What to Expect When You’re Expecting A Star Wars Film

By Daniel Ballard

I’ll be the first to admit that back in October when I heard Disney was buying the rights to the Star Wars franchise and making the final three episodes of the epic nine-part saga, I was really skeptical. Sure, Disney has done some excellent films whether animated or not, but my beloved galaxy far, far away? I openly stated that I thought Disney would kill the franchise. Then to my surprise a friend of mine came to the mouse’s defense. Amazingly it was a friend who’s a bit of a movie buff and someone who has never been a huge Disney fan, until recently. He pointed out that the entertainment giant was responsible for “The Avengers”, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the phase-by-phase plan to successfully bring it to the masses in a way that both the average moviegoer and geeks alike could enjoy.

At that point my faith in Disney to bring me the last three installments started to turn. As the next four months came and went, rumors flew. The biggest one was of course, what director would have what it takes to tackle such a huge project? Nolan, Whedon, Spielberg, I even heard someone suggest M. Night Shyamalan. Apparently Disney had the same idea I did though and opted for the man who was already in charge of the other massive sci-fi franchise, J.J. Abrams. Honestly I’m not sure who at Disney decided J.J. was the man for the job, but as soon as I heard Episode VII was going to production and they would hit the ground running in putting it together as quickly as possible. Why? Simple. J.J. is an avid Star Wars fan and he made Star Trek tolerable to the typical Wars fan. If you’re like me and you don’t pirate your movies, break out the Star Trek DVD or BluRay and pop in the special features disk. Watch Abrams’ interview on how he approached the reboot. He states he wanted to give Trek a Star Wars feel. Nailed it sir. I have complete faith in J.J. Once they had their director, Disney set out to get star power. Thankfully in this case Channing Tatum and Vin Diesel were passed up in favor of the big three from the original trilogy. Thus far Hamill, Fisher and Ford have confirmed they will return to reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa(-Solo) and Han Solo. Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker play the only two characters that appear in all of the nine stories and will most likely be present as C-3PO and R2-D2 respectively. Whether anyone else will return remains to be seen, but I hope to see Billy D. Williams return as suave Rebel Alliance general, Lando Calrissian. So where else do we go from here? What new characters can we expect? What new worlds will we visit? I have a few theories.

It’s been thirty years since Return of the Jedi. The timeline as it’s known in the extended universe is slightly off given that the main three characters are older than they should be. However, sources are saying the extended universe as it is known will be thrown out the window. Just about any fan with above average knowledge on the universe is aware of Han and Leia’s twins Jacen and Jaina, but given that Abrams has said this film will be all original material, the likelihood of seeing the twins is pretty slim. I do believe we will see a settled down Han and Leia though, and they will have children, most likely in the neighborhood of their late teens to early twenties. It would be smart to give hardcore fans some level of comfort and keep the J&J duo of names. Aside from the twins and those seen in episodes IV-VI, there will be an all-new lineup of characters. Luckily with Lucas only working as a consultant, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief at the fact that there won’t be any Jar-Jar-esque nuisances this time around. I’m personally looking forward to a new Jedi High Council and Academy. Look for Luke to be a combination of Yoda and Mace Windu and be the final word in all of the new order dealings. His niece and nephew (assuming the twins survive the final cut to get in the movie) will most likely be council members themselves or senior knights in the new temple. Han will probably a military officer of sorts but in a time of post-Empire peace he and Lando will probably be in business in some form. Between Lando’s experience on Cloud City running a mining operation and Han’s expertise in piloting and smuggling I see the rebirth of the trade federation, but this time in a less corrupt fashion. Han and Lando’s success will go a long way when one of the heads of the corporation is married to the new supreme chancellor of the senate. Rebuilding the senate will actually be easier than one would think since it wasn’t disband until early in “A New Hope” and Leia is sure to have enough pull within the rebellion to get the majority of star systems to recommit. But what system does Leia represent in the senate with her home world of Alderaan gone? Does she still represent the remaining citizens of the lost planet? Does she represent her mother’s home world of Naboo? Her new found position may be the answer to the next question in what to expect.

What new worlds will we see? There hasn’t been a new Star Wars film in which the audience was not treated to a new exotic planet. Based on Leia and Han settling down and having children of their own and helping to rebuild the Republic, the two will most likely call Corellia home. The capital planet of the Corellian system is the birth place of Han, Wedge Antilles and many other characters. The Antilles family is already very prominent in the system and on the planet. Based on prior exposure to the planet in video games and in the comic series, it has a very earth-like appearance in the same way Naboo and Kashyyyk did. The Corellian system is one of the largest in the Star Wars universe and will be key to rebuilding both the senate and the republic. One of the coolest things about this to me as a fan of the supporting roles is the fact that this gives us a higher probability of seeing what Rogue Squadron pilot and Rebellion officer Wedge Antilles is doing post-Battle of Endor. Corellian is one of the few key systems that fans have not seen depicted outside the realm of video games and it would draw great interest in the new film and because of its limited exposure can be brought to life how Abrams sees fit. The interesting thing throughout the films is we only see a handful of planetary systems and even within them only one or two planets. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of planets to use as settings through episodes VII-IX, so predicting where the new trilogy will go is as difficult as finding a fan who likes Jar-Jar Binks, but at this point is pretty much a given and personally I’m most excited about the idea of seeing Coruscant-post Empire and finally seeing Han’s home world for the first time on film.

One thing is certain, speculation is one of the keys to success in building media hype, and when one of the biggest film companies in the world tells you the next installment of such a storied franchise is on the way, the rumors are bound to fly. Right now the internet and movie fans are providing more fuel to the fire of possibility than Disney could have ever hoped for. Recently J.J. Abrams told media outlets everywhere there are more questions than answers and even he is unsure of the direction in which they will take the franchise, but he is excited and he, Kathleen Kennedy (the film’s producer and head of Lucasfilm) and Steven Spielberg are all very engaged in making sure the film is a success and more importantly that it is a beloved, instant classic for the fans.

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