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It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the weekend of a ‘Star Wars’ release! ‘The Last Jedi’ may have an ominous title, but it’s hardly the last movie in this multi-generational franchise. What makes ‘Star Wars’ hold a special place in our hearts? It’s impossible to answer for everyone, but here are five ways the series has set the standard for entertaining a planet.


The Blending Of Science Fiction And Fantasy

‘Star Wars’ is one of the most iconic examples of sci-fi in media. It has all the hallmarks of space battles to alien languages. One could argue that no word sums up the genre as well as the sound of a blaster firing. It captures the imagination of what could be and inspires young inventors to examine just how practical it would be to build a lightsaber, but what makes ‘Star Wars’ special is that the universe is built upon a single exception to the rule. The Force is magic in a world of science. It would entirely earn Han’s label of “simple tricks and nonsense” except that it objectively works. George Lucas wrote a fantasy in technological clothing which made it special, mysterious, and set the stage for the rest of the items on this list.


A Shared Origin In The Force

There was a time when any supernatural element needed to be explained in excruciating detail before audiences could suspend disbelief. A kid could not have powers without a wizard or a radioactive spider or a guardian of the universe bestowing them. We needed individual origin stories for every power and ability until, that is, Stan Lee created a single shared origin for a huge swath of characters called mutants. The X-Men simply evolved. Lucas must have taken note of this when he also found a way to bring this notion to film for his universe populated with Jedi and Sith. The Force surrounds us and penetrates us, imbuing the potential for anyone to be special.


More Plausible Vicarious Living

Because anyone in the ‘Star Wars’ universe could use the Force, it allowed kids and kids-at-heart to more easily imagine themselves as Jedi. I played as Superman from time to time, but it was hard to buy my own backstory. I wasn’t an alien. There was no rocket ship in my garage. An, honestly, if there was any chance of really having those powers I would have know immediately. Yoda taught us that using the Force takes practice. I didn’t force pushing the car door closed, but that did not necessarily mean that I couldn’t. The opening text said it all. ‘Star Wars’ took place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but still our universe! A kid can dream.


The Ultimate In Good Versus Evil

Modern storytelling has embraced the shades of grey that come with moral ambiguity, antiheroes, and ends justified by the means. Multi-dimensional antagonists who are relatable are interesting, but because they are relatable it’s hard to cheer for their inevitable demise. The ‘Star Wars’ Universe allows for the best of both worlds. On one hand, there is literal a dark side that tempts and alters characters in a downright biblical fashion, unambiguously providing cues for evil with red lightsabers and ominous scars. On the other hand, there are characters with complex motivations that range from a smuggler with a heart of gold and a stormtrooper that has a line he won’t cross. The spectrum of morality is as accessible as any fictional world, but the two extremes are turbocharged with the Force.


The Surprise Twist

‘The Last Jedi’ promises a few surprises. Newer audiences may not realize that twists are essential ingredients of the ‘Star Wars’ stew. One of the greatest twists of all time, that Darth Vader is Luke’s father, has gone from spoiler to the most common factoid of pop culture trivia. George Lucas was the original M. Night Shyamalan.

There’s more to Star Wars than any finite list can define. What makes Star Wars special to you?