My Little Pony: A Star Wars Story
When the My Little Pony movie was announced, my first thought was… “well, duh.” It was only a matter of time before this massive franchise got it’s own movie in the theaters. However, as an adult man with no children I often find myself questioning how a studio will be able to turn a children’s show into a feature length film. Not that Hollywood has a perfect record when it comes to great story telling, but a kids show is a kids show. If you ask my friends who are avid MLP fans they’d probably say that I’m underselling the complexity of this show and it’s ability to develop great characters and stories. And they wouldn’t be wrong. Though much of the show is built on the standard kids show building blocks (like bad music and rainbows) the writers do an amazing job telling their story. I’ve seen many episodes that dove way deeper or were more action packed than I had expected them to be. I ended up seeing the movie as a show of good faith towards my wife since she puts up with all of my nerd obsessions (Plus I heard Sia was going to be a pony and no way was I going to miss that.) We made it a double date with our friends and their kids and had a great time too. I did however begin to notice some things about the movie that I think many people missed.
The My Little Pony movie opens in typical Equestria fashion. Everyone is busy getting ready for this huge festival that Princess Twilight is in charge of. She tries to come off as cool and collected but deep down you can tell the pressure and expectations are weighing heavily on her. The festival, in a way, is a trial for Twilight to prove her worth as the Princess of Friendship. Seeing their friend in need, the rest of the Ponies (Rainbow Dash, Pinky Pie, Fluttershy, Rarity, Apple Jack) and of course Spike, don’t hesitate to lend a hand. They jump right in, utilizing their unique abilities to help their friend. Of course this chaos just ends up creating more of a mess which brings Twilight to her breaking point. It all comes to a head when Sia Pony shows up to see how the festival prep is going. She is clearly not impressed and leaves Twilight with a heavy heart and literal cake on her face. All of a sudden a dark, ominous thunderstorm fills the sky. A fleet of airships emerges from the clouds. They land near the festival, causing panic and destruction in the town. A ramp lowers from one of the ships and out steps a dark unicorn with a broken horn who introduces herself as Tempest Shadow. She declares that she was sent by the Storm King to take the powers from Princess Twilight and the rest of the Princesses. The group refuses to surrender and attempt to escape. Princess Luna, Celestia and others are captured quickly by Tempest but Twilight manages to get away. Before Celestia is encased and taken away she yells something about getting help from the Hippogryph Queen. Twilight and the others flee the town and set off to find this queen.
It was at about this time when I realized that I wasn’t watching a My Little Pony Movie… I was watching a Star Wars Movie. Now I know that bad guys kidnapping authority figures and displacing heroes to kick off their journey are NOT exclusive to the Star Wars movies but just hear me out. In the show Twilight has always been told that she was special. Through much development she eventually becomes the Princess of Friendship. She harnesses the power of Friendship to use magic to protect her friends and subjects from evil. This constantly places her on the radar of various villains but the ponies tend to overcome these challenges by utilizing their bond as friends. In the movie, an Evil Emperor is trying to become the supreme ruler but he knows that first he must destroy this magic and the magic users. He sends Tempest Shadow in his place to prove that she can be a valuable asset in helping spread darkness and silence the oppressors. Her broken unicorn horn, though powerful, is an unstable and unique weapon that she uses recklessly and without much care. Tempest isn’t the mane evil (see what I did there) and it becomes clear later on that she isn’t even completely convinced that she wants to be the right hand of the Storm King. She does it because she feels the powerful embrace of this dark force and has been betrayed by the powers of friendship in her past. Her motives are also selfish in that she wants to perfect and restore her power. She even tries to convince Twilight that her power of friendship is no more and tries to get her to join the dark side. Tempest is Kylo Ren. She is an angsty, misguided youth with a busted weapon who will do anything to prove her worth to the wrong people. We also find out that Tempest Shadow isn’t her real name. Just like Kylo changed his from Ben Solo. Twilight is a powerful force user and one of the key players who will inevitably be the downfall of this empire. The Storm King is more like the Emperor than Snoke however and he even dies from being thrown off a tall platform #spoileralert.
Now character traits aside there are a ton of other Star Wars nods placed in this MLP flick. On their journey the ponies venture out into the unknown and even find themselves in a desert, port town full of smugglers and stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herders. They constantly bump into new species and races they’ve never seen before. The first order, I mean Tempest and her goons (who have terrible aim) constantly track down our heroes but they always manage to slip through the cracks. At one point Tempest boards a ship that the Ponies stowed away on and threatens to destroy the ship if the crew doesn’t turn them over. The ponies flee in an escape pod with a map to the rebel base, I mean the Hippogryphs. They eventually end up discovering an entire group of people who live in a city beneath the ocean. These people don’t see the need to help in the war because they believe it isn’t part of their problem. However when Twilight and the gang leave the city, one of it’s citizens (Who is very talkative and at times obnoxious) follows them, becoming an exile from her people.
I’m really curious to see if the show continues to develop Tempest’s character. I’m curious if her dad was a smuggler or if her mom was a princess and a commander of the rebel alliance. It would be interesting if the Storm Kings empire continued under the rule of another apprentice. After all, there were only two villains in the movie and there are always two sith. Hey I don’t make the rules, I just play by them. Who knows, maybe this was all just a coincidence or maybe the writers of the MLP movie are huge Star Wars Nerds. I’m cool either way, I just think it’s fun to see these strong story telling theme in a children’s movie. Was the My Little Pony good? No not really. But I still had a lot of fun drawing these parallels and I still enjoyed watching it (but I’m easily entertained.) In the end good defeats evil because the power of friendship is inside everyone. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.