As most Star Wars fans can probably agree, the fact that we'll be seeing actual follow-ups to Return of the Jedi is pretty astonishing. The reactions to the news of the impending Episode VII have followed a few variations. Primarily original trilogy loyalists see a sequel trilogy as a new chance to fall in love with a franchise that they believe strayed from its usual path of greatness during the years of the prequel trilogy. Others are simply excited about the possibility of more after an entire era of Star Wars that was centered on one saga will finally give way to new territory.
As a fan that tends to appreciate the prequels a bit more than many other Star Wars fans, I'm very excited at the fact that we'll finally be entering new territory. Sure, there's tomes of material relating to the post-Jedi status of the Star Wars universe, but we have no reason to believe that the new films will be delving at all into material related to the "Expanded Universe" of Star Wars. So, I thought it might be cool to look at five things that many fans would like to see explored in Episode VII.
For the purposes of this article, we're discussing what was last considered canonical in the film series: the 2011 Blu-ray release. Even though I know a fair amount about the Expanded Universe, I'm also going to be theorizing like we're approaching brand new narrative territory, since that's likely how the creative team will be treating the new films.
5) Can Luke still commune with Obi-Wan, Yoda and his father?
Return of the Jedi saw the long-labored redemption of Anakin Skywalker, where the once promising Jedi Knight finally fulfilled his destiny and destroyed the Emperor, and seemingly, the Sith with him. In the closing moments of Jedi, we see Luke look on happily at the Force ghost of his father, reunited with Obi-Wan and Yoda in the warmth of the Light Side of the Force.
Thirty years later, can Luke still communicate with them? I have very little doubt that the potential chaos created by the defeat of the Empire would've benefited from Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin's perspectives, especially if the Rebel Alliance was tasked with rebuilding a more peaceful Republic. Not to mention the fact that Luke still likely had many questions after Episode VI, since he had just managed to become a Jedi knight by defeating his father in the Emperor's throne room.
Can it happen? Yes, absolutely! In Yoda's case, Frank Oz has spoken about being absolutely ready to return to the vocal chords for the character, saying, "He’s in my heart. I know Yoda very deeply." Although Sir Alec Guinness died in 2000, Ewan MacGregor has gone on record saying that if asked, he would be happy to reprise his prequel role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Creative wizardry would likely be able to explain why Kenobi's Force ghost would look like his younger self. The only apparent hold out might be Hayden Christensen, who hasn't made any public comment indicating if he'd be excited or reviled at the prospect of returning to Anakin.
4) Is the Empire REALLY defeated? Is the Emperor really dead?
As someone that studied the rise and fall of governments in college, one of the questions I'd be excited to see explored is whether or not the final battle in Jedi really put the nail in the coffin of the Galactic Empire forever. As we've seen across the world in both totalitarian and benevolent regimes, the death of a leader usually doesn't do anything but embolden those followers into carrying on a legacy.
With the strong cult of personality surrounding Emperor Palpatine, it's a little tough to believe that the death of the Sith Master would really be the death of the entire Imperial movement. In the Expanded Universe, Grand Admiral Thrawn was one of the leaders that stepped into the leadership role of the Empire. I'll be interested to see if the films follow suit with a similar exchange of leadership.
This is before even getting to the issue of Palpatine himself. As we saw in Episode III, the element that finally lured Anakin from the Light was the manipulative Sith touting an apparent ability on the Dark Side to save people from death. Strictly speaking from the perspective of the films, there's a lot that we really don't know about the man that rose to absolute power. In the EU, Palpatine had a complicated network of clones that kept him from truly dying in that fateful encounter at the end of Episode VI. Is it possible he could've found a way to save himself from that fate?
Ian McDiarmid, the actor that gave the character life in the prequels and in Jedi, has revealed that he'd be "very interested" to see what kind of future Palpatine may have, but expressed doubts that he survived his encounter with Vader. We'll have to see if the future holds anything more for the most undeniably evil figure in the Star Wars saga.
3) Han and Leia: Love? Marriage? Baby in the baby... force field?
You have to admire the woman that would be able to nail down a man like Han Solo. He doesn't really strike us as the most commitment-driven person in the galaxy, especially when you fly by the seat of your pants, shoot Rodians, and make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Nonetheless, the conclusion of Return of the Jedi saw that Han and Leia had confessed their love for each other a couple of times, and that Han was overjoyed to learn that Leia and Luke were siblings.
The Expanded Universe posits a lot for two of the prime original-trilogy characters. Not only do Han and Leia stay together, but they get married and have children that grow up to become powerful Jedi knights. Will they have the same fate when we see them again on the big screen in Episode VII?
George Lucas already kind of spoiled that we'd be seeing Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in the new film. Whether or not Han and Leia have actually arrived at where we all thought they would is another thing entirely. There's nothing saying that they have to have ended up together, or maybe they did for a while before possibly splitting up (a lot can happen in 30 years).
While it's nice to think about Han and Leia settling down after having kids, there's definitely a part of me thinking that it's not in the cards for the ol' scoundrel, and that the creative team may have something else in store for everyone's favorite smuggler turned hero.
2) Who will rise to become the new heroes?
While not necessarily a foregone conclusion, it's pretty easy to assume that there will be new characters that rise up to take the mantle from Luke, Han and Leia as the main characters of the next series of films. Whether or not these are the children of the original trilogy's main characters, new characters spinning out of the prequels, or just brand spankin' new characters remains to be seen. With the thematic aims of the previous six Star Wars films expanding the legend of the Skywalker family, it seems likely that a new Skywalker will rise to the occasion and take charge for the new sequel trilogy.
Using the original cast as a launchpad for the introductions of the new characters will go a long way in getting established fans to buy the passing of the torch. Not to say that it's impossible for new characters to be introduced and become popular on their own merits, but when it comes to the return of an established franchise, it definitely doesn't hurt to have been trained by Luke in the ways of the Force. Or, perhaps, for a young rogue to get some smuggling tips from Han Solo.
Either way, the establishment of characters, new and old, should prove to be really interesting. As long as they're written with a degree of strength they should all flourish, and given Michael Arndt's previous writing credits, that shouldn't prove to be too much to hope for.
1) The future of the Jedi: new order, or small movement?
This is definitely what I'm the most curious about: the future of the Jedi. Episodes III-VI saw their numbers absolutely decimated in the wake of the Great Jedi Purge, catalyzed by Order 66 and the Emperor's rise to power. Now that the threat of the Sith has apparently been eliminated with the defeat of Darth Vader and the death of the Emperor, the first new Jedi knight of the past 30 years may have had something to say about the future of the Jedi culture.
The Expanded Universe saw Luke establish a new Jedi Order, with an Academy built on the grounds of the former Rebel base on Yavin IV (where they launched the attack on the first Death Star). I tend to think that in the last 30 years, Luke has likely become a Jedi master and has headed up a new era for the Jedi. Although, there's an equally attractive possibility that Luke is still struggling somewhat to keep the legacy of the Jedi alive. Beyond him and possible children, Luke also promised Leia that she would learn to use the power of the Force as he had. Has Leia followed in the footsteps of her father and brother and taken up a lightsaber of her own?
The Jedi are the single most identifiable element of the entire Star Wars franchise. Lightsabers are going to clash in the new films, at this point it's just a question of who will wield them. I'm pretty excited about any possibilities for the Jedi, and I'm pretty sure you are too.
What are the elements that YOU feel have to be present in Episode VII? Sound off and be heard below.
My Pick This Week at the Comic Shop (Releasing 4/3)
Although Grant Morrison ended his run on Action Comics last month, a new day is about to dawn for the Man of Steel. Action Comics #19 sees the start of a new direction for the book, although for comics fans this is tempered by some unfortunate news. You see, this issue was supposed to be the first in a long run by writer Andy Diggle (The Losers, Green Arrow: Year One) and artist Tony S. Daniel (Detective Comics, Teen Titans). Unfortunately, due to creative differences, Diggle found himself feeling compelled to walk off the book before the publication of his first issue this week.
As a result, we'll only be seeing his first story, with artist Daniel doubling as writer/artist for issues #20-21 from Diggle's outlines. This isn't the first time this has happened recently at DC, with a number of freelance creators leaving their posts due to too much editorial interference.
At least, though, we'll be seeing Diggle's first issue at what would have likely been an interesting run. DC released a few preview pages in last month's releases with a pretty definitive quote from Superman on what kind of action the Man of Steel will be seeing in the story. He said, "I don't like bullies. I'm here to protect, not to provoke. I didn't throw the first punch... but I'll throw the last." I'm pretty excited for this issue, and though the story will be brief, it should definitely be interesting.
See you next week! Be sure to leave a comment about what you'd like to see in Episode VII.
Chris Clow is a geek. He is a comic book expert and retailer, and freelance contributor to GeekNation.com, Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. You can find his weekly piece The Geek Beat every Tuesday and the Star Trek Into Darkness Countdown every other Wednesday right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.