Features and Columns · Movies

How David Choe Fixed ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

The eccentric artist uses his wildfire imagination to bend J.J. Abrams’ film to his will. The result is glorious.
David Choe Fixes Star Wars
David Choe
By  · Published on June 15th, 2020

Welcome to Han Shot First, our new column dedicated to celebrating ‘Star Wars’ in all its wild, wonderful, and weird forms. Your jam might be the original trilogy, or maybe it’s ‘The Last Jedi.’ Heck, you may love the prequels, and that’s A-ok. This party is for all of you beautiful nerf-herders.

When it comes to Star Wars, we can’t help ourselves. George Lucas may have birthed this madness out of his love for serials and samurai flicks, but the moment we eradicated our allowance to score a Darth Vader action figure with a sliding lightsaber, we claimed ownership of the brand. The entitlement is real, and we wield it with fierce resolution.

Given such stringent passion, we tend to believe we know what’s best for these characters, and when someone else takes our toys and does something with them that we deem heretical, we rain fire and brimstone from atop Mount Twitter. By the time a person raises a wall of protection around them through mutes and blocks, they’ve erased every follower and non-follower from their feed.

Star Wars fandom is no longer (if it ever was) a niche arena, it’s the whole damn world, and rarely do we all get along. What we need to accept is that you and I may not see eye to eye on every aspect of Star Wars, and that’s not only okay, it’s kinda rad. For every Solo: A Star Wars Story misfire, there is a Clone Wars cartoon to satisfy or vice versa, depending on your point of view.

Appearing on the latest Cartoonist Kayfabe Shoot Interview, eccentric street artist David Choe climaxed his epic comic book talk with Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg by championing a twenty-minute fan film based on one of his recent Star Wars rants. Entitled “David Choe Fan Fiction, Reaction and Review-Episode 1: Crispy and Chewie – Chewbacca Edition,” the short is cobbled together from animation, action figures, and collage. It’s a raucous expression of passionate frustration directed squarely at The Rise of Skywalker.

Choe acknowledged on Cartoonist Kayfabe that fan outrage is ridiculous but inescapable. Choe, like you, me, and everyone else, is a Star Wars kid. The first movie he ever saw in the theater was Return of the Jedi, and from that moment on, the course of his life altered. He was forever in it to win it going forward.

“The last one sucked,” he states, “the one before that sucked — fuckin’ Jar Jar! It doesn’t matter!! Once you’re a fan…it hits a different part, it’s a feeling. I don’t care how shitty Star Wars movies are…it’s a fucking fantasy thing for kids…I’m a fan. I love it.”

The tendrils are in. There is no freeing them. Enjoy their grip, lean into it. There is pleasure in the pain.

“With that being said,” he continues, “I felt so many fucking feelings with the last trilogy that I fixed it…It’s like the most passionate thing I’ve ever worked on…it’s one of the things I’m proudest of.”

That’s a pretty damn bold statement coming from a man like Choe. The artist forced himself into the comic book scene with his self-published 1996 graphic novel Slow Jams and then went on to win the Xeric Grant as a means to expand his 200-print run into a thousand. His mythology grew when he accepted a stock option rather than traditional payment for painting a mural in the small, early-day offices of Facebook (the rumored payout of which was over $200 million).

Choe’s art has appeared in numerous galleries across the world, and you’ve probably encountered him here and there as a guest star on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown and David Chang’s Ugly Delicious, not to mention the two biographical documentaries Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe and David ChoeHigh Risk (the latter is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime).

There is no one on this planet who expresses himself quite like David Choe. His paintings are unreal. They’re the product of a unique brain cracked on canvas. No matter the tool, from paint to piss to soy sauce, the resultant work is of extraordinary vision. Apply it to that long time ago galaxy, far far away, and you’re going to get something that doesn’t look or sound or feel like anything else ever produced by Lucasfilm.


Yep. Choe fixed Star Wars. For himself. Not for you.

He’s not the first fan to take a crack at a re-write of The Rise of Skywalker, and he won’t be the last, but he might have produced the wildest incarnation.

What you see in Choe’s version of events is a celebration of the character and design that scarred his brain when he was a child. George Lucas got inside and mutated his DNA. Lucas planted a seed that demanded respect for the Han Solo sidekick, a character who Choe saw get done so dirty by J.J. Abrams and the rest of the Lucasfilm new bloods. He craved respect for Chewie, the walking carpet no more.

Choe couldn’t handle Chewbacca’s dismissal from the events of The Rise of Skywalker, so he did the only thing he knew how to do: he concocted an outcome for his headcanon. Just because the Star Wars Holiday Special was produced doesn’t mean you have to acknowledge its existence. You have the power to blink it out of reality. Keep what you like and let the rest go.

Why spew disgust at those who handled the reins of these characters when you can merely channel the energy into creation? Don’t like their movie? Erase it from your brain. Do one better.

If more fans filtered their frustration into creation, the world would be a brighter place packed with more stories to obsess over. All the tools are at our disposal. Don’t feel comfortable using paint, piss, or soy sauce? Go grab them action figures and start shooting your Rise of Skywalker fix.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)