Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
Ever since I was sixteen if you asked me who my favorite chachtar was in the Star Wars movies. I would have told you Wedge Antilles. Moe people know who he is now than thirty years ago, but Wedge is the most awesome supporting charterer in Star Wars. No let me take it back he is the most awesome supporting character in any fiction ever. (And yes I am including Enkidu for the Epic of Gilgamesh in that one) In fact there is a trope named after him The Wedge Antillies class character, describing a character who makes it though a series or many episodes of a TV show and never quite rises beyond the level of a second banana.
Think of all the things that Wedge does as a ‘mere’ supporting charachtar. He saved Luke’s life during the Battle of Yavin, when Biggs is otherwise occupied. He takes down the first AT-AT walker in Battle of Hoth, and as Red Leader in the Battle of Endor, he and Lando Calrissian destroy the second Death Star, and that is just in the three movies, I and I have not even gotten to the EU yet!
Denis Lawson with his nephew Ewen Mcgregor
Dennis Lawson is the actor who is most closely associated with Wedge. In Star Wars: A new Hope he is given credit for the role of Red Two (Wedge). Though this gets more complex with the “legend of the Fake Wedge”. Other Thespians have played the role, He was played by three different voice actors in the audio versions of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. In the new season of Star Wars: Rebels he is voiced by Nathan Kress.
Star Wars is full of bloopers and contradictions that I didn’t notice till someone pointed out to me. Ponda Boba is seen in the back ground having a flipper for an appendage, but when Obi-wan cuts off his arm with a light saber he has furry hands. Every once in a while C3P0’s leg turns silver, and then there is the Fake Wedge. I didn’t notice it but the actor playing wedge in the briefing scene is not the same guy who plays him in the Battle of Yavin, even though they sound alike. Lucas Films was pretty tight lipped about it for decades causing eagle eyed fans to dub the non-Lawson Wedge “Fake Wedge”
The original actor was Colin Higgins, a British TV actor who had never worked on a movie or with an American crew before. Higgins would shorten lines, and act more subtlety than Lucas wanted him too. He was fired after the briefing scene was shot, and Lawson who was overlooked for the part got it. David Ankrum did a voice over of both actors in an attempt to create continuity.
I am not sure why it was such a big secret who played Wedge in the briefing scene, but it was finally confirmed by Star Wars historian Pablo Hidalgo, by comparing Higgins role in Star Wars with a part he had in the British Sci-Fi show Blake’s 7. Higgins died in 2012 of natural causes.
For most people, including me, Dennis Lawson will always be “our Wedge.” But do not expect to see Lawson in any more Star Wars movies in the near future. Lawson was offered a part in The Fore Awakens, but turned it down saying the part would bore him.
That doesn’t mean we are not seeing Wedge in the new Star Wars cannon. He was recently introduced to a new generation of star wars fans in the animated TV show Star Wars: Rebels. He has appeared in three neo-cannon novels, Aftermath, Life Debt and Lost Stars.
With his appearance on the TV show Rebels, one of the pop culture websites I visit said Wedge finialy got a backstory. This isn’t true, Wedge had an extensive history and career in the expanded universes’ books, comic books and games. With the purchase of Star Wars by Disney this vast and lush treasure of lore has be relegated to an alternative dimension called Star Wars Legacy.
But his history did exist. In any universe Wedge is one righteous dude. His Legends (Books that were removed from cannon with the new movies origin starts with him being born on Corellia (The same planet that Han Solo was born on) and working at an orbital refueling dock when his parents were killed by pirates. He became a free trade making an honest living as a free trader, when the woman he loved Mala Terno. He then joined the Rebellion becoming one of their best pilots.
The new version isn’t that far off form the original. He was born on Corellia and worked at a refueling station and moved to transport ships. He was offered a chance to attend Imperial TIE fighter academy and took it because it seemed more exciting than just hauling cargo. He was shocked when he found out part of his new duties was to include firing on unarmed transports. He contacted a rebel agent code-named Fulcrum, who sent in Sabine Wren to bust him out of the academy.
The retcon non cannon version is not that far from the original Legacy story. There is no indication that his parents were killed by pirates, no Mala Terno and this is the first we ever heard about him going to the Imperial Academy. But it is not a complete re-write like say Boba Fett got from the novels and The Phantom Menace.
From the neo-novels we find out before the Battle of Yavin, he flew an A Wing until it crashed, then served aboard a rebel freighter, before being assigned to Red Squadron. He also tells an Imperial interrogator that the reason that he joined the rebellion because the Empire hunted his family and hurt a woman who he loved once. Assuming Wedge wasn’t playing the Imp officer the most likely excuse is the writer used a miss mash of his original story, and this was before the Rebel’s script came out. But in Legacy his parents were killed by pirates. We can assume that maybe this happened after his defection, and that he will eventually meet an unrevealed Mala, who will suffer the same fate her legacy counterpart did. But there is another theory.
What if the currently unnamed, transport ship he served on was The Ghost and its crew became his new family? What if the girl that was hurt by the Empire was Sabine? Now honestly I don’t like shipping (the act of fans writing non-cannon romance about cannon characters). Mulder and Scully hooking up kind of ruined it for me. I also get a lot of shippers, want Ezra and Sabine to be an item. Still this romance kind of interest me. Other than a little ‘mousekateer’ level flirting there is nothing to make It seem like that is Walt Co’s plan, but maybe that why I like it so much, the fans taking back a favorite character.
In both Legacy and cannon, wedge continues to take the war to the Imperial remnant. Though at different levels. The new cannon Wedge is more like General Orde Wingate, an import historical figure. Legacy Wedge is more like a combination of Pappy Boyington, Norman Schwarzkopf, and Audie Murphy. If there isn’t a high school on every New republic world named after Wedge Antilles, I’d be shocked.
With Lawson passing on The Force Awaking, Wedge’s legacy is his friendship with the Wexly family and being a mentor to future star fighter pilot Temmin “Snap” Wexley. (Played by JJ Abrams best friend Greg Grunberg.) In contrast there are volumes of post movie stories about Wedge in the Legacy Universe.
The best stories (though your miles may very) are the books and comic-books that are out there about Wedge like the X-Wing saga. There literally thousands of pages I the Legacy stories dedicated about Wedge Antilles and in each he is more badass than the last. As the new cannon continues I hope that keep the spirit of one of the best pilots and characters in the galaxy.
One of the greatest EU stories about Wedge was the Wraith Squadron tales. In it Wedge forms a squadron out of washouts and misfits, who can fight in X-wings or take place in spycraft mission on a planet surface. (Kind of like WWII’s Back Sheet Squadron meets Space: Above and Beyond.) In one of the new cannon books, it is revealed that Wedge lead a merry band of misfits fighter pilots in unit called Phantom Squadron. We have very little details about this unit we can assume that they did most of the legacy Wraith Squadron did. Also Phantom was the name of the shuttle in Star Wars: Rebels, ship the Ghost, could this be an homage to Wedges possible lost love Sabine?
There is another Legacy love of Wedge Antilleans.,Iella Wessiri. A Corrillian police officer turned rebel intel gene agent. She had to kill her first husband when he was brainwashed into become an assassin. Due to this, and living almost all her adult life during time of war, she really didn’t want to enter into a relationship. Eventually she decided to take a chance in love with Wedge, and they had two daughters. Iella admitted that her love for her first husband was best described as affectionate, her relationship with Wedge was Passionate.
We do not know where the new cannon is going to take Wedge. There will surely be one more book with him., in it he may die a heroic death or survive and continue on as powerful force in the new books, but no matter what he will continue to be a huge intergalactic mamer jammer.