Undoubtedly the most influential science fiction (fantasy?) series in movie history, Star Wars has captivated the audience’ imagination for over 35 years. Now that creator George Lucas has signed the rights over to the entity that is Disney, and Episode VII has been confirmed for production with director JJ Abrams at the helm, the world sits in wait to see how the galaxy we’ve come to love (and hate) will come back to life on the big screen for a whole new generation.
But what can we come to expect. A lot of news and rumors have swamped our newsfeeds since the announcement, and most of it has been swept up under the rug. Let’s take a look at what’s been confirmed, talked and rumored about, and then infer from there. Possible spoilers ensue, as I do infer theories that coincide with fact.
Story and Setting
When Lucas conceived Star Wars back in the 70s and 80s he envisioned a far grander history and story than what he led on in his pilot film “Star Wars.” When Empire Strikes Back was released three years later, subtitled as Episode V, it became canon that Star Wars (later re-titled “A New Hope”) was Episode IV. That meant Lucas had known there would be a prequel trilogy. But what wasn’t expressly known was that Lucas had plans to extend the series past that. In fact, he had a whole other sequel trilogy planned, some reports stating there were actually 12 potential films in total. In 2012 after the new trilogy was announced, a Lucas biographer Dale Pollock claimed that in the 80s he had read the outlines of the planned 12 films and he said 7, 8, and 9 were the most exciting. Pollock also explained that he expected Disney to use these outlines in their films, seeing as how “that’s in part what Disney bought.”
What else can we glean from past interviews before the Disney announcement? A few things: In 1980, Lucas mentioned that this trilogy would be about rebuilding the Republic that fell at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Also Lucas mentioned the main theme of this trilogy would be moral and philosophical problems, such as the necessity for moral choices and the wisdom needed to distinguish right from wrong, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned (1983 and 1989).
With the news and confirmation that this new trilogy will take place 30 years after the Return of the Jedi, it’s unlikely that Lucas’ earlier statements of rebuilding the Republic will be a focal point in this version of Episode VII. It seems likely that the Republic would have already been remade by then. It would be one of the first things Leia, and the Rebel Alliance would have tried to correct after the Empire fell, wouldn’t it? This will most likely have occurred, and Leia will likely have a seat in the Galactic Senate like her mother. I don’t think it was originally in Lucas’ plans to wait 30 years to release the sequels, so some setting changes will have been needed within the plots structure.
Now, we may not know what the 30 years post-RotJ universe will look like, BUT we do know what happens in the SWEU (Star Wars Expanded Universe) novels. And yes, I know, berate me on how they’ve already confirmed this trilogy WON’T involve the SWEU, but frankly that’s a shame. There’s such a wealth of material to draw from – so much they could glean from the expanded universe, but they’re (reportedly) choosing not too. But if you look at the timeline of novels by years after A New Hope, this date of 30 years after Return of the Jedi is right smack dab in the center of the 21-book SWEU New Jedi Order series. I’m not claiming this is the direction they plan to go in, but it would make sense that this would be about the time Luke would want to rebuild the Jedi Order. This series is also great as it introduces a new threat to the galaxy, a threat from outside the galaxy – the Yuuzhan Vong, a race that invades the galaxy killing over 300 trillion sentient beings and are notable for not being able to be sensed through the Force. I repeat, I’m not saying this is going to happen in this trilogy, as they may completely choose to start afresh, but it would be a shame if they chose to ignore the SWEU entirely. Particularly the characters introduced therein. (Below is an image of the novel timeline).
Characters, Casting and Filming
Along with the announcement that the next Star Wars film will take place 30 years after Episode VI, Disney President Bob Iger says it’ll feature “very familiar faces along with with a trio of young leads.” This is as close to a confirmation as we’ve had yet that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford will return. What other “very familiar faces” could show up? This is perfect timing also, as Episode VII will be released almost 32 years after Return of the Jedi. It fits. That also coincides with remarks made by Fisher in January 2014 stating “as for the next Star Wars film, myself, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are expected to report to work in March or April.” On March 10th she again reiterated that she would be in it, saying that she would be moving to London for six months, which is where it’ll be filmed. Both Hamill and Fisher have reportedly been assigned nutritionalists and personal trainers.
This information also coincides with a statement by Disney stating that principle photography will commence in May 2014, and JJ Abrams mentioned previously he expects it to be a 6-month shoot.
As it is, however, only ONE Star Wars character is officially confirmed to be in the film. Can you guess who? Yep. What Star Wars film would be complete without R2-D2?! We can reasonably expect to see C-3PO reprise his role. In statements in 1980, ’81, and ’83 Lucas states that the two droids are likely to be the only two characters to be in all 9 films.
So… Who will the new “trio” be? All points we have now lead us to assume that the new crew are most likely characters from the SWEU. In 1988 Lucas claims that Luke Skywalker will have a female love interest, and one can only assume it’ll be Mara Jade. “It’s like a saga, the story of a group of people, a family” (Lucas in 1980). Author Timothy Zahn, who wrote the Star Wars Expanded Universe series, the Thrawn Trilogy, states that back in the day when he had asked Lucas who episodes 7, 8, and 9 would follow, Lucas thoughts were “it would be Luke’s children.” Yup! The Skywalker line lives. In the SWEU Luke and Mara had a child named Ben Skywalker. Most likely, the other two children will be Jaina Solo and Jacen Solo, the children of Han and Leia. Han and Leia also have a third child, named Anakin, but four children seem to contradict the word “trio.” Again, none of these characters may be introduced, and Disney may wish to start from scratch. We shall see.
A few actors have come forth as “in talks” to play characters since the announcement of the new trilogy. A few include Saoirse Ronan, Michael B. Jordan, Jesse Plemons (who is rumored to play Ben Skywalker), Adam Driver, and most recently Lupita Nyong’o. Last week Variety reported that Disney had narrowed down five contenders to play the lead actor for the upcoming trilogy: this includes Jesse Plemmons, Ed Speleers, John Boyega, Matthew James Thomas (he has three first names!) and Ray Fisher. Abrams announced in January that casting would be announced “soon.”
Also, slightly interesting is that in September 2013, casting calls were held in the UK for a “Male, 7 ft. to 7.3 ft. tall with a slim/thin build and upright posture. Not too worked out or too ‘thick set’ especially in the shoulders. Broad facial features would be a bonus.” This is heavily thought to be for Chewbacca.
Quite a bit of news to trifle through, rumors, and notable quotes. Hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts on the matter. Let me know yours. Also, this photo apparently leaked as the logo for Episode 7. It’s most likely fake though.