Did we break it?
All it took was one week of Star Wars: Episode VII news for me to completely turn around on how I view this production. If you try to form a narrative out of the production so far, all the rumors of infighting and tribulations really make this look like the end, not the pinnacle of JJ Abrams dependability as a blockbuster storyteller.
Somewhere around Alias, he wasn’t the Regarding Henry guy anymore and somewhere around MI:3 everyone was eating up his storytelling philosophy like the “mystery box.” Then, Super 8 happened and the collective fandom was a bit disappointed in how that movie aped old Amblin movies without successfully planting the heart that made old Amblin films so successful.
Then, George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney and Lucas passed off his notes to Kathleen Kennedy who got Lawrence Kasdan, writer of the Original Trilogy sequels, to write a draft (EDIT: treatment that became an Ardnt draft) of the script off the Lucas notes.
Someone noticed JJ Abrams was ruining Star Trek Into Darkness, maybe because it wasn’t the Star-property he wanted to do (my joke at the time was “give him a Stargate reboot too,” mere months before...sigh...a Stargate reboot. STAR_____ FOREVER!).
Disney decided to give Abrams a crack at another franchise resurrection, even as Abrams and his Bad Robot team invented “Khaning” for the internet age: straight up lies that have nothing to do with protecting useful story points.
Kathleen Kennedy was already playing spin-doctor on the new trilogy, telling people they’d be much more practical in their filmmaking and Abrams backed her up…
… while tossing out the Kasdan/Ardnt draft.
I’ve heard third-hand that the draft leaned on a different family line than where they ended up, so I can only assume Abrams had very strong ideas about where he thought his version of Star Wars should go.
And he still, to this day, thinks that his star wars should be released in May like all the other Star Wars movies have been. Kathleen Kennedy feels this way too. But Bob Iger of Disney? He’s making December of next year happen. Postponing is not an option. Harrison Ford’s leg be damned, if Fast and Furious 7 can still be coming with a much more serious casting problem, how can something like Star Wars, a franchise with theoretically infinite money behind it, let something as tiny as a broken leg stop them?
Also, if you’ve ever done any independent filmmaking, you might have heard a producer say: “Good, on time, on budget: pick two.”
Well, Bob Iger has picked ON TIME. We can only hope money is no option, so we can get GOOD.
Sorry, that was ranty. Let me bullet point the real news for you so we don’t get into some sort of “Latino Review is at it again” pissing contest that helps no-one:
- The movie will NOT be delayed because of Harrison Ford’s injuries. (I can actually second source this thanks to Star Wars 7 News) This information is from this week, it’s not old, it’s not speculation.
- Kathleen Kennedy and JJ Abrams want a May 4th, 2016 release date.
- Bob Iger is not giving it to them.
Is anyone else worried about the news that Rian Johnson, director of Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper and some great episodes of Breaking Bad, is taking over the franchise for the next installment? Not worried like: “I wish we were getting original Rian Johnson films” but worried like: “So JJ didn’t even get to finish his movie he tried so hard to change before they replaced him?”
Johnson is writing his story and directing Episode VIII and right now it looks like Episode IX is his for the losing, which puts JJ Abrams in the dog house.
Ha! The Pluto House.
Abrams looks so tired in every set photo you see of him, and he put so much of his weight into the pre-production process to get a script he wanted, then immediately tried to Mystery Box us with the Millennium Falcon (I’m now 80% positive that ship had nothing to do with Harrison Ford’s leg).
As a Star Wars fan, the Bad Robot production philosophy really pissed me off. You may have noticed that the purpose of this column is to ride the line between real information and rampant speculation, not because I’m some internet journalist who needs to be known for being correct about Star Wars but because IT’S FUN THIS WAY.
Over at BadAssDigest, Devin tried to sort out last week’s “this-site-said, that-site-said” about the “villains” of Star Wars Episode VII and he compared all Star Wars Episode VII rumors to Schrodinger’s Cat: “It's Schrodinger's Movie Rumor - everything is possible until the movie opens.”
I would say that it’s just no fun as someone who is going to be reading about this movie until next December to close off options in your mind about what you want your Star Wars Episode VII to be. Come 2016, we’ll never get these two years of speculation back, we’ll never get the perfect version of what you want to see that’s in your head right now.
Being as young as I am, I only had the experience of waiting for the Prequel Trilogy and I can honestly say the best time on the internet and with my friends for each of those movies was during their production, NOT during the runtime of the movie. Pre-Phantom-Menace, the idea of seeing Jedi in their prime portrayed by Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor was AS exciting as seeing what Young Darth Vader was like.
Then that all came crashing down with the reality of the film. This happened again and again up until the point where I was reading Kevin Smith talking about how Revenge of the Sith was "worth it" while I was IN LINE for Revenge of the Sith. Then "NOOOOOOOO!" happened and... ugh.
The real test for all of us as fans, I feel, will be reckoning with whatever Star Wars Episode VII is supposed to be, and that does have some overlap in the Venn Diagram with “expectations.” I think speculation is fun, I don’t really care if what I’m saying turns out to be false, because if we have fun talking about it, we’ve turned nonsense into fun.
So, what’s up out there?
The whole Harrison Ford’s leg fiasco kind of got BadAssDigest and AICN to take guesses on what Episode VII is about. You might remember my speculation from last week, here’re theirs:
BAD: I had heard that Solo is the star of this Star Wars and that the old smuggler would be taking the new kids on a journey across the galaxy to find an old friend who had gone missing.
AICN: And this is a huge problem because Han Solo is pretty much the main character of EPISODE VII, leading a galaxy-wide search party for Luke Skywalker.
It also lead to the rumor that Oscar Isaacs part was being expanded to shoulder some of the weight, but...Disney said that wasn’t true and I believe them at this point.
Making Star Wars has an investigation of “Thomas” and “Rachel” the temporary audition names used for the roles won by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley (you might remember a leaked audition script from these characters leaking way back).
Making Star Wars says this is informed speculation, and I agree, but it’s been getting hard NOT to see these narratives popping up over and over in the speculative fandom:
We have heard that Thomas starts the film on the side of the villains. Thomas is shot down over Tatooine and he is injured from the crash. The things we heard from Abu Dhabi about a crashed ship is rumored to have been Thomas’ fighter. Rachel rescues him from the wreckage and the elements of the sandy planet. Over the course of their “unlikely pairing,” Thomas sees the reality of the universe and he defects from the side of the villains and decides to help Rachel for saving his life. However, things are not easy for the character because unlike most of the rebels we’ve met in the series, none were traitors, they were always on the side of right from the beginning. However, it appears Rachel and Thomas have an innocent flirtation in their first film with hints at romance in the future episodes.
I often hear Thomas is a Jedi in the film, but I am beginning to think he might start that journey midway through Star Wars: Episode VII, which is why he has a lightsaber according to many reports. We have never heard Thomas has a lightsaber during the Abu Dhabi sequences, but we have heard set reports from Pinewood that he fights with two hands on his saber, without much of the prequel style flash of a one handed Obi-Wan Kenobi. It makes me wonder if Thomas and Rachel’s characters discover they share the same propensity for the Force that has so far been untapped until they meet a certain old Jedi in the second act of the film.
A lot of this is really close to the way the movie is coming together in my head, except I still think Daisy Ridley is a member of the new Solo generation. So, I’d guess that however “Thomas” and “Rachel” meet, what Rachel needs help with is finding Luke, which leads to Han and Chewie's grand entrance in the Falcon.
So, “Thomas” is our way into how The Force is working in this new trilogy, with Luke largely being absent. Then Han Solo dies, then we pivot and “Thomas” has to become a leader, depending on if they’ve found Luke, what Luke had to say and why Luke was missing in the first place.
I think a search for Luke takes us to our classic locations and shows us our important characters. I like this a framing device.
Whatever Luke is dealing with is fate of the galaxy stuff, so if we do get Sith Witches (and I am much less impressed by that possibility some of my co-writers, mostly because I resist treating the Force like magic) and Mandalorian...uh...Lore? It’ll be with Luke.
Man, I’d love Luke to be able to move through the galaxy as a mysterious knight of balance.
Man, that’s so cool.
Oh, yeah, Tom Cruise isn’t in Star Wars.
See you next week!
UPDATE: This story was updated to reflect the hazy connection between a Kasdan treatment and the Ardnt draft. The connection is still hazy for me, the writer, so if you have any info, get in touch!