Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Opinion: 7, 8, 9

By: Dominic Jones

7, 8, 9. Seven, eight, nine. VII, VIII, IX. No matter how you put it, that is something I never thought we’d get to see on the big screen. Oh I wanted to believe. I hoped every time George Lucas was somewhere he’d announced these movies. Every Celebration, every interview, heck I even hoped TMZ might get it out of him, but nothing. And then it happened. There was no build up, there was no hype about a big announcement, it just happened. It’s one of those things I’ll always remember where I was when I saw those magical words: “STAR WARS: EPISODE 7 feature film targeted for release in 2015.” I have been on cloud 9 ever since. But, as with all good news there are many questions to be asked, and I intend to take a look at some of the major question marks surrounding Episode VII.

Wait, what?? I thought this was never going to happen!

That’s what we all thought. While there were signs, in the form of Kathleen Kennedy taking over Lucasfilm, as well as some cryptic comments from the like of Dave Filoni and Steve Sansweet during Star Wars Celebration VI. But no one dared to believe. And then it happened. Lucasfilm was sold to Disney and we are now on the cusp of more Star Wars then ever before with Disney planning to release a new film every 2-3 years beginning with Episode VII in 2015.

Why Disney?

Of all the corporations to be sold to Disney is by far the best choice. They are a group of people dedicated to allowing creative people to tell a story. And they’ve proven that they let these companies they buy do there own thing. Look at Marvel. When making The Avengers, who did director Joss Whedon answer to? Not Disney CEO Bob Iger or some other high up at Disney, he answered to Producer and President of Production at Marvel, Kevin Feige. And who did Feige answer to, well to the fans and the creative teams really, I mean when have we ever heard Feige mention that a higher up at Disney was giving him commands? I doubt the process will be any different with Lucasfilm. Whoever’s directing (more on that later) will answer to Kathleen Kennedy, the new head of Lucasfilm, and the only person likely to have any creative control above her is George Lucas, himself. Plus, Lucasfilm and Disney have had long relationship together through things such as Star Tours, and events such as Disney’s Star Wars Weekends and Disney has always done a magnificent job with Star Wars. On top of that, George Lucas himself is a fan of all things Disney. While there are legitimate concerns about one corporation owning so many entities (Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, Indiana Jones, all the original Disney works), Disney is the best choice for Star Wars.

Who to direct?

Right away several names jump to mind. Choices range from Joss Whedon to Steven Spielberg to Joe Johnston to just about anyone else. Spielberg is the natural choice to direct. As a close friend of Lucas’ he may have a better sense then most as to what makes a Star Wars film. Plus Lucas has wanted to him to direct a Star Wars film going back to Return of the Jedi, not to mention his close ties with Kathleen Kennedy. If it’s not going to be Spielberg, the next obvious choice, I believe anyways, is Joe Johnston. Johnston has a long history with Star Wars, going back to The Empire Strikes Back, (he even designed Boba Fett!) and was recently on record saying he wanted to direct a Boba Fett spin off film. Another reason Johnston is a prime candidate is his recent success directing Captain America: The First Avenger, a Marvel (meaning Disney) property. Other possible names include Chris Nolan, and J.J. Abrams, both of whom were heavily inspired by Star Wars. The only problem with Abrams is he is very involved in the new Star Trek films. While I doubt this will stop Lucasfilm from pursuing him, his schedule just may not allow it. Another name that is likely to be thrown around is that of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Supervising Director Dave Filoni, who has spent the last four years learning directly from Lucas. While there are few who understand Star Wars and its characters better, it seems unlikely that he will direct a live action film seeing as his back ground, and all his work, is in animation. Lastly, it is inevitable that there is going to be a push from the geek community to have Joss Whedon, who recently had much success with Marvel (Disney)’s The Avengers. Personally I have mixed feeling on Whedon. Some of his stuff is great (The Avengers, Dr. Horrible) while others, I could live without. However this situation would be similar to The Avengers in that Whedon would be on a short leash in terms of what he can do story wise. On the Avengers he had to get everything approved by Feige and co. and should he direct a Star Wars film he would have to get everything approved by Kennedy/Lucas and co. We likely won’t see a Whedon who is free to kill whoever he wants and do whatever he pleases. We’ve seen him thrive with his most successful project to date, while working under conditions similar to those he would face on a Star Wars film. Ultimately though, I feel Whedon is too tied up with Marvel projects (Avengers 2, S.H.I.E.L.D., and overseeing “Phase 2”) to go direct a Star Wars film. Although an exception can always be made…

Who to write?

As for writers, I can’t honestly think of anyone in particular I’d like to see write the film. Whoever is will be working from story treatments working by Lucas, so rest assured you feel Lucas’ hand in the story. But as for anyone specifically, who knows. We can jump to some big name writers right now such as David Goyer and Johnathan Nolan. Both would make an excellent script, I have no doubt, but are they the right choice? Again we can look at Joss Whedon, but ultimately I think an exception can only go so far and Whedon wouldn’t be able to write and direct a Star Wars film while keeping his commitment to Marvel. Another option I feel would be to go back to Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote Empire and wrote Jedi, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark. Kasdan knows what it takes to work on a Star Wars film and has enough history with the franchise that it just might work.
The Cast?

Star Wars has a history for casting unknowns in the lead roles and casting experienced, well known actors in supporting roles. Hopefully this tradition continues and we don’t see Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise starring in a Star Wars film anytime soon. Now as for Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, I feel they must return, but should not be asked to carry the film. They should be there, but in supporting roles possibly just cameos. At the very least, Mark Hamill must return, since we can assume that the films will feature a new Jedi Order and Luke Skywalker should be at the head. Hopefully we’ll see other classic actors such as Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels return as well.

The Story? 

Expect it to be like nothing you ever expected! Who ever thought, after seeing Star Wars for the first time, that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, that Luke and Leia were brother and sister? Whoever thought that Darth Vader started out as a kind hearted child, or that the clone wars were so political? Suffice to say, the story won’t be like anything we ever expected.

What about the EU?

Well, it’s been fun, and that’s all that matters right? I feel Dark Horse and Del Rey now have roughly three years to wrap up the post-Jedi EU, and prepare to move forward with the new continuity of the films. I’m sorry but, there is no way on Earth that Episode VII is going to be an adaptation of Heir to Empire, Dark Empire, The New Jedi Order, or any of the EU we’ve seen so far. I’m not saying those are bad stories or that we have to throw out the entire Expanded universe! We can even keep every thing that happens pre-Jedi, heck maybe even a little post-Jedi, things like Truce at Bakura which takes place almost immediately after the battle of Endor. But the majority of it will have to go. Ultimately the publishers and fans are just going to have to deal with it. So, fans, enjoy the stories and don’t let their canonicity colour your appreciation of them. And publishers, start pushing towards a natural stopping point (let there be a lasting peace, for once) because in 2015 it all changes and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The Music? The 20th Century Fox theme? A long time ago, in galaxy far, far away?

While there’s no official confirmation that A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away will be included, imagine the uproar if it wasn’t there! As for the music, there is a strong chance that Williams, knowing Williams love for Star Wars and his history with the series, will return. However, the day will come when we will have to face a Star Wars film without John Williams as the composer, though his themes and influence will always be there. When it comes to the 20th Century Fox theme however, we just have to face the music. It most likely won’t be there. It’s sad to think, but it’s the truth. Either that, or Disney had better get their act together and purchase the rights to that music or 20th Century Fox in its entirety! They are Disney after all….
What does this all mean?
It means, we as fans are in for a fun three years of anticipation. It may seem like forever but 2015 will be here before you know it! Plus we have the 3D re-releases as well as The Clone Wars and Detours to keep us entertained. Plus who knows when the first footage might show up. Hopefully we’ll get our first look at Celebration Europe next July (or possibly even sooner at Disney Star Wars Weekends in May), then probably some more at D23 and then who knows when that trailer will hit and what movie we’ll all go see just to get our first glimpse at new Star Wars on the big screen. I think the one thing that’s safe to say is that we fans are in for one heck of a ride! 2015 here we come!


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