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Star Wars Club Prepares For ‘The Force Awakens’

The release of the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” has been difficult to ignore this holiday season, largely due to the copious amounts of promotional toys and other new merchandise Disney has churned out since September. This will be the first Star Wars film since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, and for many fans this marks a turning point that could redefine the series, for better or worse.

The Penn State Star Wars Club is filled with semester-long anticipation for the film, and many members have made plans to discuss the movie as a group before and after they see it together this Thursday night.

“We’re going to have a mini celebration, maybe have a movie on and talk about our speculation. We’ll just be really excited and after that, we’ll go see the movie on Thursday, some of us will dress up and we’ll have a good time,” said Star Wars Club President Josh Critelli.

Star Wars cutouts on display outside the bookstore in the HUB.
Star Wars cutouts are on display in the HUB bookstore.

When Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars, it voided multiple novels and comic books that made up the expanded universe that extended the Star Wars narrative past the end of episode VI, “Return of the Jedi.” Club treasurer, Kevin Deam, was one EU fan who was upset with the decision, but has faith in the new direction.

“You really have to hope for the best and trust the studios and J.J. Abrams, and the actors and all that,” Deam said. “We’re gonna have to wait and see, and the wait can really build you up and it can also grind you down if you worry about the what-ifs and the negative consequences.”

Critelli is also hopeful and has liked the changes that have come from the franchise expanding. “I think it’s gotten bigger, certainly more of a hold on the pop culture,” Critelli said. “It’s been more of a positive change, I like being able to meet more people and make more friends through Star Wars.”

Just like Deam connected to Star Wars through reading, other members of the club find special meaning in Star Wars that’s unlike anything other franchises have to offer. Club member Jasmine Pérez made a costume of one of the main characters of Episode VII, Rey, but it isn’t just to wear to the premiere.

“I made it for the Rebel Legion, and we all dress up in costumes for kids at charity events. It’s a big Star Wars community through that,” Pérez said. “I got to really appreciate Star Wars, so it does mean a lot especially when I get to share that with people.”

Pérez (far left) and Critelli (far right) attend Steel City Con in their Rey and Luke Skywalker costumes.
Pérez (far left) and Critelli (far right) attend Steel City Con in their Rey and Luke Skywalker costumes.

The group Pérez is a part of, the Rebel Legion, is an international costuming organization that is committed to giving back to the community via charity events and volunteerism. Pérez has a relatively new love of Star Wars, and Episode VII marks a unique beginning for her.

“I’d say that this movie is a lot more special because as time has gone on I’ve really grown to appreciate Star Wars more. It’s really my starter movie for my new love of Star Wars.”

A Penn State student’s 21st birthday marks a point in their career that’s sure to be forgotten, but for Star Wars Club member Cassandra Lyon, it means a memorable night filled with Star Wars in a movie theatre.

“The official release day is my birthday, and everyone’s excited about me being 21 and I’m super excited about seeing Star Wars,” Lyon said. “It’s a great birthday present for me!”

This wouldn’t be the first time Star Wars gifted Lyon. “Star Wars was my dad’s thing when I was little, we lived in Germany for a couple of years because he’s in the military and when one of the movies came out, they held it back for his unit, so I got to see it in an entire theatre filled with soldiers. I was the only kid there, and that was my first big thing in Star Wars,” Lyon said. “My dad had all the Star Wars Legos that he and I would put together and he would hang on the ceiling. He’s just super into it and it’s just been kind of passed down to me and my brother, too. So it’s always been a big thing with us.”

Regardless of your commitment to the franchise, Star Wars has remained an important part of people’s lives for decades. And even with the change of hands into Disney, Star Wars has kept the loyalty of serious fans while continuing to attract new fans of all ages.

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About the Author

Nick Weiss

Nick is a videographer at OnwardState. He is a sophomore in the College of Communications, studying as a Film & Video major. With most of his experience in documentary film, Nick continues to tell stories at Penn State. Email him [email protected]

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