Unique Star Wars Marathon Options This Holiday Season
The holiday season Star Wars marathon used to be a straightforward affair. Block six hours, grab the three VHS tapes off the shelf and take in the saga with family or friends. It was the reason for the season.
The equation became more complicated in the DVD era. The catalogue doubled, which required time that a lot of us were still willing to invest. Deep thought was put into whether to watch the films in release order or chronological order, until a brilliant mind changed the game and introduced the lean and logical Machete Order.
But we now live in a world with a wealth of Star Wars offerings. Debates on how to host a proper marathon have been rekindled with the heat of a thousand lightsabers. As you gear up for the holidays, here are some more unique Star Wars Marathon options to consider this year.
The Kessel Run
While Star Wars is largely a Skywalker saga, a strong Han Solo thread has developed over the past few years. Focusing a marathon on Solo takes familiar material and freshens it up by tweaking the perspective from which we approach the story. The evolution of Han’s character has the most interesting trajectory of the lead character options in the series, and his story packs an exciting adventure between strong opening and closing acts.
Order: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Episodes IV-VI, The Force Awakens
A New Hope works perfectly fine as a standalone space western. It’s a comfortable and formulaic Good vs. Evil adventure with an unlikely hero who is guided by a mentor to overcome adversity. He gets the girl that he’s obviously not related to and everyone lives happily ever after, assuming Chewbacca is finally presented with a medal in the post-credits scene.
With Rogue One now providing a convincing back story to Episode IV and a stronger backbone to the struggle against the Empire, a shorter marathon that should hold everyone’s attention is now an option. Instead of viewing A New Hope as an introduction, watchers begin the film emotionally invested in the outcome and deathly afraid of Darth Vader. And those who can’t sit down to watch a movie without experiencing proper closure will find themselves satisfied in the end.
Order: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Episode IV
The Nub Yub
The Star Wars franchise is hoping to break its run of cornball live-action television offerings when it releases The Mandalorian on Disney’s forthcoming streaming service. Until then, the two Ewok made-for television movies released in the mid-1980’s serve as the standard bearer for non-animated small-screen Star Wars. Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor take place six months apart and are set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Aside from the Ewoks, the films lack any substantive ties to the rest of the Star Wars canon, but if you chose to roll with this marathon you are probably doing so with small kids who won’t be evaluating the films on their cinematic substance.
Order: Caravan of Courage, The Battle for Endor, Return of the Jedi
Unlike their live-action counterparts, animated Star Wars offerings are strong and plentiful. Since episodes tend to run under 30 minutes, this approach is conducive to taking breaks and spreading the adventure over multiple days. Each series adds something of substance to the Star Wars universe and The Clone Wars is so good that I don’t even mind how prominently Jar Jar Binks features in the series.
Order: Rebels and The Resistance work well in the order that episodes were released in. If you opt for The Clone Wars, it helps to have a cheat sheet to arrange the episodes into chronological order.
The Star Wars Holiday Special isn’t just the worst offering of the franchise, it may be the worst television special of all time. As such, it’s a badge of honor to watch the show in its entirety. Adding a competitive element enhances the terror…err…fun, especially if it becomes an annual tradition with a traveling trophy. Simply load up the Holiday Special on YouTube and run it on a continuous loop. Whenever someone falls asleep or decides they just can’t take anymore, they are eliminated from the competition. The last person to survive the marathon wins while losing.
While we may each celebrate Star Wars in our own unique ways this holiday season, let us remember that we are all connected by the Force, that energy between all things that binds the universe together.
Here’s to a safe, happy and Force-filled holiday season for you and yours.