US Air Force Warns Against Storming of Area 51 | ScreenRant

Social media users have been absolutely inundated in a river of Area 51-related memes as a Facebook-organized raid of the secretive military installation nears, but the US Air Force warns that anyone who actually goes through with storming the base will face harsh consequences.

While nearly everyone knows that the tongue-in-cheek Area 51 raid, whose rallying slogan is “let’s see them aliens,” is just for laughs and is no way intended to actually happen, there is still some risk that a small portion of the near-million Facebook users claiming to be attending the event will actually follow through with the plan. Others have joked that their actions, though netting them with neat extraterrestrial friends and technologies, will likely result in their deaths at the hands of Edwards Air Force Base personnel. The titular plan of the event is “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” but if a tiny fraction of the pledged users show up and things turn violent, the odds that the safety and wellbeing of real-life attendees will be secured fall drastically.

Related: Every Celebrity Confirmed To Be An Alien By Men In Black

Speaking with The Washington Post about the proposed September 20 raid of Area 51, US Air Force spokesperson Laura McAndrews ominously warned, “The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.” Informing potential participants that Edwards Air Force Base, of which Area 51 is one small, well-guarded part, is “an open training range for the U.S. Air Force,” she issued the firm warning that the military “would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where [they] train American armed forces.” As for specific consequences and legal penalties that could be meted out there at Area 51 or in a court of law for the ill-advised few who go through with the scheme, McAndrews provided nothing concrete.

It can be hoped that McAndrew’s solemn words will dissuade anyone brash enough to actually trespass on military property, but that doesn’t mean that her warning – nor others – should kill the hilarious meme that the Area 51 raid has spawned. Having seeped from Facebook into other social media platforms, celebrities, influencers, and popular independent accounts of all types have joined in on the hyperbolic fun. Comedy YouTuber Gus Johnson mulled over the prospects that “some government guy” might actually be poring over Area 51 raid memes for up-to-date intelligence in a tweet, while cosmetics mogul Jeffree Star turned the prescribed joke formula on its head, insinuating that he is an alien resident of Area 51 fearing “human invasion.”

With the Facebook event that spawned nearly a million people to jokingly agree to take part in a massive act of rebellion being scheduled for more than two months away, it’s all but guaranteed that this sudden online sensation will die down well before its time to free captive aliens and pilot UFOs. The sarcasm of the plan has surely been lost on some small fragment of that group, however, and it can only be hoped that any would-be Area 51 trespassers don’t make headlines come September.

Next: What Movie Does “In Space No One Can Hear You Scream” Come From?

Source: Washington Post, Gus Danger Johnson Jeffree Star

2019-07-14 05:07:45

Phillip Tinner

Star Wars 9 Scores More Trailer Views Than Force Awakens & Last Jedi

In its first 24 hours online, the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer scored more views than previews for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Earlier this month, Lucasfilm finally revealed some long-awaited official details for their upcoming blockbuster, unveiling the film’s title and first bits of footage during Celebration Chicago. The fact that Episode IX is the conclusion of the Skywalker saga would be reason enough for fans to anticipate it, but the hype went into overdrive when it was revealed Emperor Palpatine is making a surprise return.

The Rise of Skywalker will cap off what’s sure to be an incredible year for Disney, which has other massive tentpoles like Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, and Frozen 2 hitting theaters in 2019. Given how popular several of their properties are, it isn’t surprising to see Disney’s movies set all-time trailer view records shortly after they drop. And while Episode IX couldn’t approach the overall marks, it did post a new high for the Star Wars franchise.

Related: Star Wars 9 Theory: Snoke Was Palpatine All Along

According to Deadline, the Rise of Skywalker teaser had 111 million views online during its first 24 hours, topping the figures of Force Awakens and Last Jedi within the same timeframe. Episode IX actually more than doubled Episode VII’s totals, and got 20 million more views than Episode VIII.

While those numbers are definitely impressive, they obviously pale in comparison to what Endgame (289 million) and Lion King (224.6 million) posted late last year. But it’s important to keep in mind that the Rise of Skywalker trailer officially premiered during the film’s panel at Celebration, and a number of people likely caught it on the livestream. That probably impacted the number of views the actual trailer video got on the Star Wars YouTube channel. In the meantime, Skywalker’s reported “EOR viral rate” of 295:1 beats those of Last Jedi, Force Awakens, and Rogue One. That shows the trailer launch was a monumental success and got fans buzzing, so Star Wars is very much still at the forefront of the zeitgeist. Despite the toxic discourse surrounding The Last Jedi and Solo flopping at the box office, people are excited to see The Rise of Skywalker.

All of this bodes well for what’s sure to be a comprehensive marketing campaign that takes place over the next several months. Star Wars should have a presence at San Diego Comic-Con in July, and there’s another Force Friday merchandise event planned for October. If interest in The Rise of Skywalker is this high at the outset of promotion, then Lucasfilm may have another juggernaut on their hands come December. The previous three Star Wars movies to debut over the holidays all made more than $1 billion worldwide each, so it would be very surprising if Episode IX didn’t accomplish that feat as well.

More: Star Wars 9: Why Palpatine Can’t Be A Force Ghost

Source: Deadline

2019-04-25 08:04:47

Chris Agar

Jump Force – All Might DLC Trailer

Unite to Fight with All Might when the Character Pass DLC releases in May.

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2019-04-22 18:01:57

How Star Wars 9 May Expand Last Jedi’s New Force Powers

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may include a fascinating expansion of one of The Last Jedi’s new Force abilities. In Episode VIII, Rey and Kylo Ren spend a significant part of the film on opposite sides of the galaxy, so Rian Johnson had to get creative in order for the main characters to interact with each other. The solution, commonly referred to as “Force Skype,” saw the two youngsters become connected periodically throughout the movie and have conversations. This was later revealed to be part of Supreme Leader Snoke’s plan to manipulate them.

The Last Jedi showed that even though Star Wars has been around for 40 years, audiences still have much to learn about the Force. With Episode IX on the horizon, many are wondering if J.J. Abrams will showcase any new powers in the upcoming film. During the movie’s panel during Celebration Chicago, he seemed to dance around the topic, but the latest speculation is at the very least, The Rise of Skywalker includes an expansion of one of The Last Jedi’s concepts.

Related: Star Wars 9 Theory: Grey Jedi Exist, But They’re Called Skywalkers

According to Making Star Wars, Rey and Kylo Ren are going to partake in what’s being called “Force Flash Fights.” During their initial encounter in Episode IX, they’re reportedly linked again (similar to what Snoke did in Last Jedi), only they traverse across several different environments from the previous Star Wars movies. It’s unknown what locations would appear onscreen or even how, precisely, this concept will be executed. Screen Rant reached out to Disney for comment and will update this article accordingly.

This would work as an illustration of how powerful Rey and Kylo have grown since viewers last saw them in The Last Jedi. Since there’s reportedly a time jump between the two films, it only makes sense for their skills to evolve and on a superficial level, it has the potential to be an interesting visual unlike anything the films have shown before. A number of Last Jedi’s new Force powers proved to be divisive, but Abrams has repeatedly said he’s honoring what Johnson did in Episode IX. So it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play in the infinite sandbox of Force abilities and toy with how he can expand ideas Johnson introduced. It’d feel like an organic continuation.

Besides how this looks onscreen, the biggest question is what role “Force Flash Fights” ultimately play in the narrative. Force projections weren’t just a gimmick; they were foreshadowing for Luke’s noble self-sacrifice on Crait. Perhaps Kylo and Rey learn what they’re now capable of early on in The Rise of Skywalker, before there’s some kind of payoff at the end. With Emperor Palpatine back in the fold, Rey will likely have to stretch the limits of her capabilities in order to emerge victorious.

More: Star Wars Canon Already Explained How Palpatine Survived Return of the Jedi

Source: Making Star Wars

2019-04-22 08:04:44

Chris Agar

Jedi Fallen Order Is EA’s Force Unleashed – But Can They Fix The Mistakes?

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is shaping up to be the next Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – but the question is, can it fix all the mistakes that the latter game had? The story trailer for Jedi: Fallen Order looks quite promising, but developer Respawn Entertainment and publisher EA have yet to show players any footage revealing how Jedi: Fallen Order will actually play, inciting some worry since EA has so far only wielded its exclusive franchise license to pump out DICE’s two multiplayer-centric Battlefront games. There is hope, though – it’s possible that Respawn looked back to learn from the successes and failures of LucasArts’ Star Wars: The Force Unleashed series, the only two proper single-player Star Wars entries of the last 10 years.

Starring Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Galen Marek – better known by the moniker Starkiller – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed games were power fantasies on a level that only a Star Wars setting could do justice. Before joining the non-canon universe of Star Wars Legends, along with the rest of the Expanded Universe after the franchise was purchased by Disney, Starkiller was the strongest Force-sensitive person living at the time of the Great Jedi Purge. The Force Unleashed‘s gameplay reflected this spectacularly, with each title making players feel beyond powerful when chaining lightsaber and Force ability combos on enemy fodder, as well as performing such jaw-dropping feats, such as pulling a Star Destroyer down to a planet’s surface.

Related: Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order Game Trailer Gives Fans What They’ve Waited For

It’s understandable, then, that Starkiller and the once-canon Force Unleashed story remain well-loved among Star Wars fans and creators alike, with characters from each game having almost appeared in Rogue One and Star Wars RebelsNeither Force Unleashed title was perfect, however, with the franchise falling into a fast downward spiral by the rushed launch of The Force Unleashed II prior to the series’ cancellation. Considering EA – a company accused of being greedy and untrustworthy, which has resorted to attacking itself to promote Jedi: Fallen Order – is at the helm with the new game, there’s a lot that could go wrong, so analyzing where The Force Unleashed shone and where it went oh-so wrong could decide Jedi: Fallen Order‘s ultimate fate.

  • This Page: Retain The Story’s Meaning & Avoid Weak Gameplay
  • Page 2: Explore The Star Wars Galaxy & Make Players Truly Feel Like Jedis

While The Force Unleashed allowed players to live out their Sith fantasies as Starkiller, Jedi: Fallen Order is taking a parallel but opposite approach. Following Cal Kestis, a Jedi Padawan who survived the Jedi Purge’s initial onslaught, Jedi: Fallen Order seems it will place players squarely on the light side of things. There are plenty of similarities to be found between each protagonist, though. Each characters’ stories are set during the Purge, with Starkiller having been the son of a slain Jedi before being spared and trained by Darth Vader. Much like the first Force Unleashed puts players into Starkiller’s shoes to prove himself in the ongoing Purge near the end of his Sith training, Jedi: Fallen Order will similarly use the convenient setting so that players can control Cal as he continues to grow in strength, having been unable to complete his training.

Cal will start off Jedi: Fallen Order on the righteous side of the Force, but some may still recall that Starkiller’s character arc was one of personal redemption. Those who played The Force Unleashed will remember that Starkiller starts off as a moderately powerful villain, slaying droves of Torguta and Wookiees without remorse. Halfway through the first game, however, he begins to question the Sith and develop a conscience, putting him at odds with the Galactic Empire and eventually inspiring the organization of the Rebel Alliance before the events of A New Hope. It remains to be seen if Cal’s story will match the dramatic grandeur of Starkiller’s, but it’s doubtless that a single-player only story experience like Jedi: Fallen Order will focus on Cal’s development from Padawan to Jedi. The first Force Unleashed is a beacon of video game storytelling in the Star Wars universe done right, so it can be hoped Respawn did its homework in this area.

Then there’s The Force Unleashed II, a perfect example of what Respawn should not do. Following a rushed development over less than a year, LucasArts took everything great about the original and threw into the trash compactor. It lazily walks back Starkiller’s death from the first game’s true ending, next to nothing occurs during majority of the story, and returning characters and plot devices from the first game aren’t ever explained. Worst of all, the “amnesiac” Starkiller clone protagonist’s motivations are nonexistent, and his character isn’t developed in any sense by the time players are asked to once again choose one of two endings. One ends on a cliffhanger, whereas the other completely jumps the shark once expanded upon through DLC. Respawn is a highly capable developer, but if they dare to make Cal Kestis as hollow as Starkiller’s clone, Jedi: Fallen Order should at least be so courteous to be as unduly brief as The Force Unleashed II.

Gameplay-wise, it’s a safe bet that Jedi: Fallen Order‘s Cal will not be shooting Force lightning from his hands like players could do so gleefully as Starkiller. That said, the reveal trailer confirmed that Cal has some mastery over the Force, as he’s shown bending steel and executing impressive jumps and wall-runs that would likely be impossible without Force manipulation. Since he also wields a lightsaber, it’s more than fair to assume there will be plenty of room for overlap between combat in The Force Unleashed and Jedi: Fallen Order. Gameplay has yet to be shown for the latter, though, and conflicting sources have so far likened it to everything from Metroid to Dark Souls.

What’s clear are the things that both Force Unleashed titles did right in terms of gameplay, as well as the many ways they got wrong. The primary reason so many players have fond memories of the games come down to their visually and mechanically spectacular combat, which was weighty and flashy enough to truly make players feel like a Force-wielding, lightsaber-swinging god. The Force Unleashed is a power fantasy in every sense, and the variety of fluid, stylish animations that trigger as Starkiller is directed to dispatch his foes carry go a long way to achieve this. This feeling of unlimited power was bolstered by groundbreaking use of ragdoll and particle physics, allowing players to effortlessly grip and push large objects and enemies aside.

While it was fun in both entries, combat in The Force Unleashed was imperfect for a number of reasons, and the foremost was that each game suffered from repetitive enemy types. The original had considerable visual variety among enemies and a meaningful sense of skill progression in how Starkiller could deal with them, but many enemies were really more of elaborate reskins of one another. The Force Unleashed II, on the other hand, just suffered from a general lack of enemy variety in trying to address the aforementioned issue by introducing enemies that could only be killed using certain methods. True to contemporary gaming trends, both games were guilty of over-relying on recycled (but cool-looking) QTEs, but by the end of The Force Unleashed II it feels as though they’re required to defeat nearly every enemy.

The Force Unleashed duology certainly suffered from gameplay kinks beyond combat, mostly in the form of pitifully weak puzzle and platforming sections. Each game was guilty of the former crime, with easy but annoying “puzzles” killing the pacing of either story. However, as with all of the most egregious things to take issue with in the series, The Force Unleashed II was the only one brazen and desperate enough to shoehorn platforming in between layers of the core experience. Used to pad out the game’s length – despite the fact that the majority of The Force Unleashed II is blatant padding – these platforming segments felt as completely out-of-place and pointless when the game released as in 2010 as they do now.

Page 2 of 2: Explore The Star Wars Galaxy & Make Players Truly Feel Like Jedis

The most useful tool any Star Wars game has at its disposal are the countless amazing locales that come with it, as the franchise sports some of the most visually striking and truly alien settings ever depicted. Demonstrable of how important it is to take advantage of this is that the one Force Unleashed entry that did was acclaimed for its fidelity to the Star Wars universe, while the other one was lambasted for generic settings that overstayed their welcome. Unfortunately, it’s not hard to guess which is which.

The Force Unleashed featured numerous memorable locations, including the verdant worlds of Kashyyyk and Felucia and the dingy but fascinating junkyard planet Raxus Prime. Unforgettably, these worlds underwent massive transformations when revisited after falling to the Empire, and many players still likely have images of a horrifically scorched Kashyyyk burned into their minds. Each setting gave the sense that Starkiller was merely an unwelcome visitor by thoughtfully tailoring enemy designs to the locale and creating the illusion that the present enemies and NPCs were going about their own (often violent) business prior to the player’s arrival.

Related: Amy Hennig Reactions to Jedi: Fallen Order Reveal

Running entirely counter to this was the level design of The Force Unleashed II, which is so destitute in terms of aesthetic and variety that Jedi: Fallen Order would have to actively go out of its way to replicate it. Unlike the original, LucasArts was frantically pressed for time with The Force Unleashed II, and it shows nowhere more than here. In addition to forcing players to constantly retread the exact same corridors and arenas in order to save on development time, LucasArts only included four unique locations in the sequel – two of which exclusively consist of generic interiors and another, Dagobah, only exists to trigger a single cutscene. To its credit, The Force Unleashed II did at the very least bring better visuals to the table. But it did so to no real end, as the game’s drab worlds don’t come close to the beauty and character on display in the original.

To recapture the space magic of The Force Unleashed while avoiding its most glaring mistakes, Jedi: Fallen Order needs to help players feel like a Jedi without making Cal Kestis into a walking tank like Starkiller. Fights, especially against the game’s imposing Purge Troopers and bosses, need to feel unique and challenging, testing players’ mastery of abilities as they’re acquired. At the same time, though, this needs to be balanced with the sense of weight and style that made its forebears feel so satisfying, and this will primarily be down to the slickness of animations and the tightness of controls.

As for overcoming The Force Unleashed‘s biggest combat issue, Jedi: Fallen Order will need to walk a fine line when it comes to enemy variety. On top of including just enough new enemy types to neither bore nor overwhelm, variably scaling enemy presence and configurations goes a long way to help build tension and better pace levels. As for traversal-focused gameplay, Respawn proved that they’re masters of verticality in the Titanfall series, but if they’re going to bring platforming to Jedi: Fallen Order they need to keep it varied and make it a core part of the gameplay rather than tack it on as an afterthought.

Every bit as much as Cal and others will need clear motivations and meaningful character development in order to make them compelling characters, the places Jedi: Fallen Order takes players will play an equally important role in ensuring the game feels like it truly inhabits the Star Wars universe. Based on what’s been shown thus far, it’s really too early to tell if it will succeed in this regard. However, if the stunningly unique sci-fi worlds that Respawn has crafted for the shared Titanfall and Apex Legends universe are anything to go on, Jedi: Fallen Order is likely in some of the industry’s best hands in this department.

In the end, Jedi: Fallen Order may not come to resemble The Force Unleashed series beyond their shared franchise identity. It’s unlikely, but even if that turns out to be the case, it doesn’t change the inherent design lessons to be learned from the gaming industry’s last foray into single-player Star Wars territory. The night-and-day contrast between The Force Unleashed I and II can easily be boiled down to a few key points of difference, and the reception of Jedi: Fallen Order hinges on those same things. If it can’t engross players in an original story in the franchise, fails to make them feel like a true Jedi, and bars them from visiting beautiful, detailed worlds that look ripped from the sequel trilogy, EA and Respawn will have a mess on their hands. However, if enough attention has been paid to those all-important pillars of the Star Wars experience, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will unleash its true potential this November.

Next: Jedi: Fallen Order – Every New Detail Revealed At Star Wars Celebration

2019-04-20 10:04:58

Phillip Tinner

What Is The Phoenix Force? The X-Men Villain Explained

The Phoenix Force is about to take center-stage in X-Men: Dark Phoenix – so just what is this cosmic entity? The Phoenix Force is a central part of the X-Men’s mythology in the comics, and tied particularly to the character of Jean Grey. As a result, it’s no surprise that the story of the Phoenix has been adapted into Fox’s X-Men movies. What is rather more surprising, though, is that it’s now about to be adapted for the second time.

The problem with the Phoenix Force is that it’s not easy to pin down exactly what it is. The Phoenix has been the subject of countless retcons over the years, weaving it into the ancient history of the Marvel Comics universe. In the most recent retcon, Jason Aaron’s Avengers run has revealed that a Phoenix host was a member of the original Avengers, all the way back in 1,000,000 BC, and was even briefly Odin’s lover.

Related: Everything Dark Phoenix Has Copied From X-Men: The Last Stand

Given that the Phoenix is about to return to the big screen, this is the perfect time to cast our eyes over the history of this cosmic force. Where does the Phoenix Force come from, what is its role in the universe, and why is it tied so strongly to Jean Grey?

  • This Page: The Phoenix Force in the Comics
  • Page 2: The Phoenix Force in the Movies

The Phoenix Force is one of Marvel’s most powerful cosmic entities. It is said to have been “born of the void that exists between states of being,” and is a nexus of all the psychic energy of the entire Multiverse. It essentially serves as the guardian of evolution, burning away the old in order to give life to the new. The Phoenix’s power is so great that it can burn away entire timelines, realities where evolution has slowed to a crawl. Indeed, according to The Phoenix Force Handbook, the Phoenix has been doing this for longer than the universe itself has existed:

In the dying moments of the previous universe, the “Big Crunch,” the M’kraan Crystal – a hypercubical nexus of realities – was shattered, bringing the entire multiverse to an end. However, the Phoenix Force saved all of the dying universe’s inhabitants from eternal damnation.

The Phoenix Force appears to be drawn to select hosts – beings of tremendous psychic power. Curiously enough, human hosts tend to be females with red hair. It also has a preference for Earth, perhaps because it sensed humanity’s unique potential for change and evolution. It is particularly invested in mutants, which it perceives as the future of the human race; when the mutant race was brought to the verge of extinction, Phoenix fire blazed across the planet to reignite the X-gene. Every time the Phoenix exerts itself, though, there is a cost; it draws upon psychic energy from elsewhere in the Multiverse, and the energy it uses prevents entire realities coming into being.

According to the Shi’ar, the Phoenix is destined to be The End of All That Is – the cosmic force that will wind down this universe, destroying it in order to ignite the next Big Bang and begin our successor. Many races fear the Phoenix, understandably afraid that its judgment will befall their world and it will consume them. Still others point to the Phoenix’s increasing activity as an indication that the end of the universe is approaching.

Related: X-Men Theory: Jessica Chastain Is The Real Dark Phoenix Force

The Phoenix was first introduced in Uncanny X-Men #101, when it was tied to Jean Grey. The X-Men had been trapped aboard an orbital space-station, and although they had managed to escape in a shuttle, they were forced to fly through a solar flare. Jean Grey chose to sacrifice herself for her friends, using her telepathic powers to steal the knowledge of how to pilot the shuttle from the mind of an astronaut. With her friends safe in a shielded compartment, she flew straight through the flare, and seemed to be consumed by its energy. The shuttle crash-landed in Jamaica Bay, and the X-Men struggled out of the water. To their amazement, they watched as Jean emerged from the waters, declaring herself to be a whole new entity: fire and life incarnate, the Phoenix.

In truth, writer Chris Claremont wasn’t really clear on what had happened to Jean at this stage. He’d wanted to give the X-Men a power-up so he could take them on space-faring adventures – a Thor analogue that allowed him to toy with chaos on a cosmic scale. Some of the comics implied Phoenix was part of a mutation, and that the true power of Jean Grey that had always been there but had been locked away. Others hinted that a cosmic entity had bonded with Jean in the fire, transforming her and making her its host.

It all ended in tragedy, of course. Jean Grey fell under the influence of a mutant called Mastermind, who used illusions and hallucinations to warp and twist her psyche. He unwittingly transformed Phoenix into Dark Phoenix, a savage and voracious entity who literally consumed an entire star-system. “The Dark Phoenix Saga” came to a head with Jean Grey choosing to commit suicide rather than risk the return of Dark Phoenix.

“The Dark Phoenix Saga” was the product of creative differences behind the scenes. Claremont had originally intended for Jean Grey to be left depowered as penance for her crimes, but editor Jim Shooter wasn’t impressed with that idea. When he learned that Dark Phoenix had destroyed an entire star system, committing genocide when she wiped out an inhabited planet in the resulting supernova, he insisted that depowering wasn’t enough. In the end, Marvel settled on killing Jean as a last resort in order to end the disagreements. Crucially, Shooter insisted that Jean could only return from the dead if a writer found a way to absolve her of Dark Phoenix’s sins.

Related: Here’s How Marvel Just Brought Original Jean Grey Back to Life

Naturally, that edict simply meant future writers saw bringing Jean Grey back as a challenge. It was Kurt Busiek who finally came up with the idea for how to pull it off. He suggested that Jean Grey had never been Phoenix at all; rather, the real Jean had been replaced by the cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force, which had sought to know what it was to be human. Injured due to her experience in the solar flare, the real Jean had been kept safe in a restorative cocoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay.

This actually turns the themes and concepts of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” on their head; in the original comic, it is Jean’s humanity that enables her to commit suicide and prevent the return of Dark Phoenix, whereas this retcon establishes the humanity as the flaw introduced into the Phoenix Force that led to its temporary insanity. Marvel went with this approach, and as a result the Phoenix could be treated as a separate entity to Jean Grey. All that cosmic mythology was established in the years that followed, and Marvel writers continue to add new layers to it every year.

Page 2 of 2: The Phoenix Force in the Movies

Comic book fans have tended to argue that superhero films should “stick to the source material,” but writers and directors have always found that quite challenging. For one thing, an idea doesn’t necessarily translate effectively from one medium to another. In the case of the Phoenix Force, though, the situation is even more complicated. Claremont’s original comics were very unclear as to just what the Phoenix was in the first place; was Jean suffering from some sort of Dissociative Identity Disorder? Or was she the host of a cosmic force? The retcons only added further complexity to the issue of adapting “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” given they involved Jean’s actually being replaced by the Phoenix Force.

X-Men: The Last Stand ditched the cosmic side of the Phoenix Force altogether. It treated Jean as a mutant of almost unlimited telepathic and telekinetic potential, who had developed multiple personality disorder. Sensing the risk, Charles Xavier had used his own psychic barriers to lock Jean’s abilities down, and to restrain her alternate persona. But a near-death experience had unlocked both the power and the personality, and Jean became Phoenix. As Simon Kinberg told The New York Times, she became the embodiment of the Electra Complex, the opposite of the Oedipus Complex: a condition where some young women become unnaturally attached to their fathers and yet secretly wish to kill them and destroy everything that stands for them in order to assume their power. Phoenix killed Professor Xavier and sided with Magneto, before finally being killed by Wolverine.

Related: Dark Phoenix’s Jean Grey Looks Worryingly Like X-Men: The Last Stand’s

Kinberg has recently reflected that The Last Stand‘s greatest weakness was its failure to go cosmic. “I think that was a time in superhero movies where that just wasn’t being done,” he noted, “and now we live in a time with Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor: Ragnarok and so many comic book movies are interstellar and cosmic.” He has a point; it has to be remembered that, before the success of the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises, the cheesiness of Batman and Robin had briefly been believed to have killed off the entire superhero genre. That’s the reason the X-Men never wore spandex and didn’t go into space.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix appears to be taking a more nuanced approach, just like the original comics. Many of the basic plot points seem to be similar; Jean is still a powerful young mutant who has suffered trauma, in this case the deaths of her parents when her powers were triggered. Fearing Jean’s power, Xavier used his own abilities to lock them down and – it’s hinted in the trailers – even erase her memory that she was responsible for her parents’ deaths. Those psychic barriers began to break down in the third act of X-Men: Apocalypse, when Jean unleashed her power in order to defeat the titular villain. This time round, though, there is also clearly a Phoenix Force. Just as in the comics, Jean is caught up in a solar flare, and emerges unscathed but transformed and unstable.

Actress Sophie Turner has treated this as a kind of Dissociative Identity Order, spending a lot of time researching mental health. As she explained:

“As soon as Simon [Kinberg] kind of told me what the movie was about we just started straight away sharing ideas, sharing materials. Simon gave me a big, big book on schizophrenia. I actually found this thing online, on YouTube. And it was just kind of repeating, repeating, repeating, what it sounds like being a schizophrenic. So I used to walk around town with all these voices in my head. Kind of feel it out. And see what it felt like. We also explored Multiple Personality Disorder as well. And what that feels like to kind of wake up and not know what you did, What happened and that shear panic and how that affects you. Jean is just… this movie… She’s so, so, layered. She’s so complex in this movie. I really don’t think that I’ve done more research for a role than for this one and I loved every minute of it.”

Related: Dark Phoenix’s Trailer Makes A Big MCU Joke

What’s unclear, at this stage, is whether this other personality has been a part of Jean for a long time, kept in check until after the solar flare, or whether it is actually the Phoenix itself. Given that Kinberg has stressed the cosmic aspect of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the latter seems likely; that Jean has become a host for a malevolent entity that is influencing her and amplifying her powers. Indeed, it’s been theorized that Jessica Chastain’s unidentified villain could be the Phoenix Force. She could simply be the psychic manifestation of the Phoenix persona, the entity Jean is being tempted and sometimes controlled by. At this stage that’s just a theory, of course, but it fits the trailers well.

One thing is clear, though – X-Men: Dark Phoenix isn’t going to dive headfirst into all the cosmic mythology of the Phoenix Force. Doing so probably wouldn’t fit very well with the grounded tone and style of Fox’s X-Men film franchise. Rather, it looks to have taken the “multiple personality” concept and added a layer of cosmic complexity to it. It remains to be seen how effective that is, and how the fans react to it.

More: Every Marvel Movie & TV Show Coming In 2019

2019-04-07 02:04:45

Thomas Bacon

Mechstermination Force Review: A Retro Game in Rare Form

Though the difficulty may be a deterrent to some, Mechstermination Force’s terrific core mechanics make trying (and dying) worth the effort.

Taking down a literal army of grunts or overcoming a particularly perilous platforming section is satisfying in any video game, but nothing quite compares with beating a boss. That’s why boss battles are often the most buzzed about part of any new game release that features these foes. They have massive health pools, instant-kill moves, and thermal-exhaust-port-sized weak spots. Mechstermination Force squashes all the filler; it’s a game of just boss battles. And it’s awesome.

A platformer shooter in the style of the retro-game Contra,  Mechstermination Force shares its inspiration’s level of difficulty. The game features 14 massive bosses, each (you guessed it) a giant mech bent on destroying you and everyone you love. But this game is more than just a tide-over until Cuphead releases on the Switch or you finally succumb and buy Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. It’s nostalgic-stylings and the rewarding challenges it provides earn it a spot among these recent greats.

Related: Cuphead Devs Hope Fans Can Get Characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate

Right off the bat, Mechstermination Force throws the player (and their optional co-op buddy) into battle against a giant robot. The goal is always the same. Shoot down the hull of the animal-inspired mech to reveal flashing red weak points. Then rush in and hit the weak point with a wrench attack to deal massive damage. It sounds simple enough, but doing this while dodging the insane bullet-hell of the mech’s arsenal is no easy task. The player’s small health pool can drop quickly after getting hit by fire, missiles, or a foot the size of a car.

Mechstermination Boss Red

All of the bosses have several phases, transforming (Transformers style) into another form after their weak points are hit a few times. Learning the various steps it takes to defeat a phase, the moves to dodge, and how to most efficiently land that final blow are all necessary steps to beating a boss. These aren’t the type of bosses you’ll likely take down on your first try; and that’s a good thing! After all, there are only 14, so speedruns of this game will eventually take mere minutes compared to the average person’s playtime of a few hours.

Luckily for those players suffering through loss after loss, Mechstermination Force offers some respite. There’s a shop you can visit in between battles where health upgrades can be purchased, along with new types of ammo for your gun. These can easily be switched between during a fight with the press of a button, giving players a big advantage against certain types of enemies. Even players finding themselves low on credits to earn these rewards shouldn’t worry. Any previous level is re-playable, so you can beat a boss multiple times and stack up that cash.

After a few mechs are defeated, the game introduces new mechanics like the Magnet Gloves and Boost Boots. The former upgrade allows players to climb metal surfaces and hang from them to gain an optimal position while the latter offers a welcome double jump. These additions make later boss battles survivable and early bosses a lot easier. Mechstermination Force does a superb job of giving the player just enough to make their Shadow of the Colossus-sized creatures seem nearly insurmountable without feeling impossible to beat.

Mechstermination Boss Co Op

And that’s why the game works as well as it does. Either alone or with a friend, the first time a boss reveals itself, a player might scream in frustration. But each subsequent time it shoots a massive laser or reveals its third and (hopefully) final form, you’ll remember when to dodge and what areas to focus.

Mechstermination Force isn’t a game for those easily frustrated; it requires a lot of patience. But beating a boss on the first try would never be fun. Only after losing again and again and nearly giving up but then whispering to yourself “one more go,” should the boss’s patterns be fully revealed. Like entering the Matrix, the player sees what they’ve been missing. And once the mech is “sterminated,” you move onto an even harder robot with 20 more missiles. And you’ve never been prouder.

Next: Yoshi’s Crafted World Review – Hard as Cardboard

Mechstermination Force is available now on the Nintendo Switch. A digital code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.

2019-04-04 08:04:48

Ty Sheedlo

Force Awakens Footage Develops Leia & Poe’s Relationship In Star Wars 9

Oscar Isaac says Force Awakens footage of Carrie Fisher repurposed for Star Wars: Episode IX will further flesh out Poe Dameron’s relationship with General Leia Organa. After Fisher tragically passed away in December 2016, Lucasfilm was forced to start Episode IX development over from scratch. The original plan called for Leia to be at the forefront, much like Han Solo in Force Awakens and Luke Skywalker in Last Jedi. Many fans wondered how (or if) the character would be incorporated into the trilogy finale, and last summer Lucasfilm revealed old footage from the previous films would be used.

How exactly this is executed remains to be seen. Obviously, J.J. Abrams and company wouldn’t have gone in this direction if they didn’t have the utmost confidence in their plan, but it’ll still be interesting to watch come into fruition. Even with the magic of post-production providing avenues to manipulate the scenes as the crew sees fit, one would have to imagine the team is somewhat limited with what they can do. Still, from the sound of things there’s some good material for Abrams to sift through, and a lot of it apparently involves interactions between Leia and Poe.

Related: The Big Lesson J.J. Abrams Can Learn From The Force Awakens

While speaking with Sirius XM’s John Fugelsang (hat tip IndieWire), Isaac briefly discussed the Fisher footage, revealing that parts of it detail the close relationship Leia had with the hotshot Resistance pilot:

“I wasn’t surprised because I remember we were doing that, we worked a lot. [Fisher] and I worked together so much. We would talk about the scenes, and we got very tight during the shooting of that. So it was a beautiful thing to see, and it gets carried over into the new film as well.”

A fascinating thing to keep in mind is that the scenes Isaac’s discussing, of course, were written and shot years ago for the first film in a trilogy when nobody could have anticipated these turn of events. Poe’s also had an additional film of character growth and development now, where he learned hard lessons about what it means to be a leader. Without knowing the context of the footage, one would hope that these bits don’t simply rehash beats from the earlier movies and instead move Poe’s arc forward in a meaningful way. A deleted Force Awakens subplot involving the Resistance owning a super-weapon called the Warhammer may provide some clues, as that could raise some morally ambiguous conversations between the two. Regardless of the content, it’ll nevertheless be nice to see Fisher and Isaac together onscreen. In some respects, Poe is the son Leia wishes she had, and anything that strengthens their connection will be appreciated.

Hopefully, some lingering questions about Leia’s Episode IX role are resolved during Celebration Chicago next month. It’s already been confirmed an Episode IX panel will be a centerpiece of the convention, and it’s widely expected the film’s first trailer will debut there. Historically, Star Wars teaser trailers are more about establishing the tone and atmosphere of a given movie, keeping several plot details under lock and key to play up the mystery. That’ll likely be the case with Episode IX, but it wouldn’t hurt Lucasfilm to peel back the curtain a little more than usual and give fans a greater idea of how their Leia plan will function.

More: How Star Wars 9’s Trailers Can Avoid Repeating The Last Jedi Backlash

Source: Sirius XM (via IndieWire)

2019-03-15 05:03:27

Chris Agar

Star Wars: 20 Things Wrong With Force Awakens We All Choose To Ignore

Star Wars is precious. At least, this is what most fans of the long-lasting series believe. It makes sense, though. It was a creative outlet for fans of all ages. It captured our imagination. It made the hair on the back of our necks rise. It even brought families together and gave them something to bond over. Therefore, when it’s criticized, it can be a bit of a sore subject for some. This is what contributed to the incredibly divisive redirect from the fans on the recent film, The Last Jedi. Although it may not seem like it, The Last Jedi‘s polarized opinions actually stem from what J.J. Abrams and Disney did with the first movie in their new trilogy, The Force Awakens.

The Force Awakens was a 2015 film that brought back the original stars 30 years after The Return of the Jedi. Additionally, it introduced us to an assortment of new heroes and villains, some of which have gone down as just as good as the originals while others are strongly disliked. Regardless, fans were so pumped about seeing a new Star Wars film that was better than George Lucas’ prequel trilogy that many found poorly written and riddled with overwhelming CGI. Although The Force Awakens did avoid some of the traps of the prequel series, there were a number of things that fans completely overlooked about it.

Now that it’s been a few years, as well as The Last Jedi has taken most of the heat, it’s time to go back and see the 20 Things Wrong With The Force Awakens That We All Chose To Ignore.

20 It Was a Remake Of A New Hope

There’s a difference between remake and homage. An example of an homage would be the shot of Kylo Ren trying to take the lightsaber out of the snow via the Force. An example of a remake is basically the entirety of The Force Awakens.

The similarities between the two are far-reaching. Not only are there a number of glaring character similarities between Rey and Luke, as well as BB-8 and R2, Kylo and Vader, and more, but the structure of The Force Awakens and A New Hope are almost identical. Sure, it diverges in places, which is a nice way to subvert expectations, but, for the most part, they follow the exact same beats. This is something most of us totally ignored just because we were so excited to see a new Star Wars film after so long.

19 Anakin’s Lightsaber Still Exists

Since J.J. Abrams is currently directing the final film in the Skywalker Saga, chances are we’ll finally learn how Maz Kanata got ahold of Anakin’s lightsaber after Luke lost it during his battle with his father. Regardless of how she got it, fans should be annoyed at the fact that it survived Luke’s fall during the duel in Cloud City. If you can’t recall, the blue lightsaber was knocked into oblivion when Vader removed Luke’s hand.

The odds that it didn’t crack when it fell hundreds of feet are pretty slim. Not to mention, the garbage disposal would have dumped it out into open air after it hit the bottom. Honestly, this entire story thread seems outlandish at best.

18 Luke Became A Myth In Just 30 Years

Luke Skywalker saved the galaxy thirty-years before the events of The Force Awakens and yet, he’s constantly referred to as a “legend”. Do you know anyone who refers to the events of thirty-years-ago as “legends”, or actually believes them to be? Chances are, you don’t. This is because it takes far more than thirty-years for important events, such as saving the ENTIRE galaxy to fade away and become a debatable fact. Additionally, Luke didn’t disappear after the events of Return of the Jedi. He left around ten years before the events of Force Awakens. So, why are Rey and Finn surprised that he’s real?

Adding this detail into the film was a cute way to get the younger audience excited for something that happened long before they were born. However, as a story decision, it contained little to absolutely zero logic.

17 Maz Kanatta Was Poorly Animated

It’s not that Maz Kanata was poorly animated altogether, it’s that her animation was poorly integrated with the rest of the film. One of the best elements of The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi is that they brought Stars Wars back to its roots in terms of the use of alien animatronic, puppets, and costumes. However, Maz wasn’t one of these characters.

She was given extended scenes where she was the focus, therefore it became increasingly obvious that she didn’t hold the physical weight like the animatronics and real-life actors surrounding her. She moved like a CG character, whereas the others did not. This made it even more difficult to get into her character who wasn’t particularly engaging, to begin with.

16 Han Lost The Falcon

It seems inconceivable that Han Solo would part ways with The Millenium Falcon for an extended period of time. Sure, it makes sense for Han to have lost it in some deal gone wrong, but wouldn’t he have stolen it back? This is also assuming that you buy the fact that he left The Republic/Resistance to begin with and reverted back to his smuggler persona. This does take a bit of a leap of faith.

However, if we go with this story thread, we have to believe that Han would have done everything possible to track down and steal back the Falcon. It’s his baby, after all. Han is also fully capable of doing this. Instead, he completely left it, only to get extremely lucky one day when Rey flew it off of Jakku.

15 Poe Got Off Jakku

Poe Dameron is often referred to as “the best pilot in the Resistance”. However, after his escape from the desert of Jakku, it seems like he should have been on Survivorman or Get Out Alive with Bear Grylls.

Not only did he survive the crash landing, as well as possibly the sinking sand, but he also navigated himself to a village where he was able to either call for help or board a ship that took him back to the Resistance. Given the fact that the Resistance is underground, it also seems highly risky to ask for help to contact them. Frankly, there are just too many unlikely elements at play here. It’s just too farfetched. Therefore, it feels like the writers just wanted him to find his way back, versus making a legitimate story decision.

14 Where Was The Republic?

The only moment we get of the Republic in The Force Awakens is when they are being wiped out by The First Order’s superweapon. Although most fans were happy not to receive an overload of politics as they got in the prequels, the Republic felt noticeably absent in the movie.

In fact, they’re nowhere to be seen. The Republic neither supported the First Order nor openly supported the Resistance. It just hangs out while the two parties battled for its soul and future. This is really odd since the Republic consisted of a United Nations-esque union of planets who were there to uphold democracy. One would think that they would have sent armies to help the Resistance defeat The First Order. Additionally, they seemed oddly unaware of the awful things The First Order had been up to.

13 Captain Phasma Did Nothing

There comes a point where a blockbusters desire to sell merchandise overtakes the story. This is precisely what happened with Captain Phasma. The character was shown in a lot of promotional material, as well as on lunchboxes, in games, and as a toy. However, she basically did nothing in the story. In fact, her two or three scenes were mostly treated as a joke.

Additionally, they cast Gwendoline Christie and hid her behind a silver mask the entire time. They didn’t even give her more than a handful of lines. Do to her physical design, she often gets compared to Boba Fett. However, Fett actually had an important role to play in The Empire Strikes Back. His presence impacted the plot, while hers did no such thing. This begs the question, why was she really there?

12 R2-D2 Woke Up At a Convenient Time

It made sense to have Luke hide part of the map to his whereabouts inside his trusty droid, R2-D2. However, it didn’t make sense for the Resistance to wait until the end of The Force Awakens to access it. Of course, a reason why they couldn’t access it could be because the droid shut himself off. This was due to the fact that he was depressed that his master had vanished. He remained this way for the vast majority of the film’s runtime.

Well, luckily for the Resistance, R2 decided to wake up right when the Resistance needed him to. It wasn’t for any particular reason. The plot just needed him to do so. This was such a manipulative and downright lazy decision on the part of the writers and studio.

11 The First Order Became Powerful In The First Place

If the Resistance supported the Republic and the Republic had the power in the galaxy, how did the two not stop The First Order? How did the splinters of the shattered Empire reform in such a way that didn’t overthrow the Republic, but yet gave them the upper hand?

Frankly, there are just so many questions surrounding this topic. Questions that came up at the beginning of The Force Awakens when we read it in the opening crawl. These are completely valid questions to have, and yet none of them were answered within in the film. In fact, none of them were even alluded to. It was a smart decision to have most of the politics happen off-screen, but we needed some information on how there was suddenly an exact copy of The Empire roaming around.

10 Kylo Even Cared That Finn Betrayed Him

There just no way that Finn was the only Stormtrooper to quit The First Order. What are the chances of that? Even if he was, it didn’t make sense for Kylo Ren to be as angry as he was when the two met face-to-face in the snowy forest. Kylo didn’t even know Finn. He made eye contact with him once. It’s not like the two were buddies before the events of the film. If they were, it would have made sense for Kylo to scream, “traitor”.

Even though Kylo was emotionally triggered during the forest scene, chasing after Rey and the lightsaber was his priority. Instead, he made a big deal about Finn before finally engaging Rey. Was this just to give Finn something to do in the scene? Regardless, it was pretty silly.

9 Rey Could Understand Chewie

Although some see the “Mary Sue” title that Rey often gets may anger some for a variety of creative and political reasons, there is some fairness to the criticism. Although some fans can defend how Rey mastered the Force so quickly, it’s harder to understand how she was able to do a host of other things. For example, Rey has no problem piloting the Millenium Falcon despite never flying it, or any other spaceship before. Additionally, she can completely understand Chewbacca’s dialect.

It’s not like Rey spent a lot of time on Kashyyyk with all the Wookies. Nor did we see her with any Wookie language books. So, just how could this incredibly isolated young woman know how to understand Chewie at all? It seems awfully convenient.

8 The Knights Of Ren Was A Thing

For some reason, The Force Awakens made sure to put Kylo Ren in a category of villains other than the Sith. Instead of being a member of the Sith, he was a member of the Knights of Ren, which is an organization that works alongside the First Order. However, very little more about them is revealed. Unlike the Sith who have an entire lore, nothing about The Knights of Ren is revealed in The Force Awakens or in The Last Jedi. The only thing we get is a rainy flashback of Kylo and his group after the attack on Luke’s temple.

Unless there was a specific plot reason why The Knights of Ren needed to exist, there’s no need for them. It just hangs around to be another element that confuses the audience.

7 The First Order Didn’t Really Have A Viable Plan To Rule

We expect more from our villains nowadays. We need to truly understand their psychology. We need to know what exactly they’d do if they won. The truth is, we have no idea what The First Order would do if they won the battle. This doesn’t make them very compelling, nor does it make the stakes very high. In short, we don’t know why it’s so bad if our heroes lost the war. This is a humungous story error.

Sure, we get that The First Order is bad. Look how they dress, after all. Do they just not like democracy? Why? What would they do differently? Just another dictatorship. The fact that we don’t know is a big missed opportunity.

6 Han Left Leia

A lot can happen in thirty years. It makes sense that things wouldn’t be exactly the same as they were at the end of Return of the Jedi. But the reasons why Han left Leia seem muddled at best. In the film, it seems like Han left because he was hurt after Ben turned to the Dark Side. But wouldn’t that push him and Leia closer? If not, wouldn’t it send him on a mission to try and redeem Ben? Instead, Han went off to smuggle again and left Leia to battle to her possible demise at the hands of their son. That’s pretty cold.

Not only is it cold, it just doesn’t seem like Han. Even though he can be difficult, he has always loved Leia. It doesn’t make sense that he’d abandon her like that.

5 Rey’s Character Design Was Problematic

The first time we see Rey, we learn that she was abandoned on Jakuu by her parents. She also believes that they will return and take her away. However, none of this impacts the plot, nor does it receive a payoff beyond her being sidetracked by another adventure.

Some would argue that this wasn’t needed as it the first film of a trilogy. But, without it, Rey just appears to go with the flow. With the exception of one moment in Maz’s castle, her desire to return home and wait for her parents doesn’t impact the plot. She merely tells other characters what she wants to do and carries on with their own desires for her. If you look at the design of Luke’s character in A New Hope, you won’t find these problems.

4 Han and Leia’s Scenes Are Purely Exposition

Fans waited for thirty-years for Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and the late-great Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa to be reunited on screen. The pair had such electric chemistry throughout the original trilogy and if they had the right writing, they’d undoubtedly have it again. Unfortunately, the few scenes they shared in The Force Awakens were entirely expository. There wasn’t any character building, romantic tension, or tension between the two. They merely discussed their son, wished each other luck and that was the end of it.

The fact that these two legends didn’t have the story they deserved in Ford’s last Star Wars outing is terrible. Yet fans completely overlooked this because Ford was given a lot to do elsewhere.

3 A Chasm Conveniently Opened During The Lightsaber Duel

How does one end a climactic fight that can’t end in the demise of either the protagonist or antagonist due to their presence in sequels? There’s no easy answer to this, but many great films have found solutions. An option that a film probably shouldn’t explore is to create a giant chasm to separate the two.

Sure, the entire planet was imploding. But for a chasm to open up precisely between Rey and Kylo Ren feels pretty unlikely. In fact, it feels like the writers almost literally drew a line between them. This is what we call a “Deus Ex Machina” as something pretty unrelated stopped Rey from finishing Kylo. This is disappointing since this fight is one of the best in the series.

2 Luke Left A Map To Find Him

As much as fans disliked the fact that Luke abandoned his sister, friends, and the Resistance to become a hermit on some hidden rock, not to mention renounce his Jedi status, we think they should be more irritated by the fact that he left behind a map. If he truly didn’t want to be found, he wouldn’t have left behind a map. This map, by-the-way, was split into two and seemed particularly complicated to understand. Therefore, Luke just comes across as a bit of a jerk who wanted to play mind-games with his allies.

Perhaps his reasoning was that he had it as an option only to use in a dire situation, but wasn’t the dire situation when The First Order first started to become a problem in the first place? Frankly, none of this makes sense.

1 Rey Was The Only One To Bring Luke Back

Luke Skywalker was seen as the Messiah. The man who would definitively shift the balance in the war against The First Order. Prior to the start of The Force Awakens, General Leia Organa and the Resistance spent years attempting to find Skywalker, but then some Force-using stranger comes along and helps them find the map that leads to him. Afterward, she’s chosen to go and bring Luke back herself. But why her?

Doesn’t it make sense for Leia to go? After all, she has the closest connection to him. Sure, R2 and Chewie may have helped convince him to return, but another Force-user seems like an odd choice. Especially since he became angry with The Force. Even if Rey did go, Leia would have been the right person to send with her.

What do you think is something about The Force Awakens that we purposefully ignored? Let us know in the comments below!

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2018-12-07 09:12:24

Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Original Lightsaber Story Was Really Crazy

The plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is well-known now, almost three years after the film’s release, but the narrative almost followed a completely different trajectory surrounding Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. Despite being lost during the fateful duel at Cloud City, Luke’s old weapon returned in the sequel trilogy, calling to Rey at Maz Kanata’s castle. The mystery surrounding the saber’s reappearance is one of the biggest sticking points of the new films, as there’s never been a sound explanation for how Maz came to be in possession of it. The filmmakers weren’t sure what to do about it, infamously brushing it off as “a good question for another time.”

It seems highly unlikely that question will ever be answered (Episode IX has plenty else on its plate to take care of), illustrating how the lightsaber’s role in the modern movies evolved over time. At one point, during peak speculation about The Force Awakens’ plot, the ancient weapon was going to be the driving force behind the whole story. Fortunately, things changed.

The Lightsaber Was The Force Awakens’ Original Plot Device

Episode VII picks up on Jakku, where daring pilot Poe Dameron retrieves a portion of a map that supposedly leads to the missing Luke Skywalker. At least from a superficial perspective, the map plays a similar part to the Death Star plans in A New Hope. For the first half of the film, it’s what the heroes and villains of the story are both after, as the prevailing belief is Luke’s triumphant return or brutal death would change the tide of the brewing conflict forever. In particular, Supreme Leader Snoke is worried about what Skywalker’s reemergence would mean.

Related: Star Wars Legends Did The Return of Luke’s Lightsaber Better Than Canon

The map is a simple and effective MacGuffin, easing audiences into this new era for Star Wars and firmly establishing what’s at stake. But for those with long memories and fondly followed the ever-brewing Force Awakens rumor mill, the Ahch-To map was hardly a thought on anyone’s mind for much of the discussion. Just about every plot rumor that came up pointed to Luke’s lightsaber being the main plot device that led to Rey and Finn encountering Han Solo and taking their first steps into a larger world. It allegedly was so prominent in Episode VII that it was set to be the first thing audiences saw after the opening crawl.

The Lightsaber in Space Opened The Force Awakens

In keeping with Star Wars tradition, The Force Awakens opens with the classic pan up in space, revealing a First Order fleet embarking on Jakku. Stormtrooper transports arrive on the surface, take Poe captive, and the rest is history. But well before the film’s release, it was theorized the opening shot of the movie was the lightsaber falling from space. A rumored opening sequence suggested a Jakku villager named Naka happened upon it and accidentally started a fire by igniting it. Naka brought the weapon before the Vicar (which is what Max von Sydow’s Lor San Tekka was known as at the time), who alerted the Resistance about the lightsaber’s appearance. Of course, the First Order learned this information as well and went on their own mission to retrieve it. Much like he did with the map in the final film, Poe hid the saber in BB-8 and told him to flee.

Kylo Ren was said to be actively pursuing the saber because, potentially, its kyber crystal had the ability to open an ancient Sith tomb Luke was guarding. As Kylo tried to track it down, Rey and Finn crossed paths with Han and Chewbacca, sending them all on a quest to find Skywalker so they can return the saber to him. Instead of being a tortured old man consumed by regret, Luke was said to be going insane because of his responsibility to keep the tomb safe. Obviously, this didn’t pan out, but there are some striking similarities between the rumors and the actual movie. The basic set up is the same, but the plot revolved around the map, and nobody knew the reasons why Luke vanished. Even when there are inklings of truth in Star Wars speculation, the theories can be all over the place.

Page 2: Why The Force Awakens’ Lightsaber Plot Was Changed

Rey’s Force Vision Replaced A Knights of Ren & Lightsaber Flashback

As it stands, the lightsaber doesn’t show up onscreen until about halfway through the film, as the weapon mysteriously calls to Rey and triggers the now-famous Force vision where she sees images of the past and future. Recently, it was confirmed this sequence originally included a snippet of Luke’s duel with Darth Vader, with actor Robert Boulter cast as a young Skywalker. This was definitely one of the most talked-about portions of the entire film, as audiences attempted to make sense of it all. Apparently, it was a segment that went through multiple revisions, as the initial plan called for something else entirely – a flashback involving (you guessed it) the lightsaber.

Related: Maz Kanata Is The Worst New Star Wars Character

During their stop on Takodana to visit Maz (who once was referred to as Rose), Rey, Finn, and Han were to hear a story that essentially told the history of the saber and how it ended up in Maz’s possession. Rumors had this flashback sequence depicting a large battle between two warring clans, background about Ben Solo’s training under Luke (and eventual turn to the dark side, forming the Knights of Ren), and Maz stealing the lightsaber from the Knights so she could keep it out of their hands. Afterwards, Rey runs away, terrified of the lightsaber’s power and Kylo arrives on the planet to claim what he feels is his. Again, with a few tweaks, it’s easy to get to what J.J. Abrams actually delivered in The Force Awakens. Following her disorientating vision, Rey claimed she never wanted to see the lightsaber again and went fleeing into the forest.

Why The Lightsaber Plot Was Changed In The Force Awakens

Making the lightsaber, one of the most recognizable aspects of the Star Wars franchise, the driving force behind the plot of a new movie certainly was a tempting proposition, but it’s probably for the best that things were changed. For starters, the original setup doesn’t make sense. None other than Mark Hamill confirmed the original plan was to see Luke’s hand floating through space before landing on the Jakku desert. Remember, Luke lost his hand on Cloud City, a location on the planet Bespin. If anything, his detached limb would have fallen to the surface, rather than sail around the universe for three decades. Fortunately, Abrams and company realized this early on and made some necessary revisions to avoid getting the new Star Wars era off on the wrong foot.

There’s a discernible logic behind the map that makes it easier to integrate into the larger plot. Luke Skywalker disappeared at some point following Return of the Jedi, and everyone wants to know where he went. Some people believed he went searching for the first Jedi Temple, so they tried to figure out how to get to the remote planet of Ahch-To. It’s a very simple and streamlined story to follow, right in Star Wars’ ballpark. And while there were some lingering questions about the map’s origins in the immediate aftermath of The Force Awakens’ release, they aren’t nearly as problematic as trying to explain the infamous lightsaber beginning. Seeing that Abrams (or Rian Johnson, for that matter) bothered to explain how Maz found it, it’s unlikely fans would have been satisfied with the initial plan.

When it premiered, The Force Awakens was widely seen as a triumphant return to form for the franchise, with many feeling Abrams captured the spirit of the original trilogy and blended it with the new. One has to wonder what the reaction would have been if the lightsaber plot remained in place, and odds are it might not have gone over well. It’s no secret its reappearance and Maz as a story catalyst are the weakest aspects of the new trilogy, so Abrams definitely made the right call to mix things up.

More: What Happened To Kylo Ren’s Blue Lightsaber

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2018-12-04 02:12:27