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Bringing Balance To The Force? 5 Directions The New 'Star Wars' Films Could Go

by Oliver Lyttelton
October 31, 2012 10:59 AM
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Star Wars Return Of The Jedi Poster Header

Unless you've been robbed of power by Hurricane Sandy, you've probably heard that yesterday saw the biggest movie news story of the year -- if not several years -- break. Disney have purchased LucasFilm for $4 billion, and have announced that plans are moving ahead for new "Star Wars" movies, beginning with "Episode VII" in 2015 (the start of a new trilogy), with franchise creator George Lucas serving only as a creative consultant, and new talent coming in to write and direct the new films.

Lucas has gone back and forth on the possibility of new movies over the years. It was long rumored that, even while shooting the first film, Lucas had planned out as many as ten future sequels, and it was generally believed that three trilogies were sincerely in the works. And Lucas wrote in 1994: "As the saga of the Skywalkers and Jedi Knights unfolded, I began to see it as a tale that could take at least nine films to tell - three trilogies." But Lucas told Vanity Fair ahead of the release of 'The Phantom Menace' that, "It really ends at part six. I never had a story for the sequels, for the later ones."

And more recently, he's seemed to be even more definitive. He told Total Film in 2008, "I've left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VII–IX. That's because there isn't any story. I mean, I never thought of anything. And now there have been novels about the events after Episode VI, which isn't at all what I would have done with it. The Star Wars story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader. That is the story. Once Vader dies, he doesn't come back to life, the Emperor doesn't get cloned and Luke doesn't get married..." And only a few months ago, he said in the New York Times, "Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”

And yet something seems to have changed his mind, possibly vaguely related to the $4 billion that Disney paid for the company. Now, some in the film blog community are jumping their guns and starting to talk about potential directors, and while the “targeted” release of 2015 means that the studio can't drag their feet too much, there's a long way to go before a helmer is in place -- for one thing, a writer is needed to flesh out the treatment that has already been completed. But there is one question on our minds: what direction could these new initial movies take? (And Disney have been open about wanting a new film in the franchise every few years until the sun swallows the Earth, so it'll certainly move beyond "Episode IX: Resurgence Of The Ewoks"). Below, we've laid out five potential directions that the next few films could go in. Let us know your own views on the future of a Disneyfied "Star Wars" in the comments section below.

Old Mark Hamill
1. Direct Sequels, Featuring The Original Cast Reprising Their Roles
Arguably the option that would make the fanboys happiest would be to reunite the band -- Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billie Dee Williams, etc -- to reprise their roles for a new set of adventures, or at least to pass the torch on to a new set of heroes. Seeing Ford (who's been looking for a bona fide hit of late without success) reprise Han Solo, or Hamill as an aged Jedi-master version of Luke, would undoubtedly see longtime fans climaxing publicly as soon as the news arrived. It would mean ignoring the Expanded Universe books, which might anger some, but few creative types would want to adhere to those, and we imagine even Lucas doesn't know every detail of what happens in the hundreds of spin-offs he begat. While some of the original cast (Ford in particular) didn't have the best relationship with Lucas, that he'd only be tangentially involved on a creative level might help. What this approach would need is a filmmaker willing to adopt the style Lucas set up in the original film: a 21st century equivalent to Irvin Kershner or Richard Marquand, essentially someone like "Captain America" helmer Joe Johnston, a one-time Lucasfilm employee. And a pick like that would likely underwhelm the movie geeks who are vainly keeping their fingers crossed for a Christopher Nolan or a David Fincher (which, for the record, is never going to happen). By the same token, though, does anyone really want to see a 70-year-old Han Solo, or a 60-year-old Luke?

Star Wars Dark Empire
2. Direct Sequels, Set Immediately After 'Return Of The Jedi,' With Recast Actors As The Original Heroes, Directly Adapting Expanded Universe Novels
So what if no one, filmmakers included, wants to see aged versions of those central characters? Or what if the treatments that Lucas have produced pick up right after the conclusion of Episode VI, rather than leaping forward in time? After all, the Expanded Universe is genuinely considered to be canonical in fan circles, and telling long-time fans (who are admittedly aging beyond the target audience for a tentpole) to disregard them would be a bit like chucking out the whole of the Old Testament past Joshua. So you use those novels, comics and whatnot, set in the period known as the New Republic (thank you, Wikipedia!), immediately after the death of the Emperor and Vader, directly adapting, or at least being inspired by, the stories. Short of ‘Benjamin Button’-ing the original actors, you’d have to recast, but fans have put up with such things in the past, and there’s plenty of material to work with: Luke training up a new generation of Jedi, Han and Leia having kids, and (*spoiler!*) the tragic death of Chewbacca. Perhaps the most obvious inspiration would be Timothy Zahn’s trilogy “Heir To The Empire,” “Dark Force Rising” and “The Last Command,” which see the gang reunited to battle a new threat intent on reviving the Empire. Or there’s the “Dark Empire” comic series, which sees the Emperor Palpatine resurrected through cloning. The problem, as you might have imagined from these premises, are these plots are pretty terrible -- they make Lucas look like David Chase in terms of his plotting skills. But it’s certainly the most obvious jumping-off point, and the one that the “Episode VII” billing suggests that Lucas might have gone in with his treatments. Again, you’d likely need a filmmaker willing to stick to the aesthetics and style of the first six movies, as far as possible.

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  • PS | November 10, 2012 11:10 AMReply

    And please. Stop it with that Nolan bs.

  • PS | November 10, 2012 11:09 AMReply

    Geez. I love the Star Wars movies (the original ones and the new ones), books and comics, but really all of these options to continue the movies are horrible. And as great as a continuation with the original cast would be, looking at current pictures of Ford, Hamill and Fisher makes me realize that too much time has passed. They all look terrible and havent't aged well. I don't want some retirement home escapees take the lead in the new Star Wars movies. I loved the idea of the TV show that shows the establishment of the Empire with new characters. I hope that one still happens. Not so interested in the movies as the potential of being disappointed is massive.

  • dkjd | November 7, 2012 11:13 PMReply

    Pls, continue the story after Teh Return of the Jedi with the original cast... and let Nolan direct it.

  • | November 5, 2012 8:11 PMReply

    Great gfeature.

  • DJH | November 5, 2012 7:18 PMReply

    I would love to see the X-Wing Series brought to the big screen in a trilogy!!!

  • sergiodasneves | November 5, 2012 2:54 PMReply

    I say: Listen to the fans, for once. There are a lot of good ideas out there.

  • Sarah | November 5, 2012 3:26 AMReply

    good choices.

  • Stephen | November 4, 2012 11:50 PMReply

    I think it would be interesting to make films on the backstories of some of the main supporting characters who are very popular like boba fett and darth maul and similar to what they are doing with the avengers have the stories come together in one film

  • J. G. | November 4, 2012 4:44 PMReply

    Here's an idea: make Star Wars into the WWII of its own universe. Therefore, you could have "Star Wars: Saving Private Oobi Watsit," or whatever, like Saving Private Ryan, but in space, or something along those lines. Lots of WWII movies involve the setting, premise, and ideas of WWII genre, but do not even show Hitler or any of the famous people who made WWII happen and go the way it did. So, Star Wars could do something similar and have characters and stories that never cross paths so much with the original cast.

  • nightgoat72 | November 3, 2012 8:59 PMReply

    I always thought an Old Republic trilogy seemed most logical.

  • heather | November 3, 2012 3:57 PMReply

    Bring in the daughter Jaina

  • Q | November 2, 2012 10:41 AMReply

    Guillermo del Toro

  • BMCD | November 2, 2012 12:10 AMReply

    I know it might be too much because he's directing the star trek franchise, but JJ Abrams is Steven Speilberg Jr. But, I realize that that's too much to ask. Check out Conan's parody clips of how different directors would direct Star Wars, the Michael Moore one is the best.

  • J.G. | November 4, 2012 4:47 PM

    Why do so many people like that new Star Trek movie? I'm not arguing with you particularly, because you are welcome to your opinion, but am I really the only one who thought that Star Trek movie from 2011 was utter and complete un-watchable crap? I couldn't stand it.

  • Star Fan | November 1, 2012 7:20 PMReply

    NO WAY can you put Mark Hammil, Carrie Fischer and Harrison Ford as leads in this movie now. How the hell is that option #1 and "most exciting". Mark Hammil particularly looks awful, none of them CLOSE to what they looked in the 70's when it was first filmed. Seriously?

  • DG | November 1, 2012 6:57 PMReply

    They should let Haneke direct the new trilogy. He's into sci-fi after all

  • neil | February 2, 2013 6:12 AM

    you do realize what aging is right?

  • Neil | February 2, 2013 6:11 AM

    you do realize what aging is right?

  • Yetti Gold | November 1, 2012 9:45 AMReply

    Dear Disney and LucasFilm,

    Congratulations! You now possess the power of the force and with it comes a great deal of responsibility. So here's what you're going to do:

    STEP 1 - you're going to set the new films (Episode 7, 8 and 9) 30 years after episode 6 (Jedi) and you're going to have the FULL original cast back playing themselves as older people. DID YOU HEAR ME? You are going to cast Harrison Ford as Han Freaking solo, Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Leia, Billy Dee Williams as Lando and even Denis Lawson back as Wedge Antilles. HERE'S THE CATCH: THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE THE MAIN CHARACTERS. They are older now and you can use them as side characters revolving around NEW lead characters. We don't care what new characters take over leading roles but you HAVE to bring back the old cast for this all to be LEGIT and to come FULL circle. PLEASE don't cast new actors in these roles and don't CGI faces to make them look like the actors 30 years ago (Like in Tron Legacy) PLEASE!!! You can even kill them off in the first scene, just don't replace them.

    STEP 2 - DON'T LISTEN TO ANYTHING GEORGE LUCAS SAYS! You paid him $4 Billion so tell him to shut up take his money and go make Radioland Murders Part 2! Put somebody in charge of directing who knows what we want. WE WANT EMPIRE STRIKES BACK ON CRACK. That means ACTING, ACTING, ACTING, ACTING, CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, DRAMA, DEATH!!!!!

    STEP 3 - Whatever you did to make AVENGERS as good as it was, do the same for STAR WARS! I feel the force is strong with you and your company can pull this off. The prequels were the worst films EVER MADE! They showed us just how evil the dark side of the force can be when it seduced George Lucas and took over his ability to distinguish right from wrong! Please redeem the Star Wars Universe. DO OR DO NOT...THERE IS NO TRY



  • Dan M | November 3, 2012 10:43 PM

    I hope that the opinion of "geeks" like you is never once considered by Disney. Your comment that the prequels were "the worst films EVER MADE!" is probably the most ridiculous film evaluation ever made, one made no less stupid by the fact that it's repeated ad nauseum by melodramatic geeks like you.

  • keith | November 1, 2012 9:29 AMReply

    I love the idea of telling the story of Yoda! I don't think going into the future after Return Of The Jedi sounds too interesting no matter what they do.

  • Kim | November 1, 2012 8:51 AMReply

    I always thought it would be a cool story to tell about how the lightsaber was invented. That and the Jedi order's history would be neat. Maybe that's more book type stuff, but I haven't read any of the books or multitude of media out there, which maybe explains it.

  • triguous | October 31, 2012 10:14 PMReply

    I'd like to see the new trilogy tell the story of the adult twin children of Han and Leia. One a man, the other a woman, one's arc mirroring Luke's path, the other's mirroring Anakin's path (just not as shitty) & with a new central villain.

  • Connor | October 31, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    Agreed. Option 4 seems like the most logical step to take with the franchise.

  • matt | October 31, 2012 4:17 PMReply

    I like option #4 the best

  • OverHere | October 31, 2012 11:41 AMReply

    The only option is direct sequels with the children of Han, Leia, and Luke. There's a powerful bit of storytelling in there, where you have the children of these heroes having to rise up to save the universe.

  • Sandoucheky | October 31, 2012 6:03 PM


  • bastila | October 31, 2012 11:04 AMReply

    Billie Dean Williams? Seriously? Am I missing an in-joke here?

  • jason | October 31, 2012 12:05 PM

    god fucking dammit, playlist.

  • Jeremy | October 31, 2012 11:51 AM

    Lol thought it was just me.

  • spassky | October 31, 2012 11:25 AM

    Thank you. Agreed. Indiewire just jettisoned their geek cred with that one.

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