A Return of the Jedi

We are entering an unprecedented time. Star Wars, arguably the largest franchise in entertainment history, is returning to take center stage once again. It had seemed that the Star Wars saga had its crescendo and exited the spotlight in 2005 with the release of Revenge of the Sith, at the time marked as the final chapter in George Lucas' story.

The release of Revenge of the Sith was a bittersweet time for me. It was the film that I had most anticipated of the Prequel Trilogy.  From the moment the Prequels were announced there was one scene that I most wanted to see, and I knew it would be a part of the finale, so it would be a long wait. It was the duel between Obi-wan and Anakin, the fateful battle that would leave a friendship shattered and the future of the galaxy forever altered.

The announcement of the Prequel Trilogy also came with the announcement that this would mark the end of the Star Wars saga on the big screen. Yes, we may have a 3D re-release, an anniversary screening or a special release like The Clone Wars, but no more true live action adventures with our heroes in the Galaxy, Far, Far Away.

Fast forward to October 2012 and an unexpected announcement. Lucasfilm and all of its properties had been sold to the Walt Disney Company. As if that was not enough, Disney announced that they were bringing the Star Wars saga back to the big screen. Production was to begin on Episode 7, among other projects. The one thing that we as fans knew would never happen, was actually going to happen.

We are now roughly a year and a half into this new era of Star Wars.  Rumurs flying wild everyday and only small amounts of news trickling out. We discuss and analyze, ponder and scrutinize.

Where should the story go in Episode 7? What role, if any, should our returning heroes play in the new film? Where does this leave the existing Expanded Universe of books, novels, and other stories?

In the Prequel era we always knew where the story had to end up. We didn't always know the exact path that the story would take, nor did we know everyone who we would meet along the way, but we were sure of one thing, we knew exactly where this story would end.

Now, the field is completely open; the story can literally go in any one of a thousand different directions. The only thing that is certain is that whatever we think Episode 7 will be is completely wrong.

I have high hopes for the filmmakers and I trust them to give us a quality product.  However, I do have some worries, as we all do.  We care so much for this universe and its cast of characters that we want to know that they will not be mistreated in some attempt at recapturing the past.

I worry that the filmmakers will focus too much on the voice of the Internet. That voice that constantly tries to tell us how terrible the Prequel Trilogy was and how Disney must repair the damage done. I worry that they will avoid standard movie making processes because of people crying about “too much CGI.” That they will choose substandard filmmaking techniques because that is how it was done 35 years ago in the original films.

I hope that we are given a new cast of characters to root for. I love the Original Trilogy characters and I feel that if the story dictates it, they should have a role in the new films. But, I worry about the characters being shoehorned in, forced to fit into a story that doesn't really require their presence.

It's important to carry on with our original characters, but it's also important to recognize when their time is up and their presence is no longer necessary. A torch must be passed to a new generation: as a wise old Captain once said, “Gallivanting around the cosmos is a game for the young.”

Risks are important, George Lucas knew that to be true; he took risks on every one of the original six films, always pushing to try something new and give us something unexpected. It's a fine line the filmmakers have to walk, riding the line between nostalgia and the completely new. Giving credit to the past and tradition but knowing where to interject new life and new ideas.

I'm excited for what the future holds for Star Wars. I'm excited at the thought of hearing John Williams' music roaring in the speakers again, seeing the yellow block crawler on the screen, hearing the roar of a starship and the snap-hiss of a lightsaber, and maybe seeing some familiar faces back in the game.