Star Wars: Best of 2018

StarWars.com's writers discuss the year's biggest releases and moments.

This has been a year filled with major Star Wars releases and new stories to enjoy, but it will also be remembered for specific moments, events, and announcements — many of which have us more excited than ever about the future of a galaxy far, far away. While we can’t wait for what’s to come in 2019, here’s our favorite Star Wars everything from 2018.

Luke in Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures.

Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures introduces the saga to a new generation

As a parent of younglings, it’s always been a privilege to see how Star Wars has been able to bridge the gap between generations. Whether it’s the original trilogy, the prequels, or Star Wars Resistance, there’s something in a galaxy far, far away for everyone of all ages.

Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures, launched on the new StarWarsKids.com and the official Star Wars Kids YouTube channel, showcases a whole new way for families and Star Wars storytelling to come together. With exciting animation and bright colors, the shorts open the door for kids to get their first introduction to Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie, and Darth Vader; I have to say, using the original voice dialog has definitely pulled at my heartstrings. And at just around one-minute long, the short time frame allows young ones to get caught up in the stories and be curious about further exploring the Star Wars universe.

It was wonderful to see familiar stories and characters we love reinvented so that classic moments become even more memorable. It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan of any age. – Jenn Fujikawa

Star Wars : The Clone Wars #CloneWarsSaved poster featuring a clone trooper helmet.

#CloneWarsSaved!

The unexpected happened in 2018: The Clone Wars was saved! We get to see more of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and everyone else in animated form. I still can’t believe it. I hosted what I thought was a panel celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the beloved Star Wars series at San Diego Comic-Con with Dave Filoni, Athena Portillo, Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, and Kevin Kiner, and I was completely caught off guard when, instead, they announced the show would be coming back with new episodes on The Walt Disney Company’s upcoming direct-to-consumer streaming service, Disney+. What! I was in disbelief. Emotional fans reacted with thunderous applause and cheers. And as for me? I was crying from joy. I did my best to get through the final minutes of the panel through my tears, but the details are fuzzy. Learning we’d get an ending for the unfinished story is one of the best gifts 2018 gave me. I cannot wait to spend time with my old Clone Wars friends again. – Amy Ratcliffe

Star Wars: Episode IX logo.

Star Wars: Episode IX cast is revealed

While little is known about the highly-anticipated Star Wars: Episode IX, which is set for release in December 2019, we were treated to a huge cast announcement this year — one that surprised and delighted us. Billy Dee Williams will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian, Carrie Fisher will appear in the film using previously unreleased footage shot for The Force Awakens, and Mark Hamill is back, all alongside Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and more returning and new faces. Let the countdown begin. – Dan Brooks

General Grievous versus Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Battlefront II.

Our favorite games receive some Force-powered updates

This was a very exciting year for fans who play games, with a bevy of content updates hitting throughout the year. Live-ops support for both Battlefront II and Galaxy of Heroes has been phenomenal in recent months, with new content being added all the time. The release of Solo: A Star Wars Story brought the spice mines of Kessel, young Han and Lando skins, and a slew of incredible new modes to Battlefront II earlier this year, and we’ve since seen the addition of the massive Geonosis map, General Grievous, and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Plus, there’s still more great Clone Wars DLC on the way in January and beyond. Galaxy players on mobile devices, meanwhile, have been treated to a veritable smorgasbord of Legends nostalgia. Knights of the Old Republic’s Bastila Shan, Jolee Bindo, Juhani, and even the fan-favorite Revan have all joined the holotable as playable toons; if you haven’t taken Galaxy of Heroes for a spin yet, now’s the time. Star Wars: Jedi Challenges, the augmented-reality mobile game, also got a free major update this year. The Dark Side Expansion puts player in control of Kylo Ren’s crackling red lightsaber, pitting them against worthy opponents like Rey and Master Yoda.

If you see me on Geonosis, be sure and say, “Hello there.” – Alex Kane

Rian Johnson, Ram Bergman, Daisy Ridley, and Mark Hamill kicking off the filming of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Major releases come home with some bonus surprises

Star Wars saw a pair of incredible home video releases this year that offered us a whole new world of behind-the-scenes content. The release of The Last Jedi brought us a feature-length documentary about the making of the film, a full commentary from Rian Johnson, and a version of the movie that isolated the John Williams score and allows you to watch the film as a silent musical. The depth of the features The Last Jedi brought us helped us better understand the film and how it was made. I’m not sure we’ve had a better behind-the-scenes documentary since the release of The Beginning, which was the making of feature from The Phantom Menace. One of my favorite bonus features that hit the home video market in 2018 was the cast and crew roundtable that featured on the release of Solo: A Star Wars StoryWatching director Ron Howard lead a discussion about making the film with the cast was a joy, and made it seem as though making Solo was as fun of an experience as watching it. Also, it’s worth noting that StarWars.com even had exclusive Blu-ray covers made for the films that you could print out: for The Last Jedi, fans took stunning photos of action figures, and Phil Noto provided artwork for Solo that’s just beautiful, illustrated in the style of classic movie posters.

And all of this was just for the live-action films. We got features on the release of the final season of Star Wars Rebels that rivaled all of this, including commentaries and making-of documentaries that you don’t often see with animated television. – Bryan Young

Neeku, Kaz, and Poe Dameron in Star Wars Resistance.

Star Wars Resistance introduces us to a new side of the galaxy

In a quiet corner of the galaxy, on an ocean planet in the Outer Rim not far from Wild Space, Star Wars Resistance has introduced fans to a new chapter in galactic storytelling with bold colors and a vibrant animation style. We’ve met Kazuda Xiono, the charmingly clumsy Resistance spy, his friends Neeku and Tam, one hilariously literal and the other literally exasperated, and the rest of the gang voiced by a tremendously diverse and talented cast. While most other Star Wars stories have focused on the Jedi and Force-wielders, Resistance is more about the average denizens of the galaxy far, far away, their daily struggles, and what happens when the despicable First Order begins to gain traction and those good people must join forces to fight back. And we can’t wait to see what happens next. – Kristin Baver

Albin Johnson, R2-KT, and Jordan Hembrough from Our Star Wars Stories.
Our Star Wars Stories showcases the best fans in the galaxy

Everyone has a Star Wars story. Maybe it’s an unforgettable experience seeing the first Star Wars movie with your kids, or a certain character or story moment that gets you through a tough time, but there’s something about Star Wars that stays with us. Our Star Wars Stories, a new digital series hosted by Jordan Hembrough that debuted in 2018, highlighted five fans whose lives have been forever altered by the galaxy far, far away.

There’s the doctor who was inspired to get into STEM, the family who cosplays together, the droid builder, the collector who learned to accept himself for who he is, and the founder of the 501st Legion who got through the most difficult time in his life — all were affected, encouraged, and uplifted through Star Wars. Meet them all in this incredible video series. – Kelly Knox

The Star Wars Show turns 100!

For nearly three years, The Star Wars Show has been bringing its viewers news, reveals, and whimsy from the heart of Lucasfilm. Hosted by Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni, alongside a collection of clanking droids and amazing characters, The Star Wars Show has come a long way since its very first show. This year, for the show’s 100th episode, Andi, Anthony, and the crew upped their game by hosting a spectacular gala which included a relatable musical number (oh, red Millennium Falcon T-shirt in my dresser…I’m happy there’s none other like you!); a telethon to save Gonk; a commercial for the 39th annual Toy-Yoda-thon (not to be confused with “Happy Hondo Days”); and even a call/cameo from original host Peter Townley, stranded on the moon (“You did all those episodes by yourself without another host?”). Wrapped up with a reminder by Pablo Hidalgo — sweeping the spotlight with a Force-acquired broom in homage to The Last Jedi — that none of this is canon, the 100th Star Wars Show has us excited to tune in for hundreds more episodes to come. – Neil Kleid

Han Solo and Lando Calrissian Black Series figures.

Photo Real takes the Black Series to the next level, and more great figures and collectibles arrive

Star Wars toys and collectibles in 2018 brought some truly fine additions to our shelves and toy chests. The debut of a new cinematic Star Wars film brought myriad options for the smuggler in all of us. Hasbro released a Han Solo card game that might look familiar to fans of Solo: A Star Wars Story, where the goal is to get as close to zero as possible. When you consider that there is a possibility of winning (or losing, watch what that scoundrel has up his sleeve!) the ultimate prize, the Millennium Falcon, it is well worth the gamble. Hasbro also released new figures in the 6-inch Black Series — made even more stunning thanks to new Photo Real painting technology — including Solo versions of the titular character, as well as Lando Calrissian, Range Troopers, and Q’ira. And, for the 3 ¾-inch line, the popular comics character Doctor Aphra (one of the only characters to face Darth Vader and live to tell the tale) made her debut at San Diego Comic-Con, and later, as part of the late Fall release in the Vintage Collection line. And a new Star Wars Galaxy of Adventures line is introducing classic characters to a new generation.

In the realm of collectibles, some highlights include Hallmark’s AT-AT tape dispenser, looking like it had just been on the receiving end of harpoons and tow cables, courtesy of Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson. Plus, they continued to debut new interactive Christmas tree ornaments, including the Millennium Falcon and a TIE fighter. When you attach the Keepsake power cord to last year’s collectible ornaments, you can play out the trench run from A New Hope on your Christmas tree, with lights, music, and sounds from the movie that started it all. Sideshow added to its vaunted Mythos line with a sixth scale Boba Fett figure, with the infamous bounty hunter cloaked in desert gear, while Gentle Giant released tons of great new product, including a concept-art Yoda mini-bust — but we’re partial to the super-cool Star Wars Show statuette. But, if Hoth is more your speed, Columbia offered a limited-edition Star Wars Empire crew parka that was inspired by the jacket worn by the cast and crew during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, featuring a customizable nameplate. And, this is just the tip of the iceberg; let’s hope the great Steve Sansweet is adding onto Rancho Obi-Wan for all of the amazing toys and collectibles brought to us throughout 2018. – Dan Zehr

Black Spire Outpost concept art for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge edges closer…

Almost…there. Almost…there! Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the highly-anticipated Star Wars-themed land, will open at Disneyland Resort in summer 2019 and at Walt Disney World Resort in fall 2019, and we’re charging toward launch day like Red Leader barreling down the Death Star trench. While we have to wait a little longer to experience Galaxy’s Edge, there were some big reveals this year that have us even more excited: John Williams is writing new music and the attraction names were announced; Black Spire Outpost was revealed as the Batuu village at Galaxy’s Edge; and AT-ATs and more were confirmed. Plus, we got some intel on Walt Disney World’s Star Wars-themed resort. Is it 2019 yet? – Dan Brooks

The cover of Issue 25 of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.

The incredible ending of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith caps a memorable year in comics

It’s been a busy year in the Star Wars comics world. Poe Dameron published its final issues, and excellent adaptations arrived with Marvel’s takes on The Last Jedi and Thrawn, and the first few issues of Solo: A Star Wars Story. The main Star Wars title and Darth Vader embarked on an ambitious and different sort of crossover with each series telling a connected and complementary story about rebellion on Mon Cala, but set decades apart. Meanwhile, Lando and L3 ended up helping with a revolution in Lando: Double or Nothing…for the right price, of course. On the all-ages side of the comics Force, IDW Publishing expanded its Star Wars offerings this year, as Star Wars Adventures took a detour to Vader’s Castle and even published comics to accompany the Forces of Destiny shorts.

The galaxy’s shadiest archaeologist kept finding herself in a deeper and deeper mess, as Si Spurrier took over as the sole writer of Doctor Aphra. Each arc this year, from “Remastered” to “The Catastrophe Con” to the recently begun “Worst Among Equals” has forced our intrepid doctor to face an uncomfortable truth about herself and the sort of person she really is. While the series never loses its sense of humor as Aphra bumps into one disaster after another, it doesn’t shy away from the harder questions. The book has been a fascinating exploration of morality and where the line between good guy and bad guy truly lies.

Firmly on the bad-guy side, Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli’s Darth Vader came to an end mere days ago with a jaw-dropping final issue. We’ve never seen Vader quite like this. In “Fortress Vader,” we saw not only the genesis of his castle on Mustafar but also the inevitable acceptance of his depressing state of existence. The Force finally made Vader face his past, his present, and even the briefest of glimpses into his future, pulling words from throughout the saga’s timeline to drive its point home. At last, Anakin Skywalker is dead and only Darth Vader remains. It’s an intense arc that caps off a truly wonderful comic run that’s a must read for every Star Wars fan. And while Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith may be over, it’s hard not to be excited to see what’s next for everything Star Wars comics might bring us in 2019. – Bria LaVorgna

The cover of The Star Wars Archives.

Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy book cover.

The cover of Are You Scared Darth Vader?

A galaxy of books deepens our understanding of Star Wars…and what scares Darth Vader

With so many film and television projects getting released in 2018 (or shortly before, in the case of The Last Jedi), it’s no wonder that so many of the best books in this year connected to the films and shows. Jason Fry’s novelization of The Last Jedi bought in extra scenes cut from the movie, and took us inside the characters for some great perspectives. Novels building up to or off of Solo: A Star Wars Story, like Last Shot by Daniel José Older and Most Wanted by Rae Carson, gave us some marvelous reads that added great stories to characters seen in the film, capturing these characters at different stages of their lives to show who they are, were, and will be later. For children, Are You Scared Darth Vader? offered Halloween fun and the Choose Your Destiny series let young readers become active participants in stories featuring Han, Chewie, Luke, and Leia. In the realm of reference works, we had some real delights — Women of the Galaxy by Amy Ratcliffe brought great insights and amazing artwork, and the Smuggler’s Guide by Dan Wallace wove together tales of the criminal underworld as it passed in-universe from owner to owner, with each adding to it and annotating the previous entries. The massive The Star Wars Archives ended the year in epic style, with a tome chronicling the saga and George Lucas’s creation of the galaxy far, far away like few books have or could. – James Floyd

Darth Maul with hair Solo concept art by Jake Lunt Davies.

StarWars.com goes inside Solo and more

When it’s a busy year for Star Wars, it’s a busy year for StarWars.com — and that was definitely the case for 2018. If we can take a moment to toot our own (Ewok battle) horn, here are some of our personal favorite articles that you might want to revisit or check out if you missed: Dan Brooks had an in-depth interview with Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan about writing Solo and uncovered some never-before-seen Maul sketches while speaking with Solo concept artist Jake Lunt Davies; Bria LaVorgna talked all things Doctor Aphra with creator Kieron Gillen and writer Si Spurrier; Kristin Baver visited Tippett Studio, discovering some great behind-the-scenes insights on Solo, and also spoke with the film’s costume designers (Prince inspired Lando’s wardrobe!); Jon Waterhouse chatted with fans about their Star Wars Halloween memories; Jenn Fujikawa made a recipe for Admiral Ackbar ice cream sandwiches and it was a welcome trap for our tastebuds; Kelly Knox brought scoundrel style to the site with a DIY Lando-inspired tote bag craft; Alex Kane got an early look the amazing The Star Wars Archives and caught up with the tome’s author; Amy Ratcliffe debuted some beautiful art from her fantastic book Women of the Galaxy; and Jamie Stangroom spoke to the legendary Noel Gallagher (formerly of Oasis) about his love of Star Wars and training Ewan McGregor in lightsaber combat. Enjoy! – StarWars.com Team

A painting of the Ghost crew in Star Wars Rebels.

Star Wars Rebels says goodbye

I knew Season Four of Star Wars Rebels was going to be the last, and saying goodbye to the series — and some of its heroes — was still harder than I expected. Kanan Jarrus sacrificed himself so Hera, Ezra, and Sabine could live on to fight Thrawn and the Empire. Ezra, learning the lesson of his master’s sacrifice, called the purrgil in the epic series finale, jumping into hyperspace with Grand Admiral Thrawn to save Lothal. But we also gained new hope. Kanan lives on in his son Jacen Syndulla, the Rebellion is stronger because of Hera and Rex, and Zeb and Kallus have joined the Lasan on their new homeworld Lirasan. Not to mention, Ahsoka returned, and she and Sabine are off in search of Ezra — who knows what further adventures await us, and what the Force has in store? In the end, Season Four gave us some of the finest moments of a beautiful series, one filled with stories and lessons that will reverberate for a long time. – Shana O’Neil

Stormtroopers with K-2SO in Secretes of the Empire.

ILMxLAB sends us to Mustafar…and has big plans for 2019

This will forever be known as the year Star Wars fans were finally able to step into a galaxy far, far away. Thanks to the incredible work of ILMxLAB, we spent 2018 journeying to Mustafar alongside our friends and family members in the immersive Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire. Nothing brings you closer together than going on undercover as a stormtrooper on a mission for the Rebel Alliance.
And ILMxLAB has even more plans in motion for the future. With February’s new mixed-reality immersive experience Star Wars: Project Porg, pet porgs are finally a thing! Soon, you’ll be able to play with them, keep them well fed, and even show them how to maneuver through real-world environments with the trusty help of C-3PO. Then, it’s time to head back to Mustafar in the recently announced Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series. There, we’ll find ourselves in the presence of Darth Vader…with a lightsaber in our hands. – Anina Walas

The Star Wars Show and Ron Howard mix Arrested Development with Star Wars and it’s amazing

Messy family relationships, a patriarch who’s always causing trouble, and a son forced to save them all. That’s Arrested DevelopmentStar Wars-style. In an original short from The Star Wars Show, Ron Howard himself, director of Solo: A Star Wars Story, recapped the saga of A New Hope. The film that started it all was recut in the style of the series’ opening, featuring the eccentric Bluth family, an homage that was the perfect mix of clever recurring gags and Star Wars storytelling, hitting just the right tone thanks to Howard’s narration. And that’s why you always leave a note. – Kristin Baver

The Mandalorian

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The Mandalorian and an untitled Cassian Andor live-action series are announced for Disney+

There was a time, before streaming services and on-demand videos, when the notion of a live-action Star Wars television series was just excited conversation in a school lunchroom, on a college campus coffee shop, or on online fan message boards.

Such fan dreaming was given new life in 2018 with Lucasfilm’s announcement of not one but two upcoming live-action series on Disney+: The Mandalorianand an as-yet untitled show featuring Rogue One: A Star Wars Story co-protagonist Cassian Andor.

Shepherded by Executive Producer Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian, coming in 2019, is a show focused on “a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.” The few images released show the lived-in aesthetic that’s been a Star Wars hallmark since A New Hope. Star Wars fans new and old are giddy with anticipation.

Adding to that excitement is Diego Luna’s return to his Cassian Andor role. While we know Cassian’s fate, the fact that we’ll be privy to his previous adventures in espionage for the Rebellion is stoking even more excitement about stories that show the rebels’ formative steps toward a cohesive alliance, while staying one step ahead, and not behind, the Empire. – Matt Moore

Han and Chewbacca in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Solo: A Star Wars Story shows us the making of a scoundrel

What circumstances forge someone into the person they’ll become? That’s what Solo: A Star Wars Story, which opened on May 10, explores; it’s not about blowing up Death Stars or the fate of the galaxy. It’s a personal story — albeit, one involving a train heist and a giant space monster — that shows us how experiences, heartbreaks, and victories can shape a person. In this case, we see Han Solo learn lessons that would harden his exterior, but we also witness that even in his youth, his giant heart trumped all his selfish impulses. It’s a story that makes Han Solo — along with other heroes we’ve known for years — a stronger character, and it’s still a rollicking action-adventure. (No surprise then, that it was written by The Empire Strikes BackReturn of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan, and directed by Ron Howard.) And I love it.

In fact, I love Solo for many reasons. It takes Star Wars back to its grimy Western roots, with gunslingers and cantinas and shady types that we may or may not be able to trust. It’s a creature feature through and through, with great oddities like the giant worm-like Lady Proxima and two-headed card-playing aliens. Alden Ehrenreich captures Han’s cockiness, bravado, and vulnerability, while at the same time, adding an air of innocence to the character that we’ve never seen before. His chemistry with Joonas Suotamo’s Chewbacca is excellent; from their first meeting in a mud-pit — a knock-down drag-out fight that quickly becomes a getaway scheme, which is so Han and Chewie — to the I-can’t-believe-it look Han gives his furry friend as they sit in the Falcon cockpit together for the first time, they’re a joy to watch. Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian is smooth and charming and funny, but he stumbles — much like Han, he’s almost impersonating the type of person he wants to be, and he takes some lumps along the way to getting there. Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra is wondrously complex; she’s someone who chooses a questionable path and has regrets, but we sympathize with her and root for her. Without spoiling the film, everyone makes choices during the climax that speak volumes about where they’ve been and where they’re going; we understand them completely, good and bad, and that’s why this movie resonates. Solo is tragic and hopeful at the same time, a reflection of what goes into a life, making for a beautiful tale.

Plus, the Kessel Run is really, really awesome. – Dan Brooks

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