Editorial: ‘Star Wars’, Fandom, and Fatherhood — Musings of a Nerdy Parent-To-Be

My mom loves to tell the anecdote about how when she was pregnant with me, she and my dad went to go see a production of Amadeus on stage with Mark Hamill in the titular role. She says I kicked the entire production. Sometime later, seeing how obsessed I was with Star Wars, she always joked that she should have seen it as a sign of my impending connection to something I have always loved so deeply. Years later, when looking through the baby calendar my parents kept for me, I noticed that on June 26th, 1983, my mom had written:


Colin stays with Grandma Walker while mom, dad and Grandpa Walker go to the movie “Return of the Jedi.”



As a snarky teenager, upon discovering this, I feigned being upset and resentful of the fact that my parents had decided to leave nearly 5-month old me with my Grandma, thus denying me one of my favorite films of all time for at least another three years or so. My parents would often point out that I wouldn’t have gotten anything out of it at that age, but I would of course jokingly reply that I would have been asking them all sort of questions such as, “Who is that Vader guy?” or “Catch me up will you? Why is that man frozen in a block of something-or-other?”


Being born into a post-Return of the Jedi word, feeding my obsession for that galaxy far, far away with the only means I could find; the films on VHS and LaserDisc, the cartoon series Star Wars: Droids and Ewoks, the two made for television Ewok films Caravan of Courage and Battle for Endor, regular trips to Disneyland to ride Star Tours, and my rag-tag collection of action figures and playsets handed down from my older cousins, kept me happily steeped in what at the time, seemed like more content than you could shake a gaffi stick at.


I can recall many trips to the now extinct retail giant Toys-R-Us in the mid to late 80s and seeing rows upon rows of Kenner’s The Power of the Force figures, well one in particular — the store we frequented only ever seemed to carry Admiral Ackbar — the figure in my collection I have duplicates of. Forget multiple Stormtroopers, I had an army of Ackbars at my command! Apparently, I either really liked his fishy face or I somehow managed to keep tricking my parents into thinking I didn’t have him in my modest collection. My love for Star Wars endured, even during the drought before the resurgence in the 1990s with the arrival of the Dark Empire comics and the Heir to the Empire novels. Once the Special Editions of the original trilogy were released, my obsession was in full swing; I now had friends as obsessive over Star Wars as I was, I had started exploring the idea of cosplay (a term that did not exist at that time) by trying to dress up in “costume” at the premieres at our local theater, and I had new toys to collect, coming out at what felt like a fever-pitch.



My parents and siblings enjoyed, and to a certain point, also loved Star Wars, but not the same way I did and certainly not to the same degree, but they humored me regardless. I can recall a few childhood Christmas mornings where everything I received was Star Wars related, be it books, toys, or clothing. My dad fed my mania because I think he has always seen something of himself in me. My dad’s mania has always been trains. He spends his weekends out and about photographing them and writing about them. Growing up in addition to being dragged out to the Southern California High Desert on the weekends while my dad snapped his shutter away at every passing freight train, my family also owned and ran a hobby shop selling model trains of various scales along with tiny plastic people, houses, and all the tools one would need to build a miniature world out of wood, foam, and a lot of super-glue. That store was not unlike the comic shop I frequented with its menagerie of colorful regulars, endlessly debating the minutia of their particular obsession; only instead of postulating hypotheticals about the Infinity Gauntlet and the merits of all those pouches comic book characters in the 90s sported as part of their getups, my dad’s regulars talked trains, trains, and more trains. I know my dad has always felt a degree of sadness that I quickly grew out of my train phase as a kid, but I can hardly fault him for not trying to get me into the hobby.


Now, as an adult able to spend my own money and wear my love for Star Wars however I see fit, I have come to truly embrace that after so many years of searching through all of my time in school and various jobs I’ve held over the years, I have finally found my tribe and have been so happy to have friends and family to surround myself with who are just as passionate about the things I love as I am. I have my cinephile friends, my music friends, my comic book friends, my gaming friends, my horror friends, and of course my Star Wars friends. In fact, many of these friends cross over and into many other interests, creating a rich tapestry I am so thankful to have in my life; the Venn diagram of my life is rich and multicolored.



Over the years, I’ve seen many of my friends and family having children of their own and passing their hobbies down to their little ones. It’s been endlessly fascinating to see what interests their parents have that their kids end up embracing and which ones their rugrats end up rejecting. The first time I watched The Clone Wars was with my sister-in-law’s kids when they were little. I sat with them and, while impressed with the show overall (something I initially had no desire to watch since the prequels had left such a sour taste in my mouth), I was just as impressed with their obsession for that galaxy far, far away. Here was a new generation, as steeped in love for the same thing as me, and that thrilled me to no end. Without any kids of my own, I thought I could foster that love as if my nephews and niece were my own kids. Looking back, I cringe at how naive I was in those days.



Like all kids, my nephews and niece are growing up and growing out of some of their younger interests. While it’s been great getting to have deep conversations about D&D or video games with them from time to time, I can tell that Fortnite and Call of Duty matter more to them these days than anything that sprang from the mind of George Lucas. Currently, my sister’s oldest kid is discovering the things I loved at his age and still do; Spider-Man and Star Wars. Every couple of weeks, I can expect a FaceTime from my nephew, asking to see my lightsaber and Darth Vader helmet. This is a kid who has started making his own costumes out of my sister’s dresses and by taping spatulas to his head to pull off his own crude but highly imaginative Kylo Ren and Boba Fett outfits. He wields lightsabers and blasters made out of crinkled paper and demands that his dad reenact the death of the Emperor with him in the living room over and over again.


“Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”

-Yoda (Attack of the Clones)


I look at this kid’s moxy and inventiveness and laugh and smile with affection because I see so much of myself at that age in him. I scroll through his costumed pictures daily and am instantly reminded of being that age and putting together my own Superman and Batman costumes or running around the house with my fedora and an extension cord whip looking for adventure. But then I get pulled out of my revere and start to wonder how long this phase of his will last. After all, he has already moved on from his obsession with vacuums and his obsession with trains (again, much to my poor dad’s dismay). I recent weeks, I have begun to look at my dad in a new light and wonder if I too will be doomed to walk this same path — forever into something my kid will never truly connect with or embrace but that I still have so much emotional and nostalgic connection to.


My wife and I recently discovered, much to our collective joy, that we will be parents by the end of this year. I now can’t help but sit and reflect on my relationship with my dad to an almost maddening level. I love my dad and respect his hobby; I have a deep respect for trains and enjoy traveling on them and am acutely aware of how to safely act and behave around them, but his obsession never clicked with me, and now I wonder and worry if the same will happen with me and my unborn child.



I want my kid to be themself and to be proud to be who they are while my wife and I support them no matter who they become, who they love, and what they love to do as a hobby (unless it involves cryptocurrency). I know that the connections we have with something like Star Wars may end up being tenuous — a fleeting joint love that burns like the brightest of stars at first and then eventually fades — and deep down, I know that in the end that will be alright. Wrestling with my own sense of franchise fatigue right now, I can’t help but wonder if this kid may help pull me back into the full embrace of this franchise in the time we have together exploring and discovering this thing that I have loved for so much of my own life.



I have boxes and bags in my garage and closet, all filled with the Star Wars figures I grew up playing with and many (from the most recent films) that I have left for them to open. Star Wars was never about collecting and displaying, for me it was always about tearing open that box and playing with my toys, letting my imagination soar and my sense of wonder grow. I want that for them no matter how long it may last. I have dreams of them picking up my old C-3PO and R2-D2 figures and picking up their exploits and adventures right where I left off all those years ago.



I unapologetically adore The Last Jedi with its exploration of parent and child relationships (heck, I love that about the entire new trilogy), but now, on the cusp of a change so huge and important in my life, I have already started to look back on the entire saga and begun the process of recontextualizing so much of it in terms of the messages in these films and stories, the connections and families these characters form, and so much more. I can tell already that the whole Ben Solo conflict with his parents is gonna hit hard once my kid is older and looking to become more of their own person and have their own life separate from their parents. Thinking back on the relationship between Rey and Luke in Rian Johnson’s film, I can see the push and pull of a parent and a child between what one is interested in and what one has rejected. True, the struggle is flipped from my own situation, but regardless, I am beginning to feel the weight and understanding of what is quickly becoming my favorite Yoda quote out of all of his appearances on screen:


“We are what they grow beyond.”



This is all to say that no matter if or how long we have a shared love for this franchise and its many, many stories, I know that there will always be love and a deep respect for whatever this bun-in-the-oven eventually gravitates towards. I have come to accept that these films will continue to evolve for me, no longer from childhood to adulthood, but now from adulthood to parenthood — kind of like a gift that keeps on giving after all these decades. Here’s also hoping that the two of us, my child and me, end up in a far better place someday down the road of life than Han and Ben. It’s not so much being stabbed by a lightsaber that worries me, it’s that long fall due to a lack of handrails that scares the willies outta me. That reminds me, I need to get some baby gates set up and get a lock for my lightsaber cabinet…


+ posts

Born and raised in sunny Southern California, Colin grew up an avid fan of Star Wars, Disneyland, and so many more pop-culture staples. After spending some time as a character at a well-known theme park, he spent some time attending college in the UK. Colin now lives with his wife and dog just down the road from the Happiest Place on Earth and divides his time between family, friends, gaming, and writing horror stories and think pieces on cinema.

Colin Walker

Born and raised in sunny Southern California, Colin grew up an avid fan of Star Wars, Disneyland, and so many more pop-culture staples. After spending some time as a character at a well-known theme park, he spent some time attending college in the UK. Colin now lives with his wife and dog just down the road from the Happiest Place on Earth and divides his time between family, friends, gaming, and writing horror stories and think pieces on cinema.