Today, May 16, 2022, marks the 20th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. This movie has a special place in my heart and, if I’m being honest, was extremely formative to my development into a life-long Star Wars fan.
I was first introduced to the Star Wars films through VHS tapes I watched with friends of the family–I even received some coveted copies of the special edition VHS tapes from the late 90s. I also received in my pre-adolescence, the first six books of the Young Jedi Knights series by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. Together, this alone would have had me hooked on Star Wars.
I was 7 when Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in May 1999, and I certainly loved that film as well, especially the Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn–but, upon reflection, I think I was still a little too young to grasp some of the more mature and nuanced concepts found throughout the films. I was 10 when Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones was released in May 2002, and I think those 3 years made a huge difference in the impact on me.
AOTC had everything–it had the romance plot between Anakin and Padme, it had the struggle with both inner and outer darkness, and it had a truly epic final battle sequence with over 200 hundred Jedi fighting on-screen at the same time in all of their glorious diversity, culminating in a more personal final duel sequence that was the majority of lightsaber combat in Star Wars. I had started to explore more of the Star Wars books and novels too and so was getting a sense of the available lore; around the same time, Knights of the Old Republic was in development and that game was also truly revolutionary. All of these strands came together for me, and I deep-dived into the Star Wars universe in the years between AOTC and the release of Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith when I was 13 in May 2005.
As time has gone on, I’ve continued in my love of Star Wars and grown more cognizant of the nuanced and more mature messages hidden in the text. The universe of Star Wars is the fictional universe that speaks most directly to my personal life experience, and there are books and comics I re-read to be reminded of certain lessons and truths that have helped me throughout my life. While AOTC was not my first exposure to Star Wars it was the movie that kicked my fandom into high-gear and caused me to go “all-in”–and for that, I will always be grateful.