State of the Empire

  1. Celebrate Willow’s 30th Anniversary at North Carolina Comicon

    Thirty years ago, Lucasfilm unleashed an unparalleled fantasy epic on unsuspecting audiences: Willow.
    Helmed by George Lucas, directed by Ron Howard, and starring Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, and Joanne Whalley, Willow paired character-driven humor with a a powerful, mythic story and ground-breaking visual effects. When the film debuted in 1988, it was met with minuscule numbers, but over the past three decades, its following has grown — from a pulsating lump of troll flotsam into a full-on raging Eborsisk of cult status and pop-culture influence.
    Our Lucasfilm podcast, State of the Empire, has been celebrating Willow all year long in special Willow Watch episodes — exploring stories from behind-the-scenes and beyond the movie. They’ve delved into the film’s origins, dug into its long-forgotten expanded universe, dissected early drafts of the script, and yes, looked for signs of the now very real possibility there could one day be a “Willow 2?. But one thing remains: throwing a massive anniversary party to celebrate the big 3-0. (more…)
  2. Recapping Star Wars Resistance: “The Recruit” Delivers the Fastest Action in the Franchise

    State of the Empire is a Star Wars speculation podcast where we “look for news in Alderaan places”.

    In the Disney era of Star Wars, the movies might have the center stage, but when it comes to expanding the universe, the real action is happening in animation. Star Wars Rebels enhanced and bridged the history of the Original Trilogy and the Prequels in fascinating and validating ways, and even re-shaped and the nature of The Force itself.

    Rebels might’ve been a “kids show”, but as the series matured, it carried itself with an all-ages candor that won over the hearts of even the staunchest detractors. Now the Lucasfilm animation department has shifted gears and are taking on a whole new time period – one in desperate need of deeper storytelling: The New Trilogy.

    Star Wars Resistance takes place just before the events of The Force Awakens and sees Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron recruiting a young pilot into a life of spying in Leia’s Army. Main character Kaz Xiono has to navigate an outer rim outpost filled with the raddest racers this side of Mon Gazza Speedway. It’s a character driven, high octane ride that’s a ton of fun right out the gate and here on State of the Empire you can look forward to our episode-by-episode Resistance recaps.

    Listen in to our spoiler-free podcast on the two-part debut, “The Recruit” – hear our hot takes on Kazuda and co. and how far we think this series could go in exploring and improving the modern era of Star Wars stories.

    Star Wars Resistance‘s two-part debut hits Disney Channel this Sunday at 10PM EST, with future episodes in that same time slot. (more…)

  3. State of the Empire :: Episode 60 :: Lucasfilm’s ’83 Animated Feature: Twice Upon a Time

    This episode of State of the Empire widens our lens to the rest of Lucasfilm and examines how the innovative production company shaped the world of film as we know it, even through now-forgotten features.

    1983, same year The Star Wars Saga ended, a very different kind of Lucasfilm hit select theaters. Twice Upon a Time, directed by John Korty and Charles Swenson, is an animated feature the likes of which you’ve never seen before. Using a unique rear-lit animation style called “lumage” and myriad mixed media techniques, the fractured fairytale stumbles its way through its narrative while sticking the landing on startling and uncanny visuals.

    Twice Upon a Time might be off-the-beaten-path, but it casts a long shadow. Join Cap, Doug, and Matt for a journey to “a place so far out, you’ll never, never land” and discover how this Lucas-backed project served as an incubator for talents behind The Nightmare Before Christmas, Pixar, a young David Fincher, the music of Bruce Hornsby, and some Michael McDonald-produced Yacht Rock.

    And hey, if you’re looking for our trademark Star Wars speculation, never fear – we’ve got a hot take on who Keri Russell is playing in Episode IX that’ll really Teek-le your fancy. (more…)

  4. State of the Empire :: Episode 59 :: Star Wars: Episode IX Leaks and the Phantom Menace of Fake News

    State of the Empire is a Star Wars speculation podcast where we “look for news in Alderaan places”.

    Filming for Star Wars: Episode IX has begun and already the leaks are pouring in… but can they be trusted? Sure, there’s some exciting and authentic on-set photos that have found their way onto the internet, but moreso there’s more fan theories and uninformed conjecture posing as “journalism” than ever before. Here on State of the Empire, we celebrate “looking for news in Alderaan places”, but our crackpot theories are always to be taken with a modicum of spice! Join us as we pick through an Ord Mantell-sized pile of garbage, dig up the sordid history of Star Wars fake news, and share what’s really going on with JJ Abrams’ forthcoming feature.

    We also discuss the possible focus of Jon Favreau’s forthcoming streaming live action Star Wars TV series, the ties it may have to The Clone Wars, our first takes on seeing the animated series Star Wars Resistance in action, an Original Trilogy era romance that came to Cap in a dream, and a tome of bygone Willow fandom on the deep web.

    (more…)

  5. Willow Watch :: Early Scripts & Roads Not Taken

    Welcome to Willow Watch! State of the the Empire‘s spin-off podcast dedicated to the 1988 Lucasfilm fantasy epic Willow – In which breaking news comes in all sizes, and obsessive fandom is the greatest magic of all.

    This may be a show about Willow, but we’re starting to feel like Indiana Jones the way we’re unearthing all these forgotten artifacts from the film’s past. We’ve regaled you with tales from the Willow expanded universe, which we suspected were based on unused sequences from the film. We’ve discovered production notes hinting as drastically different scenes… and now we’ve found the tome that answers all our questions and pieces our crackpot theories together: a first draft, third revision script of Willow.

    Brace yourselves for elves that steal baby tears, inflatable crabs, man-beast troopers, a romantic rivalry between Madmartigan and Kael – and that’s just for starters. We use a hitherto unknown Willow young readers film adaption by Hugo-winning author Joan D. Vinge to help us determine which draft of the script the entire Willow expanded universe was based off of. Then we explore the very divergent roads not taken in this early Willow script – specifically a “selling draft” used to secure finances for the film. Find out what would happen if Willow was sent alone to the crossroads, discover the truth behind Moebius’ “King Kael” illustration, and just what was that stinky spell Willow was making?

    Through our Willow archeology, we’re not just uncovering the untold history of one of the most beloved fantasy films of all-time, we’re also gleaning an unparalleled look into the Lucasfilm franchise machine in its prime. (more…)

  6. State of the Empire :: Episode 58 :: The Journey to Episode IX Begins

    State of the Empire is a Star Wars speculation podcast where we “look for news in Alderaan places”.

    The filming of the final movie in the Skywalker Saga is upon us, and with it is the cast announcement of all the old faces returning and new editions to galaxy far, far away. The results are more revealing that we’d expect – including two confirmed rumors, a Force ghost, a loose plot thread we didn’t think was gonna get tied up, and a surprise posthumous appearance of Carrie Fisher. Will any of our Episode IX theories come to pass, or will they just end up being a “story for another time?”

    We’re excited for the forthcoming release of the new animated series Star Wars Resistance, and even have some leaked details to share, but we were floored at the recent announcement that The Clone Wars is coming back. It’s an episode of surprising returns, including another installment of Indy Inquiry, where we dredge up unused Indiana Jones scripts so we can guess where the series might head next. What parts of the Crystal Skull-heavy “Indiana Jones and the Saucermen From Mars” will make it into the next adventure? Will Gary Fisher be mo-capped for Episode IX? What previously-unknown Willow treasure did we find? Unlike Maz Kanata, we’re not gonna leave you hanging. (more…)

  7. State of the Empire :: Episode 57 :: Indiana Jones and the Semi-Canonical Fart Wedding

    State of the Empire is a Star Wars speculation podcast where we “look for news in Alderaan places”.

    Pop culture is a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. From the film scripts that never see the light of day, to the regrettable transmedia tie-ins that’d be better off staying buried; it’d take some kind of whip-cracking archeologist to uncover these forgotten relics… or perhaps some wise-cracking podcasters.

    In this episode we raid the Lucasfilm tombs and discover that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is fantastic – compared to the ghost-hunting, rhino-riding, suicidal student-screwing antics of Indiana Jones in an unmade Chris Columbus script. We also gain some insight into the upcoming animated series Star Wars Resistance and speculate how the show might overwrite existing Star Wars canon for the better. Exhibit A: The “fart wedding” – a notorious event, recently written out of continuity, in which Poe Dameron let loose “the most atmosphere-ripping flatulence the galaxy ever heard.”

    We also discuss the Episode IX casting news with Keri Russell and Billy Dee Williams, shed light on the state of Star Wars cinema via directors Chris McQuarrie and James Mangold’s tweets, explore some fascinating Disney patents that could indicate jaw-dropping experiences to come at Galaxy’s Edge, and spend some time with Captain EO and Willow too. (more…)

  8. State of the Empire :: Episode 56 :: Fandom’s Edge

    State of the Empire is a Star Wars speculation podcast where we “look for news in Alderaan places”.

    If there’s a bright center to the Star Wars fandom, we’re currently on the planet that it’s farthest from. Fans are as polarized as an Old Republic throwdown and every news outlet is spreading enough confusing, condemning, and confounding headlines that we’re beginning to sound like Saw Gerrera screaming about lies and deceptions. This world of space fantasy escapism is looking far too much like reality.

    Fortunately, State of the Empire is here to restore balance to the Force.

    We discuss the cloud surrounding Solo: A Star Wars Story and search for the truth in the articles and unnamed sources that purportedly know how the film’s financial performance has (or hasn’t) affected the future of Star Wars spin-offs. Then we venture off to Black Spire Outpost aka Batuu aka Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge aka “Star Wars Land” with a map and a decoded poem to help us discern what and who we’ll be encountering in the interactive theme park. We also explore new ways the comics are expanding the universe and informing other corners of the transmedia empire, learn about Jim Rash’s character in Star Wars Resistance, consider the future of Captain EO, and learn about some big shakeups for the forthcoming fifth Indiana Jones feature. (more…)

  9. Willow Watch :: Behind-the-Scenes & Beyond the Film

    Welcome to Willow Watch! State of the the Empire‘s spin-off podcast dedicated to the 1988 Lucasfilm fantasy epic Willow – In which breaking news comes in all sizes, and obsessive fandom is the greatest magic of all.

    If you think you’ve got the world and characters of Willow all figured out – it’s time to forget all you know, or think you know.

    Lethal fishboys, deathbears, sorceress love triangles, and shocking backstories abound as we dig into the film’s deleted scenes, the extra context of the novelization, and the universe-expanding sourcebook. We also look to Moebius’ concept art for Willow, props and production notes revealing what might have been, the animated series that never happened, and the television show that Lucas himself teased.

    Willow is a film that builds a big world out of small perspectives – working magic that larger fantasy epics struggle to, even with modern effects. The further down the Nelwyn mine we go, the richer and more exciting the movie becomes. Hear us dramatically recreate tale of how Sorsha chose the sword over sorcery, and indulge in awesome character expansion for unsung heroes like Vohnkar and even get some charisma stats on Llug. (“Wanna breed?”) (more…)

  10. State of the Empire :: Episode 55 :: Solo: A Star Wars Story Review!

    State of the Empire is a Star Wars speculation podcast where we “look for news in Alderaan places”.

    For the highs and lows of Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s production, the chance of success was not unlike successfully navigating an asteroid field. But just like Han Solo himself, somehow this scappy film pulled through and surprised us all. The movie we didn’t want, the story we were convinced didn’t need telling, is top shelf Star Wars. We offer some spoiler-free thoughts before opening up the blast doors and letting these scruffy-looking nitpickers sort out the highs, lows, and our two cents on the film’s shockingly tasteful fan service and easter eggs.

    Even if you haven’t seen the film yet, you’ll also want to scope out the beginning because we’ve got some breaking Star Wars news with further details on the Obi-Wan film and confirmation that the long-shelved Boba Fett movie is rocketing into production. (more…)

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