For one Pittston family, the Star Wars franchise is a tradition passed down from father to son
PITTSTON — George Lucas once said Star Wars was about family; the core storyline of the franchise centers around the Skywalkers, who are seemingly tied to the destiny of a galaxy far, far away. Lucas’ statement may have had double meaning. The films have an appeal that transcends generations, and for Richard Howe, 36, of Pittston, Star Wars is something that was passed down to him from his father.
“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t watching Star Wars,” Richard said. “It always felt like I was supposed to. The earliest one I remember was ‘83, which was ‘Return of the Jedi.’ My father took me and I was hooked.”
Howe continues the family tradition. His sons Ethan Howe, 7, Caelan Baden, 12, and McHale Baden, 16, all have favorite installments of the series, favorite characters and favorite theories on those character’s whereabouts post-“Return of the Jedi.” They plan to attend a showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on its Friday, Dec. 18 release date, and their excitement over the movie reflects the characters that each of the brothers has gravitated toward.
Ethan is a fan of Anakin Skywalker and the villain the Jedi transforms into, Darth Vader. These choices inform his favorite from the new film, Kylo Ren.
“I like the guy that’s the bad guy because he’s the same color as Darth Vader and his lightsaber looks like a sword,” Ethan said.
Caelan said he was excited to see where the relationship that developed between characters Han Solo and Leia Organa finds them at the beginning of “The Force Awakens” and he’s anxious to find out why trailers for the film haven’t shown much of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. Caelan’s comments about the film extended past its story and into aspects of the franchise that play out on the other side of the camera.
“I’m just looking forward to it because George Lucas can’t ruin this one,” Caelan said. “I also think it’s pretty cool there’s not going to be a lot of CGI (computer-generated imagery) and it’ll have more handmade elements like the originals.”
McHale is hoping to find out more about his favorite character, Boba Fett, when “The Force Awakens” releases. Regardless of whether the film features the deadly bounty hunter, McHale is still ready to jump back into the original world the previous six films have built.
“That whole universe is built from scratch,” McHale said. “Most movies have an established basis going into them but Star Wars doesn’t have that. It builds everything from the ground up. I’ve always found that really cool because all these characters remain relatable and down to Earth even though they’re from completely alien worlds.”
Richard describes his favorite character as an unsung hero. When the audience meets him he owns a whole planet, effectively making him one of the richest people in the Star Wars universe. That’s all lost by the end of “The Empire Strikes Back” though, when former Cloud City big wig Lando Calrissian is forced to don the ensemble of his friendly rival, Han, because he doesn’t even have a change of clothes to his name.
“His reward for giving up the entire world? Now we’re going to have you infiltrate the universe’s most dangerous gangster’s palace to save this guy who screwed you out of your ship,” Richard said of Lando. “So he saves them and then they have him fly his old ship directly into the Death Star. In the end he gets a hug from a bear. That’s Lando’s reward. He went to a tree house party and got a hug from a bear.”
Richard and each of his sons have different reasons to be excited for “The Force Awakens,” but their love for Star Wars helps bring them together.
“It’s a multi-generational story that picks up fans as it goes,” Richard said.” Every time a new movie comes out a new fan gets made. My dad made me a fan, I made McHale a fan and he made his brothers fans. In essence, whoever our role model was liked Star Wars.”
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts