For those of you who don’t know me, Star Wars is my biggest obsession. I was raised with the Original Trilogy, and have seen all six films dozens and dozens of times. They represent everything I love about movies, and appeal to every bit of my personality.
With that said, you might (maybe not) be able to imagine my response when I found out that Disney has purchased LucasArts from George Lucas himself for $4.05 billion dollars and are planning Star Wars: Episode VII for 2015.
At first I was speechless; my body was wracked by so many emotions I nearly fell over. Anger, excitement, fear, hype, outrage, and exhilaration. A new Star Wars film, one not made by George Lucas; what could this mean?
Think what you will about him, but George built this franchise. Even though he’s made some changes not everyone (myself included) have been fond of, he is still the father of Star Wars and it almost seems insane to not have him involved in a future Star Wars film.
The possibilities of this are endless. On one hand, Disney could bring fresh life to the franchise and produce a new Star Wars film that hits all the right notes. On the other hand, they could try and re-brand the whole series and make it something it isn’t. I doubt it’ll be the former, (not 100% anyway), but it frightens me to think that the latter is more possible.
It is true that Disney acquired Marvel last year, and The Avengers was the first film to launch under Disney and it turned out great, so that gives me some hope. But by the time this new film releases, it’ll have been 10 years since the last Star Wars film and 38 years since the first movie. That’s quite the gap.
I’ve never hated the prequels and although Attack of the Clones got pretty bad at times, a Star Wars movie that tries to appeal to a new generation isn’t what scares me. But instead that this will be the first Star Wars to be developed outside of LucasArts; who have in past, been involved in Star Wars products in some way or another,.
For right now, I’m going to discuss some of the good things that could come out of this. For starters, it’s more Star Wars. For better or for worse (hopefully for the better), I’ll go and see it at the midnight opening. If done right, this ‘Episode VII’ could be amazing. But to succeed, it has to be new and also familiar.
Don’t use characters from the older movies, (non-human characters are an exception) because that would mean re-casting known characters. And please, please, please don’t do this. I suppose maybe, if the technology is advanced enough, they could digitally make characters like Luke and Han look the same and have the original characters act as voice-overs.
Although Avatar looked great, I can imagine that by doing this, the iconic characters we’re so used to will look off, and ruin the impact of the movie. The way I see it all happening is that they use new characters, not seen in the films, to carry the new movie.
By using new characters, Disney both relieves itself from having to recast established characters, but also presents itself with a new set of problems. Star Wars has always been about the story of the Skywalker family, and by not using Luke, Disney will have to find a way to connect the old films to these new ones.
I would recommend playing off some of the Expanded Universe stories (books, comics, games, etc), and use characters the die-hard fans will understand and know. Maybe use the offspring of the Solo family, who are already established in the Star Wars Universe; or maybe use the son of Luke Skywalker as the protagonist.
This is the route I hope they take, as I feel that if Disney invents a totally new characters for Episode VII, then it may ostracize fans and make this new film feel disconnected from the previous. Which could shatter the whole thing.
And that brings us to the bad. There are so many things Disney will have to nail to make this film feel like Star Wars. There’s the atmosphere, the characters, the back-story, the lore, the visuals, the meaning, the adventure; I could go on all day. If any of those things feel off, fans will notice.
It will all boil down to who Disney hires to both pen the script, direct the movie, cast the actors, and design the sets. These are the things that are so memorable to fans and movie-goers alike, and it is essential to get it right. Maybe use people who have already worked on the past films, people who have experience with the franchise and know how it works.
This Episode VII must feel like Star Wars, and having the people involved know and appreciate the property will work dividends for the finished product.
If this movie misses the mark, and ends up being a film that really doesn’t adhere to Star Wars, there will be an outrage. The brand of Star Wars means something. It may mean different things to different people, but when someone purchases an item with the unmistakable name of Star Wars on it, there’s a certain weight and expectation that comes along with it.
And if Disney doesn’t deliver on those expectations, they will be betraying the brand and the fans alike. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit much, but it’s not far from the truth. I doubt Disney will make the perfect Star Wars film, (it’s possible, but unlikely) but it can still be a good or even great Star Wars tale. It just has to adhere to the series’ roots, while simultaneously innovating.
There is another side to all this though. Disney now owns LucasArts, which means they also own Indiana Jones, which, if you’ve been reading here for awhile, you know I also love. This means that I can nearly guarantee you there will be more of those films sometime as well, and that could also be a good or bad thing.
Also, Disney is now pretty much in charge of every facet of Star Wars. This makes me wonder what will become The Clone Wars TV show, which is fantastic. Only time will tell I suppose, I just hope and pray things turn out good and that The Clone Wars isn’t negatively impacted. In similar news, it has just been revealed that the very promising Star Wars game 1313 is not affected by this, so that’s a good thing.
I could (and most likely will) hypothesize on this topic all day long, but all we can do now is wait; wait and see what happens. If Star Wars Episode VII is really going to come out in 2015, it will not only have to start production soon, but will also be going against films such as The Avengers 2 (also owned by Disney) and the rumored/confirmed Justice League of America.
That’s some pretty stiff competition from two very big, established, and modern franchises.
With a release date in just over two years, I’m sure we’ll here about some more of the details regarding this major reboot/sequel soon. How soon, I couldn’t tell you. But, when the news starts rolling out, I can guarantee you that I will be here to talk about it. Until then, may the force be with you, always.