the first flicks I remember seeing on VHS. I remember being 9 years old, trying to do cartwheels with a toy lightsaber. Witnessing the conclusion of the series will be bittersweet.
The second movie I remember watching was Tim Burton’s “Batman.” Superhero movies are something I grew up with. I doubt my interest in them will go away.
Second, there are much more to these stories than spaceships and sword fights. You want a good story on redemption? Watch “The Dark Knight Rises.”
You want a good coming-of-age story? Watch “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse.”
You want a good family story? Watch all of the “Star Wars” movies.
I don’t know a lot about “Game of Thrones,” but I’m guessing it would be good if you like stories about politics and, well, thrones. (By the way — I have seen a few episodes. It’s good, but don’t let the dragons mislead you. “Game of Thrones” is definitely not a kids’ show.)
These themes are perhaps better expressed in superhero and space stories than in any other form. The science fiction/fantasy genre allows for the story to bend the rules that reality-based programs have to follow. This rule-bending can lead to a deeper exploration of the themes.
Ultimately, it’s that fluidity — that rule-breaking and bending — that makes this genre more interesting than any other. I think that’s what interests other adults, too. It isn’t the lost boy, never-want-to-grow-up attitude. It’s the ability to relate to the character on a level that’s hard to find elsewhere.
And explosions and sword fights are cool. OK — so there is a kiddie element to it, but only a small element.