I was reminded this week of what was really the start of my love of Star Wars. It was Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. As a really young girl, we had the original trilogy on VHS like most kids, but my brother left for the Air Force in 1991. I was only five years old and he pretty much took Star Wars with him and out of my life for the next ten years. I grew up with my older sister and my mom and for a long while I lived in a John Hughes movies and Lifetime channel home. It wasn’t so much that I had forgotten Star Wars as much as it just wasn’t a part of my consciousness.
In 2002, I was sixteen. I was heavily involved in my church youth group, enjoying driving on my own finally, and making my way through high school. It wasn’t until my youth leader invited me to go see Attack of the Clones in the theater, that I really thought about Star Wars again after all those years. The film may have been out for a week already, and my friends had all already seen it. I remember my friend Megan leaning over to whisper that there was a really awesome fight about to happen which turned out to be the legendary Yoda vs. Dooku duel.
I have no idea how I did not notice the Special Edition theatrical releases or The Phantom Menace. I was 11 and then 13, and just doing kid stuff, I suppose. This stuff wasn’t aimed at me, I was a girl in a home with mostly women and it just wasn’t on our radar. That all changed in 2002 in that darkened theater.
I was mesmerized. I was obviously smitten with the dashing Hayden Christensen (my husband should probably thank this film as he is also a dashing blond haired, blue eyed boy), and I was totally enthralled by the lightsaber battles. My favorite moment from the film was the gorgeous cinematography surrounding the three lightsaber battle between Anakin and Count Dooku. And who didn’t fall in love with Natalie Portman in that film? Padmé’s poise, beauty and grace were without question a highlight of the film for me. She was pretty badass too.
After I saw the film in the theater, I couldn’t get enough. I made my mom buy me the VHS of Attack of the Clones along with Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, and then the DVDs only a few months later when we finally got our first DVD player. I took what little allowance I had earned and went down to my local Target to find some Star Wars clothes to wear to school. I was a little annoyed and shocked that there weren’t any cool shirts or accessories for girls. I was bummed, but didn’t let that deter me, and headed toward the boys section. I bought what is to this day still my most cherished Star Wars possession. It was a red tank top with black edges around the sleeves and neck. It fit a little weird in some places and was ultimately too short, but it had a rad collage on the front with Anakin, some Clones, Yoda and Count Dooku. I think there was also some sweet force lightning if I remember right. I wore that shirt with pride even though virtually no one else at my high school openly cared about Star Wars at the time.
Midway through 2003 I joined an online Star Wars forum, and later that year other Star Wars forums including the one where I met Jason, my husband, and you could say the rest is history.
It doesn’t take much Googling to find someone critiquing Attack of the Clones. Whether it’s the acting, the sets or the fake beards, complaints about the film really run the gamut. And they never end. Attack of the Clones will be 12 years old this May and still there is an astounding amount of griping about the movie. It seems every time someone gets a new Twitter account or blog, they must make it clear whether or not they’re a fan of the Star Wars prequel films. I love the freedom the internet gives us to voice our thoughts and opinions, but I can’t help but get weary of the same old recycled complaints. We’re in a place now where we are getting a lot of Star Wars films over the next ten years. There’s no reason to be hung up on small things when Star Wars is no longer in limited supply. I think it’s a great time for those fans to attempt a brand new outlook on Attack of the Clones and enjoy it for the film’s strengths, rather than hating it for its weaknesses (in their opinion).
My son Luke Danger Ward was born just a few months ago and from the moment we found out we were pregnant with him, my husband and I have been so excited to accompany him on his discovery of Star Wars. He’ll be a completely new kind of Star Wars fan, viewing Star Wars: The Clone Wars before he can even understand it, Star Wars Rebels will be a show he grow up with, and he’ll be with us at the first midnight showing of Star Wars: Episode VII on December 18th, 2015 when he’s only 2 years old. Why not? It’s a beautiful new horizon for Star Wars, and a great time to remember that each fan comes to Star Wars in their own unique way. The fact of the matter is most Star Wars fans weren’t even born in 1977. We’ve all come to Star Wars via our own unique avenues. My husband started Star Wars with Return of the Jedi, I started with Attack of the Clones and our little boy will probably start with Star Wars Rebels.
The great comic creator Stan Lee is often credited as having said “Every comic is someone’s first.” This is true of Star Wars films as well. Some might say Attack of the Clones is the worst Star Wars film, but that still catapulted me into the fandom. It is still worlds above anything out there even coming close to encroaching on the unique spectacle of that film.
Attack of the Clones was my first amazing theatrical movie experience, the same way that Star Wars: Episode VII will be someone else’s first, so I challenge fans to keep that in mind as we embark on this amazing future of Star Wars films and television programs and material galore. As much as you may dislike Attack of the Clones, I wouldn’t have met my husband and had my son Luke Danger Ward. I might not even be a Star Wars fan at all, and I certainly wouldn’t be helping run this site with my husband. I might not have bought that super rad boys tank top.
For me at least, Attack of the Clones was the beginning of a beautiful fan-ship and I know the same can be said for many more. I love you Attack of the Clones, and all your cheesy dialogue and weird looking beards.