Well whether you're celebrating the news or lamenting it, there is no doubt that last week's news was a pretty big deal if you're a Star Wars fan. With Disney buying up Lucasfilm and all the intellectual properties that go with it, and in addition to that the promise of a new Star Wars film in 2015 it is a very exciting time indeed.
George Lucas will be stepping down as part of his ongoing retirement plans, and though he will still be staying on as a creative consultant, Star Wars will effectively be transferred into new hands, and fresh talent is going to get the chance to have a crack at that galaxy far, far away.Now after an initial reaction of a pitiful Vader from Episode III like scream of...
If you think about it this could very well be the best thing to happen to Star Wars in a long time. The prequels didn't exactly go down a storm with everyone though they still did very good box office, and Star Wars seems to be at its best when it is the combination of George Lucas' grand ideas, a good scriptwriter who can write great snappy dialogue, and a director who can draw fantastic performances from their actors. Yes The Empire Strikes Back, that's you I'm looking at. And with rumors abound that a Lucas treatment for a third trilogy may form the basis of this new trilogy of movies I'm cautiously optimistic. Of course it is too early to tell if this will be the greatest thing ever, or an unmitigated disaster, but one thing for sure is that this has really got everyone excited about Star Wars again which is no bad thing.
So what would I personally like to see from a new Star Wars movie/trilogy?
Well I might as well put my two cents in same as everyone else on the interwebs, my opinion will be as informed/ill informed as the next chap.
Heh, where to start?
First up I'd have to say to the new film makers don't feel that you have to somehow adhere to the already established 30+ years of EU (Expanded Universe) fiction which is majorly centered around the era of the Star Wars timeline following ROTJ, I really doubt they will anyway, but I'd not like to see any fresh creativity potentially hamstrung by attempting to please everyone and not offend any of the fans. I'm sure even the most hardcore and militant EU fan won't be complaining if the new films don't fit in with established EU continuity if the new movie is absolutely awesome.
If George Lucas has treatments covering the plots for the new trilogy (as we believe is the case), then use them, it would be good to keep the tone and essence of Star Wars alive in any new trilogy, and this is a good place to start. Whatever faults or shortcomings we can throw George's way it has to be said that the use of ancient mythology as a touch stone with the hero's journey and all that good stuff made a great archetypal basis for his galaxy spanning saga, and this was no less the case with the overall themes and intentions of the prequel trilogy. The ideas for the most part were sound, we were all chomping at the bit to find out what the story was behind the boy who would become Darth Vader, it was more the execution that let it down.
As I said above use George Lucas' treatments for the new movies if they exist, but get someone else to write the script, it is this synergy between Lucas' grand ideas and themes, and great screenwriters who can actually write snappy dialogue which really allows Star Wars to shine, as is highlighted by the immediate sequel to the original, TESB. Whedon could be a good fit with his many script doctoring escapades, not to mention the recent Avengers movie which just knocked it out the park. Perhaps someone a little more left field though? How about Frank Darabont? He has already shown cracking adaptation chops on various Stephen King properties, did a treatment for Indy that was never used, don't you wish we'd had that rather than what we did get? And is a hardcore movie geek, I bet he could come up with something really interesting from a Lucas movie treatment, and would be a confident enough talent to feel he could make adjustments where needed.
It is also an interesting time for Star Wars, the brand is still robust and obviously fiscally strong, put out any movie with the Star Wars brand at its head and it is going to make money, but the brand has also lost a little of its sheen due to the disappointment to some that were the prequels, turning some lifelong fans into a right jaded old bunch even if the movies are still making loads of money with each new re-release, the fact is the franchise isn't as unsinkable as it once was, it hasn't got that swagger it had ahead of the prequels. As such there is a lot more riding on these new movies, it'll be make or break for the franchise. This can only be a good thing. Pressure breeds creativity, this was certainly the case with the original trilogy when they were really up against it, even more so when Star Wars was a hit and they had to prove it wasn't a fluke with Empire. Arguably the least successful of the original trilogy was ROTJ because then the brand had become quite self assured with the success which had gone before it. This was even more the case with the prequels. Now the pressure is on, and without George Lucas at the head hopefully we won't get the 'Yes men' mentality which seemed to plague the prequels with everyone on the crew in awe of the fact they were working for George Lucas, and unable to believe that he could do wrong. With these new movies that should be nipped in the bud with new talent in the director's chair. Hopefully the pressure and sheer possibilities and freedom offered up by having the opportunity to do a new Star Wars trilogy will breed fresh creativity and inventiveness in spades. Other than the first film this has always been how the best Star Wars has come about, with a story by Lucas but other directors actually calling the shots. Also, lets not forget that other big 'Star' franchise. Star Trek's movie franchise entered into a totally new lease of life when after the 'Slow' Motion Picture didn't do so well and Gene Rodenberry was asked to take a back seat for the sequels, and it was in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where they really nailed it and pretty much sealed the future for the many movies that followed, so there is form for a franchise to benefit from fresh talent taking over from the original creators and injecting some vibrant new energy into it.
Set it 30 to 40 years after ROTJ, this can make most issues with EU continuity go away since most of it takes place pretty much immediately after Jedi, so it could be ignored without necessarily contradicting it if that was a worry, but as I said earlier I don't think it should be. More importantly setting it then allows original trilogy actors to come back to their roles. Bringing back Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to their respective roles would be a major coup in my opinion. I wouldn't want to see them as major characters in the entire trilogy, but if Luke were to take on the Obi-Wan mentor role (perhaps even dying at some point, though not in the first film, we don't want it to be a complete copy of the original), or be the leader of a new order of Jedi passing the torch over to the new young Jedi defending the galaxy, with Leia playing an elder stateswoman akin to Mon Mothma in ROTJ, that would be a real fan pleasing move, and a great continuity thread leading back to the original trilogy.
But what should it be about? Whatever is in George Lucas' bag of tricks of a treatment I guess. Personally I'd like to see something totally unrelated to EU, so sure inspiration could be drawn from interesting characters and situations, but the story on the whole should be fresh. The new movies should not be beholden to EU continuity. I think the new trilogy has to be about picking up the pieces after the death of the Empire. Their forces will still be scattered around out there, splinter factions will be rising up under various ex-Imperial warlords, so there is potential for all sorts of strife, the galaxy may even be an even more dangerous place, and it has to be about the Rebellion's transition into government (no taxation of trade routes and all that garbage, but it will be interesting to see how the Rebellion manages to bring order to a galaxy that was held in check by the iron fist of the Empire with a more softly softly touch). The underworld would be running rampant through the galaxy, the Alliance would be having to deal with trying to police the galaxy and deal with disputes. Luke would be in the process of rebuilding the Jedi Order, so plenty to choose from, just a case of where to go with it and what to focus on. I also like the idea of the potential anarchy giving rise to a more crazed and malevolent less disciplined order of Sith, so gone is the rule of their only being two Sith, and that in the furthest reaches of the galaxy a Sith army is rising, so at some point (probably at the end of the trilogy) we get a chance to see what we all are gagging to see on the big screen which is armies of Jedi vs. Sith kicking off, you know you want it.
So in short...
Don't feel beholden to the Expanded Universe, make the new movie as good as humanly possible, and EU fans won't care if it doesn't fit in with EU continuity as long as the movie is awesome.
Use George Lucas' treatments for the new trilogy, but get some great scriptwriters in there to write the script itself who can write great snappy dialogue. Whedon? Darabont?
George Lucas has to take a back seat as this will hopefully end the 'Yes men' awe and 'He can do no wrong' sort of mentality that seemed to plague the crew of the prequels. We need fresh talent in that director's chair. Story by Lucas, script by a decent scriptwriter and directed by a great director, add to that mix lots of pressure to breed creativity and inventiveness, that is when Star Wars really soars.
Set it 30 to 40 years after the end of ROTJ allowing original trilogy actors to reprise their roles, Mark Hamill playing Luke as an Obi-Wan like mentor, or leader of the Jedi Order, Carrie Fisher playing Leia as an Elder Stateswoman akin to Mon Mothma in ROTJ, but have them not be the central characters, have these be a new generation, they're just passing the torch.
Have the story be about rebuilding the galaxy after the fall of the Empire, the Rebellion's uneasy transition to an allied galactic government, dealing with lawlessness from a flourishing underworld now that the Empire's strict grip has gone. Ex-Imperial Warlords and Imperial splinter factions all causing trouble, Luke's quest to rebuild the Jedi Order, and have it all leading towards the rise of an anarchistic new Sith Order rising ditching the rule of two so they can create a Sith army, which will come to a head at the end of the trilogy with armies of Jedi and Sith kicking arse.
And lastly, as many have already said, just make it Star Wars, throw in all that good stuff that we've come to expect, action, spectacle and heart, oh and lots of space battles.
So I guess now we just have to wait and see if this new movie is going to be the best thing since lightsaber sliced bread (it's great, because it slices and toasts at the same time!), or an unmitigated disaster and the last flogging of an almost dead horse/Bantha.
Only time will tell. I'll bet there's already some fans queuing up at their local multiplex already.