It's true - I used to be a really big fan of the franchise. It doesn't stem all the way back to childhood; in fact, I distinctly remember for years being bored by the movies when my brother or my parents watched them. I'd try to watch but rarely lasted more than fifteen minutes before some other entertainment captured my interest.
But at some point seventh grade, I sat down and really watched the movies. I remember the reason - the movies were re-released in theaters after being reworked by George Lucas and team. Mom bought this new "Special Edition" on VHS, and we all gathered to see the changes. This time, I paid attention to the world and the story of Luke, Leia, Han Solo, and Darth Vader. It didn't take long before I was hooked.
I watched the original trilogy over and over and over again, and I wanted more. So my brother and I eagerly tore through the Expanded Universe novels, starting with Timothy Zahn's amazing Thrawn trilogy before moving onto the Jedi Academy trilogy, the Han Solo trilogy, and many other books. I think that I must have read over a dozen books before something even more exciting was announced: a new Star Wars film.
When The Phantom Menace hit theaters we were there right away. My mom was excited. My brother was excited. I was excited. Everyone was happy and couldn't wait.
Then The Phantom Menace ruined Star Wars forever.
The movie was BORING. It was sluggish. The main characters were incredibly dull and one-dimensinal, even though top-name talent like Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman played the parts. One especially annoying abomination of a CGI-creation babbled in pidgin Jamaican and I couldn't understand why he existed. By the time the pod-racing started, I could feel my interest in anything related to Star Wars evaporating in the heat of the Tatooine sun.
And just like that, I was done.
I walked out of the theater and stopped buying new Star Wars books. I didn't see the following two films. I moved on to other fandoms and franchises that didn't contain Jar Jar Binks or midichlorians.
And for fifteen years, I didn't care. Sure, I went on the Star Tours ride on Disneyland once or twice, because my boyfriend-later-husband wanted to. At one point I picked up a graphic novelization of one of the Thrawn novels because I was curious to see how the artist drew the new characters. But that was pretty much it.
Until trailers for The Force Awakens started showing up on Youtube. They had Harrison Ford as Han Solo! Black stormtrooper! (Probably just someone in a disguise, but still, diversity amongst the ranks? Still cool.) A spectacularly twisted and ruined Vader helmet. And in a quick second or two of footage, a REALLY FREAKIN' ADORABLE ROBOT I later found out was called BB-8.
And for the first time in a long time, I'm excited about the franchise.