Star Wars: A Geek’s Tale: Episode XIII

swnovelApril 2005

Spoilers. The bane of millions of Star Wars fans. Friend to millions of others.

Spoilers became a part of the Star Wars universe before the first movie was released when George Lucas hired a ghost author to write the novelization of his soon-to-be released mega-hit. He did this to drum up interest in the movie. The book was based mostly on the screenplay for the movie but added a few scenes deleted from the film and added several details not shown in the movie. I bought and read the book after seeing the movie, reading it a dozen or so times before graduating high school.

Personally, I hate spoilers. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen in the movie before I see it. I would rather be surprised by what is happening on the big screen than know what to expect.

Some people love knowing ahead of time. I’d like to shake each and every one of them because it is their desire to know that drives the spoiler industry. And if industry seems like a big word for something like spoilers, then you haven’t seen them on the Internet.

The first spoiler I experienced was with The Empire Strikes Back. The novelization came out about a month before the movie. I flipped through it for some stupid reason. There I learned about Yoda. No big deal. But I also read the awful truth about Luke’s parentage.

That was a VERY big deal.

It was only one of the biggest reveals in movie history and I knew it was coming. You can’t imagine how miserable this made me feel.

History repeated itself with Return of the Jedi. I bought the novelization before the movie came out. This time the only thing I learned from the book was the color of Luke’s new lightsaber. Like Yoda, this was no big deal to me. I set the book aside so I wouldn’t learn if Darth Vader lied to Luke or was telling the truth. I held out hope that he was lying. He was evil and would be more than willing to lie to rattle his adversary. Obi-Wan was the essence of all that was good with the Jedi and wouldn’t dream of lying to Luke about his father.

I read the truth in a science fiction magazine a week before I saw the movie. I cursed George Lucas beneath my breath.

The hype that surrounded The Phantom Menace was unprecedented. Every TV cable channel and their brother ran some kind of special on the first new Star Wars film in sixteen years. There were so many clips from the movie shown that, when coupled with the two trailers, it became pretty easy to piece together the entire movie.

I waited until after the movie to buy the novel and avoided any magazines that might have given away the plot. It didn’t matter. All of the TV programs pretty much ruined the initial experience.

The Phantom Menace was widely panned by several critics and almost despised by many fans. The hype that fueled TPM was scaled way back for Attack of the Clones. The TV specials weren’t nearly as prevalent. Companies were scared off by Episode I’s apparent failure to sell their products so merchandising was greatly reduced. It appeared that spoilers would not play a big role with this movie.

The Internet dispelled that possibility.

At the time, I liked checking out a few of the Star Wars fan sites available on the Internet. They were good sources of information for such things as the books, merchandise and Celebration II. Unfortunately, they were also a source of spoilers.

Some of the sites showed a degree of responsibility in how they handled the spoilers. They provided them but also gave warnings and had ways of hiding them so people like me could avoid them. Other sites didn’t give a damn. They’d put the spoilers out there with no cares or worries. Those sites were eliminated from my list of favorite places.

Now we come to today.

swdarkhorseWith Revenge of the Sith being the last new Star Wars movie to hit theaters, the hype machine is back in motion. Merchandising is going crazy. Magazines and books are already on the shelves. No less than five commercial spots are appearing on TV. The Internet is rife with information.

Of all six movies, this is the one where we know – or are at least relatively certain – how it ends. What we don’t know is how we get there, whether we’ll see Padme give birth to Luke and Leia and, if we do see her give birth, if Padme survives beyond the end of the movie. Also in question is the fate of the Jedi. We know that Obi-Wan and Yoda survive the Jedi Purge, but what about the other Jedi we’ve been introduced to?

The “good” people at Lucasfilm seem hell bent on revealing those answers before the movie’s release.

The two trailers and the TV spots, while totally friggin’ sweet, reveal a bit more than I would like. One of the action figures reveals a very dramatic development for one of the main characters. The novelization is out now and Dark Horse Comics has released the first two issues of its four-issue adaptation and the graphic novel of the full adaptation. I’m buying the four-issue series but won’t purchase them until after I see the movie.

I’ve managed to avoid any of the spoilers on the Internet. For a time anyway.

One day I was surfing through the Hyperspace web site and found a PDF file containing a few pages from the book “The Making of Revenge of the Sith”. The pages showed a few images of how they created Yoda and General Grievous on the computer. I thought the text would be safe to read. Wrong! The text gave clues that revealed an answer to one of my questions. I was pissed at my Pandora-like curiosity.

A few days later they had a link to a picture of one of the minor Jedi Knights. There was no hint that it was a spoiler picture, but sure enough it showed him bearing the marks of being sliced up with a lightsaber.

Last week I went to Barnes & Noble to buy a couple of the books that were released. I went a little crazy and ended up buying the novelization and a few other books: “Labyrinth of Evil”, the book that tells of the events that lead up to the movie; “The Last of Jedi: The Desperate Mission”, a book for younger readers that tells a story about Obi-Wan that takes place after the movie; a book about George Lucas; “The Art of Revenge of the Sith”; and “The Making of Revenge of the Sith”. I also bought a 2006 calendar.

I wasn’t too concerned about reading most of the books. I knew I could hold out on the novelization and set aside the “Art of…” and “Making of…” books to read after the movie. I started to read the book about Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan has become my favorite character over the years and I wanted to see what he does between Episodes III and IV. By the end of the second chapter I was regretting my decision to read this book first since it quickly reveals the fates of several characters.

So now, here I sit four weeks before the movie comes out feeling like I already know how the movie will play out.

And making matters worse, is this weekend’s Celebration III, where they are sure to reveal even more footage from the movie. After all, it was at Celebration II that they unveiled the footage of Yoda’s proficiency with a lightsaber.

Maybe they’ll reveal a gruesome death for Jar-Jar Binks. That’s one spoiler I’d be happy to see.

Coming up:
Preparing for CIII

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