For nearly 50 years, Star Wars fans have been some of the most devoted in all the galaxy, for better and for worse. They know the original trilogy by heart, they camp outside movie theaters whenever a new movie is released, and they love Han, Leia, and Luke like members of their own family. At the same time, whenever a Star Wars film makes a misstep - let's say one that rhymes with "Bar Bar Jinx" those same fans aren't shy about letting the creators know how they feel.
For anyone making a Star Wars property, managing fans' expectations is a major part of the enterprise. Often, the writers and directors of a Star Wars movie or TV will throw in a moment of fan service just for the diehards. But fan service is risky - some fans might find it exhilarating, while others might find it to be pandering. And some fans will feel both ways at the same time.
Here are some blatant moments of Star Wars fan service from the prequels, the Disney sequels, and even the TV shows.
The beginning of A New Hope opens with a standoff between Rebels and Stormtroopers inside a blockade runner. This Rebel blockade runner, the Tantive IV , is the ship that Princess Leia is using to try to flee from Darth Vader. But Vader isn't just trying to capture Leia; he's also trying to recapture the plans for the Death Star. So, when Disney's Rogue One came along to tell the story of how those plans were taken, the Tantive IV had to make an appearance.
In A New Hope , Vader only enters the Tantive IV after the shooting is over. Since it's the beginning of the film, we don't see Vader deploy his lightsaber skills and general Sith awesomeness until much later in the movie. But at the end of Rogue One , filmmaker Gareth Edwards had no reason to play it coy. This time, Vader boards the Rebel command ship and personally takes the plans back. Along the way, he mows down a whole squad of helmeted commandos with a combination of Force throws, blaster deflections, and lightsaber slashes. The Tantive IV escapes to be captured later, but it was definitely fun to see Vader in action.
When we first meet Yoda, he's an ancient Jedi master over 900 years old, and well beyond his fighting days. Many fans watching The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi probably had a similar thought: "Did Yoda ever use a lightsaber?" When George Lucas made the prequels, he provided the answer: "Yes, Yoda definitely did use a lightsaber. And yes, it's everything you ever wanted."
At the end of Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are having a lightsaber fight with the powerful renegade Jedi Count Dooku who fights them both off. With Obi-Wan and Anakin reeling, it's up to Yoda to stop the Count. Dooku barely escapes with his life as the pint-sized Jedi runs circles around him. This scene probably would have been impossible to execute during the first trilogy, what with Yoda being a puppet, but CGI Yoda was more than up to the task.
Epic, it was.
Star Wars takes place in a galaxy with a potentially endless amount of exotic planets and destinations. So when a Star Wars property decides to return to places we've been before, it can rub some fans the wrong way. This is how many fans felt about episode five of the first season of The Mandalorian .
In it, the unnamed Mandalorian and the Child need to repair their ship, the Razor Crest, so they head to the nearby desert planet of Tatooine - AKA the most visited planet in the entire Star Wars saga. And not only does the episode take place on Tatooine, it visits many of the same locations and characters we've met before. The Mandalorian meets the same pit droids seen in The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith. He goes to the same Mos Eisley Cantina visited by Luke and Obi-Wan. The Mandalorian's ally for the episode, Toro Calican, is sitting in the same booth where Han sat, with his feet up on the table just like Han's were. Later, the Mandalorian and Calican even run into some Tuscan Raiders, who went after Luke in A New Hope.
To some fans, this episode felt like a retread. But to others, it was welcome. Since The Mandalorian takes place after the events of Return of the Jedi, plenty of fans wanted to see how things have changed since the conflict ended. The canina now allows droids inside. We see the Mandalorian communicate with the Raiders, who were previously depicted as aggressive marauders. And based on all the Stormtrooper helmets stuck on sharpened sticks, things haven't gone so great for the Empire on Tatooione.
The first time Luke Skywalker meets Han Solo in A New Hope, Han talks up both his qualifications as a pilot and the speed of his ship, The Millennium Falcon. "It's the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs!" Han explains to Luke. The line doesn't really make sense - many fans have pointed out over the years that a parsec is a measure of distance, not time - but all the audience needs to know from the line is that Han is a really good pilot.
So, when Disney announced a movie about Han Solo's origins, Solo: A Star Wars Story, it was inevitable that we'd see how Han's legendary Kessel Run went down. According to the new canon established in Solo, the Kessel Run is a convoluted route leading out of the mines of Kessel. It's normally twenty parsecs long, but Han takes a shortcut. By piloting the Falcon through a gravity well called "The Maw," he does it in 12, thus securing lifetime bragging rights.