It is a dark time for the news-gathering rebellion. We have most of our cast for Star Wars: Episode VII and a release date of December 18, 2015. It seems like the Expanded Universe has been partially deleted. It seems like Team Disney/Lucasfilm/Bad Robot is only interested in disseminating news at shareholder meetings and on Instagram. We have 588 Days to correctly set the bar for the new Star Wars films. Don't fear spoilers and speculation. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
What seems to be a constant in a Star Wars trilogy is a Skywalker and their generational lines and their involvement in the politics of the galaxy. That’s why it makes a lot a sense to look at the photo from the first script reading and see the actors sitting in loose “families.”
Domhnall Gleeson is a good bet for Ben Skywalker (don’t know what he’s going to be called yet, so I’m going to be guessing based on Expanded Universe names unless otherwise noted), I can see the resemblance. Anthony Daniels is over with Mark Hamill, because C-3PO, I guess?
On the other side is a good chunk of the Solo family: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Daisy Ridley, who’s probably Jiana Solo or a proxy. The bad-boys corner of John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, and Andy Serkis can’t all be villains. I’d peg Boyega as the Han Solo of this installment, getting caught up in Skywalker/Solo family business while serving a new form of Galactic Government. Driver seems like a great possibility for a villain with understandable motivations.
AND, there’s the all-important knowledge that casting has not finished for this installment of Star Wars, let alone the next installments to come. There’s still one female role in particular that is very close to being locked down if it hasn’t secretly been already by the time this posts.
If you’ve been watching Zach Snyder stack actors onto Man of Steel 2 knowing he’s building into Justice League, you’re seeing an extreme version of what’s going to be happening in Star Wars, but it’s not an entirely foreign comparison. Disney is developing three Star Wars spin-offs, on top of the new trilogy, and if this works out: more trilogies. Disney is uninterested in habitually going back to their Star Wars catalog and changing it like Lucas did, it’s a straight forward march into the future.
As they’ve been planning big, I can only imagine they’d like to keep the fandom happy. The hiccup in the plan is something that couldn’t be anticipated, a gap in the fandom between fans of the original trilogy and fans of the prequel trilogy. Star Wars has been cool to different generations in different ways because both trilogies were so tonally different from one another. I keep wondering how the new Star Wars team is going to navigate some of the nuance that is necessary in balancing the older fans with the newer fans, considering the storyworld timeline was experienced out-of-sync (we’re actually closer to 1983’s Return of the Jedi than 2005’s Revenge of the Sith), shouldn’t the narrative actually be getting darker, grittier and less age-appropriate to the audiences the prequels were made for? Some people assume there will be no balance and have already started writing think pieces about the dangers of Star Wars leaning on nostalgia for the original trilogy, but there has to be someone with a calculator somewhere pointing to the share of the market that thinks Podracing happens in the “first Star Wars movie.” These tiny places for distinction are all over the place in the storytelling decisions this blockbuster has to make.
Like, the Force.
The Force is quite an interesting player in the Star Wars Universe, and if the six existing films are placed on a timeline, it appears the power of the Force was largely forgotten after the rise of the Empire and the birth of Darth Vader.
As Mike Ryan covered on ScreenCrush this week, the Force in A New Hope isn’t present enough to be beyond skepticism, which is a large change from the Force Jumps, Force Pushes, Force Speed, Spider-Sense - what else am I missing? - from the prequels barrage of super powers. When The Phantom Menace was in production, we were told we’d finally see what the days of Jedi and the Republic would look like, and it ended up being a little bland in comparison.
The prequels featured a galaxy with a basically-functioning government and a council of religious superheroes slowly falling to an attack from within, the original trilogy was a aging galaxy without hope, in the clutches of the Empire, felled by a secret in it’s past: the twin children of Darth Vader.
In the original trilogy, we don’t see many Force-sensitive individuals, while they are everywhere in all the prequel stories. I’m curious, then, what balance of the Force exists in a world after the Empire.
There’s arguably a story about the Force running through the last three episodes of The Close Wars: The Lost Season, where Yoda learns the connection between those damn Midichlorians, the Living Force and the greater cosmic Force at large. Which means after Order 66, the amount of Force-sensitive individuals was few and far between. Luke would have to be doing some serious Force Ghost talking to Yoda, his father and Obi-Wan to learn the first thing about running a Jedi Academy, so I hope we’re safe from an excessive use of the word Padawan.
The new team behind Star Wars has classified the Expanded Universe as not-canon anymore, but has also said they’re going to pick freely from those characters. Think about it more like an adaptation of a superhero film that uses the name of the character, but changes their origin and demeanor and maybe their look a little. That means there is hope for Mara Jade fans and there is hope for Solo Twin fans, and because we’re talking about family lines, I wouldn’t count a Darth Plagueis ret-con to pop up somewhere.
Plagueis is Palpatine/The Emperor's Sith Master, and even if the Expanded Universe got the boot, Plagueis was mentioned to Anakin in Revenge of the Sith as a Sith Lord who conquered death. In the Expanded Universe he’s notably a “master of MidiChlorians,” and Anakin Skywalker was born of pure MidChlorians, so what better way to re-focus on the Star Wars universe than bringing up the old theory that Darth Plagueis created the Skywalker line? Sith and Jedi always intertwined within one family. Plus, if An Ancient Fear was ever discussed as a possible title...
Granted, I’m speculating. This script got a major overhaul in not a lot of time, so all plot details are hard to accurately predict, as I'm not sure if what I hear is Ardnt Treatment or Kasdan Draft. Either way, there will be much more in the coming weeks. Contracts are being flung, production is spinning up and somewhere on the Pinewood Studios lot, Domhnall Gleeson and John Boyega are playing with lightsabers, the original cast is preparing to pass on the generational baton and I can’t help but get the feeling...
POST CREDITS SCENE:
Our Editor In Chief Kellvin Chavez got to sit down with Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy for X-Men: Days of Future Past yesterday and spent his last few moments talking about Star Wars. Fassbender is in the upcoming Frank with Domhnall Gleeson and some outlets reported he was up for what eventually became the Adam Driver role. A question about if they'd like to be a Jedi and Sith leads to Kellvin asking Fassbender if he is in Star Wars. Kel got the “wouldn’t you like to know.”