The Force Awakens Teaser

New X-Wings

So they put out a teaser to the next Star Wars film over Thanksgiving.

In the week or so before the holiday, rumors foretold of a glimpse of older Luke, Leia and Han with the Millennium Falcon flying in for the big finish. While that sounded exciting on one level, it still made me nervous. This film represents the last real chance to continue the saga. If the first real piece of marketing for his film was shameless grab for nostalgia, then there would be no reason to believe a new cast could carry on the universe.

Rumors can, and often do, get it wrong. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had a vague idea of what I wanted to see. The original Star Wars is, at its heart, a western. It draws from mythical conventions and archetypes, and like the western itself, borrows from the lore of knights and heroes. And Kurosawa films. I wanted something that evoked that same blend of awe and dusty adventure.

I wanted to feel like I was 11 years old again.

That morning, I pulled up the trailer, called the kids over to watch, and held my breath. The first image filled the screen, John Boyega popped up, and I will confess: for that moment, I wasn’t thinking about Star Wars at all.

I was thinking about the opening shot from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Each successive glimpse only broadened my smile. This wasn’t a cheap shot at fond memories—this was a confident look at something new. By the time the Falcon blasted past those TIE fighters, I was ready to skip this Christmas and jump right into next year’s yule tide.

It bodes well, I think, that my first look at a J.J. Abrams Star Wars film recalled Sergio Leone more than it did the underwhelming excess that cluttered his Star Trek reboot.

(One caveat, though – I really enjoyed Star Trek, despite its flaws. Into Darkness, unfortunately, amped up the flaws and buried its predecessor’s strengths.)

I’ve tried to maintain a very quiet hope that the best days of Star Wars still lay ahead. It isn’t easy. Up to now, there’s been just as much to make me nervous as excited. My more rational side isn’t sold yet that the final film will deliver what we all hope it will. But I will say this: prospects are certainly much more promising now than they were.

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