I remember in 1994 when George Lucas announced he was making the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy. The announcement opened a door to over a decade in which I was able to channel my obsession with Star Wars into hunting down any and all tidbits of filming news. It was a fascinating and exciting period, and one of the things I learned from that time was an ability and skill to filter the facts from the rumors from the horseshit.
Star Wars was somewhat breaking new ground on the internet during that time, and it was the fans that were leading the charge. Sure there were many basement-dwelling neckbeards who became elitist trolls, but on the positive tread of the tire, it was the Star Wars fans who popularized the meme phrase "spoilers" in that early internet phase – and while there are cited examples of the phrase being used pre-internet, it truly was the Star Wars addicts that pushed it from web meme to culturally recognizable phrase.
Consequently here we are in a new exciting era in which we get to follow news and rumors and speculations on what we could possibly expect from Star Wars: Episode VII and the other chapters of the Sequel Trilogy. Having said that, we are in a completely new era now, with a lot of newer and younger fans out there, so I thought I would ramble on a bit about what we can expect, and the likelihood of certain elements arising.
Permit me to preface the list below by saying that I’ve held off from doing this article for some time. I wanted to wait until we at least had a confirmed director. And now we have, in the form of J.J. Abrams. But this also emphasizes an important aspect of Star Wars fan lore when it comes to new movies: EVERYTHING is rumor or speculation until confirmed by the official Star Wars site. This is almost biblical canon or Force Holocron or karma sutra or something to the hardcore SW nuts like me, and I can almost see the Prequel era speculators nodding their heads at this.
So here we go. Bear in mind, these are early days, and there are some only basic fundamentals we can ascertain right now. But at this point, in 2013, what can we possibly expect from Star Wars: Episode VII?
The Reboot Factor
This is the first factor we need to get out of the way. In all likelihood, the format and feel of Star Wars will not change. The opening crawl will most likely remain there, and the credits won’t appear until the end. UNLESS, Disney and Abrams determine to shake up the format a little – and establish a new feel for the second set of 6 movies (presuming they make another trilogy after this one). With Hollywood’s focus on reboots, it’s conceivably a possibility that we might go this means.
The storyline won’t be rebooted per se, but the format might be updated. My inner Star Wars nerd cringes at this, but we must be realistic: the franchise is now out of George Lucas’ hands and may go a completely different route. It may not happen, but don’t be surprised if it does. However, supposing that the format and feel remain as they have across the previous six movies, then the following items below (aside from the obvious "Jedi Knights with lightsabers in space" of course) are what we probably can anticipate.
Of Timelines and Continuity
One of the immense elements of Star Wars is the Expanded Universe. It has established a continuity outside of the movies that is almost as important to some fans as the films themselves. And while it’s entirely possible that Disney could choose to ignore the EU, this wouldn’t be in their best interest. Lucasfilm has prided itself over the last fifteen years or so at trying to maintain one timeline of continuity over all forms of media. It is not perfect, and there have been fuck-ups and retcons over the years, but for the most part, it all fits into place.
I cannot see Lucasfilm going back on this procedure, so with that being said, the obvious question that fans have is WHEN will the next movie be set? The LAST Star Wars novel to be set in the post-Return of the Jedi era to include Luke, Leia, and Han, will be Crucible – set to be published in July 2013.
The book is set 45 years after the Battle of Yavin. It would stand to reason that Episode VII will be set AFTER this period, with the main characters from the Original Trilogy at comparable ages as their actors (almost, or at the very least, believable!). If Abrams and Disney go this route, then it would open the opportunity to take in popular EU characters, such as Ben Skywalker and Jaina Solo – and for them to interact with brand new characters as well.
The Rhyming Lines
George Lucas once associated the Star Wars saga to an extended poem, and that some repeated or echoing elements are like the rhyming lines of a stanza or poem or quatrain. I’m certain the filmmakers are being made aware of this, and with Lucas on the bus as a creative consultant only, I’m sure he has already hammered them to death with the concept like a kid in the back seat asking, "Are we there yet?" There are certain elements that were repeated or paralleled between the Original and Prequel Trilogy, so it stands to reason that the tradition will continue in the Sequel Trilogy.
Kenobi’s death in Episode IV reflects that of Qui-Gon’s in Episode I – so we can be expecting our "wise master Jedi" role (Luke Skywalker is the most likely candidate for this role) to fall into the Force from the blade of a lightsaber in either Episode VII or Episode VIII. Yes, Luke will die – I’m calling that right now.
There are other examples – notably in the form of lines ("Join me, and…" stated by both Dooku and Vader), or in what occurs to characters (C-3PO is torn to bits or disassembled in the second chapter of each trilogy).
Perhaps the most recognizable is in the titling of the films. First chapter of trilogy is adjective then noun describing the overall tone (PhantomMenace vs. NewHope), Second indicating the dominant force making its military advance (ClonesAttack vs. EmpireStrikes), and the last leg being a description of the resurgingforce (SithRevenge vs. JediReturn).
You can bet your bottom dollar these reflections will continue with the new trilogy – a title such as The Approaching Supremacy or A New Generation (not that they will be those exactly, but the fit the formula) might be possible for Episode VII. These elements will most likely crop up again – so expect them.
Return of the Jedi Skywalker and Pals?
As soon as news was revealed that the Sequel Trilogy was on its way, fans underwent the largest nerdgasm ever experienced that the ejaculatory resonance sent a disturbance through the Force. After blacking out and then regaining consciousness, many of these fans immediately presumed that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher would be returning. And they might – but I can guarantee you that the only one with a leading role will be Hamill. Each trilogy is intended to focus on one generation in the Star Wars universe, so Luke Skywalker will be "passing on what he has learned" to the next generation of Jedi – most likely Ben Skywalker and other young Jedi, but there could be brand new characters out there also.
Ford might make a cameo as Han Solo, although I can’t see him playing a huge role without Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca died in the Expanded Universe). Carrie Fisher seems a likely candidate to make a few appearances here and there, either as a Jedi or political dignitary, but Hamill’s appearances will dwarf hers.
One thing is for sure though, and Lucas has said as much decades ago, the droids WILL roll up – being the only characters capable of surviving multiple generations – so expect Anthony Daniels and (maybe) Kenny Baker. Don’t expect Jar Jar though.
The Hero’s Journey
Each trilogy follows the mythical premise of the Hero’s Journey; a plot standard from legends, myths, fairy tales that has been used in countless films over the years – but most notably Star Wars. In the Original Trilogy, we follow Luke’s journey to become a hero – a journey filled with many ordeals and moral wrestling, scarred through trials and battles, to emerge a completely different person at the end point.
The same can be said for the Prequels, with the exception of it being more of the reverse: a villain’s journey if you will – how Anakin fell from grace and came to be Darth Vader, yet going through similar trials and battles as Luke.
The Journey will be a major facet of the Sequel Trilogy as well, but the point at issue remains open as to HOW it will play out. Will it be another Hero’s Journey, or a tragic fall from grace… or something else entirely? Whatever the case, the trilogy will most likely be some form of adaptation of the archetypal Hero’s Journey.
Resurrection of the Sith
Where there is Star Wars, there are Jedi; and where there are Jedi Knights, there has to be Sith. Though in the Expanded Universe we’ve had countless Jedi who have become dark, only a select few are Sith Lords within the in-universe history of the galaxy – and in every Star Wars movie we’ve had, there have been always two Sith Lords present.
It stands to infer that the Sith will be present in the new trilogy – or perhaps a variation or mutation thereof – because the dichotomy between these two factions is akin to Batman and the Joker, or Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, or the Doctor and the Master, or Tom and Jerry. You get the gist. There has to be a form of Sith that is "the new threat" in a Star Wars movie – but with Abrams at the helm without Lucas, it also opens up some visual possibilities.
I recall fans being amazed at many of the trailers for Star Wars: The Old Republic, with the throng of Sith Lords attacking the Jedi Temple. Something like that could be a realistic possibility now. We shall see… but the Sith (or a variant/descendant of them) will be there.
Reflecting Society and Politics
The 6 movies we’ve already seen were originally drafted in the early to mid-Seventies, so there are countless elements in there that reflected society and politics at the time. The fear of superweapons (nuclear arms race) were definitely in the Original Trilogy, and the poignant questioning of "whether we’re on the right side" or "are we doing the right thing" about the Vietnam War reverberates in elements of the Prequel Trilogy, especially Episode III.
So, with a new trilogy being written in this contemporary age, what reflections can we expect? In this modern era, we’re experiencing a lot of loss of civil rights based upon the "fear of terrorism" and the justification for these controls being put in place as a need for security. This is happening all over Western homelands, not just in the United States.
I would say this would play a part in at least the first movie, and maybe the second – except set in the galaxy far, far away. It would set the stage for a war across the three movies that will be (like the Galactic Civil War and the Clone Wars) the backdrop for the story of the characters.
There’ll be some politics in there, with some allusions to historical political aspects, though with the criticism of "too much politics" in the Prequels, I would imagine that these elements will be minimal but integral.
And what about the music?
One uncertainty I recently pondered on the Blendover podcast was who would be the musical composer for the new trilogy. The obvious answer will be John Williams – but there are another couple of factors here that need to be mull over into consideration. Not to sound ageist or morbid, but Williams IS getting up there in age, and when he does pass on, I will grieve severely like most of his fans – but facing life realistically, and coldly you could say, he might not have many years left in him. It’s an unfortunate truth.
Additionally, Abrams has rarely done a film without composer Michael Giacchino. Episode VII would be an ideal opportunity for Williams and Giacchino to collaborate – and in a move that mirrors that of the story, passing on what he has learned, by furnishing the torch over to Giacchino. My inner Star Wars nerd is again cringing in fear, but to be realistic, Giacchino certainly has the chops to do a successful Star Wars soundtrack, and he does also employ the leit motif thematic methodology that Williams always used for Star Wars as well.
Realistically, I think it will be one or the other; but don’t be surprised in Giacchino gets the job instead of Williams. Whichever way, my prediction is that it will be either of these two – with Giacchino at the very least stepping into Williams’ role should he pass away while the trilogy is in production.
Be Prepared for the Hated and the Haters
Not everyone will like the Sequel Trilogy. In fact, a lot of people will hate it. Every new move by Lucas in the Star Wars universe has been vocally reviled by a number of fans, while I think the happier fans are more of a silent majority. Original fans found Yoda insufferable, and couldn’t understand why George added "Episode V" to the title of the first sequel. The Ewoks are still hated. Don’t get me started on the Prequel haters – and there are even many fans that can’t stand The Clone Wars show.
There will be haters, and they will hate elements of the new movies. Be prepared for that. You may even be one of them. And that’s okay… but no matter how things turn out, just remember how awesome this journey will be as we learn about how Episode VII, Episode VIII, and Episode IX shape into actuality.
So… let the predictions and conjecture begin! I’m interested in hearing from you. Comment below on what you would like to see in the Sequels vs. what we will realistically see happen.
Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!