Everyone needs heroes. That’s why Greta Thunberg is being held up as the voice of a generation while Boris Johnson lumbers from one political faux pas to the next. And there are few places you can find such a high concentration of heroic folk than a galaxy far, far away, and as such you can read about all of them in Titan Comic‘s new publication Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes.
These are the characters that are front and centre of the three Star Wars trilogies and various television series – well, most of them, there’s one huge omission. What you have is a 178-page magazine separated into chapters based on each character, although some, like Han Solo and Chewbacca and R2-D2 and C-3PO, are paired together. Inside these chapters are interviews around the character, sadly not from the character themselves but the actor(s) who played them.
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Because of the nature of Star Wars as a generational franchise, some characters have interviews with the different actors who have played them; for instance Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor. There are no sources listed for the interviews, but they’re a mixture of older archive conversations and newer ones that go right up to the last episode – 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. The characters covered are Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano, Yoda, Lando Calrissian, Padmé Amidala, R2-D2 and C-3PO, Rey, Finn, Jyn Erso, Poe Dameron, and Wicket.
What’s interesting is that they don’t just speak to the actors involved with portraying the characters on the big screen and live-action shows but also give space to voice actors, not just for the television shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels but also the Forces of Destiny web shorts and video games.
The main interviewees are Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Joonas Suotamo, Alden Ehrenreich, Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor, Ashley Eckstein, Frank Oz, Billy Dee Williams, Donald Glover, Natalie Portman, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Felicity Jones, Oscar Isaac, and Warwick Davis. Then you have directors and writers such as J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, Lawrence Kasdan, Jake Kasdan (his son, who co-wrote Solo: A Star Wars Story), Ron Howard, Gareth Edwards, and Dave Filoni, as well as creature effects folks such as Stuart Freeborn, who designed Yoda, and Neil Scanlan, who has handled the creatures for the Disney-era films, all of which are inserted into the various chapters based on which character is being discussed.
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Amazingly, there’s even Clarissa Yazzie Garcia – who voiced Leia in the Navajo translation of A New Hope – although there is one person who is very conspicuous by their absence: George Lucas. There is also no sign of Rosario Dawson, who played the live-action Ahsoka in the second season of The Mandalorian, but you do hear from the various actors who have played Princess Leia in animation and video games, as well as Tim Rose, the puppeteer who brought to life the infamous Salacious B. Crumb, the squawking monkey lizard of Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi. His anecdote revolves around Crumb pretending to be Gomez from The Addams Family to Carrie Fisher in between takes. Salacious indeed.
The interviews are thankfully not too dry and are a lot of fun, with some snippets that may even surprise the more hardcore Star Wars fans. There’s a funny moment about Hamill shooting a scene from The Empire Strikes Back that a boom operator said was a “gorilla smoking a pipe shot”, which meant that despite it being Hamill, with him wearing his X-Wing suit and helmet, the framing meant that you wouldn’t be able to tell it was him. Hamill is also appreciative of Luke’s changing role in the sequels, with a positive take on what seems to be the most controversial of the new films, The Last Jedi.
It does get bogged down a bit because everyone talks about when they got the role and what a big thing it was, and it all tends to blend into the same thing. Some of it does feel like PR words that have been through all sorts of authorised channels, which I guess is par for the course in an official publication such as this. But one thing that’s nice is the attention placed on the importance of the female characters in the franchise, and there are some quotes from Kathleen Kennedy herself on this and how she hopes “we don’t even have to talk about that because it will just be accepted that the female leads in Star Wars are as important as their male counterparts and recognized beyond gender for playing a great role.” Hear, hear.
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My one big issue, though, is the lack of the chosen one. No Anakin Skywalker. Yes, I know he became Darth Vader, but given he not only spent the best part of two and a half episodes not being especially evil, as well as seven seasons of The Clone Wars and I don’t know, coming back at the end of Return of the Jedi to save the day, but it also seems weird not to give him his own chapter. He’s mentioned occasionally, mostly by Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor talking about Hayden Christensen, but it’s just a bit off, especially given he’ll be back soon in the Obi-Wan series.
Overall, it’s a good insight into the heroes of Star Wars. You get interviews with just about everyone and there’s lots of great imagery throughout, including a fair bit of concept art from the great Ralph McQuarrie. Fingers crossed there’ll be a villain one on its way soon.
Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes is out on 15th February from Titan Comics.