There’s a reason my original VHS copy of Return of the Jedi pretty much has a hole burned through the Battle of Endor. I watched that starfighter battle on repeat so many times our VHS player eventually ripped the cassette to shreds. The Falcon, X-wings, Y-wings, A-wings, and B-wings flying through capital ships in a massive fight to end the second Death Star and the Empire.
And not a single Jedi among them.
The pilots and soldiers of the Rebellion have always held a special place in my heart. For me, they were the most relatable. They were the heroes I pretended to be when I was running around on the playground or was playing with Action Fleet toys. I didn’t want to be the magical and mystical Jedi. I wanted to be the unassuming hero behind the flightstick and navigating through a starfield. My favorite video games growing up were the ones that put me behind the controls of a starfighter: X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Rogue Squadron, X-Wing Alliance. My favorite books were the X-Wing novels by Mike Stackpole and (the late, wonderful, superb) Aaron Allston.
All of these things- the games, the books, the scenes in the movie- had one thing in common. They all featured the Badass Normal.
The Badass Normal is a character or characters who stand out despite no special powers or destiny. They show up, they kick ass, they get the job done, all in the shadow of the Big Damn Heroes. No one exemplifies this more than the illustrious Wedge Antilles. Shows up in the original three films, is always calm and collected, and understands that his mission is to just get the job done. I want to see that in Star Wars again. I want to see the normal character who goes to work that I can relate to.
Maybe in this film, that Badass Normal is Poe Dameron. If not him, perhaps it’s Jessika Pava. How great would a gender-swapped Wedge-type character be? If nothing else, I want to see a return of the kind of character that was missed in the Prequel Trilogy. Not a Jedi, or a Queen, or a genetically engineered super soldier clone. I want to see someone like me, that feels so passionately for a cause they volunteer and put their lives on the line with nothing more than a blaster or an X-wing to keep them safe.
These Badass Normal characters are what keep Star Wars grounded for me. The first time I see a squadron of pilots in X-wings in this film, I know I’m going to get emotional.