By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com October 31, 2012 at 10:59AM
The two ideas above are the most obvious, but let's not forget that Disney aren't just saying that they want to make Episodes VII, VIII and IX, they want to make a "Star Wars" movie every two or three years for the foreseeable future. That means they'd have to move away from Luke, Leia and co. at some point, and you might as well do that sooner rather than later. After all, it's a big fictional universe out there. And the last word on what Lucas was planning as a continuation on the franchise was a live-action TV series, set around the fringes of the universe after the end of 'Revenge Of The Sith,' with Rick McCallum saying in an interview that the series would have involved "the Empire slowly building up its power base around the galaxy, what happens in Coruscant, which is the major capital, and it’s [about] a group of underground bosses who live there and control drugs, prostitution." It's not likely to follow that exact path (and that TV show, already written, could feasibly appear somewhere, but it’s doubtful even ABC could handle it), but it's entirely possible that they may try and follow a similar tangent. One could pick up with a new set of characters in the aftermath of the defeat of the Empire, allowing more creative freedom, with a smaller shadow cast from the original trilogy. You could focus on a new Jedi, a bounty hunter, something entirely different -- and that's certainly likely to attract the younger, hungrier names that would make fans happier, people who'd want to put their own stamp on the franchise. Let's call it "The Bourne Legacy" take on Episode VII -- new characters, possibly a new tone, dealing with the political and social repercussions of the shift in power, but maintaining plot ties to the original movies in the background. Hell, if you wanted to bring in someone from the original cast in a supporting role (in a sort of J.J. Abrams/Leonard Nimoy kind of way), maybe you could do that to appease fans that need some familiar signifiers or faces.
As the opening crawl famously had it, the "Star Wars" films are set, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." That gives you plenty of leeway, even if you take it literally, so why should Episode VII and beyond focus on the aftermath of the original trilogy? The 2006 comic series "Star Wars: Legacy," for instance, is set 130 years after the conclusion of the original trilogy, with Cade Skywalker, a distant relative of Luke, facing off against a new aspirant Sith lord. And why not stop there? The basic mythology -- Jedis, Sith, Jawas, Ewoks, all of it -- is solid enough to maintain a continuity, so why not set a new film a thousand years in the future? Let a new filmmaker remake the universe in their own fashion, and turn the whole thing on its head. Surely that's the most interesting approach, and the one most likely to land intriguing creative figures to shepherd the new movies. And having squandered goodwill so severely with the prequel trilogy, the new films could use an exciting name to get people back on board. Of course, this is the riskier approach. It's creating new on top of old, without characters or even necessarily iconographic ties to the original movies. And frankly, if Lucas has written these outlines, we suspect that it's not the way the films are going to go, at least at first. But to us, it feels like the most exciting and creatively satisfying approach.
Yeah, Lucas has said that he's outlined Episodes VII, VIII and IX (and then at other times said he’d never thought of any further story). But how literal is he being? Does that mean an exact continuation of where we left off with 'Return Of The Jedi'? Or does it simply mean "more 'Star Wars' movies?" Because if it's the latter, who's to say that we can't delve further into the background? The prequel trilogy might have disappointed, but in a way it's because they hewed far too closely to the original films -- the unnecessary backstory of Darth Vader, appearances from young Chewbacca, etc. Why not set the film during the original trilogy, with other rebel groups fighting against the Empire? Or follow the story of the popular-among-fans "Clone Wars" animated series, and pick up on that conflict? Or go smaller scale, and track smugglers and pirates and gangsters, like the mooted TV series, a darker take which would make an aging fanbase happy? Or you could go back even further, following the lead of the "Old Republic" video games, set thousands of years before "The Phantom Menace," and which have proven to be a rich and resilient setting. The great benefit of what Lucas has created -- and probably the reason that Disney paid $4 billion for his company -- is the depth and richness of his universe, so why not go a longer, longer time ago, in a galaxy further away?
Thoughts? Do any of these ideas sound appealing? Have your own ideas? Sound off below on where you think the direction of the new “Star Wars” films should go.