Stormtroopers and Aiming Skills

Stormtroopers aiming skillsIn the original Star Wars movie, we’re introduced to a number of things about the Star Wars galaxy. One of the things we see are the famous Stormtroopers, with their shiny white armor, leering masks, and . . . highly trained aiming skills. Yes, you read it correctly — the Stormtroopers are great at hitting the targets they want to.

“But!” you say, “in the original trilogy, the Stormtroopers couldn’t hit anything!” Are you sure? This is me asking you, are you sure. “Yeah I’m sure. Everybody knows that.” Well, you’re wrong.

Let’s think about it. In the very first movie, the Stormtroopers are hilariously unable to hit anything smaller than the broad side of a Death Star. Their shots are wildly off-target, but only when the Rebels are actually inside the Death Star. You remember when the Rebels enter the Death Star, Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin quickly figure out their plan, and plant a tracking device in the Millennium Falcon. Then, they allow them to escape with  Princess Leia and follow them in the Death Star to the Rebel base, with aims to blow it the Force up. The Stormtroopers had orders not to kill Luke Han, Chewie, or Leia, because then their plan would be worthless.

In the Empire Strikes back, Stormtroopers (or, more specifically, Snowtroopers) are present in only one scene, the attack on Hoth’s Echo Base. They, and their AT-ATs, wreak havoc on the Rebels, nearly bringing the base down around their ears. In Return of the Jedi, the Stormtroopers are still under orders not to kill Luke, since Darth Vader looks to convert him to the Dark Side. During the battle on Endor, Ewoks and Rebels fall like flies, Leia takes a shot in the arm, and the rebels are in the process of surrendering before Chewie stomps in with an AT-ST.

The Stormtroopers can, and will, hit their targets when they want to. The Emperor demands nothing less!

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed it. Come back next week for more fun fan information.

Traitor! Episode VII’s Dark Horse

TR-8R finds a traitor
TR-8R (Actual name FN-2199) ready for action

Often, in a piece of art such as movies, television, or literature, a character with a smaller role becomes a beloved and continually-discussed part of the work. A classic example of this phenomenon is Boba Fett who, despite having only a half-dozen lines over two movies, as well as doing little more than getting knocked into a death hole, became one of the most popular characters in Star Wars. TR-8R, named for his single line (“Traitor!”) in The Force Awakens, is another.

The character’s actual call-sign, as told us in the novel Before the Awakening, released in 2015 and written by Greg Rucka, is FN-2199, one of the four Stormtroopers in Finn’s original squad (Finn was known as FN-2187). FN-2199/TR-8R’s only scene in the movie also contains his only line. If you’ve seen the movie, you remember it. In it, TR-8R calls Finn a traitor, whips out his magic lightning mace (called a Z6 Riot Control Baton) and delivers an astounding beat down on his old squad member before Han pegs him with a Wookiee bowcaster shot.

The internet took notice of such loyalty, strength of character, and fearlessness. As is its wont, it started churning out images with TR-8R in place of other characters:

tr-8r-this-is-where-id-put-fn-loyaltyThere are hundreds of images for you to peruse if you want. See TR-8R as part of the Last Supper, looking at Finn with a distrustful eye! Watch as Yugi Muto assembles the pieces of the Legendary TR-8R to obliterate Seto Kaiba! Enjoy as TR-8R plays Guess Who with a little girl, and guess correctly that the girl’s chosen person looks like a traitor! Professor X is up to a new experiment, and the result is TR-8R!

Will this sudden character’s popularity continue? Will he appear in Episode VIII? It remains to be seen, though it’s unlikely his role will grow beyond anything other than a shout-out, but we’ll see. Thanks for reading! Come back next week for more fun fan Star Wars information!

The Force Awakens the Box Office

The Force Awakens is the highest-earning domestic movie
The Force Awakens takes the gold

With a domestic box office total of almost 816 million dollars, plus the same and more overseas, it’s safe to say The Force Awakens is a box office hit. It’s been earning what experts are calling a “Jabba-load of money.” As of January seventh, it’s the highest-grossing domestic release of all time — eclipsing both James Cameron’s Avatar, and … James Cameron’s Titanic.

Of course, those numbers are before being adjusted for inflation. After, however, The Force Awakens falls all the way to fifteenth! Avatar, the only movie higher on the list released in the new millennium, is fourteeth. The first Star Wars movie is second, with over 1.5 billion adjusted. Number one? Gone with the Wind, at 1.739 billion. In the foreign market, The Force Awakens is all the way down at sixth … behind Avatar, Titanic, Furious 7 (of all things), Jurassic World, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

These are good numbers! We’re happy, the actors are happy, Abrams are happy, and Buena Vista is happy. They aren’t breaking records, save the domestic gross, but guess what? All of these multiple-million dollar numbers are after only three and a half weeks! Gone with the Wind has had what … eighty years to earn all that money? Avatar was in theaters for about thirty-four weeks — how long will The Force Awakens be in theaters? It opened in China only a week ago, and has already grossed more than sixty-five million dollars!

The point of all this is yes — it’s clear The Force Awakens is headed for box office glory, but it won’t be an easy road. The top five movies on the adjusted for inflation list (Gone with the Wind, Star Wars IV, The Sound of Music, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and Titanic) all have huge numbers thanks to inflation. Dethroning one of them — not even Avatar could manage it — could prove to be impossible.

But perhaps it will happen some day. For now, thanks for reading! Come back next week for more fun fan Star Wars information.

Parsecs: Explanations

Han Solo talks about Parsecs
Han Solo talks about Parsecs

In the very first Star Wars movie, released in 1977, there’s a perplexing statement made by everyone’s favorite rogue space cowboy: “You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? …It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.”

Now you and I – respected astrophysicists, I’m sure – know that a parsec is a measure of distance (the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one arcsecond: 3.26 light-years, 31 trillion kilometers, or 19 trillion miles). A parsec is a unit of distance, not time. It’s impossible to take a path, especially an established route, with a varying distance.

Or is it?

It comes to light through additional material (such as the book Ultimate Star Wars), the Kessel Run skirts the edge of a black hole’s accretion disk – the closer a pilot dares to get to the inescapable gravity, the quicker they can make the run. Another theory says, because the spice used as cargo is illegal, the pilots must drop in and out of hyperspace to turn, make deliveries, etc. Stopping and starting at the right places cuts the distance traveled.

This is one of two general theories about the line; there is in fact a variance of the route based on the pilot’s skill. The other theory is George Lucas and Star Wars did know the line is wrong. One of two versions persists in this vein: One of them is Han Solo used the line to see how savvy Luke and Obi-wan were – Luke is taken by the line but Obi-Wan isn’t fooled. The other thought is Han doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does – he says the line because it sounds cool, Luke buys it because he doesn’t know either, and Obi-Wan shakes his head in exasperation.

Could this explain away a problem many have pointed out with A New Hope? Perhaps. It might also be retroactive patching of a stupid problem Lucas should have noticed. We hope you enjoyed this short “explanation” of a classic confusing line, and we hope you come back next week for more!