Since the Star Wars mega-franchise was sold in late 2012 for $4 billion, there has been much speculation about what’s next for George Lucas’ creation. With Disney at the helm, JJ Abrams on board and an array of actors already rumoured to be involved, it promises to be a big event when the new films are to be released in 2015. With Disney keeping tight-lipped at the recent D23, it is hard to be certain where the galaxy far, far away will end up…
Star Wars veterans Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Leia) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) have all expressed interest in being involved in the new re-boot. But, how could this possibly work? If the films are set straight after Return of the Jedi, then these three will look ridiculously old, so that’s a no-go. If the movies are set relative to the age of the actors, so perhaps thirty years later in the Star Wars timeline, then there will be a huge gap in the story of their on-screen lives. And with Ewan McGregor reportedly making an appearance as a ghost, it’s all just a bit confusing. Screenwriter Michael Arndt, of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and ‘Toy Story 3’, will have a lot to do.
To add to the confusion, the immense Star Wars universe post-Return of the Jedi is already set out, in the form of books. Authors such as Timothy Zahn, James Luceno and Karen Traviss, to name a few, have scribed the continuation of the lives of Skywalker and co.
Major events are already set in stone. Han and Leia have twins, one of which turns to the dark side for a short time, in the book ‘The Last Command’. In saving them from a freak explosion, Chewbacca dies in ‘Vector Prime’. A Grand Admiral named Thrawn takes over the Empire shortly after the Emperor dies and it thrives through him, in ‘Heir to the Empire’.
Does this mean Ardnt has his plot set out for him, or not? If he choses to follow the books, fans will be happy. But what would happen if he doesn’t? Perhaps he has been given free reign to make a new story up. This would surely upset die-hard fans, whilst also simply extinguishing the already told continuation of Star Wars.
Standalone films have been confirmed too: separate movies that explore the lives of key characters, but are not directly related to the franchise’s core plot (Episode 1-6). Being so big, the Star Wars universe has a wonderful array of characters, so it will be interesting which ones are chosen for their own films. Like much of Skywalker’s story, a lot of the other protagonist’s lives are already panned out in book form, with a few notable exceptions. Yoda’s early life is not told and there are no definitive answers as to his origins. A spin-off of his life will surely be a big hit. Plus, the books never divulge the end of Luke, Leia or Han’s life: perhaps a clever move by Lucas to keep the franchise open for future movies?
Despite all the challenges, I think Lucas made the right decision to sell on the franchise and let someone else have a stab. Through all the speculation, I believe that the new Star Wars films will be strong with the force, hopefully exceeding already high expectations.
Star Wars: Episode VII is set to be released late 2015.