A Change of Course

swAs a young Star Wars fan, I diligently saved each week’s allowance in order to add to my collection of action figures. I had all of the most popular ones like Han Solo, Princes Leia, and Darth Vader, but my favorites were always the more obscure characters. Many of these were hard to find, and some required special effort to acquire.

Kenner, the original manufacturer of Star Wars action figures, implemented a mail-in program even prior to the first film coming out. As the franchise’s popularity grew, they continued this practice; allowing fans like me to obtain special figures not offered in stores. All you had to do was clip the UPC symbol (Proof of Purchase) from the packaging of a few purchased toys, mail them in with a shipping fee, and then wait for your special-edition figure to arrive.

Not too long ago, I came across one of these in a box of my childhood toys. It’s a figure of Admiral Ackbar, a character introduced in 1983’s Return of the Jedi. The toy was accompanied by a slip of paper with a brief bio and a teaser for the new movie. This piece of paper is actually more unique than the action figure because the film referenced in the text is Revenge of the Jedi.

This wasn’t a typo. The third installment of the Star Wars saga was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi. That title was printed on movie posters and listed in press releases. However, George Lucas decided that revenge wasn’t a very Jedi-esque character trait and changed the title just prior to the film’s release. Items with the original title are hard to find, as the studio attempted to recall anything and everything without the new and improved moniker.

Changing the title of a guaranteed blockbuster at the last minute no doubt required a lot of money and effort. There were plenty of people in Lucas’ inner circle who saw this as a fool’s errand advised him to abandon the idea.

“It’s too late.”

“You can’t take back what’s already been done.”

“There’s no way this will work.”

Ironically, this sounds a lot like the inner voices I struggle with on a regular basis. Despite my desire to leave a positive legacy, I find myself struggling against the mistakes and missteps of my past. At times it seems as if there’s no way to overcome negative perceptions I may have created. Maybe I should just give up and embrace my dark side.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my favorite movie franchise, it’s that you can always change your path. The heroes in Star Wars aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They feel doubt. They struggle with doing the right thing, but ultimately they prevail because they refuse to give in to those negative voices. So every time I slip, I do my best to overcome it and take another step toward the future I desire for myself.

George Lucas resisted the negative voices and his efforts were ultimately successful. Few even recall that Revenge was part of the original movie title. Those that do agree that the change created a more fitting legacy for the franchise and the mythology of Star Wars. Turns out it’s never too late to change your future. The best time to create a positive change is always…right now.

May the Fourth be with you!