Crossover Celebration Part 5: Star Wars and Friends

February 5th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , ,

The big nerd news of recent months is that Disney bought Star Wars from George Lucas and that Star Trek guy is going to be directing it. For me, this is great news no matter how you look at it. For one, the franchise isn’t in Lucas’ hands anymore. Already a plus. At best, Disney might be able to use some of their magic to make a good Star Wars trilogy to break the tie created by the previous two. At worst, we’ll have something new to make fun of.

I thought about doing a Crossover Celebration article about Star Wars, but then it hit me how sparse Star Wars crossovers are. Even then, they’re all fairly brief to talk about. Ergo, I figured I’d go over every Star Wars crossover I can possibly think of. Remember, it’s official crossovers only.

The first crossover came in 1979, in-between the first two movies. During the 11th season of Sesame Street, a UFO land and out come C3PO and R2D2. The two befriend Big Bird and reveal that they are sent by an intergalactic relative of Oscar the Grouch to deliver a message for the grumpy, green guy. That message being, “GET LOST!” Over the course of the episode, as well as another episode later in the season, the two droids mostly hang out with Big Bird, including a segment where they sing a song about remembering which number is which. There’s also an amusing bit where R2D2 happily tells C3PO that he’s in love, only to be brought down when he discovers that it’s just a fire hydrant.

A year later, Star Wars would keep the Muppet friendship going with a hosting gig during the fourth season of the Muppet Show. As Scooter readies the show’s guest host, a Scottish Muppet named Angus McGonagle, the trio of Luke Skywalker, R2D2 and C3PO bust through the wall. The three are looking for the kidnapped Chewbacca, but Scooter sees this as an opportunity to get rid of Angus and replace him with some real stars. Other than R2, the heroes seem disinterested in the idea of hosting a variety show. They’re more focused on tracking down their kidnapped friend Chewbacca.

Luke appears less whiny and unsure and more of a gung ho revolutionary, screaming, “REMEMBER ALDERAN!” when he bursts into the room at one point. While he isn’t keen on singing and dancing, he does leave the room so that his cousin Mark Hammill can give it a try. Wait, cousin? I wonder if he was Owen and Veru’s kid. If so, he’s certainly gotten over their fiery death. Mark fails to impress Kermit and Fozzy, especially after he and Angus do a musical gargling duet on stage.

Things pick up when they invade the set of Pigs in Space. They commandeer the Swinetrek in hopes of finding Chewy and interact with the cast. Link Hogthrob gets along swimmingly with Luke, inquiring about where he gets his snazzy uniform. Dr. Strangepork is intrigued with R2D2 and Miss Piggy dresses up as Leia as a way of hitting on Luke. This episode was released as hype for Empire Strikes Back, so we aren’t aware of how creepy this is. The two sci-fi teams fly to a planet where they confront the mysterious Dearth Nadir!

He too wants to know about Luke’s tailor. The segment becomes a pure clusterfuck with Chewbacca coming to Luke’s aid (wasn’t he kidnapped?) and Nadir being saved by Angus McGonagle’s gargling abilities. Then Kermit arrives to transform it into a musical segment, which includes the horrors of Chewbacca dancing. Then it gets into cosmic territory as both the Muppets and the Star Wars cast get together and sing “When You Wish Upon a Star” as a Disney-like castle appears behind them.

Yes, they’re doing this decades before Disney would own both properties. Absolutely crazy.

Starting in the 90’s and continuing into the release of Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars made the occasional commercial crossover with company mascots. The first of which came in the form of Darth Vader facing down the Energizer Bunny. For those too young to remember, the Energizer Bunny was a pink drummer rabbit toy who was created to show how long a toy could last compared to others by using an Energizer battery instead of a generic brand. The joke was that the toy left the set of his own commercial and would randomly appear in other commercials with the narrator droning, “keeps going… and going… and going…” It was kind of annoying, but so was much of the 90’s.

In this version, Palpatine lets Vader know that there’s a great disturbance in the Force created by the Energizer Bunny’s battery. Vader corners the little guy with his lightsaber, but it suddenly fizzles and craps out. He checks the batteries to see that he has some Supervolt batteries in there, causing him to blow a gasket as our hero rolls on.

Crazy how Vader being pissed off at a mechanical rabbit in sunglasses is a less laughable performance than the ending of Revenge of the Sith.

With the coming of Episode 1, the movie was all over the place. You couldn’t go anywhere without having footage of attack droids and Gungans being shoved into your face. This led to a wacky set of commercials mixing Star Wars with Yum! Brands. Yum! is the parent company that owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. They made a commercial series where the distress call to save Naboo has reached Earth. Three representatives band together to help save the day. KFC has Colonel Sanders (or at least a statue of him that becomes human and springs into action) and Taco Bell has the “Yo quiero Taco Bell” Chihuahua. Pizza Hut has no mascot to speak of, so they go with a hot redhead delivery girl. Personally, I would have gone with that Mr. Bill knockoff Mr. Pizzahead, but nobody remembers him, so whatever.

Their quest to help fight against the Trade Federation (“Trade Entertainment” after they were sued in 2003) leads to mainly two notable moments. One, Colonel Sanders wields a lightsaber. It’s kind of awesome, but when you look at it, you can sum up a lot of the prequels with that image. Two, when they’re being advanced upon by a legion of evil droids, the Taco Bell Chihuahua fearfully looks up to Sanders and asks, “You’re a real Colonel, right?”

The commercials around the release of Revenge of the Sith would heavily feature Darth Vader, but without having to pay James Earl Jones to voice him. The first up is for Burger King, where Vader somehow comes across the Burger King himself, a mascot I believe to be created for the sake of trying to out-creep a fast food chain that has a clown representing them. Vader looks at him and gives a deep breath that suggests, “I have been horribly burned and still live purely thanks to cybernetics.” The Burger King responds in a deep breath that suggests, “I wear a mask to hide the scars that come from mutilating myself as I furiously masturbate while thinking about all the dead bodies littering my basement.” After a brief pause, the two begin breathing in unison.

The other commercial has Darth Vader working for Target in some kind of service where I guess you have Vader or Heidi Klum call you up with a recorded message. The commercial has Vader sitting at his desk, breathing heavily and staring forward. Klum comes by and inadvertently rubs her butt across Vader’s arm as she gets to her seat. Once Vader realizes this has happened, his iconic loud breathing becomes a lot more rapid.

Going back to the 90’s, I need to bring up another Darth Vader appearance via the Indian in the Cupboard. Released in 1995, the movie is based on a series of children’s books about a kid with a magic cupboard that’s able to give a Native American figurine the Pinocchio “real boy” treatment, albeit only a couple inches tall. Together, they learn life lessons about growing up and acceptance and… I really don’t know or don’t care. I’ve never seen the stupid thing. I was old enough to watch the commercials and know that Hollywood was trying to bullshit me into seeing some boring waste of time.

You see, the movie has a minute-long scene of the kid trying to go farther with the gimmick by shoving a bunch of action figures into the cupboard and then doing the same magic. He opens the door to see Darth Vader fighting a T-Rex on the top shelf with Robocop underneath, firing a gun at a couple Star Trek characters underneath, all while a GI Joe guy tries his best to keep everyone from fighting. The kid gets spooked and closes the door, turning them all back to toys. Then I guess the titular Indian gets on his case and yells, “YOU SHOULD NOT PLAY WITH MAGIC YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND!” What a wet blanket that guy is.

They say the commercial is the studio remaking a movie into what they think it should be and considering the commercials for Indian in the Cupboard would feature shots of this brief segment, it’s hard to disagree. I know that if my movie had a seconds-long fight between Darth Vader and a goddamn tyrannosaurus while Robocop is running around, I’d hype that up as much as possible. Still, I knew that they were trying to hoodwink me and refused to buy into it.

Now for Star Wars’ first comic book crossover. This one is incredibly interesting as its status as a crossover is in no way advertised and only acts as a twist ending. It’s part of Star Wars Tales #19, an anthology series of Star Wars short stories. This issue from 2004 features a 10-page story called Into the Great Unknown by Haden Blackman and Sean Murphy.

The story begins with the Millennium Falcon being attacked on all sides by Imperial forces. The hyperdrive has been iffy lately, but Han and Chewbacca go with it anyway. They blast forward and end up in another galaxy completely, which the narration notes, “Not so far, far away…” Han has no idea where they are and many of the planets are barren and lifeless. He sees a blue planet that seems promising, so they go towards it. The Falcon falls apart some more and they end up crashing into a tree in a forest. Remarking that this place reminds him of Endor, Han leads the way to look for a settlement. Then things go wrong.

Jesus Christ, why do Native Americans hate Star Wars so much?!

Chewbacca kicks their asses all by himself, but the damage is done. He finds Han riddled with arrows and coughing up blood. He’s taken back to the Millennium Falcon so he can die in his captain chair while saying his goodbyes to his best buddy. Chewbacca hugs the corpse and cries out, scaring away any other Native Americans in the nearby area.

Over a hundred years later, a guide brings an unidentified duo around the forest in their search for the legendary sasquatch. They’re sent by a museum and the leader of the duo is noticeably wearing a fedora and carrying a bullwhip. As they look for the creature’s cave, they instead find the crashed Millennium Falcon. They investigate and find Han’s arrowed skeleton. The fedora-wearing man can’t shake the strange feeling that there’s something oddly familiar about all of this.

And it’s no wonder. He’s the same actor.

Yes, that’s right. They surprised us with a Star Wars/Indiana Jones crossover out of nowhere. Extra points for Short Round.

Personally, the highlight of the issue is Scott Kurtz doing a Breakfast Club parody called Rebel Club, but that’s off the topic at hand.

Star Wars Tales isn’t the last Star Wars/Indiana Jones meeting. After the success of the videogame Lego Star Wars, an Indiana Jones follow-up was created. Several Star Wars characters are hidden throughout the game. When you find them, they do some kind of gesture and then vanish, so there’s no real interaction. Though it is possible to unlock Han Solo and play through the game as him.

The last instance I’ll talk about is also from the videogame world. Namco’s Soul Calibur franchise is itself like a nexus of realities when it comes to properties crossing over. Through guest characters, the series has included Link, Spawn, Kratos and Ezio Auditore while being in the same continuity as Tekken, which has crossed paths with Street Fighter, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Infamous and the cast of Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. None of those crossovers were more surprising than when it was announced that Soul Calibur 4 would include characters from Star Wars.

As a way to hype up the then-upcoming Star Wars: the Force Unleashed game, Darth Vader, Yoda and the Apprentice (AKA Galen Marek, AKA Starkiller) would join in on the medieval battle over who gets to wield the ever-powerful and corrupting sword known as Soul Edge. While Starkiller would appear in both versions of the game, Yoda was exclusive to the Xbox 360 and Vader exclusive to the Playstation 3. Later, the two would become downloadable content for the opposing systems.

The main story of the Soul Calibur franchise is that there’s a big, bad sword with a gross eyeball moving around in it called the Soul Edge. It has a corrupting influence on all it empowers and never seems to go away no matter how many times it gets destroyed. So how does this relate to lasers and space adventures? Interestingly enough, they made a webcomic for that.

Star Wars: Visions of the Blade is a webcomic by Tom Hodges that acts as a prologue to the game. Sadly, it’s long gone from the website and all I have to go on are YouTube image galleries and a plot synopsis. There’s a forbidden area in the universe with weird portal stuff going on and someone keen in the Force is able to manipulate it into seeing or even visiting other realities. We see Darth Vader, Yoda and Starkiller as they each go about their usual business and find themselves suddenly taken over by visions of the Soul Edge and its rival blade, Soul Calibur. Each one has an illusion of fighting a different Soul Calibur opponent. Vader sees the samurai Mitsurugi cutting down Stormtroopers, Starkiller duels with the ninja woman Taki and Yoda goes up against the mountainous axe-man Astaroth. Eventually, they find themselves on Earth, where they all end up fighting their illusionary rivals, only this time for reals.

In the game, Yoda naturally plays a lot different from everyone else, considering his size. What sticks out to me is that this is the first time I can ever recall hearing Yoda’s death cry. I mean, he died peacefully in Return of the Jedi and his fights in the prequels either end in a victory or escape, so we’ve never gotten to hear Yoda screaming in anguish. It’s kind of fucked up when it happens.

Yoda’s ending features him dissipating the main villain Algol with the Force or… something. I don’t know. He leaves the castle and remarks that the universe has one less thing to worry about, but things aren’t hunky dory quite yet with the Empire still around. Starkiller’s ending has him kill Algol with a series of lightsaber strikes and he returns to space. When Vader asks him about why he didn’t bring the magic swords with him, Starkiller notes that he found them without value. Vader gets pissy and goes into Force choke mode. Starkiller draws his lightsaber and they go at it. As for Vader’s ending, he kills Algol with some Force choke action and then wields both swords while cackling madly. As the text epilogue states, the Empire has just gotten even more fearsome.

It’s okay, though. Somewhere else, Luke is lifting Mjolnir while wearing a Green Lantern ring to make it an even match.

I do like that the game putting Vader and Mitsurugi as rivals. Mitsurugi’s whole story is that he hates that the rising of guns is making his sword-swinging lifestyle obsolete. The wielders of the Force find guns to be beneath them compared to that of a lightsaber. It kind of works.

Who knows what kind of madness we’ll see once the sequels are finally released. Will we finally get a comic to explain what happens when Superman is struck with a lightsaber? Will the Geiko Gecko try to sell Chewbacca on insurance for the Millennium Falcon? Time will tell.

Next time on Crossover Celebration: never-ending reptiles.

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4 comments to “Crossover Celebration Part 5: Star Wars and Friends”

  1. I’m disappointed that you missed the toy crossovers like Darth Potato and the Star Wars Transformers line. Only one of those was actually good, though.

  2. @Endless Mike: I was excited to find out that the Star Wars Transformers line existed and was prepared to write about it, but then I discovered that it was just a toy line. Like with Darth Tater, there’s nothing resembling a narrative to jump onto. It’s more of a mixing of ideas than an actual crossover.

  3. How about this one? My iPhone-wielding friends just reminded me of this. Is this official?


  4. @Photon: Good question. It is an official cross-promotion, but the reason I didn’t include it is that like Darth Tater and the Transformers thing, it’s more of a mixing of concepts. Like, it’s the Angry Birds as Star Wars. Not Angry Birds AND Star Wars. It isn’t like the red bird and Luke meet up in any way or anything like that.