Dragon Con 2014: Episode VII Panel Recap

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Dragon Con 2014 was jam packed with panels, cosplayers, dedicated fans, and of course celebrities. The Star Wars track at Dragon Con did so well that at several panels people were turned away because the panel was full. The Episode VII panel was one of these.

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This panel was completely fan run which was nice, and to be fair to the panelists what could they really talk about? We only know so much. I knew this panel would take an interesting turn seeing as how so much of the film has been kept under wraps. The panel was moderated by Bryan Young from Full Of Sith and Big Shiny Robot. Sadly for Bryan, the traffic and congestion of Dragon Con caused him to be a shade late, but he made it! The other panelists were our very own Riley and Bethany Blanton, Amy Ratcliffe from Star Wars.com and Star Wars Insider, Brian Larsen and Nanci Schwarz from Tosche Station, and James Clark from the Boba Fett Fan Club. These guys and gals have done many a panel together and always have a way of playing off each other in a way that will hold the attention of the audience.

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To begin, they went down the list of things we actually know about Episode VII and in a clever way, just go down the line. This got a nice audience pop because that just shows how much we really do not know. Here is the quick list of things we do know:

  • JJ Abrams is directing
  • Kathleen Kennedy is producing
  • R2D2 is in it
  • We know the main cast and that there are quite a few female actors, more than in the original trilogy
  • It will be released on December 18th, 2015
  • Harrison Ford was injured but seems to have healed up well

The first topic discussed was whether or not the release date for the film should be pushed back, and most of the panelists were fine with where the release date is but Brian L. ( I am using initials since there were two Brian’s on the panel) wanted it moved from December. He does not like the date due to it’s closeness to the holidays, making logistics difficult with regards to family and travel. I had not really thought of this in regards to the release date. My personal opinions on this are that I just want them to take all the time they need. If that means they need to push it back then so be it.

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The one main point the panelists made sure to address were the rampant rumors on the internet and how as fans we can best sift through these rumors. The gave some great tips on how to recognize the validity of rumors based on the site that published it, and also asked that people not spread rumors as fact.

The panel was then opened up to the floor very quickly for questions, so I decided to choose ten of the best ones to recap here.

DISCLAIMER: The questions are paraphrased and not word for word as it was difficult to get each word sometimes. The answers are also paraphrased.

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Question 1: Will Disney have a hand in the filming and make the film bad?

Brian L. immediately counters this question by asking if they have liked the Marvel films that have come out over the past several years. The answer to this was a large yes from the crowd. Bryan Y. pointed out that Disney will not be getting involved until Star Wars becomes their least popular franchise, which we all know will never happen. Riley pointed out that the stand-alone films will appeal to all different audiences the same way that the Marvel films do, and this will be good because it will mean fans can enter Star Wars fandom in many different ways.

Question 2: We have all heard about the fake lightsaber plot; do the panelists think J.J. would plant a fake plot on purpose?

All the panelists groaned at this, but they agree that J.J. Abrams would plant a fake plot to throw off fans.

Question 3: Will Jaina and Jacen be in it? Also, there has been a rumor they are casting for a 60 year old actor to play a role, and the only character that could be would be Boba Fett. Do the panelists think he will make an appearance?

The panel unanimously at one time said NO! This got a big laugh from the crowd and to me it just showed how much these panelists really do know their Star Wars. The panelists said that while Boba Fett’s character may be the only one of the right age they do not expect it to be him if that casting rumor is true. They also stated that as far as the Expanded Universe is concerned, we have seen it used in The Clone Wars with them drawing on it when it was appropriate, and they feel the films will do something similar.

Question 4: Mara, Lando and Wedge… where are they?

Simple answer here…They are on your bookshelves as legends!

Question 5: Do you like the new Stormtrooper outfits if these are in fact real? Also, what do you think the under title will be?

image from the Metro.co.uk
image from the Metro.co.uk

Everyone on the panel likes the look, but they are approaching it cautiously as they know that these outfits are still just rumor. We do not even know for sure if Stormtroopers will be in the film. Bryan Y. compared the Original Trilogy outfits to the original VW Beetle and these new ones to the new 2013 VW Beetle. For the under title of the film Bryan Y. tried to get a game going where they went down the line and each person gave a thought. The panelists did not play nicely however, and the only two that gave guesses were Riley and Amy. Riley said Star Wars Episode 7: The Winter Soldier and Amy said Brienne of Tarth.

Question 6: Will we see a Luke that has been captured for 30 years, or a hermit luke?

Everyone on the panel turned to look at Nanci since Luke is her favorite character. Nanci stated that she really likes the idea of Luke and Daisy Ridley (this likens back to rumors we have heard about these two filming together) going off somewhere and training together. She does not see him as being a hermit because there would be no reason for him to be. Bethany chimed in by saying that Luke was always the optimist of the group, and that he ends “Return of the Jedi” on such a high note, why would he need to go into hiding?

Question 7: I missed the question, but it had to do with villains in Star Wars and who might be the villain in Episode VII?

The best answer came from Nanci when she said that we really have no idea who the villain will be, and this is an exciting concept. She also stated what I have been thinking: that we need to have one consistent villain through the whole trilogy.

Question 8: Who will score the films other than John Williams if he were to die? (Morbid question alert!)

The panelists gasped theatrically at this question, but did acknowledge that John Williams is up there in age. They also noted that he has signed on for all the three films not just one of them. However, if they were to move on to someone else a couple of names come to mind. Kevin Kiner who has done The Clone Wars and is now doing Star Wars Rebels and of course Michael Giacchino who has been known to work closely with director J.J. Abrams. I wish I could remember who said this but I thought it was great: “The mythology of Star Wars transcends its creators so we know it will be in good hands.”

Question 9: Will there be any flashbacks of Force ghosts?

Bryan Y. said if there is a Force ghost Anakin he wants it to be Hayden. The room boos very loudly and he responded very coyly that he does not care what they think if he gets what he wants he will be way happier than the audience! I applaud him for this because I could not agree with him more. Nanci said she would like to see a Force ghost interaction between Anakin and Leia. Amy said if there is a Force ghost Anakin she wants it to be a Clone Wars Anakin, and a small chant began of ‘Matt Lanter for 7!,’ which I joined in on.

Question 10: What stand-alone films would everyone like to see?

The first thing that popped up was not necessarily anyone’s pick, but was a TV show about X-Wings and their pilots. Going down the line Nanci said Rogue Squadron, Brian L. said something other than origin stories or well known characters, Amy wants a Disney Nature type film featuring Taun Tauns and other creatures, Bethany wants a Boba Fett film, Riley likes the idea of films with specific themes like western or horror, Bryan Y. wants an order 66 film showing a Jedi and his padawan escaping order 66, and James stated he wants something samurai style and also a Boba Fett film. I personally liked Amy’s answer the best!

As the panel came to a close it was stated that the best thing we can do as fans is approach the new films with an open mind and an open heart. New films do not mean bad films.

I really think the panelists did a great job answering questions and hopefully setting some fans minds at ease that the new movie is a positive thing for Star Wars and something to be excited for. Are you excited for Episode VII? I know I am!

May the force be with you,

Teresa

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  • Aaron Goins

    Great coverage! It’s almost like I was there.

  • Ajay Madhav

    I was in the very back of the room. Really enjoyed the discussion, but I feel at least 25% of the people had little interest in it :( People going in and out in the back of the room made for rather hard hearing for the first half of the panel.

    Besides the logistics and the packed room, the panel itself was great. I rarely get an opportunity to hear other fellow Star Wars fans have deep and thoughtful discussions. My friends for the most part are not that hard core unfortunately.

    I was brought up during the prequel era but watched the original trilogies when they came out as special editions beforehand. It is great to see so much excitement and anticipation for Star Wars content again!