After acquiring LucasFilm in October 2012 to the tune of $4 billion, Disney immediately touted plans to revitalize the Star Wars franchise and expand George Lucas’ universe in every possible direction. That meant more movies, TV shows, animation and, perhaps less predictably, loads of web entertainment that could find fans beyond the Outer Rim. Six years later, as we near the conclusion of the first new trilogy of films, the plans only seem to be gearing up.
The latest wave of Star Wars tie-in media bridges the worlds of old school fans and their kids. With the latest TV series, Star Wars Resistance, commanding the attention of Disney XD viewers, Lucasfilm has launched a brand new “Star Wars Kids” YouTube channel bolstered by Galaxy of Adventures, a web-series that adapts the original Star Wars trilogy into one-minute cartoon shorts, narrated by Hook and Avatar: The Last Airbender star Dante Basco.
Fans of 2D animation should look beyond the youngster sales pitch and check these out: they’re gorgeous, utilize audio from Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back and bring the trilogy into modern times without blowing up the logic (looking at you, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed). Here’s the full run so far, ordered chronologically for maximum enjoyment:
The first chapter finds Darth Vader storming the Tantive IV and taking out a bunch of Rebellion foot soldiers. As you watch Mr. Vader force choke a guy to death, remember, this is for “kids.”
In the next chapter, R2-D2 receives the Death Star plans from Princess Leia, then scoots to an escape pod. Beep boop!
Next we see Leia standing up to Darth Vader, with bits of her backstory threaded through the encounter. We get Carrie Fisher’s commanding voice, matched by some adrenaline-pumping action that the original trilogy couldn’t quite muster. This one brings a tear to the eye.
Then we get Obi-Wan gifting Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber, and Luke beaming with excitement. His reaction is every person who has ever held a prop lightsaber.
Han Solo’s introduction gets a similar treatment Leia’s Vader moment, adapting his Mos Eisley cantina speech with bits and pieces of his backstory. Through the singular animation style, LucasFilm can finally blend the original trilogy together with moments from Solo — and it actually works!
A montage of Chewie raging out is the best king of montage.
Of all the Galaxy of Adventures videos, the recreation of Luke’s X-wing run is the one that makes crave his animation style on a larger platform. The proton torpedoes burst forward like an anime fireball.
The shorts jump ahead to Empire Strikes Back to find Luke tied up in the Wampa cave. No, we do not see an animated, bloody hand.
Then there’s this video of Darth Vader rocking out to the Imperial March. Next time you hit the street, strut like you’re a masked man taking over the universe.
The real gem of the series so far is Han and Chewie trying to jump to light speed in Empire Strikes Back. There’s still time for an animated Solo sequel starring Harrison Ford, right?
The final Galaxy of Adventures video jumps ahead to Return of the Jedi, using the moment when Luke and Vader finally confront one another in the Emperor’s throne room to recount Palpatine’s rise to power. A reminder that the prequel trilogy remains canon! At least the cool parts.
With plenty of legendary trilogy moments left to adapt, one assumes that we’ll see another wave of Galaxy of Adventure in the future (or would that be “a little less of a long, long time ago”?). The shorts may be fleeting — seriously, we’ll take a new series or film in this style, Lucasfilm! — they serve as a rousing introduction to the Star Wars universe for those wee ones who aren’t totally hooked yet. Disney, your diabolical plan is working.