Monthly Archives: November 2012

Searching for a Hero: Who should be the protagonist of Star Wars: Episode VII?

Since Disney and Lucasfilm’s announcement of Star Wars: Episode VII, debates have raged over who should write, direct and star in the new film. While we now know that screenwriter Michael Arndt will write the script based on story treatments from George Lucas, the debate over the director, actors, subject and setting of the film continue.Among the matters being debated, the key question that interests me is the identity of the film’s protagonist or hero. This is the crucial question that not only will shape Episode VII‘s story but the future of the film franchise.

The idea of an aging Luke Skywalker as the star of a new Star Wars story works better in book then in a film. So it seems likely that Luke will take on more of a role as the mentor in Episode VII. While it is certainly possible as the Star Trek franchise has shown an older lead or leads can star in a film, the Star Wars film franchise has always had a youthful core.
So who should be the hero in Episode VII?

There are three broad categories from which the protagonist could be drawn from. The child of Luke Skywalker, the child of Han and Leia, or a new character unrelated to the Skywalker family.

Child(ren) of Luke Skywalker:

The direct heir of Luke presents both benefits and challenges. In the scope of the first six films, the fall of Anakin

Skywalker and the redemption by his son feels like a complete story. It begins with a classical tragedy and ends with the new hero’s journey. In some ways it would be nice to leave the Skywalkers in that pleasant place.If you feature a Skywalker you also are in danger of setting up a dynastic element that can rub some fans the wrong way. In such a large galaxy it somehow feels limiting if only a Skywalker can save the day. Does the galaxy simply fall to the man with the most midichlorians?

The other thing to consider is that in the Expanded Universe Luke’s wife Mara Jade has a very detailed and specific back story, as does their son Ben. It is clear that George Lucas is not and should not be bound by the stories created by the many talented individuals in the Expanded Universe. So it seems likely that Lucas who has written the treatment for Episode VII will want to take Luke and “his” other characters into the future in his own vision not someone else’s.

Lucas can take Luke in two basic directions, monastic or patriarchal. If he follows the monastic approach then he becomes an echo of Obi-Wan and the old Jedi Order. This would be a clear difference then the approach taken in the Expanded Universe with Luke and his new Jedi Order. The monastic Luke would not have children for him to mentor.

The Patriarchal Luke would give Lucas the chance to explore the family dynamic to an extent we haven’t really seen in either previous trilogy. In Episode IV we saw some of this with Uncle Ben and Aunt Beru, and their interaction with Luke. In Episode I we saw the dynamic between Anakin and Shmi, but in both cases it was simply the launching point of the hero’s journey and not something explored in detail. The patriarchal Luke would also fit in terms of Lucas’ own life, as a father with adult children now.

Solo-Skywalker Family Dinner by Chris Scalf

It would make sense that Lucas may have some perspective to look back on that familial relationship and be able to use his own life experience to craft a vision of a mature and fatherly Luke. In the Expanded Universe the use of Ben Skywalker as a foil to his father is interesting in that it allows for the supremely powerful Luke Skywalker to be humanized. The playful banter between Luke and Ben was one of the highlights of the recently completed Fate of the Jedi series.The debate whether or not Luke’s offspring should be a son or daughter or even multiple children is a complex one. If Luke’s offspring is the protagonist in Episode VII to has a cascading effect on the rest of the characters and story. Assuming that Lucas follows the formula and has a three character core to the story, you would figure that one of them would be the child of Luke, and one would be the child of Han and Leia and one would be a new and unrelated character. If Luke has a son, then it makes sense for Han and Leia to have a son as well, if Luke has a daughter, then Han and Leia would likely have a daughter as well. The reason is simple, there will have to be some romance in the plot somewhere and setting up the Skywalker and Solo kids as rivals for the affection of a third party would be the easiest trope to take.

It is possible for Luke to fill a patriarchal role without having his own offspring, which brings me to our next possibility…

Child(ren) of Han Solo and Leia Organa:

For much of the Expanded Universe’ history the focus on the next generation of heroes has been on the children of Han and Leia. In the EU, we had the twins Jacen and Jaina, and then the youngest son Anakin.

While it is once again unlikely that Lucas would re-use Expanded Universe characters, the son or daughter of the Princess and the Smuggler makes for interesting story fodder. Leia represents untapped Jedi potential, but also the epitome of the warrior-diplomat. In Han we have the ultimate reformed scoundrel, but where does his story go now? How does Han Solo adjust to family life? How does Leia balance the demands of duty and the demands of family?

It would be interesting to see if these traits present in Han and Leia are passed to the next generation. It would also allow Lucas to focus on maturing characters and relationships he introduced in the Original Trilogy instead of creating a new love interest and family for Luke.

In any event it seems that any child of Han and Leia would be precocious and certainly right at home in a cockpit. This confident and reckless youth would be compelling protagonist, as some of the dangers of Anakin Skywalker’s fall may be present. It would allow for patriarchal Luke to act as both uncle and Jedi Master in an attempt to mentor his nephew or niece to avoid the mistakes of Anakin.

An Unrelated Hero:

The possibility of a new and unrelated hero in Episode VII is an interesting idea. The characters of Luke, Han and Leia are so iconic that it will be a real challenge for any of their offspring to measure up to them. In a story, the potential drama this would create for their offspring could be compelling as they not only seek to face the exterior threat, but also grapple with their own internal struggle with being the son or daughter of these galactic heroes. The danger of course is that a new Solo or Skywalker character could feel like a pale imitation of the big three.

If Lucas and Episode VII writer Michael Arndt want the greatest creative freedom however, creating a completely new protagonist or set of heroes, unrelated but guided by Luke, Han and Leia could be a very alluring way to go.

We have a number of characters that could provide off-spring if Lucas wanted to provide some connection to the Original Trilogy. The two most obvious characters who’s progeny could show up in Episode VII are Chewie and Lando. Both characters already have kids in the EU, of course unless you give Chewie’s kid a translator droid like Lowbacca’s, it is hard to see how they could be more than a supporting character. The son or daughter of Lando would be interesting, particularly a daughter with Lando’s flirtatious nature would be a fun counterpoint to any offspring of Luke or Han and Leia. There are also more minor character such as Wedge Antilles who’s children would also make a cool addition to the movie franchise and Wedge’s friendship with Luke would give a reason for Wedge’s child to be interacting with any possible Skywalker or Solo kids.

The curve ball would be a non-human protagonist, if one of the three main characters was an alien who spoke basic it could be an interesting deviation from the Star Wars formula. A near human species may be the easiest to pull off in terms of production and the most relatable for a viewer to accept as a protagonist.

In the end I think Lucas and Arndt stick to the tried and true formula of having a trio of stars in Episode VII and we get a Solo, a Skywalker, and a stranger. As to who becomes the bright center of the story, your guess is as good as mine.]

 

~Peter Morrison (@PeteMorrisonLR)

An unabashed Star Wars fanatic, Peter is the creator of LightsaberRattling.com, his love of the galaxy far, far away is only rivaled by his obsession with the Red Sox. His words are his lightsabers, watch out or you may lose a limb.

 

The Saga’s Witnesses- TWL #37

Join Karl and Jason in their latest episode as they talk about the  two Star Wars characters to appear in all six films: C-3PO and R2D2! From their first meeting on Tatoonie in Episode I to their dance-off at the teddy bear picnic celebration at the end of Episode VI, your hosts talk about all the scenes which make these two iconic Star Wars characters so beloved

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How We Will Watch Star Wars – SWR #70

How will we watch Star Wars in the future?

In the latest SWR podcast we discuss how shows like H+ and BSG: Blood and Chrome‘s success point to how Lucasfilm should address distribution of Star Wars content in the future.

Mark is behind on The Clone Wars. Why? Should he bother to catch up?

Is there merit to just waiting for the Blu Ray instead of waiting week to week for each episode?

Also we discuss what the impact of over-hyped fan expectation might have on Episode VII.

Star Wars Angry Birds is out.

The Old Republic is now free to play.

Also, what can TPM teach us about Episode VII?

It’s all in this episode of the Star Wars Report podcast.

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Star Wars the Old Republic: Following the MMO

With The Old Republic now free to play up to level 50, I’m sure some of you, including myself are wondering whether we should invest our time and hard drives to participate in the SWTOR community. While starting the 30GB installation of the game, I remembered how much fun it was watching this game progress through production and finally release. So now that the game has reached another big milestone I thought I would briefly follow the path that the Old Republic created to get where it is today and what kinds of things we can look forward to out of the game.

The most talked about parts of the game are still the incredible trailers. At the time Star Wars Galaxies was still the only Star Wars MMO around, but it was quite outdated in terms of how other MMOs have progressed and only catered to a small dedicated fanbase before it was inevitably shutdown. While a new game had been rumored for years, I don’t think any of us expected the shock of the Deceived trailer, in which a mysterious Sith lord conquers the Jedi Temple with an army of Sith warriors. Interest for the game skyrocketed from that point on. To me, the period before the game was released was the most exciting. It seemed like just about every day I was looking for news about the game, and then discussing the latest announcements with my friends or within the community. Even though I knew I probably would not be buying a subscription.

The Old Republic Launched on December 20th 2011 and received positive feedback by places like IGN and Gamespot who praised the production value, the stories, and characters of the game of the game, but also looked unfavorably at things such as repetitive corridor missions and disappointing space combat. The game reached approximately 1.7 million subscribers within two months of its release. The game was considered a success both critically and financially. But it seems the success of the MMO would not last for long. A report from Gamespot.com this last May reported that the subscriber base of the game had fallen from 1.7 million to 1.3 million in the time span of about four months. I was shocked at first to hear this, but thinking about how much this game is supposed to be based in an expansive story, rather than focusing on traditional MMO quests, it makes sense that the replay value could be quite low after completing the main storylines. While it may not interest some MMO players to have a set end to a character’s story, for someone like me, who does not have a lot of time to invest, I like the idea that I can play exclusively for the story from start to finish, and have that feeling of completion from the game that I never really received from most MMOs.

The big question is should we play it now that it’s free. It comes with some big kickers such as a 30 GB download, and investing actual time to play the game. But if you have both time and hard drive space available to you, then I would encourage you to give the game at least a try. This game offers so much promise as an immersive Star Wars game and the designs, and stories look remarkable for an MMO. Many talented artists, musicians, writers, and voice actors have created a unique world to explore and experience for yourself. The best part now is that it does not cost you a fortune to keep a subscription going, you can explore with all your friends for as long as you want. That to me is worth it, even if I can’t keep up with it all the time.

Whether it was because of the decline in sales, or just trying to find a new audience for the game, Star Wars: the Old Republic is now free to play! What does this mean for the game? Well, this is a good opportunity for the community to expand, allowing more people to have access to the vast universe that Bioware has so beautifully constructed. The free to play business model has been a success for games like Lord of the Rings online and will hopefully also work to keep the Old Republic alive and a valued part of the online Star Wars community. I’m looking forward to giving the game a try as soon as it finishes installing and I hope that many others decide to discover the possibilities of the Old Republic along as well!

-Ryan Zasso

Ryan Zasso first entered the Star Wars fan community in early 2010 with the podcast Fanboy’s Guide to the Galaxy. Interested in doing Star Wars related writing, he began writing for the Star Wars Report in 2011.

https://twitter.com/TheOneZasso

Knight Errant: The Kerra Holt Story – SWBTF #46

Knight Errant, John Jackson Miller, Kerra Holt, Sith Space, and how many artists it took to bring it all to life, all on the next Star Wars Beyond the Films. YOUR Star Wars discussion podcast! YOUR ticket to the EU!

This week true believers, Beyonders, Fanboys, Fangirls, respected aliens around the galaxy, your EU Guru; Nathan P. Butler, and The Defender of the EU; Mark Hurliman, sit down to discuss the harrowing trip into the heart of darkness that becomes Kerra Holt’s tale.  So strap in and tighten your crash webbing, Star Wars Beyond the Films is setting off on another rapid-fire trip into the galaxy far, far away!

The hosts layout the stories that build the Knight Errant story. Nathan ponders if Knight Errant could be considered one of the darkest, and most depressing stories of the entire Expanded Universe.

They continue to discuss the art styles used, and how the characters were drawn from issue to issue. Mark likes the fact that the Sith’s history is starting to be explored more and more in the EU.  The setting allows for a darker story than most  story arcs. When the series reached Deluge, drug addiction played into the story, adding an element that hadn’t been seen since Legacy, and Cade Skywalker’s Death Stick addiction. Another Dark Side story brought to you by Dark Horse.

They also discuss John Jackson Miller’s style, and how he threads plots throughout certain series. In fact both felt that Miller still has more story to tell. Perhaps it is too soon to call Knight Errant finished? Your hosts both think so.

In terms of artists, Nathan points out how many different artists were involved with this series, as well as the varying styles from each artist. This isn’t always a good thing; as you will find out.

Nathan also points out that there WAS a model used for Kerra’s likeness back at Celebration V, unlike other works like Dark Empire which seemed to use likenesses such as Bruce Willis. This SHOULD have made Kerra’s look in the comic more concrete, and yet…. it did not.

How well does the Knight Errant novel tie into the comic series and vice-verse? Which arc was best? Which served the overall plot better; the comics, or the book?

They also looked at the covers of the comic series and chose their best and worst of.

Best Cover:
Escape #2

Honorable Mention:
Aflame #3

Looking to buy your own copies?


You can pre-order Vol. 3 today, available April 23, 2013

 

Once again, your dynamic duo ponder entirely too much errant Knight action in their ONE hour, but don’t worry, give it a go; you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might even get a little education on the EU while you’re at it. But no matter how you slice it and dice it, you’ll be having another adventure Beyond the Films. So sit back, hang on, enjoy the show, and may the Force be with you!

Email:         SWBeyondFilms@starwarsfanworks.com
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