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SPOILERS AHEAD: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you want to read our spoiler-free review, click here. The rest of you, read on… but know that you have been warned.
I tried, you guys. I tried so damned hard. Looking back over the last week, I am trying to figure out what exactly I did wrong, but at the end of the day, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was still spoiled for me. When I say spoiled, I mean completely spoiled – everything from Rey’s force sensitivity to Kylo Ren’s lineage, to the ultimate demise of intergalactic badass Han Solo. Everything. This knowledge ate away at me as I sat down in my seat to finally watch the movie, but then something amazing happened; I spent the entirety of The Force Awakens with a gleeful grin ear to ear. I wondered how this could happen, but then it dawned on me: it’s fine that The Force Awakens was spoiled for me because so, too, was the original trilogy.
Before I go any further, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I understand that not everyone shares my circumstances or my opinion on this matter. I’m a millennial – a child of the early 1990s – and as such I grew up in an era acutely aware of Star Wars as an essential facet of the cultural zeitgeist. It’s difficult to even remember an era of my life when I couldn’t instantly recognize James Earl Jones’ iconic uttering of the phrase "I am your father" to a newly one-handed Luke Skywalker. Over the course of my entire life, people have spoken about the events of the original trilogy as is they are universal knowledge.
What I’m getting at with this is the simple idea that I – like many others fans – grew up in a post-Star Wars era where the greatest spoiler of all time had already become common knowledge. Whether or not these plot twists shock audiences seems far less important than the way the cast and crew behind the film handle the moment. To this day any Star Wars fan can put on The Empire Strikes Back and cherish that scene between Darth Vader and Luke knowing full well what's coming because every single person involved in the making of that film brought their A-game. Similarly, the death of Han Solo, the realization that Rey can wield the force, or any other vital plot element from The Force Awakens should be recognized and acknowledged for what they are, as well: singular, iconic moments that make up a greater overarching narrative that.
Am I saying that my experience watching The Force Awakens did not change because I knew what would inevitably happen? Absolutely not. The initial shock of watching Kylo Ren/ Ben Solo murder his father would have most certainly made for a powerful and heart-wrenching surprise, but knowing what was about to happen arguably made it just as intense. As soon as Han Solo walked out on to that bridge to face his son, I looked around the theater realizing I was one of the few who truly knew that things would soon get real. It created a sense of dramatic irony and sheer dread as I watched my childhood hero walk out to his inevitable doom -- knowing what would happen but powerless to say or do anything to prevent it.
Believe it or not, there will one day be a time when people look at the death of Han Solo or the moment Rey picked up Luke's lightsaber as iconic, established moments in the Star Wars mythos. So for those of you who went off the grid and boarded up your house in an attempt to avoid spoilers, I implore you to see my side of the issue. I liken a plot twist to lust: something passionate and intense, but ultimately a short-lived sensation.
The Star Wars saga builds itself on love, something we can come back to again and again knowing full well what will happen, but we embrace it because it’s something we care about and part of who we are. That's how it has been. That's how it always will be.