Trailer Talk: The Force Awakens

When the trailers for the coming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" started to trickle out in the spring, our friend John Tobben of Raleigh & Co. discussed the cultural phenomenon and fan expectations with Joe Ovies of 99.9 FM The Fan.

Posted Updated

John Tobben / Raleigh & Co.
When the trailers for the coming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" started to trickle out in the spring, our friend John Tobben of Raleigh & Co. discussed the cultural phenomenon and fan expectations with Joe Ovies of 99.9 FM The Fan.
Tobben: So the second Star Wars trailer semi-unexpectedly dropped Thursday afternoon and the Internet and Twitter predictably exploded in a way that, in and of itself, is more interesting than the trailer. Star Wars has been popular for a long time but it’s never been “cool” until now. Is that because Star Wars is no longer considered nerd-ish per se, or has Twitter just allowed nerd culture to flourish in a way that wasn’t previously possible?
Ovies: Star Wars appears to be peaking again for a variety of reasons seemingly coming together at the right time. There’s no denying social media has contributed to nerd culture going mainstream, but I think there’s much more to this Star Wars revival than folks reacting in ALL CAPS on Twitter or websites breaking down trailers frame-by-frame.

In my opinion, the key to the hype and building expectations is trust.

Unfortunately, George Lucas destroyed that trust by needlessly tinkering with the original trilogy. Sure, it was his franchise, but he has no one to blame but himself for suffocating the life out of it.

Why was it necessary to shoehorn CGI banthas, completely alter the tone of Han Solo by having Greedo shoot first or throwing in bizarre dance numbers? And don’t get me started on the prequel trilogy, which lost all of the corny charm of the originals and insisted upon itself. While I’ll defend "Revenge of the Sith," which almost works as a stand alone film that sets everything up nicely for "A New Hope," "Phantom Menace" and" Attack of the Clones" are largely unessential.

So imagine how "The Force Awakens" would be received in today’s environment if Lucas was still in control of Star Wars?

Instead, we’ve got Disney running the show. Not everything they touch is gold, but they’re in the geek trust tree after doing such a fantastic job with Marvel. JJ Abrams only adds to the credibility. Everyone who felt burned by Lucas can’t help but come back and at least be intrigued by what somebody else can do with Star Wars.

Then there’s the nostalgia factor. X-Wings, TIE fighters, crashed Star Destroyers and the Millennium Falcon are big shiny objects for anyone who grew up loving Star Wars. Also consider a good chunk of the core demographic has kids around the same age as they were when the original trilogy came out. It warms our cold hearts (well, at least mine) to see them playing with Star Wars LEGO sets we would have given our left arm for back in the day. There are tie-ins like Rebels and Yoda Chronicles on Disney XD as entry points for the younger crowds and parents will want to introduce them to main story. It’s a way to connect.

Throw it all together and you’ve got the current state of hysteria. Social media obviously adds to it all.

Tobben: For me this trailer was officially the point of no return with regards to expectations. The first trailer was great, but was just flashes — just enough to get a sense of the tone, but still theoretically great snippets from a terrible film. This second trailer let things breathe more and now I’m all in. Where are you in terms of expectations?
Ovies: I’m confident Abrams won’t disappoint. He did a great job rebooting Star Trek, a franchise he didn’t cherish like Star Wars, so I expect him to take loving care of iconic characters and hand it off to the next generation. It’s also important to keep this in mind: it’s just the first of three films.

"A New Hope" had a beginning, middle and end because there was no guarantee the franchise would ever take off. Nowadays we expect sprawling epics to take place over multiple films, but it’s not like this is a new property like "John Carter of Mars." It’s f’n Star Wars. So even if the first movie “disappoints” some portion of the audience, they’ll go see the next one. It really can’t be judged until the other two movies are completed.

Tobben: Since the first trailer, I’ve been on record saying that the original trilogy characters should be kept off screen in trailers until the film releases, but the shot of Han and Chewie broke the Internet in a way more powerful than Kim Kardashian’s butt could possibly imagine. So I ask, should we see Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia before next Christmas?
Ovies: Should we? No. Will we? Yes. And I’m fine with it.

We knew Han Solo and Chewbacca were in the next installments, so why not provide a little fan service? All we got was the visual catnip, but we still don’t know anything about their plot thread. There’s no reason why they can’t do the same with Luke and Leia. Give the people some sizzle, but wait on serving them the steak.