Filmmaker and Star Wars superfan Kevin Smith has never been one to keep quiet about pop culture developments, and Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm is no exception. But this time, Smith isn't being snarky or hypercritical. This time he's remembering an old friend, and giving us a touching reminder of what Star Wars means to us all.
In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter discussing the Disney Star Wars developments, Smith looked back to a time when being a Star Wars fan was simpler. He remembers an era before the VCR, before we could watch the flicks any time we wanted, before Return of the Jedi even came out, when he was just a kid playing Star Wars with a neighborhood friend and a bunch of action figures.
"Every summer day from 1978 to 1982, you could find me and Pete in his tiny yard, building a new Hoth or Tatooine, brushing ants off our bodies as we laid belly down in the dirt, making Luke Skywalker repeatedly kiss a girl who turned out to be his sister right before they swing from dental floss over the heads of stiff-armed Stormtroopers. It shaped me as a storyteller and as a person."
Like most of us, Smith and his friend Pete weren't just interested in re-enacting their favorite movie moments. No, they wanted to go deeper into the Star Wars universe, so they started dreaming up movies of their own.
"We'd create our own Star Wars adventures. The best story (and the only one outside of the movie canon that we'd repeatedly play) wasn't about Luke and Leia: It was about inexplicable fan-fave Boba Fett... The plot of our backyard adventure: Boba Fett gets trapped by robotic gunslinger IG-88 in a Star Wars universe time loop, sending him through all the movies as well as moments only referenced in the flicks."
The two friends grew apart in their teen years, but obviously Smith never forgot that Star Wars playtime. And then, when Smith's film career was just beginning, he got some news.
"One morning shortly after Clerks happened to me, I got the absolute s#!t news that Pete King had been hit by a car in New York City. I asked how long his recovery would be only to learn the awful truth: Pete had died."
Now we come to the present day. This is the part where you might want to have a tissue nearby.
"Not a summer goes by when I don't think about Pete or our ongoing saga of Boba Fett lost in time. So when I heard about Disney's $4 billion Lucasfilm acquisition, naturally I had a brief, one-sided conversation with my former best friend.
"'We might finally get to see that Fett flick we always dreamed about, Pete,' I said aloud at my desk after I read the news."
Obviously we've all got hopes for where the next chapter of Star Wars will take us as viewers, but Smith's story is also a reminder of how closely these films are tied to many of our childhoods. And as for that Boba Fett-headlined flick, Smith's actually holding out hope that it'll happen.
"In a world where Disney needs to make back its investment, we may indeed see an all-Boba Fett film. And if the Force wills it, maybe it'll even be about Boba Fett lost in the Star Wars universe time stream. But even if it became the highest-grossing film of all time, it'd still never be as good as Pete King's version."