So, needless to say, it’s been a completely insane week for Star Wars fans. I mean, Episode freaking VII! I never thought I would ever see this day, let alone so soon. And then Episode VIII and IX to follow?! With new movies every two to three years after that?! There was definite mind-blowing happening this week. And the release date of 2015 is not that far away, folks. The next few years are going to be flooded with Episode VII news, and I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for the ride!
The entire Internet has been buzzing about the Disney acquisition, the new live-action film announcements, plot speculation, director/writer rumors, composer hypotheses; even Star Wars celebrities and writers are weighing in on the news. But I’m not going to recap it all here. I’ll stick to some personal thoughts on the events of the week and a few interesting nuggets I’ve stumbled across along the way…
Disney at the Helm
I have no worries about Disney buying Lucasfilm. Had I not seen the outstanding job they’ve done with the Marvel universe, I may be more skeptical, but Disney has proven themselves worthy of geeky, sci-fi, massive-universe blockbusters. They listened to the fans when it came time for The Avengers by hiring Joss Whedon—brilliance ensued. I have no doubt they will do the same with Star Wars. And everyone bemoaning “Droid Story,” “Beauty and the Bantha” and “101 Wookiees”—Disney didn’t throw musical numbers and Bambi cameos into The Avengers, and they won’t do it with Star Wars either.
Episode VII: A Whole New World
We’ve heard Episode VII (and the subsequent VIII and IX) will be original stories. That’s good, in my opinion. Star Wars films have never been adaptations of other material, so why start now? Why yes, sure, it would be awesome to one day see a live-action Thrawn or Yuuzhan Vong invasion movie, but the thought of a brand new chapter in the Star Wars saga is even more exciting.
On the subject of canon? Who knows. I’m a pretty die-hard canon nerd and I love me a convoluted retcon just as much as the next ComiCon attendee, but George has shown equal parts respect and disinterest in the established Expanded Universe (EU), as most recently evidenced with The Clone Wars TV show. While I doubt he’ll go out of his way to annihilate the established EU completely, if he feels some modifications are needed (even significant ones) in order to tell a better story, he won’t hesitate. Am I worried? Sure, I’d be sad to see the likes of Mara Jade, Jacen, Jaina, Anakin, Ben and Allana relegated to the “alternate universe” bucket, but I won’t be decrying foul play or a raping of my childhood. It’s Star Wars, folks, and it will live on with or without us.
Location, Location, Location
So this may be considered minutiae, but the production of this new trilogy is going to be the most blogged about movie production in history. Everything from the set decorator’s favorite flavor of Jelly Belly to the brand of water used on location is going to be the subject of online discourse. So I’ve done a bit of pre-dissecting and story-digging myself.
In the now-famous video Lucasfilm posted the day of the announcement, The Maker himself makes an off-handed comment about filming for Episode VII (at the 3:06 mark):
“Gosh, they’re out in the snow, and it’s cold.”
Granted, it was a completely off-hand remark (or was it?) and he could be referring to his time shooting the Hoth scenes in The Empire Strikes Back (or was he?). Could we see a snow planet in the new trilogy? A return to Hoth? Ilum?
Then there was an interesting post on the Save the Lars Homestead Facebook page. Save the Lars Homestead is a group of fans that went out to Tunisia and refurbished the Lars Homestead set used in Episodes IV, II and III. Here’s the post:
Disney securing the Lars Homestead? While not really a surprise (Tatooine has been featured prominently in almost every Star Wars story), it sounds like we may be seeing Tatooine, and maybe even the actual homestead, in the new trilogy!
Now, onto the juicy bits…
I’ve always felt that any new Star Wars movies should either be set thousands of years before the existing films, or after (mostly in a self-interested attempt to preserve the beloved EU). In fact, I even had to write a story treatment for Episode VII as part of my Theatre 405: George Lucas & Steven Spielberg class I took my sophomore year of college (2005). Keep in mind, I wrote this even before the Fate of the Jedi series—I’m good.
I would start Episode VII thousands of years after Episode VI. I would title it Rebirth of the Jedi or Trial of the Force. The Jedi have flourished during the time after The Return of the Jedi, thanks to the efforts of Luke Skywalker and his Jedi Academy. But in recent years, the Jedi have slowly faded, their numbers dwindling. Some think it’s due to the fact that the universe no longer needs them or their ideals, and their role as protectors have been taken over by the peacekeeping government. A motion is put forth in the Galactic Senate to disband the Order and be done with the “ancient religion.” The Senate is torn over the issue, but a young and charismatic leader is gaining strong support for the disintegration of the ancient Order. A few Jedi must fight the political attack on their ancient traditions. A young, newly knighted Jedi must gather his friends (probably a few droids, a fiery young beauty, a strange, likable alien creature and a brash, good-hearted smuggler) to aid him in making the Senate realize the importance of the great tradition and the need they have for the Order. The use and necessity of the Jedi and the stability of the Republic will be tested sooner than expected, however. A mysterious enemy from beyond the Outer Rim threatens the safety of the galaxy…
With that in mind…I have a few connections at Lucasfilm and here’s what one of them divulged:
“A writer and director have already been selected.”
When asked if Episode VII is set 50 years or so after VI, they responded with:
“Think further out.”
As with all speculative news, this should be taken with a wampa-sized grain of salt. But, it’s really no surprise that a writer and director may have already been picked. Let’s think about it. If Episode VII follows in its predecessors’ footsteps, a May 2015 release is in order (this could change, though, mostly due to the already announced May 1, 2015 release date of another Disney tentpole film, The Avengers 2). This means director/writer/casting announcements should be coming out within the next nine months or so. It’s a tight timeline, so news will be coming fast and furious over the next few years (I expect we’ll see the first teaser trailer with Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014).
As for the “further out” setting? Again, this could always change, but it makes a lot of sense. Bring in a new cast of characters, explain their ties to the old stories and move on. Will we see Luke, Leia and Han and cameos from Mark, Carrie and Harrison (This person thinks so)? If it’s further than 50 years past The Return of the Jedi, probably not (unless we’re talking flashbacks or holograms, which is always a possibility). But who even knows. No point in even guessing this early in the game.
It could even be set further past the Legacy comic book series, which takes place 137 years after Episode IV. This would put Episode VII well past any and all existing EU materials, giving it unlimited room to play.
The interesting thing to note here: The hubbub around the prequel trilogy will be nothing compared to this. While many of the prequel story details were unknown, the general arc of the story had already been established, by its very existence as a prequel—we all knew how the story ended. We knew it had young Vader, young Obi-Wan and we knew Anakin turned evil. With this new sequel trilogy…there is no such certainty, which makes it that much more exciting!
NOW it makes sense…
Some things that now make sense in light of Tuesday’s news:
- The Star Wars live-action TV show being on hold for so long. Why would Lucasfilm want to pour money into something that Disney could help out with after the deal was inked?
- Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher hinting at new movies at Celebration VI (check out the last bullet point in my Day 3 post, here). Both Mark and Carrie were asked if they would come back for more Star Wars films during their respective interviews at Star Wars Celebration VI this past August. While at the time it seemed more like wishful thinking, the fact that both actors had known about the new movies since August 2011 makes those interview moments that much more revealing.
- Renovated Star Tours. Will we see even more possible scenarios built into the ride to coincide with the Episode VII release?
- Increased Disney/Star Wars crossover. From the increased focus on Star Wars Weekends at Disney parks to a plethora of crossover merchandise (Vinylmations, etc.) to a pretty massive presence at Celebration VI, the Disney/ Star Wars merge was clearly a logical next step.
- Updated timeline for the 3D rereleases. With Episode II and III hitting 3D theatres next fall, clearing Lucasfilm was speeding up for something. How will this affect the Original Trilogy 3D rereleases? That’s anyone’s guess at this point.
Why, oh why, oh WHY could they not have announced all of this at Celebration VI?! The fans at CVI were scrambling for some juicy announcements, and other than the updated timeline for the 3D rereleases and the Celebration Europe II announcement, the convention ended anticlimactically. I understand deals like this take time, but making an Episode VII announcement at Celebration VI would have been beyond epic. Plus, fans that attend Celebration are part of the core fan base—throw us a bone and give us some exclusive news next time. Regardless, expect to hear a lot of great news come out of Germany this summer!
So there you have it. My initial thoughts, reactions and minor predictions, plus some juicy gossip. The Force will be with us, it seems, for many, many years to come and I couldn’t be happier!
Further out than 50 years?! Well, then it shouldn’t be called episode vii. I hope that’s not true. That would be disappointing and unfortunate. If it can’t include some of the same characters (because all would be dead except for the droids), it should not be considered a sequel. Am I right?
If, in fact, it is set out further than 50 years (and at this point, I still think it’s too early to tell), I’m sure they will tie the story back to past characters/events. But it would still be considered a sequel, since it happened after VI.
It’s called a saga. Not a set of sequels. Look at literary sagas and it’s not uncommon to see stories that take place sometimes over the course of centuries, yet tied together by a common theme. See Edward Rutherfurd’s novels such as Sarum, for example. Or James Clavell’s Asian saga (Shogun, Tai-Pan, etc) which features connections to each other but span from 1600 to the late 1970s. The Star Wars Saga details the history of the Empire and Post-Empire “universe” over a period of many decades. It’s not about Luke and Leia.
GOOD!! Don’t kill continuity. 50 years would put the film in 54 ABY, which is 9 years after Crucible, the latest Star Wars novel.
Agreed! And when you look at the early quotes about “Crucible,” they said it would “set the stage for the next Star Wars series.” I think we all assumed this was referring to the next novel series, but it could have easily meant the new films!
I definitely like the idea of it being further out than 50 years. I completely agree that having new Star Wars movies beats out anything, but if possible it’d be nice to let some of the EU not be AU (like the Thrawn Trilogy). I mean, I sort of wish we could see some new events that are closer to RotJ, but for that, they’d most likely have to recast the main characters which most people wouldn’t be satisfied with. Harrison Ford will always be Han to me and the same goes for the other main actors/characters.
I will admit that there are a couple parts of the EU that I wouldn’t mind seeing become AU *cough* Chewie and Sernpidal *cough* but I really would love to see it stay as intact as possible–it’s given us some great stories over the years and some even greater characters.
Despite what all the naysayers are saying, I think these movies are going to be great — especially after having seen what Disney has done with Marvel. Like with Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm will probably still be heading up
the film and Disney will be a distributor, so it’s not like the same
people who make Disney kids’ films will be making Star Wars. Also, I feel like Disney has worked with Lucas and his companies enough in the past that they can be a great asset to these productions.
They literally have an entire universe at their fingertips and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. They can pretty much do anything with this–especially if they move it out more than fifty years. They’d have an entire timeline to play with.
This news pretty much made my month! Can’t wait!
(Also, nice article! We met at PCC this year and I totally came by because I was curious to see what you thought about all of this. Always nice to see what another Star Wars fan who knows the EU has to say.)
Thanks for the comment, Steph! Glad you enjoyed the article and yes, this news made my month (er, year?) also! 🙂
And I totally agree with all your points. Lucas and Disney will make great partners and I hope the EU will continue to live on even after these new films…it’ll be an exciting few years for Star Wars fans!
So the next Celebration will be Celebration VII? Interesting…
I seem to be the only one who remembers Lucas saying back in the early 1980s that his plan was to do a first trilogy set some decades before A New Hope, and then a third trilogy set decades after Return of the Jedi. So this is following the plan. Any talk of Episode VII being set right after Return or even (as I saw speculated one site) a remake of some sorts, is nonsense. Except for the ageless droids I’m not expecting any of the middle-trilogy characters to appear. But I do get the feeling the powers that be might come to regret declaring the novels canon way back in the 90s, as that could creatively hogtie the third trilogy. Unless they retroactively decanonize the books, the same way Paramount decanonized the animated Star Trek TV series in the 90s…