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The Rabid Love and Undying Legacy of 'Star Wars'

John Pemble
Iowa Public Radio
Ryan Gillepsie stands in front of his painting of Darth Vader. One piece of artwork not pictured? The tattoo Gillepsie just had inked, of Vader and new villain Kylo Ren.

With a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and scores of sold-out theaters for opening night, the release of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens is inspiring high hopes among life long fans of the franchise. Fans gathered last week at the Palek Studio and Gallery to show off "Star Wars"-themed art, on their canvases and their bodies.

"I actually got a Kylo Ren-Darth Vader tattoo done today. [...] It's a Lion King Pride Rock Darth Vader passing on the torch to Kylo Ren by holding him up and I thought that was adorable and I needed it so I did it," says Ryan Gillepsie.

Justin Remes, professor of film studies at Iowa State University, says "Star Wars" fans' devotion was rabid and unprecedented from the release of "A New Hope."

"It's just this tremendous sense of spectacle you get in the Star Wars film. People were going nuts not so much because they were interested in the plot, for example, but because they wanted to see something really fresh and new."

In this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe talks with Remes about the Star Wars franchise's impact and legacy. Native Iowan and pop culture scholar Mark McDermott also joins the program.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa