WARNING: If you’re not in the mood for a deep dive into Star Wars minutia, this week’s “A Cinecle View” is not for you. But if you want to get your pragmatic nerd juices flowing, read on …
With the recent release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Disney continues a proud tradition established by Lucasfilm nearly 40 years ago …
INSERTING AN ELEMENT IN YOUR FILM THAT EXISTS FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN TO SELL MERCHANDISE AND SUBSEQUENTLY TURNING DOWN ALMOST NO LICENSING REQUESTS FOR SAID ELEMENT. Cha-ching.
Look, I think capitalism guided by some properly administered regulations that protect and drive healthy competition is the only economic system worth having. But if there was one thing in Rogue One that made me roll my eyes hard enough to fracture a disk in my neck, it was the blatant toy-money-cash-grab that is the Imperial TIE Striker.
The TIE/sk x1 experimental air superiority fighter, also known as the TIE/sk atmospheric fighter or simply the TIE striker, was a streamlined variant of the TIE line starfighters used by the Galactic Empire, most notably during the Battle of Scarif. Specialized for in-atmosphere missions, the atmospheric fighter was identifiable by its horizontal high-speed wings and large central pod.
Okay, let’s start with that “used by the Galactic Empire, most notably during the Battle of Scarif” part. If you change the phrase “most notably” to “only,” you’ve got what we in the industry call “THE TRUTH.”
Episode IV: A New Hope began approximately five to seven minutes after the conclusion of Rogue One, and yet, from that point forward in the original trilogy we see not one TIE Striker ever again.
Not in hangers in Mos Eisley on Tattooine, not during the battle of Hoth, not during the battle of Endor. And don’t try to tell me that the Endor forests made them impractical, as I’m sure that their “attached proton bomb launcher … dealing heavy damage over a large area” would be perfect for deforestation and decimating Ewok/rebel blinds and traps from the air before they could be used to take out imperial walkers and speeder bikes.
So, if it was an “experimental air superiority fighter,” then I guess from it’s complete absence from any relevant event outside of Rogue One and some canonical novels we can judge the experiment as a complete failure. Like when Homer designed that car for Unky Herb. Or the Ford Pinto …
(sigh) You could never make a joke like that in a movie today without severe social media backlash, an apology tour and some sort of donation to an advocacy group.
Sure it makes sense from a aesthetic/design perspective in the evolution of Imperial Starfighters …
… but from the perspective of functionally within the story universe, and based on what we’ve seen in the original trilogy, it serves no purpose.
Standard TIE Fighters had no problem with in-atmosphere dogfights and the Imperial navy already had TIE Bombers to level ground targets, so why waste the resources designing, manufacturing and maintaining a fleet of fighters that are, at best, redundant, when your brand new (at the time) planet destroying space station costs $7.8 Octillion per day to operate? Even for a government with building codes so fucked up that they seem to require bottomless shafts without handrails and safety fences in EVERY structure, the TIE Striker project is a bit hinky.
Hell, at least the aforementioned Ewoks, much maligned for their mix of made for toy store shelves cuteness and borderline insulting stereotypes of indigenous peoples that historically lived in forests, fit the needs of the story in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Would Wookies have been cooler? Yes. But the story was still served even with the “technologically primitive next to the Empire” natives that help the rebellion defeat their oppressors looking more like Teddy Ruxpin than bipedal, mechanically-inclined, Aphganische greyhound/grizzly bear hybrids. Maybe more so.
Admit it, your eyes teared up when those two Ewoks were gunned down while running from the Imperial AT-ST and one began to wail when he/she tried to wake the other only to realize that she/he was dead. They’re probably tearing up right now just thinking about it. No? Maybe this will help …
Just think of how many more they could have killed if they still had their line of in-atmosphere specialty fighters.
Wow, that got dark fast.
Anyway, there can only be one conclusion. THE TIE STRIKER NOTHING MORE THAN A COOL LOOKING BUT BLATANT TOY-MONEY-CASH-GRAB WRAPPED IN REVISIONIST HISTORY TO MAKE IT MORE PALATABLE TO NERDS.
But I’m not falling for it. I refuse to purchase anything related to the TIE Striker on general principal.
Judging by Episodes IV-VI the Empire did, too.
Tony Marion is a writer and filmmaker who splits time between Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. He lives for the work of Descendents (the band), Chuck Palahniuk and Rian Johnson. Check out the digital embodiment of procrastination he calls his website here.