Thursday, November 01, 2012

New Star Wars? Huh, how about that?

I'm still reeling from the news that exploded all the internets the other day: that not only did George Lucas sell Lucasfilm and Star Wars to Disney (a steal at $4 billion) but they are going to make new movies with the first coming out in 2015! Mixed emotions doesn't even begin to describe my feelings about this.

As a lifelong fan of all the movies (yes, even the prequels) I'm sad that Lucas is selling his baby. Star Wars was probably the last major franchise still owned and controlled by the artist who created it. As commercial as the series was, he still had the final say on everything. Even though Kathleen Kennedy is officially running Lucasfilm now, the Disney executives will ultimately be the ones in control. They'll probably defer to Lucas while he's still alive, but once he passes all bets are off. Reboot with Justin Beiber as Luke? Only in your mind, my very young padawan. Either way, it's the end of an era.

On the other hand, I can't help being excited about the new movies, especially if they choose the right writer/director. Joss Whedon would be the obvious choice, except he's tied up with a little movie called Avengers 2. Luckily there are lots of other filmmakers who I think would be able to capture that Star Wars magic. JJ Abrams, Joe Johnston or Brad Bird would all be good picks. If they wanted to be more adventurous they could choose someone like Guillermo del Toro or David Fincher. Just someone please disintegrate Michael Bay if he even thinks of throwing his hat in the ring for this. But the most important thing is a good script that honors the originals while blazing its own trail.

Having written an outline of my own versions of Episodes VII-IX years ago (hint, hint) here are some things I would like to see in the new films . . . and some things to avoid.

Keep as many characters from the original trilogy as possible: They don't have to be the main characters, but Luke, Han and Leia should at least make cameos (Luke as an old Ben type mentor would be perfect). The droids should play a part, of course. And I'd love to see Lando as President of the galaxy.

Keep it focused on the Skywalkers: Since Luke and Leia both have kids in the books (not together, you pervert!) it would make sense to focus the new movies on them as Jedi in training.

Don't ignore what was good about the prequels: It may be popular to bash them, and Jar Jar Binks and 9 year old heroes should probably be kept away from the new films, but the prequels did add some important elements to the Star Wars mythos. The rule of two Sith and their experimenting with midichlorians to create life is something I would like to see further explored. And the politics of the Star Wars galaxy shouldn't be forgotten (you can't have wars without politics, after all).

Don't feel bound by the EU: The expanded universe is an overwhelming collection of books, video games and comics that chronicle events that happen outside the movies. It's fine to draw elements from them (Lucas took the name of Coruscant from the EU) but the new movies shouldn't have to follow those plots. That means Chewbacca doesn't have to be dead and the Emperor doesn't have to come back to life.

More female Jedi and Sith, please:
One thing the prequels lacked was female Force-users in major roles. Who wouldn't want to see a female Jedi kicking ass, or a Sith Witch (as was briefly considered for the Sith apprentice in the prequels)?

Strong new villains:
With the Empire defeated and the Sith extinct it may be difficult to create a credible new threat. A new Sith order would be fine, but they should be unlike any Darths we've seen before.

Don't forget the fun: What we definitely don't need is a grim, realistic Nolanesque story with all the fun sucked out of it.

John Williams - it's possible he may retire before the new movies come out. But if they have to get a new composer he needs to reuse as many of Williams' themes as possible. Don't make the mistake the Harry Potter films did when Williams left.

More Ewoks! All the time!