The Battle of Endor

A Star Wars Celebration

My twelfth birthday party was a Star Wars celebration. Just ten days before I turned the big “one-two” (March 24, 1997) the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi was released in movie theaters. So on the Sunday before my birthday, a handful of friends and I were dropped off at the local theater to see Episode VI/

While there are plenty of gripes to be had with the Star Wars Special Edition – George Lucas’ re-mastered/edited Original Trilogy – as a kid I really had no issue with them. At the time, what got me excited was seeing Star Wars on a big screen, plain and simple. Besides, the Original Trilogy Special Edition were not just another set of films. Oh no, they were the pinnacle of cinematic brilliance in my young mind, a new way of experiencing Star Wars in a shape and form I had never imagined possible. Coupled with the knowledge that Lucas was, at the time, working on a new Star Wars trilogy, the Special Edition was, in many respects, my first step into a fundamentally different way of being a Star Wars fan.

I am unable to remember every detail about my twelfth birthday. Today, twenty-two years removed, many of the details are a blur. I can recall which friends I went with, but I do not remember what we talked about as we sat and waited for Return of the Jedi to begin. I am sure our conversation was brilliantly nerdy and immaculately adolescent. I would expect nothing less from almost 12-year-old me. Likewise, my memory of watching the film on that Sunday afternoon is spotty, and I am just not able to bring forth the emotions/feelings I had as the movie played.

Except, that is not entirely true. While memories fade as time moves on, I CAN recall precisely how I felt at the end of the film. Etched into my mind is the sheer joy, hope, and wonder of seeing the various celebrations which took place across the Star Wars galaxy following the Battle of Endor. While the original cut of Return of the Jedi ONLY included the Rebels celebrating with the Ewoks after the battle, in this new Special Edition of the film George Lucas inserted brief shots of galactic citizens flooding streets and celebrating together. As I sat there watching these Star Wars celebrations unfolding on Bespin, Tatooine, Naboo, and Coruscant, I was left feeling dizzy with excitement. Even now, as I think of that moment in the theater, the memory is visceral, I am still dizzy and overwhelmed.

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But why? Why, after watching two hours of Return of the Jedi, would the end, and the inclusion of these celebrations, resonate with me so deeply? Honestly, the answer is so dang obvious that it is almost underwhelming: it’s because humans and aliens across the galaxy were coming together to celebrate the downfall of the Galactic Empire.

I always enjoyed the original celebration at the end of Return of the Jedi, where the Ewoks and Rebels are dancing/singing together (and Lando is awkwardly clapping along to the “Ewok beat”) following their victory at Endor. But this Star Wars celebration was always small scale and localized, it was JUST the participants from the battle who were rejoicing. In the Special Edition, what we end up seeing is the news of the Endor victory cascading across the galaxy: another Death Star destroyed, the Imperial fleet in tatters, and most importantly, the Emperor dead. On Coruscant, in the heart of the Imperial capital, fireworks were launched and statues torn down. On Naboo, Gungans danced and shouted “Wesa free!” Seeing these celebrations taking place on different planets expanded the impact of what the Rebellion had accomplished not for themselves, but for the galaxy writ-large. In that moment, as I sat transfixed by the sights and sounds of these Star Wars celebrations, I was transported across the vast expanse of the Star Wars galaxy and was given the chance to truly experience just how important the Rebel cause, and victory, was for average people. 

George Lucas gets a lot of flak for choices he made with the Special Edition but to this day I am incredibly grateful – as a Star Wars fan and a person – for the addition of these celebrations at the end of Return of the Jedi. On a day I was having a Star Wars celebration of my own, getting to witness the joy of individuals within Star Wars celebrating the defeat of the Empire was truly special. 

The Force Awakens Without Lando

Admittedly, I was disappointed that Lando Calrissian, our favorite smooth-talking “galactic entrepreneur,” was left out of The Force Awakens. While arguments in defense of his absence have typically revolved around that fact that he was not an “original” character in the Original Trilogy, I have consistently felt that this argument is flawed. True, Lando was not in A New Hope and was only introduced at the outset of the Third Act in The Empire Strikes Back. But from his first appearance as Baron Administrator of Cloud City and onward, Lando Calrissian (portrayed by Billy Dee Williams) was elevated to “origial character” status, playing a critical role in the major events which unfold in the remainder of Original Trilogy.

This being the case, it’s especially important to remember (as if one could really forget) that Lando not only commanded the Rebel Starfighter squadrons during The Battle of Endor, but that he also flew the Millennium Falcon into the superstructure of the Second Death Star and (with the help of X-Wing pilot Wedge Antilles) destroyed the battle station. So sure, Lando wasn’t an “original” Original Trilogy character, but his actions – culminating in his heroics in Return of the Jedi – absolutely established him as a character equal in importance and stature with R2-D2, C-3PO, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, and Han Solo. The iconic last scene in Return of the Jedi, which includes each of these heroes, as well as Lando, is visual proof of this obvious fact (see the featured image above). 

Further, the “not an original character” argument also falls short because Admiral Ackbar and Nien Nunb, both secondary characters introduced in Return of the Jedi, were in The Force Awakens. While it is pretty damn awesome that Ackbar and Nunb are in the film, it is none-the-less perplexing that Lando was left out while they were not. In fact, this is even more perplexing when one remembers (again, not that one could forget) that Nien Nunb was Lando’s co-pilot during The Battle of Endor. His co-pilot!!!

Lando and Nien
Lando and Nien Nunb in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Now, in stating, albeit briefly, why I think this particular argument for Lando’s absence is flawed, I also have to acknowledge that after watching The Force Awakens, I don’t really think Lando could have fit into the movie all that easily. It is certainly conceivable, for example, that he would be hanging out at Maz Kanata’s Castle on Takodana, but had he been there when Han, Finn, and Rey enter, his presence would have taken away from our introduction to Maz Kanata. And, had he been a member of the Resistance high command on D’Qar, his presence may have felt much more like a basic cameo, just one voice among many offering insight into the battle against the First Order.

These two possibilities are certainly not the only spots Lando could have appeared. However, I don’t really find it necessary to speculate on every moment Calrissian could have popped up in The Force Awakens. Instead, I’d much rather note that these and many other scenes could have accommodated Lando and his unique, out-going personality, but in doing so the scenes – and by extension the film – would have needed to be fundamentally altered to make his appearance meaningful. Certainly, writer/director J.J. Abrams might have been able to find a way to do this, perhaps installing General Calrissian into the Resistance and putting him center-stage to determine the attack plan against Starkiller Base. Yet, for whatever reason(s), Abrams chose not to include Lando, and again, while I’m disappointed by Lando’s absence, I think the movie Abrams made is a good one even without the “old smoothie.”

Besides, with Episode VII in the books, we must now look toward Episode VIII and IX for Calrissian to make another glorious onscreen appearance. And, even though the IMDB page for Episode VIII does not list Billy Dee Williams as part of the cast, I can certainly imagine a scenario in which Lando’s inclusion hidden until the last possible moment. In fact, I would be quite pleased to go into the film unsure if Calrissian was to appear, only to find out he IS in the movie.

Granted, there is the possibility that Lando will not be in Episode VIII (or even IX), and if this is the case my disappointment is gonna quickly morph into outright anger…and I have a feeling I won’t be the only Star Wars fan feeling that anger.


Check out my follow-up to this piece: Lando Loiters in a Marketplace

Fan Feelings on Ewoks

When it comes to the Ewoks and their role in Return of the Jedi, one thing is certain: their inclusion in the film is hotly debated among Star Wars fans. There are fans who absolutely love and adore the Ewoks, and there are also fans who despise them and believe the Ewoks are ridiculous part of the Star Wars galaxy. Why do people have these particular feelings about Ewoks? Well, according to Barney Stinson (from the show How I Met Your Mother), if you were born after May 25, 1973, you like Ewoks because they remind you of your teddy bear. Here, go see what I mean: Barney on Ewoks and Age.

While there is, perhaps, a nugget of truth in what Barney says, it is also much more complicated. People have preferences on different topics for a whole slew of reasons, Ewoks included. So, in this post, I decided to collect thoughts on Ewoks from people who were willing to share. Whether they were for or against Ewoks, or just felt neutral about them, I wanted to honor all sides of the “Great Ewok Debate” and provide a space for anyone who wanted to participate. I hope you enjoy these Fan Feelings on Ewoks and, just like with the Ewok Haikus, if you want to add to the page, feel free to send me your thoughts on Ewoks. Or just leave a comment! Either way, lets keep the conversation(s) going!!!


From Mark Lockard (Blogger at the Disembodied Beard; follow him on Twitter @LockardMk)

Ewok-bashing. It’s real, and it’s in your community. Did you know?

Ewoks are an easy target, and not just for stormtroopers driving chicken-walkers. They’re easy to make fun of because they’re an especially childish character in what’s already a kinda childish movie. I get why people don’t really like them playing a role in a high-stakes movie like Return of the Jedi. I don’t agree, but I get it.

I don’t agree because childish doesn’t have to mean that you as an adult can’t love it, or that its somehow less meaningful than something labeled for adults. Some of the best stories we’ll ever have are kids’ stories. And some of the best characters we’ll ever have are waddling, singing, teddy bears from outer space. Ewoks do for the Star Wars viewer what the annihilation of Alderaan cannot: it gives us a community, full of living beings whose very home is as stake.

So much of the original Star Wars trilogy takes place on desolate planets or isolated ships. From Tatooine to Hoth to Dagobah, we don’t get to see much of how the menace that is the galactic empire impacts groups of beings just living their lives together. Ewoks give us that. They put a face (a cuddly one, yes) on the cause of the rebellion. They are representative of the cultures and beings we’re all hoping Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, and 3P0 will save.

And in the midst of that hope, they remind us that sometimes our love ones die and don’t come back. Not everyone gets to see the happy end of the story. It reminds us that war isn’t a space opera; it’s death in our midst. Which is why it’s fitting that the Ewoks are also the voices of joy after the Death Star is destroyed. They’re the first to celebrate peace because they know how valuable it is.

In that way, Ewoks are us: the non-heroes; the non-Jedi; the everyday human. Cheering them on is only natural.

From Star Wars Guy (Follow him on Twitter @StarWarsNerdMN)

As someone who first watched ROTJ when he was 7 years old, I have never been a fan of the Ewoks. As a child, I didn’t think they were cool because they were basically teddy bears. What’s cool about that to a 7 year old boy? Nothing, that’s what. As I grew older, and my fandom increased, I of course wondered how a band of primitive teddy bears could take on an Imperial Garrison. Then as I got even older, it felt like the Ewoks were just a money grab to sell toys. Now, in my late 30’s, I resent the Ewoks because they took the place of Wookiees. I mean, how cool would it have been to have the end of ROTJ take place on Kashyyyk?!

From Trey Loomis

Ewoks are very interesting creatures. They look like soft fluffy teddy bears, but they also have a feisty fighting spirit. The moment they are introduced in Star Wars I instantly fell in love with them. As they fell on the battlefield my heart wept for them. When they were kicking the storm troopers asses I cheered out-loud. No other sci-fi universe has creatures as amazing as the Ewoks.

From Cameron Clark (Blogger over at the Four Letter Nerd)

I know Ewoks get a bit of a bad rap from a majority of people. Personally I have a bit of a soft spot for these tiny, inquisitive, homicidal creatures. In fact, my wife (who likes Ewoks almost more than anything else in Star Wars) and I even named our first Shih-Tzu Wicket after the Ewok portrayed by Warwick Davis in Return of the Jedi. They seem get a lot of flak for being too cute and cuddly, and it often gets point out how ridiculous it is that these tiny, big-eyed teddy bears were able to help the Rebel Alliance defeat the Empire on the forest moon of Endor, but it appears that the Ewoks are the apex predators of that moon. I mean, they easily captured pretty much all of the heroes and would have eaten their corpses after a nice roasting had it not been for them mistaking C-3PO for a god. These creatures are smart, calculating, have a pretty complex societal structure, and are the top of the Endorian food chain. Their guerrilla style tactics would be unfamiliar to the Stormtroopers and the surprising amount of violence wrapped up in such an unassuming package is liable to catch anyone off guard.

Does it get anymore adorable than this? Thanks to Cameron and Paige Clark for sharing this picture!!!

Does it get anymore adorable than this? Thanks to Cameron and Paige Clark for sharing this picture!!!

From Paige Clark (Check out this post she wrote for the Four Letter Nerd)

Ewoks. What do Ewoks mean to me? Would “everything” be a little dramatic? Ok, so maybe not everything, but there is a special place in my soul for the little furry guys. I’ve always been on the nerdy side, but didn’t watch Star Wars until I was in High School and didn’t fully appreciate it until I started dating my now husband and he opened my eyes to the Force. When I first watched Return of the Jedi and Wicket took Princess Leia “hostage,” he took my heart hostage as well. I don’t know what it is about them that make them so appealing. Maybe their baby bear like qualities or the fact that they kicked some serious Empire ass during the battle. If you think about it, it truly is amazing how clever they are to maintain the society they do. They have their own government, social order, and apparently religion as well. That is truly remarkable. The love they have for one another is evident when one Ewok is killed and the other is obviously heartbroken trying to wake him up. I tear up every time. When my husband and I got our first dog he looked just like the little baby Ewok from the movie and he was chocolate brown just like Wicket. When we found out I was pregnant the first time around our son came home from the hospital as Yoda, and our second son came home as Wicket –to say we are fans would be an understatement.

From Carter Daniel (Follow him on Twitter @hRXQN5J3VNfer5Q)

It is a known fact that Ewok’s are iconic creatures, love them or hate them. However, I find it difficult to discuss how I think they should be seen. I believe that the Ewok’s were creatures that were created mainly to help the Rebels in ROTJ. But I also believe this lead to the merchandise which then lead to the criticism they have received. The Ewok’s are little, cute, fuzzy creatures but they did try to eat our heroes and then they helped them murder the foot soldiers that opposed them. They aren’t awful, just misunderstood in a strange way. I almost feel that the Ewok’s are a bit underrated and that they don’t receive enough love. And I also feel like their full story, their origin story, has yet to be truly told (*cough….. Marvel). Some may disagree with this but I think it could be a cool story and could even change fan perceptions of them.

From Alicia Hickman

Looks like a few of Alicia Hickman's Ewoks snagged a Stormtrooper...

Looks like a few of Alicia Hickman’s Ewoks snagged a Stormtrooper…

So here I am in my living room, reeling from the stats quiz I just totally bombed. I can start reading this article about information theory and metadata or I can set up my favorite LEGO Star Wars set, the Ewok Village. Which will I choose? Search your feelings.

This isn’t my favorite set just because it comes with a plethora of unique and rare minfigs (Luke in his black Jedi get-up with cybernetic hand, Leia with her hair down, and a smiling instead of smirking Han). It’s my favorite because of the Ewoks. It’s my favorite because of the minute detail LEGO designers put into the design of the treetop village.

But enough about my super awesome collection of LEGO Star Wars sets. Why do I like Ewoks? When I was younger, I liked them because they were cute, fuzzy comic relief in a movie with much too long of a speeder chase scene. As a kid, I missed the Ewok using Stormtrooper helmets as bongos or what that signified. I missed the fact that Ewoks were clearly capable of catching much larger, sentient prey, subduing them, and subsequently having them for dinner in a highly inhospitable way. To young me, they were fun and funny to watch.

...and now they are cooking him.

…and now they are cooking him.

As an adult, I still love the diminutive fuzzballs. My attachment has not lessened because I’m old, cynical, and jaded now. But I do see them as more than just cute and fuzzy comic relief, or as others like to claim, a Lucasfilm merchandising cash grab. They are predators – hunters who stalk their prey and come up with schemes to entice and trap them. They live in a community, have a history and a language. After one evening and one flamboyant retelling of the Star Wars saga by C-3PO, they pledge their allegiance to Han, Leia, and Luke, sacrificing their lives for a cause that doesn’t really affect them. But mostly, Ewoks show us that small, overlooked, seemingly unimportant people can make a difference. As Han says, “Short help is better than no help at all.” Really, the only failing of the Ewoks is their misguided love and admiration for C-3PO, because that droid totally blows.

From Michael Miller (Check out his Guest Talker post entitled The Nature of a Hero)

There are a lot of reasons to love Ewoks.  That’s why the Imperial Talker is giving us a whole Ewok Week!!!  But for me personally, the reason I most love Ewoks is because of how the celebrate.  The second Death Star is destroyed.  Vader has been redeemed.  The Rebelliion rejoices.  It can’t get any better right?  Wrong!  Just add a little Ewok music, singing, and dancing for the ultimate party.  I defy you to listen to the Ewok celebration from the ending of the original Return Of The Jedi and not smile.  You can’t!  It’s one of the most fun pieces of music in the whole series and is an excellent way to capture the jubilation of the moment.  I can’t get enough of it.  Go Ewoks!


Leave a comment and check out other Ewok Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Ewok Week

The Music of the Ewoks

Ewok Jerky

Ewok Haikus

Cute, Funny, and Very Deadly

Ewoks Battling for Endor

The Scout