I’ve had to postpone writing this blog entry just to let the excitement subside and stop my hands shaking for long enough to allow getting finger to keyboard. Disney has acquired Lucas Film in a $4bn deal and promised, in a completely unanticipated announcement, that they plan to finally give fans the “sequel trilogy” we’ve been waiting for since Lucas’s interview with Time magazine almost 35 years ago. This news has polarised Star Wars fans, and we’re going to have a look at why.
When The Stone Roses reformed this year, there was of course a lot of joy, but there was a constant voice in the back of your head that felt a bit betrayed. You’ve been dreaming of this moment for years and you’ve always maintained hope, even when at any instant there was a slight glimmer the rumours were slammed down. This was my eventual emotion with yesterday’s announcement. Star Wars is my reflex when anyone ever asks my favourite movie. I had the toys, the t-shirts, the films, books, audiotapes, posters, masks, costumes and all the rest.
This franchise was my childhood and always will be, I can’t compare myself to fans who had the original trilogy come out in theirs, because I’ve pretty much always had the saga as a whole, with me only being 6 when Phantom Menace came out. Even when Revenge of the Sith came out, I still wanted more, of course I did. So many interviews and magazine/newspaper pieces posing Lucas the continuity of any longevity where he just slams it back down and reject any idea of it. Saying how the story is told and to feel satisfied with the oh so constant stream of repacking and re-releases. With the Stone Roses, you start to think that this is all there is and all there was supposed to be, and to be satisfied. So, when the excitement calms, eventually, I started to feel a bit disappointed that he wasn’t more open with it. But then again, Stone Roses at Heaton Park this year was one of the best gigs I’ve been to.
I could endlessly write about possibilities for this sequel trilogy, which I’m hoping isn’t just an assumption. The fine print of the interviews states future releases, and hopefully these do mean a continuation of the feature series. I remember a Lucas interview where he stated that his original plans for a possible sequel trilogy would be set after the originals and have Luke in a sort of Kenobi role, setting up the New Republic and that he’d have to wait for the actors to be of a certain age, meaning that he himself would have to be a lot older and hence his hesitation. If he has enough faith in Kathleen Kennedy (New Chairman of Lucasfilm) to lead then perhaps this is a possibility. I can’t imagine the films to take deep inspiration from any of the Expanded Universe. A cloned Emperor would just seem detrimental to the original trilogy, and Lucas would be sure to have learnt his lesson. The Thrawn trilogy would be the dream of many fans, but surely Hammil, Fisher and Ford are too old now to have central roles and recasting would be a nightmare.
Would the story carry on from the original, or stay within the Star Wars universe and start a new one? That’s the million-dollar question. I’ve become satisfied with the idea that this was Anakin’s story, but future instalments need to be in some way linked to the characters that are so well loved and iconic. Imagine a Star Wars film without R2-D2. I can’t. I think the most likely story will be set in the New Republic, with Luke as chairman of the Jedi Council, focusing around a new generation. There’s been so much of an effort to make the Saga as it is now such a linked entity, and it’ll be difficult to add anything to this, as it would be to carry on in a completely different direction. This needs to be something that is a long-term production. The Emperor’s reign as main villain, and the rise and fall of Vader is consistent across six films, and there needs to be this same kind of continuity across the next three, at least. It’s extremely tricky, because you don’t want to carry on the original trilogy and alienate the prequels, but you want to get back to the magic that made us all such great fans in the first place.
We’ve seen from Disney that they are superb at taking franchises and maintaining them. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is great, but there’s that risk that to have a no-risk attitude, you’ll miss out on achieving excellence. I guarantee that Disney won’t give us a chapter as dark and engrossing as Empire Strikes Back, but as long as they don’t fumble into an Attack of the Clones then that’s fine by me.
The idea of Disney wanting to move the franchise even more into TV is also incredibly interesting. This long mooted concept of an inter-trilogy/Force Unleashed era live-action show, with the often-rumoured main character being Boba Fett is now a much greater possibility.
Overall this is exciting and just incredible. It’s polarised fans, but the original trilogy will also be there to enjoy, by increasing the exposure of this monumental franchise, the most loved of all time, to a new generation is beyond exciting. The Stone Roses may have soured fans hearts by making false promises, but their return was triumphant, they’re more well known now than ever and the Heaton Park show I went to was one of the best of my life. Bring on 2015!