Milford Hutsell

Milford Hutsell

Spoiler warning: This article discusses some scenes and plot details from Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges launched in November 2017, delivering something most Star Wars fans have wanted for a very long time: to actually have a lightsaber duel. A smartphone-powered augmented reality experience, Jedi Challenges put a Jedi weapon in our hands and brought enemies like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren to life right in our homes. It worked surprisingly well — as did its other features, including a three-dimensional strategic combat game and holochess — and garnered much critical acclaim. Now, Jedi Challenges has expanded with a free Star Wars: The Last Jedi update, released last week. For the first time, you can duel multiple combatants — elite Praetorian Guards — at once, as well as a First Order executioner stormtrooper and riot-control stormtrooper. Plus, strategic combat adds the Battle of Crait, including a massive AT-M6 walker. StarWars.com played the update and spoke with Jedi Challenges managing producer Caleb Arseneaux about how Lenovo and Disney brought all this new content into the game, and came away with five behind-the-scenes details. 

1. The idea of dueling two Praetorian Guards at once came out of seeing early footage from the film. “It kind of started with a conversation about what we were going to do different,” Arseneaux says. “In Jedi Challenges, all the duels are one versus one. All tier-one bad guys. Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Kylo Ren. It’s a pretty elite group of duelists that you’re fighting, and so what we wanted to do was change things up. We knew that there was not one single duelist in The Last Jedi that was going to be in that tier.” What to do? How do you top any of those iconic villains? Thanks to a sneak peek at some of The Last Jedi, Arseneaux figured it out. “Lucasfilm was great,” he continues. “They brought us in early, showed us footage of the Praetorian Guard fight, and basically, we came up with the idea of, ‘What if, instead of fighting just one of these guys, you fought two at the same time?’ So I called Schell Games, the developer, out in Pittsburg, and said, ‘Listen guys, we have a crazy idea. Can you actually put two people in the same duel?’ They were like, ‘You know what? We think we can do it.'” The result is an intense experience — the Praetorians move quickly and strike often, bouncing back and forth between attacks. Battling them requires focus, but winning is extremely satisfying. And really fun.

2. The entire Praetorian Guard battle experience was essentially created from memory. While the team got to see early footage of Rey and Kylo Ren fighting the Praetorian Guards, they couldn’t keep it. “We did get to see footage that we used as animation reference,” says Arseneaux, “but we didn’t get to bring the footage with us. We got to see it once up there in the Presidio [at Lucasfilm headquarters in San Francisco]. We got to see it in a very controlled setting. Just from memory, the developers from Schell went back to Pittsburgh and actually animated to it really perfectly. The Lucasfilm games team helped shepherd that effort with some notes and feedback, but in general, from memory, our team animated it.” Knowing this and having played it, it’s truly incredible how Jedi Challenges recreates the feel of Praetorian Guard attacks, from stances to handling of weapons. Once Arseneaux saw The Last Jedi, he was proud. “It felt great. After seeing that moment in the film, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Some of the moves that we never saw before in the footage they showed us early, we animated anyway. It really feels authentic. It feels like those characters.”

TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

3. The two Praetorian Guards are not the same character builds. Which is good for the game…and bad for you. Arseneaux and the developers of Jedi Challenges wanted to make sure you weren’t just having the same fight over and over. So they worked with Lucasfilm in incorporating Praetorians with different skill sets and builds, going through photo reference and set photography to select their Guards. “We wanted a character that was quicker, more light on their feet, and also had duel weapons — one in each hand. And then we needed an attacker that was slower and heavier. We wanted two very different enemies that you were fighting, not just duplicates of the same thing.” The fight is intense, even on the easiest difficulty setting. But you come out of it feeling like Kylo and/or Rey in The Last Jedi. (Depends whether you’re more light or dark side, I suppose…)

4. Some gameplay elements were designed to capture that Jedi feel. When Luke Skywalker first deflected incoming fire with his lightsaber in Return of the Jedi, it was a thrilling moment. You can do that? It would later become a standard Jedi move in the prequels, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Star Wars Rebels. Well, it’s also part of Assault Mode in Jedi Challenges. The new update sees multiple stormtroopers blasting at you, and you need to send all that fire back at the bucketheads. You can try to deflect with a steady saber like Luke in Jedi, or swing your Jedi weapon baseball-bat style, and it feels amazing. “We feel like it really fulfills that ‘I’m a Jedi against a legion of enemies’ fantasy fulfillment that’s really evident in the films,” says Arseneaux.

5. Strategic combat’s AT-M6 walker is seriously huge, and that was a design challenge. In the strategic combat game, you command Resistance forces on Crait against a First Order attack. Using the lightsaber controller, you’ll place troops, weapons, and attackers at different points on a 3D map and monitor the battle, adjusting your strategy as need be. When the AT-M6 shows up, it’s shocking and a literal game-changer. The thing is enormous and awe-inspiring — a definite highlight of the update, but one that didn’t come easy for the developers. “I remember going down to the developer of strategic combat, Blind Squirrel Games,” says Arseneaux. “I said, ‘Listen, I can’t tell you guys a lot. But here’s where the AT-AT comes up to me,’ and I pointed to my thigh. ‘And here’s where the AT-M6 needs to be on me,’ and I pointed to my head. And they were like, ‘Ohhh. Okay.'” The size of the AT-M6 influenced the layout of the map, so that the walker could fit within the range of visuals but still appear slowly and ominously. They definitely pulled it off. Arseneaux offers one pro-tip: “You have to really time the turret use really well to keep it stunned long enough to take it down.” Good luck. You’re gonna need it.

Ultimately, fans of The Last Jedi are in for an authentic, challenging, and delightful experience that they can’t get anywhere else. “If you loved some of those elements of The Last Jedi that are very iconic,” Arseneaux says, “anywhere from the elite Praetorian Guards to the massive battle on Crait, you’re going to be excited and feel really great about this update. So pick it up!” Insider tip: you might even find some porgs.

The free Jedi Challenges update featuring Star Wars: The Last Jedi content is available now.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Available today, Star Wars: Icons of the Galaxy gathers some of Star Wars Insider‘s greatest recent articles. The special collection includes interviews with Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, a comprehensive look at the legendary Marvel comic-book adaptation of Star Wars, and much more. Here are 10 highlights that you won’t want to miss, straight from editor Jonathan Wilkins.

1. Princess of the people.

Princess Leia gets an in-depth profile as Tricia Barr examines the groundbreaking appeal of one of the most iconic characters in the entire saga. As an added bonus, we present a short interview with the much-missed Carrie Fisher at her funniest and most outspoken!

2. Imperial icons.

The Empire’s terrifying stormtroopers have been a symbol of terror in the Star Wars saga ever since they debuted during the explosive opening of A New Hope! Acclaimed Star Wars author Jason Fry examines the Emperor’s most loyal warriors.

3. Make Mine Marvel!

Take a trip back in time to the first Marvel age of Star Wars as acclaimed creators Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin discuss the making of the wild, wacky, and above all, memorable original run of comics.

4. Star Wars style.

From Lando’s cape to C-3PO’s gleaming gold suit, the costumes of the Star Wars saga are as icon as the characters themselves. In this extended feature, we look behind the scenes at the creation of the outfits worn by lead and sometimes background characters.

5. A conversation with C-3PO.

Programmed for protocol and etiquette, C-3PO has been a mainstay of the saga. The same is true of Anthony Daniels, who has the distinction of being the longest serving actor to appear in the Star Wars. Here he reveals some secrets from his long career.

TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

6. Lando and Lobot.

Billy Dee Williams lends a touch of suave in a classic interview, while the late John Hollis looks back on his experience making of The Empire Strikes Back.

7. When Artoo met Wicket.

This vintage interview features two much-loved performers who fans have taken to their hearts. Warwick Davis and the late, great Kenny Baker share their experiences on the original trilogy ahead of the release of the prequels!

8. The fastest hunk of junk in the toybox.

One of the most iconic parts of the entire saga, the Millennium Falcon is the ship every kid (and quite a few adults!) wanted. Kenner gave us the opportunity to get our hands on Han solo’s pride and joy and this feature examines how a toy can be a true Star Wars icon!

9. Empire posters.

As befits a movie often cited as the very best the saga has to offer, The Empire Strikes Back boasts numerous posters that are stunning works of art in their own right. This feature presents a gallery with exclusive commentary by renowned Star Wars historian Pete Vilmur.

10. A flash of inspiration.

Even for those less familiar with the Star Wars saga than visitors to this site, the lightsaber is a household name. What many don’t know is that the story of how the hilt of the lightsaber was created is both fascinating, and in many ways, improbable. Designer Roger Christian reveals how he built a Star Wars icon from what seemed like very little, indeed…

Star Wars: Icons of the Galaxy hits books stores today, and is also available to order online now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indigo, Waterstones, and Forbidden Planet.

Also, subscribe to Star Wars Insider magazine now and get a FREE Star Wars: Catalyst novel, plus save 20% on the cover price!

Jonathan Wilkins is the editor of Star Wars: Icons of the Galaxy.

Allison Shearmur passed away on Friday, January 19. She was a producer on Rogue One and Solo, along with many, many other films and TV projects, including the Bourne franchise and the Hunger Games series. She was an incredible creative force in the movie industry, known and respected by all with whom she worked. And for us, she was more than just a great producer — she was a beloved member of the Lucasfilm family. She was our Alli.

Alli was just 54 at the time of her passing, an age that feels far too young for someone so gifted and giving, who had so much more left to do. We’re grateful for everything she brought to Star Wars and into our lives, which were all made richer and brighter through her. Her independent, positive spirit will live on in her beautiful children Imogen and Anthony, and with her husband Edward. We miss her deeply.

TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Allison Shearmur on the set of Rogue One.

Maybe the dark side isn’t so bad after all.

runDisney’s Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side weekend returns April 19-22, 2018, at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and StarWars.com is excited to use our aggressive feelings and offer a first look at each of the event’s medals. Inspired by Star Wars: The Last Jedi bad guys, they’re simply awesome — beautifully designed and made, with authentic touches that would even please Supreme Leader Snoke. (Just look at the etched lines in the Praetorian Guard’s mask on the 10K medal!) In fact, when they showed up in the StarWars.com offices in San Francisco, we loved them so much that we took the medals around campus to photograph with some of the First Order’s finest. Check ’em out below!

TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

BB-9E – Kids Races

Executioner Stormtrooper – 5K

Praetorian Guard – 10K

Captain Phasma – Half Marathon

Kylo Ren – First Order Challenge (awarded to those who run both the Dark Side 10K and Dark Side Half Marathon)

And just to show that we haven’t totally turned to the dark side, here are two medals that skew more toward the light: the medal for the inaugural Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon, which lets you run at your own pace, anywhere you want, along with the stunning Kessel Run medal, awarded to those who run both the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon and Dark Side Half Marathon.

Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon

Kessel Run

Visit runDisney.com for more information, and be sure to register for both the Star Wars Virtual Half Marathon and for races in the Dark Side Half Marathon weekend. Only then can you fulfill your running destiny and take home one (or more) of these medals.

Photos by Kyle Kao.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Audiences can learn a lot about a character by the way a director chooses to introduce them. Rey’s introduction in The Force Awakens revealed many characteristics about her that became more evident and pronounced throughout the film. Rey remained who we thought she was from the beginning to the end of The Force Awakens: independent, brave, and caring. Kylo Ren’s first scene in the same film, on the other hand, shows only one aspect of his conflicted character — ruthless brutality.

The creators of The Force Awakens chose to not shy away from comparisons that this new Star Wars villain would draw to one of the most iconic bad guys of all time, Darth Vader. They decided to instead embrace comparisons between the two characters and use their similarities as a narrative device. J.J. Abrams noted in his commentary for The Force Awakens, “The character of Kylo Ren was one of the most challenging characters because he sort of embodied what this movie was. It was a new story, a new personality created from the DNA of what had come before, but because he was the villain it meant he was in the shadow of Darth Vader one of the great villains in cinema history.”

As the film opens, Lor San Tekka hands Resistance pilot Poe Dameron secret information in a small Jakku village. Before Poe can escape, First Order troopers arrive and violently start rounding up its inhabitants. When Poe looks up in the sky, he sees the descent of Kylo Ren’s shuttle, a sleek bat-like ship much more refined than the bulky Atmospheric Assault Landers the First Order troopers arrived in minutes before. Things are already looking bad for Poe and the villagers, and now their situation is about to get a lot worse.

Star Wars has a long history of villains in black striding through doorways or down ship ramps during their dramatic entrances, and The Force Awakens takes a similar approach to introducing Kylo Ren. In fact, Kylo walking down the landing ramp of his command shuttle with First Order troopers at attention is very reminiscent of Darth Vader walking down the ramp of his Imperial shuttle at the beginning of Return of the Jedi, complete with exhaust blowing out of nearby pipes.

All of these visual clues let the audience know without a doubt that this isn’t just any bad guy, this is the bad guy in charge. The music during this scene is Kylo Ren’s theme, which is suitably bold and dramatic. John Williams described what he was trying to convey with this piece of music: “I approached the task of Kylo Ren as really just an extension of Darth Vader in a way…if it [Kylo Ren’s theme] could convey in a few notes, as the “Imperial March” does, this evil power, strength, threat… It needs to be something that will hit you and is accessible right away.”

Kylo Ren’s wardrobe is a callback to the garb of past dark-side servants, with a somewhat Vader-esque face-covering mask that alters his natural voice. Audiences at this point don’t know that Kylo is Darth Vader’s grandson and that the resemblance is an attempt to honor the deceased Sith Lord. The mystery of who is behind this menacing mask encourages the audience to wonder what kind of person (human? cyborg? Sith Lord?) is underneath it.

After Lor San Tekka speaks to him about a time before he was known as Kylo Ren, Kylo heartlessly kills Lor San Tekka and then orders the death of the village’s inhabitants in his obsessive quest to find the map to Luke Skywalker. Because Kylo has on a mask in this scene, we can’t see any kind of facial expression to give us a hint if he is at all conflicted or hesitant at this moment. He certainly doesn’t seem to give these actions a second thought, which makes the scene that much more scary and disturbing.

TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

The red crossguard lightsaber Kylo uses to kill Lor San Tekka is a huge clue to audiences that he has Force powers, and Kylo’s next move leaves viewers no doubt that he is a similar threat to the Resistance as Vader was to the Rebellion. When Poe fires a blaster his way, Kylo freezes both Poe and the blaster fire in mid-air. Kylo is not only showing that he can use the Force in this shot, he’s also showing us that he has an impressive amount of control of his powers — perhaps a larger amount of control than those who came before him.

After Kylo Ren orders Poe to be taken aboard his ship, audiences have seen nothing from his character that suggests he is anything but a powerful, ruthless, Force-strong killer. As The Force Awakens continues, however, Kylo Ren’s character and path aren’t nearly as clear as it first appears. Kylo’s actions throughout the film are unquestionably evil, but his journey to the dark side does not appear complete, and his role as a leader of the First Order does not remain unquestioned.

Throughout the film, Kylo wavers between controlled evil and emotional instability. Kylo has the discipline to invade the thoughts of Poe Dameron, but he is also prone to fits of violent rage when things don’t go his way or he is challenged. This volatility lets audiences see both a monstrous and more human side of his character — something we did not see from Vader until the end of the original three films.

Kylo’s mask, and the removal of it are representative of the identity crisis he experiences in different sections of the film. Kylo doesn’t need to wear his mask to survive as Darth Vader did; he instead uses it as a means of intimidation and as a way to perhaps mentally separate himself from his previous life as Ben Solo. Anakin’s change to Darth Vader was physically permanent. He was, as Obi-Wan said, “more machine now than man,” but Kylo Ren’s mask is more of a symbolic prop. There’s more to being a Jedi than just wielding a lightsaber, and there’s more to the dark side than donning a black mask.

Adam Driver spoke about Kylo Ren’s mask in an interview with British GQ. “I remember the initial conversations about having things ‘skinned’,” Driver recalls, “peeling away layers to evolve into other people, and the person Kylo’s pretending to be on the outside is not who he is. He’s a vulnerable kid who doesn’t know where to put his energy, but when he puts his mask on, suddenly, he’s playing a role.”

The removal of Kylo Ren’s mask in different scenes of The Force Awakens lets the audience see the conflict he feels before he murders his own father, Han Solo — a conflict we did not get a hint of in his first scene where he kills Lor San Tekka. Earlier, an unmasked Kylo Ren allows Rey to look into his eyes, and then see his fears when he is attempting to pry information from her mind. Kylo Ren shows a sign of wanting to be seen as a man and not a monster when he rips off his mask after Rey calls him a “creature in a mask” in this same scene. Rey saw Kylo Ren’s mask as a weakness and exploited his insecurities about it, which is a far cry from the scenes in the original trilogy where Vader’s subordinates were visibly horrified by his mask and the man wearing it.

Early on in The Last Jedi, Supreme Leader Snoke also mocks Kylo Ren’s mask and the lack of this mask throughout the majority of the movie continues to let other characters (and the audience) see more of the conflict Kylo feels during the film. Kylo’s destruction of his mask can also be read as a clear turning point for the character — one that would influence everything that would follow in The Last Jedi.

Amy Richau is a writer, lifelong Star Wars geek, and diehard Denver Broncos fan. You can find her on twitter @amyrichau and more of her writing on FANgirl Blog.

Looking for a way to introduce Star Wars Rebels to your friends? Or perhaps you’d like to revisit key moments from the series before it returns? Look no further than Rebels Revisited.

Over the next four weeks, we’ll be providing five episodes worthy of a re-watch (or a first watch) all centered around the journey of one member of the Ghost crew — to get you back into that Rebels state of mind. In case you missed it, check out the first post on Ezra Bridger.

In this installment… Sabine Wren, whose art helped accelerate the spark of rebellion across the galaxy and whose heart helped her to overcome a difficult past. Sabine has become the very model of a modern Mandalorian over four seasons of Star Wars Rebels, and these episodes depict her growth beautifully.

1. “Blood Sisters” (Season 2, Episode 8)

Sabine’s murky past begins to clear up when she encounters her old friend Ketsu Onyo. They soon find themselves on opposite sides when Sabine discovers they’re after the same droid…for much different reasons. For the audience, it’s the first time we’ve really gotten details about Sabine’s past. And for the character, it’s the first real indicator that she won’t be able to run from that past forever.

2. “The Antilles Extraction” (Season 3, Episode 4)

No episode of Rebels better showcases the versatility of Sabine Wren than “The Antilles Extraction.” Artist, pilot, soldier, spy…her Mandalorian upbringing truly shines as she infiltrates the Empire’s Skystrike Academy on a mission to help three pilots defect to the Rebel Alliance and delivers what has become my favorite Sabine line from the series (and a great GIF): “That’s cute.”

TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

3. “Trials of the Darksaber” (Season 3, Episode 15)

For three seasons, Sabine Wren had been a character on the run from her past. In this episode, she stops running. In one of Star Wars Rebels’ most emotional scenes, she finally allows herself to feel the weight of what she left behind on Mandalore and emerges ready to face what lies ahead.

4. “Legacy of Mandalore” (Season 3, Episode 16)

Sabine’s future begins here, with her return home to rally Mandalorian support for the rebellion. That also means mending her relationship with her mother and brother, who are struggling over the Imperial-led government of Mandalore. It all leads to a fantastic lightsaber duel between Sabine and Gar Saxon over a frozen lake, with the fate of their world hanging in the balance.

5. “Heroes of Mandalore, Parts 1 and 2” (Season 4, Episodes 1 and 2)

From my point of view, “Heroes of Mandalore” is one episode (don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t pull the same trick twice). Sabine fulfills her destiny on Mandalore and leads her people to a great victory that provides them hope that the Empire’s grip on their planet can be shaken. She also demonstrates incredible strength of character in her final act there, accepting her place in the galaxy while giving Mandalore a fighting chance to live.

See where Sabine’s journey takes her next when Star Wars Rebels returns for its final episodes. Premiering Monday, February 19 on Disney XD.

You can watch every episode of Star Wars Rebels in the DisneyNOW App or Disney XD On Demand. You can also purchase the series here.

Justin Bolger is Lucasfilm’s Star Wars social media strategist and he doesn’t like the Empire…he loves it. Catch him occasionally on The Star Wars Show and talk Star Wars with him on Twitter @TheApexFan.

Star Wars Rebels returns February 19 on Disney XD for its final episodes, and the trailer released just last week has made us SO excited to see how the series wraps up. We saw lots of Ezra, more “Kanera,” and even a peek at our favorite baddie Emperor Palpatine himself. It may be hard to choose, but what’s your favorite part of the new trailer? Re-watch it for a refresher and let us know why you chose your favorite moment in the comments below!

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time. 

TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

Ahsoka Tano has never been one to fear speaking her mind and her instincts serve her well.

It’s especially handy when there’s a Clawdite saboteur planting utensils at an important diplomatic dinner, putting both her friend Senator Padmé Amidala and the future of the Republic in jeopardy.

The Clone Wars may be over, but the latest installment of the new Star Wars: Forces of Destiny five-issue series from IDW Publishing proves that there are still plenty of adventures to be had in the prequel era. Throughout January, we’ll sit down with the rotating cast of talented creators behind the mini-series to get a behind-the-scenes look at each issue.

This week, we catch up with author Beth Revis and illustrator Valentina Pinto, who teamed up on Star Wars Forces of Destiny: Ahsoka & Padmé, a continuation of the Forces of Destiny short “The Imposter Inside.” With the issue hitting stores today, Revis and Pinto e-mailed from rural North Carolina and Rome respectively to talk to StarWars.com about teaming up for a little lightsaber sparring, characters that are so real they almost write themselves, and learning to let go because Star Wars belongs to everyone.

StarWars.com: The comic begins just before the animated short “The Imposter Inside,” with some lightsaber sparring between Ahsoka and Barriss Offee. As you were expanding on the short, what made you decide to reintroduce this particular Jedi Padawan into the mix?

Beth Revis: I’ve always loved Ahsoka’s arc in the Clone Wars cartoon, and in particular felt that her final interactions with Barriss were really crucial to her character. We see a bit of their friendship, but the focus of the story is obviously how that friendship ended. Barriss and Ahsoka both had very different but equally passionate ideas about what it meant to be a true Jedi. They forged a friendship in spite of those differing perspectives, but they both obviously found some sort of common ground. That’s what I found fascinating — their magnetic-like attraction and repelling of their principles.

StarWars.com: Valentina, of the five comics in this series, your style on this issue adheres the closest to what the crew at Ghostbot, Inc. did for Forces of Destiny, the animated micro-series. What made you decide to maintain that stylization for your comic?

Valentina Pinto: Working for the most part as a colorist, I became versatile both for the design and for the color. [In talking] with Denton [Tipton], one of the fantastic editors of this series, we thought it would be great that a number of this series had the same style as the shorts of animation from which they were inspired…It was really fun for me [working] with color; I thought I was working on a cartoon!

StarWars.com: Beth, you’re no stranger to the Star Wars universe, having previously penned Rebel Rising, following the life of Jyn Erso between her adoption by Saw and her appearance as a prisoner in Rogue One. What’s the biggest challenge in writing a comic book versus a full novel?

Beth Revis: I’m very used to writing narrative where I have to describe everything and often find a poetic way to express what’s happening visually with words. It was both challenging and a lot of fun to let go of that. I tried to leave a lot of room for Valentina to put her own signature in the work, and I tried to only give detailed descriptions when I felt it was necessary to the plot. It was freeing in a way, but it took a concentrated effort to not try to control every aspect of the story!

 

StarWars.com: For a series that dedicates the spotlight to individual characters, it also does a tremendous job of showcasing teamwork both in-universe and behind the scenes. What advice would you give someone about collaborating on a narrative that includes ideas from two creators in the finished work?

Valentina Pinto: To work in a team is to create an alchemy and a collaboration. I must say that we found ourselves right away and it was really stimulating for me! It is an experience that I recommend to everyone in their professional life.

Beth Revis: One of the things I’ve learned from writing for Star Wars is that it belongs to everyone. Prior to contributing to the canon, I felt a deep ownership of these characters. They meant so much to me growing up, that I just wanted to clutch them to me. But once I started working with other creators to develop more stories for Star Wars, I realized that these characters and stories belong to everyone. They are an almost universal love within our human culture, and one of the few stories that translates throughout the world. Because of that, I have actually found it really easy to let go of “owning” the characters. Padmé and Ahsoka and Leia and Hera and Rey and all the others are important to me, but not less important to anyone else. It’s incredibly easy to find a way to tell a story about them, because they are such clearly defined characters that almost everyone can identify with. There’s very little compromise because it’s not needed. The characters almost write themselves, as if they were real people.

StarWars.com: Did you have any input on what characters you would focus on?

Beth Revis: This was the first story I was offered, and I jumped on it! I’ve always loved Ahsoka for her courage at the end of her original story, to choose her own path. And Padmé has long been a favorite — although I particularly loved the action she took in The Clone Wars. She was never afraid of danger, but she always moved with grace. There’s something stunning about a person who can do that.

TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

StarWars.com: The whole Forces of Destiny animated series has focused on small moments and decisions as essential building blocks of a person’s character. Ahsoka is wrestling with some serious self doubt here, great foreshadowing for things to come in The Clone Wars. Why do you think it’s important to include those moments of reflection and uncertainty for your characters?

Beth Revis: Adding in those moments of doubt make the characters more human (even if they’re not human). That’s actually something I really loved about the way the story has developed past the original trilogy. In the original three movies, there was a clear black-and-white picture of good and evil, right down to the clothing the characters wore. The prequel trilogy played with that concept of how our choices dictate what we become, but I think we’re seeing that even more in the new movies — there is doubt, and fear, and those play heavily in our choices about ourselves. It’s easy to see Luke as a hero based on the original trilogy, but I actually quite love the way the past is killed in the new movies — it reminds us that there is no perfect good or evil.

StarWars.com: How did you first discover Star Wars and what turned you into a fan?

Valentina Pinto: I discovered Star Wars the first time when I was little girl but I did not remember so much. However, I’ve reviewed the films recently. My travels [to] Disney Parks have made me even more a fan.

Beth Revis: I first discovered Star Wars thanks to my parents’ old video tapes. They recorded the movies when they came on television, so our version of Star Wars still had all the old commercial breaks. It’s strange for me now to watch the movie without them! I don’t recall the first time seeing the movies; they just always were. My brother and I would go into the field and forest near our house and pretend to be on Endor, using old PVC pipes as lightsabers.

StarWars.com: How would you describe this mini adventure in your own words?

Valentina Pinto: This mini adventure speaks of strength, how to have confidence in yourself, and how friendship and collaboration can be the most powerful weapon against the forces of evil.

Beth Revis: This adventure is about learning to trust yourself by trusting others.

StarWars.com: The ever-expanding Star Wars universe has given us novels, films, and animations dedicated to these characters. What were you studying for inspiration?

Valentina Pinto: Although my approach to the story is the one closest to the animated shorts, I was inspired by everything now on Star Wars, so a lot of stuff. It was a beautiful journey, in this fantastic universe of Star Wars and I hope so much that it is not the last one.

Beth Revis: For this particular work, I went back to the cartoons. I watched a lot of The Clone Wars in preparation for developing Saw in Rebel Rising, and I just kept watching them over and over again for Ahsoka’s development in this comic. I also, of course, loved EK Johnston’s novel Ahsoka.

StarWars.com: And how do you know when you have the dialogue, the movement, and the story just right for these characters in particular?

Valentina Pinto: When everything while drawing becomes spontaneous and natural without sacrificing quality and myself. And I hope this will shine from the pages for you, too.

Beth Revis: I tried to put myself in my shoes as a kid — when I was younger, what did I want to see my heroes doing? I wanted them to be able to kick butt and fight, but I also wanted them to know when they could rely on others. I tried to find a balance between Ahsoka being a fighter, and Ahsoka realizing that she could still be friends with someone.

StarWars.com: When you look at the finished comic now, what are you most proud of? And what aspect or individual detail gave you the most difficulty?

Beth Revis: For me, the hardest pages to write were the beginning — staging the first fight and finding a way to have that fight reflect the entire rest of the story. I don’t think I nailed it on my own; it was seeing Valentina’s art bringing that fight to life that really made the scene come alive and be true to the characters.

Valentina Pinto: I’m proud of the total result — story, art and lettering. [Being asked to illustrate a full comic does not often happen for someone] working expressly as a cover artist or colorist. For me, every [day] was a joy and a challenge. I hope you enjoy our work and have fun with Padmé and Ahsoka!

For more on this issue, check out StarWars.com’s exclusive preview!

For more on the series, check out StarWars.com’s interviews with the creative of teams of Star Wars Forces of Destiny: LeiaStar Wars Forces of Destiny: Rey, and Star Wars Forces of Destiny: Hera!

Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them!

Our winter weather hasn’t very kind this year, and the best way to light the fire inside is by warming your core with a bowl of hot thala-siren milk — inspired by the creatures populating The Last Jedi planet Ahch-To, home of the first Jedi Temple.

This nutritious green milk is the beverage of choice for exiled Jedi, and this warm treat is served up with a nod to Luke Skywalker’s X-wing, the illustrious starfighter that now rests on the coast of Ahch-To next to the Jedi Temple. (And remember, when the weather gets nice, you can cool down with our Thala-Siren Milkshakes!)

Ahch-To Hot Milk

What You’ll Need:

Milk Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • green food-gel dye
TM.Ads.addNativeAd( "native-ad-tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" , "tK6v3EMJe7jiRZTFWhFHWHUU" );

Step 1: Place the white chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and microwave at 15-20 second intervals until melted. Spoon evenly into the X-wing silicone mold, tapping to release excess air bubbles. Place in the freezer to set.

Step 2: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk and sugar to a simmer. Stir to combine.

Step 3: When the sugar is dissolved, stir in the vanilla, almond extract, and one drop of green food-gel dye.

Step 4: Stir together, then pour into a bowl. Serve with white chocolate X-wings.

You now have the perfect drink to warm up with after sparring in an Ahch-To storm or to recover from shoveling snow in our own galaxy.

Jenn Fujikawa is a lifestyle and food writer. Follow her on Twitter at @justjenn and check her Instagram @justjennrecipes and blog www.justjennrecipes.com for even more Star Wars food photos.

Ballast Point Announces Today it Will Join the Wide-Ranging Menu of Retail, Dining and Entertainment Offerings in Downtown Disney

Flagship World of Disney Store Also To Be Transformed Into New, Dynamic Shopping Destination

ANAHEIM, Calif. (January 24, 2018) – The Downtown Disney District at the Disneyland Resort is continuing its ambitious, promenade-wide transformation in 2018. Multiple new venues and significant refurbishments to marquee dining and retail locations, including the World of Disney store, will be completed throughout the year while Downtown Disney remains open to guests. The result will be a fresh, one-of-a-kind Disney experience, immersing guests by day and night in the greatest mix of family-friendly dining, shopping and entertainment.

Also announced today, popular craft brewer Ballast Point will open its first Orange County location in Downtown Disney later this year. Ballast Point pairs award-winning beers with an extensive menu of Southern California cuisine—salads, small plates, flatbreads and entrees featuring local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients. In addition to Ballast Point’s iconic beers, including its flagship Sculpin IPA, the location will serve exclusive, limited-edition beers available only at Downtown Disney. The space will house Downtown Disney’s first-ever on-site brewery, as well as a tasting room, kitchen and outdoor beer garden.

“Our guests are constantly looking for unique experiences, which is why we’re refreshing familiar spaces and unveiling new locations around every corner of the Disneyland Resort,” said Michael Colglazier, president, Disneyland Resort. “Innovative venues such as Ballast Point, Splitsville and The VOID are just a few great examples of the transformation taking place in Downtown Disney this year.”

A recent addition to Downtown Disney is the multi-sensory experience Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire by ILMxLAB and The VOID. The hyper-reality experience transports guests deep into the Star Wars universe, allowing them to walk freely and untethered throughout the space. In groups of four, teams go undercover as stormtroopers to capture Imperial intelligence vital to the budding rebellion’s survival.

Other exciting experiences slated to open in 2018 include:

  • World of Disney will be reimagined into a new, dynamic and distinctly Disney retail environment. The flagship store will remain open to guests for shopping during the majority of the refurbishment, with work expected to be completed in phases throughout 2018. World of Disney will continue to offer the largest selection of Disney toys, souvenirs, accessories, collectibles and more at the Disneyland Resort.
  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes, a dynamic recreation destination, will offer a unique combination of dining, drinks, bowling and entertainment. Opening on January 29, the Downtown Disney District location will feature 20 bowling lanes interspersed throughout two floors, four dining areas (indoors and out), more than 25 flat screen TVs and live entertainment 365 days a year.
  • Disney Home will offer fans a variety of Disney-themed home goods. Guests will find a curated assortment of products that change with each season. Disney Home will open February 2018 in the former D-Street location.
  • Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria will undergo renovations to expand its patio with a new outside bar and additional seating for al fresco dining. Insidethree wood burning ovens will be installed to better meet guests’ demands for authentic Napoletana-style pizza pies. The restaurant will remain open throughout construction, which is slated to be completed in fall 2018. In addition, Napolini, Naples’ fast-casual concept, will also remain open, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Napolini will undergo renovations during the latter part of construction.
  • Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer will open its first California location in the heart of Downtown Disney District later this year. Known for its award-winning burgers and signature CrazyShake™ milkshakes, Black Tap will offer a casual atmosphere reminiscent of a modern luncheonette, with a distinctly New York vibe.

The Downtown Disney District (no admission fee required) is steps from Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park and the three on-property hotels of the Disneyland Resort. Atmospheric music and entertainment create a lively backdrop for guests. The destination features a diverse collection of casual restaurants, favorite snacking stops, shopping boutiques and high-energy entertainment, including Starbucks, The VOID, La Brea Bakery Café, The LEGO Store, Curl Surf, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Catal Restaurant & Uva Bar, Sephora, Sprinkles, PANDORA Jewelry, The Dream Boutique and the World of Disney store.

The Downtown Disney District parking lot is conveniently located next to the action and offers three hours of parking with a $20 minimum purchase and validation from any Downtown Disney location. Guests will also enjoy up to five hours of parking with validation from any Downtown Disney table-service restaurant or AMC Downtown Disney 12 Theatres.

# # #

Media Contact:

Disneyland Resort Public Relations
714-781-4500
www.disneylandnews.com
www.disneyparksblog.com
www.twitter.com/disneyland
www.twitter.com/disneylandtoday

Page 7 of 332

News

Every Disney Parks Announcement That Happened at D23 Expo Japan

Every Disney Parks Announcement That Happened at D23 Expo Japan

General Disney

We are really excited right now! Today at D23 Expo Japan, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek updated…

More...