SWCO 2017

Hello sentients and welcome back to The Sarlacc Pit! I want to start this post off by saying that it is great to be back! Once again, I am sorry for the hiatus, but now I can officially say that I have successfully obtained my Master of Science degree! I am now working as temporary staff and have a bit more free time to work on what I love: Star Wars! I also want to apologize as some technical difficulties made this hiatus last months longer than I expected. Now that the apologies are out of the way, let’s get started!

Those of you who follow my page on Instagram (@TheSarlaccPit_StarWarsBlog) know that a few months ago I attended Star Wars Celebration Orlando. This was one of the coolest events of my life so I figured I would hop back into the swing of things here by giving a brief summary of the experience. I will cut out all the humdrum of the hours spent in lines, the fatigue from lack of sleep, and the extreme late night driving and cut to the fun stuff like panels, celebrity events, and cosplays! I will organize this post as a Top 10 list, where I will give you the Top 10 moments of Star Wars Orlando (from my perspective). This post will be spoiler-free, so read at will!

#10: Comics Panel

In a previous post, I ranked the current Star Wars comics released by Marvel that had already been finished. As such, I believe that I have a well-established love for the Marvel Star Wars comic series. This panel consisted of Jordan White, editor for Marvel Comics, Phil Noto, who worked on Poe Dameron and Chewbacca, and Charles Soules, who worked on Poe Dameron and Darth Vader, as well as a few others. This was a cool panel where the editor, artists, and writers were able to discuss what was happening in the Marvel Star Wars world, as well as give a few previews. Things that were discussed included a look at the awesome crossover event between Marvel’s Star Wars and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra called Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel, which featured Luke Skywalker joining with a Marvel original character, Doctor Aphra, in Marvel’s first foray into exploring a horror-genre story in the Star Wars galaxy. Also, the return of a Darth Vader Marvel series (which was one of my favorites) was discussed, with this new run exploring the events directly after Vader’s gruesome loss to Obi-Wan Kenobi at the end of “Revenge of the Sith.” The writer for the new series (Soule) promised to explore the story of how Vader built his red lightsaber, as well as introduce a pretty bad-ass Jedi as one of the newly-minted Darth Vader’s first adversaries. It is a good time to read comic books, so if you haven’t picked up any Marvel Star Wars series I suggest you do so soon!

#9: Novel Panel

Similar to the comics, I am also a huge fan of the current canon novels that have been released. This panel included Chuck Wendig (the Aftermath trilogy), Timothy Zahn (Thrawn), Christie Golden (Battlefront II: Inferno Squadron), and Delilah S. Dawson (The Perfect Weapon and Phasma). The authors talked a lot about what it is like writing Star Wars stories where they have to build fully-functional plots with characters often cherished by the readers, as well as what it is like creating new characters in the Star Wars galaxy. Golden and Dawson also gave us sneak peaks into their upcoming novels. Golden’s Inferno Squadron was later revealed to be the tie-in to the upcoming video game “Star Wars: Battlefront II” and will follow an elite team of Imperial troopers whose mission was to ensure that events such as the ones that occurred during “Rogue One” did not happen again. These troopers were absolute believers in the Imperial cause and it promises to be a great look into the minds of those who dedicated their lives to the Empire. Dawson’s Phasma will be, as the title implies, focusing on Captain Phasma, the chromium-coated leader of the First Order’s stormtroopers. This novel will look into her past and explore the events that brought her to the First Order. Again, it is a great time to read Star Wars canon, and I highly recommend picking up one of the canon novels from Del Rey Publishing.

#8: “Star Wars: Battlefront II” Panel

This panel turned out to be a bit of a pleasant surprise for me. I played the first “Battlefront” game when it first came out, but since it had zero offline story mode and was pretty much just a basic FPS with a Star Wars skin on it I quickly lost interest. However, this panel revealed that the sequel will actually have a much heavier focus on offline play, with a canon story following the Inferno Squadron (from the previously mentioned novel) after the destruction of the Death Star II through the events of “The Force Awakens.” In this story, players will control Iden Versio, leader of Inferno Squadron, which promises to show an interesting look from the Empire’s perspective. Furthermore, online play will expand through all eras from the Star Wars franchise and some of the old mechanics from the original “Battlefront” games will be making a comeback as well. This panel was actually a lot of fun, and got me way more hyped than I was expecting.

#7: Cosplays!

Of course, no con would be complete without cosplays! Below are just a few of my favorite that we saw throughout the weekend:

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This was the squad for the weekend: me as a Jedi Master during the Old Republic era, my wonderful fianceé Mallory as a Sith lord, and my buddy Daryl (who has edited and assisted with this blog) as the random Bith in the cantina scene from “A New Hope.” We called him Figrin D’aryl.
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Us with a great duo cosplaying as Doctor Aphra with my favorite murder-droid 0-0-0.
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This guy was a fantastic Emperor Palpatine! One of my favorite interactions of the whole con. Check out his podcast at ChannelStarWars.com!
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Samurai Darth Vader and Boba Fett
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Quinlin Voss was a deep cut, gotta love those!
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“Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

Of course there were plenty more great cosplays, but these were just a few of my favorites!

#6: Ian McDiarmid’s Panel

Ol’ Skeevy Sheev himself made an appearance as well! Ian McDiarmid’s panel, hosted by Warwick Davis, was very enjoyable as McDiarmid recounted his time playing everyone’s favorite Sith Lord throughout the Star Wars franchise. One of the best parts of the panel by far, was when he revealed that his favorite scene as Palpatine was the recounting of the story of Darth Plagueis the Wise. That’s right folks, one of the biggest memes on the internet is Ian McDiarmid’s favorite scene. Dreams do come true.

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#5: Mark Hamill’s Tribute to Carrie Fisher

Of course, this Star Wars Celebration was darkened by the loss of Carrie Fisher, known to many of us as Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan. One of the most emotional moments of the weekend was a panel done by Mark Hamill where he honored the life of the woman who played his on-screen twin. Listening to Mark recounting stories of filming the Star Wars movies with Carrie Fisher gave insight to how close the two were and made me realize how much we all lost with her death. As Mark Hamill said during the panel, it’s easy to see that Ms. Fisher was looking down on the panel with a big smile, while flipping the bird at him with both hands.

#4: Mark Hamill’s Panel

Of course, Mark Hamill had his own solo panel, where he talked about his experience as Luke Skywalker, as well as becoming the pop culture icon that he has grown into over the past few decades. Unfortunately, this panel came towards the end of the weekend, and days of participating on panels and meet and greets with fans had taken its toll on his voice box, but even so Hamill was able to put on a great panel and it was an extremely fun time. In closing out the panel, Hamill was even a little upstaged by his two dogs, who ran out on the stage to harass him for treats.

#3: Daryl Confesses his love to Forest Whitaker

Ok, so this is a bit of a personal favorite for sure. On day three of the convention, Daryl and I were in line to play the demo for Fantasy Flight’s card game, Star Wars: Destiny (which I recommend for those looking for a fun trading card game). Suddenly, Daryl starts frantically tapping me on the shoulder saying “Dude, dude, it’s Forest Whitaker!” Whitaker, of course, played Rebel guerrilla fighter Saw Gerrera in “Rogue One,” and later voiced Gerrera in three episodes of “Star Wars: Rebels.” Flanked on all sides by four security officers, the group walked right past the two of us, and Forest Whitaker, who is a pro, even asked us how we were doing and whether we were having a good time. I was able to stammer out a “I’m good, it’s good to see you!” Right after that, Whitaker placed a friendly hand on Daryl’s shoulder. Daryl, always cool under pressure, released a timid “I love you.” Just as Forest Whitaker walked away. I cannot capture this moment adequately in writing, but it was beautiful. It was a beautiful moment from the weekend, and I will continue to laugh at my friend’s inability to form a complete sentence in the presence of Oscar-award-winning Forest Whitaker.

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#2: 40th Anniversary Panel

Day one of Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 opened with a panel celebrating 40 years of Star Wars. This panel was just the beginning of an amazing experience, and what a beginning it was! Hosted by Warwick Davis, this event featured appearances by George Lucas, Kathleen Kennedy, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Davis, Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford. The conversations between these Star Wars legends were amazing, and everything I had hoped to see, but how the panel finished was absolutely incredible. At the end of the panel, Billie Lourd, Carrie Fisher’s daughter, came on stage at the end of a video tribute to Carrie Fisher. Billie Lourd talked about growing up with Princess Leia as her mother, and what an amazing woman Carrie Fisher was. She ended by reciting by memory the message Princess Leia had sent to General Obi-Wan Kenobi:

“General Kenobi. Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father’s request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I’m afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed. I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”

After Billie Lourd finished her tribute (which was absolutely beautiful and definitely made me cry), a curtain opened to revel musical legend John Williams conducting an orchestra in a medley of Star Wars songs! This was another absolutely incredible experience that I cannot adequately express in writing. As we left, we were handed some posters which I would later frame and hang in my living room. This was the starting event for our Star Wars Celebration experience, and it was definitely an amazing way to start!

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#1: Meeting Mark Hamill

The Saturday of the celebration, we were joined by my good friend Jake Edwards (who also accompanied me during my Disney World Star Wars Weekend experience). The four of us had several panels we wanted to see, but had one ultimate mission in mind. Before arriving at SWCO17, we had all chipped in for a ticket that would allow the four of us to meet, and take a picture with, Mark Hamill. That’s right, Luke Skywalker, the hero of the Rebellion himself. We waited in line for what seemed like an eternity. I constantly worried that something would go wrong and we would miss something that I had looked forward to for so long. But eventually, we approached the front of the line, where we were ushered into a room to leave our stuff and then into a curtained area where seated on a stool and smiling at us was the man who had inspired me years ago when I first found myself watching Star Wars. Mark Hamill greeted us all with a handshake, telling us it was great to meet us and making a few comments on some of our t-shirts. This was the third day of the convention and you could tell that all the meet & greets had taken a toll on his voice, but Mr. Hamill is an absolute professional and maybe one of the nicest people you can ever meet. I’m here today to tell you that you should always meet your heroes, because they will not disappoint.

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Conclusion

And there you have it. One of the best four days of my life boiled down to 10 bullet points. While these were my top 10 moments, there are still so many things that happened. I could probably do a whole blog series just on SWCO17. My only regret is that they still have not scheduled the next Star Wars Celebration, but you can bet your last Republic credit that if I have the money and the opportunity then I will be at the next Star Wars celebration.

Ok, it has been several months since my last post, and you may be thinking “Eli, how can I trust that you will keep this blog going consistently?” Well, dear readers, I understand that I have let you down. However, I promise that with this post I will be resuming my weekly postings! Next week I plan to give a review of the recently-released and highly controversial video game “Star Wars: Battlefront II.” This post will contain spoilers for the story of the video game, so I suggest playing through the story mode (which will only take about 5 hours) before reading. I hope that I can return this blog to its former glory, and that I can continue to entertain you all while educating you about Star Wars canon. Once again, thank you for reading, and may the Force be with you!

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