Now that we have had some time to process the amazing news that there will be more Star Wars movies, it’s time to start speculating. The next movie is tentatively coming out in 2015 so speculation this early is almost pointless… but that’s never stopped me before.
With the announcement of an Episode VII the first thing on many people’s mind was “what will the story be about?” It’s anyone’s guess, but we have been given a little direction. Since the movie was referred to as Star Wars 7 that implies it will be picking up where Return of the Jedi left off or at least take place after RotJ in the timeline. Here is what George Lucas had to say about the material that will be used for future Star Wars movies.
I have story treatments of 7, 8, and 9 and a bunch of other movies and obviously we have hundreds of books and comics.. everthing you could possibly imagine. I sort of move that treasure trove of stories to Kathy and I have complete confidence that she is going to take them and make great movies.
Ok, so maybe that doesn’t tell us too much but we know that George has given story treatments for the new movies so we have to assume that these treatments will at least be the basis for what we see in 7, 8, and 9. What is the likely direction the story will take? All of our main characters are still alive and kickin’ at the end of Jedi so will these new movies pick up their story? Will we instead get the story of the next generation of Solos and Skywalkers? Will Chewbacca be killed for dramatic effect? Let the speculation begin.
Unlikely: Expanded Universe Adaption
Many fans of the Expanded Universe of Star Wars already know what happens to Luke and friends after Return of the Jedi. Han and Leia get married and have kids, Luke goes dark, he comes back to the light, he gets married, he has a kid, and so on. But will these stories, which are found mostly in novels but also in comics, be the basis of the new movies? Probably not. George Lucas has a history of ignoring the Expanded Universe. If these new movies are based on his treatments they will not be adaptions of or even similar to the Thrawn Trilogy or the New Jedi Order books, as much as some fans might want to see that. That doesn’t mean elements from these books won’t leak into the movies. Maybe there will be a character named Mara Jade or Han and Leia may have twins, but I wouldn’t expect them to be the characters we know from the novels. I just hope that if they do decide to give Luke a son they at least name him Ben.
More Likely: Directly After Return of the Jedi
They may decide to pick the story up directly after Return of the Jedi or just a few years after. Maybe tell the story of how Luke, Han, and Leia helped wipe out the remaining forces of the Empire and established the New Republic (or whatever they decide to call it). This would mean that the actors from the Original Trilogy would be way too old to play the parts. The iconic parts of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia would have to be recast with younger actors. Could this work without taking viewers completely out of the story? I personally think the prospect of recasting the parts is fun. Imagine how the internet would explode when they announce the actor who will play Luke Skywalker. It would be a wild ride of fan overreaction and extremely fun to watch.
Most Likely: Many Years After Return of the Jedi
This is what I believe is the most likely placement of the new movies. I really think we will see Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprise their roles at least in the first movie of the new trilogy. Harrison Ford is a long shot but it would be cool if they all were back. Mark Hamill claims that Lucas had once told him that he would like Hamill to play an Obi-Wan type character in a future movie. It makes sense to have these older characters involved and pass the torch on to a younger generation of characters. Maybe their children or maybe new characters all together. So if Hamill and Fisher were to be in the movies (assuming no facial CGI or heavy make-up) they would have to be set about 40 years or more after Return of the Jedi. This could make for some interesting storytelling. It would be far enough in the future that Luke would have already re-established the Jedi Order. Also the characters would have likely already been married and had families by now. Shoot, their kids could be having kids. We could have a fully populated world that has been at peace for years that is just ripe for a new galaxy spanning war.
Probably Not: Far Flung Future
There is always the possibility that Disney/Lucasfilm will decide to place the new movies far into the future of the Star Wars universe. Somewhere so far in the future that all major characters from the movies will have passed on and they could start fresh with a brand new cast of characters. Dark Horse Comics has already done a similar thing with their Legacy series which follows the exploits of a Skywalker descendant named Cade Skywalker. If the filmmakers do decide to go this direction I highly doubt we would see much if any influence from the comics, and they would most likely come up with their own original stories.
The appeal to this possibility is that we would have completely fresh perspective on the Star Wars universe. Going this far into the future would put distance between the new movies and the existing six films and give new storytellers a wide open world to play in. But is distance a good thing? Filmgoers may need some familiarity to feel comfortable with these new movies. I don’t expect this is the route they will take, although who knows how many Star Wars movies will be eventually made. Maybe this era with be explored by movies set after 7, 8, and 9.
Until more official information is released all we can do is guess. This is only the beginning of 3 long years of speculation and anticipation. The good news is that at the end of those 3 years WE GET NEW STAR WARS MOVIES!