Disney has announced that it has acquired LucasFilm and, in particularly exciting news for Star Wars fans, that a new trilogy will emerge.
Star Wars 7 is to come out in 2015 and the others are confirmed to follow at a steady rate of one every 2 or 3 years, so we can trust Disney to milk this particular inter-galactic cow.
But what might this already highly-anticipated Star Wars 7 look like? Looking around in the "expanded universe" of Star Wars, many other regions have already been explored in books, video games and comics especially authorized by LucasFilm - will Disney plough from these fields too? With thanks to Delcourt Editions articles, and Activision videogames, here are some possible scenarios...
The Cycle of Thrawn:
By far the most recognized saga as the more "official" 'Return of the Jedi'. Written by Timothy Zahn, this was acclaimed by fans. Five years after the fall of the Empire, the New Republic is threatened by the last war chief of the Emperor, Admiral Thrawn.
Advantages: A trilogy already written and acknowledged by the fans. Splendid space combat perspective with a charismatic villain, and almost immediate continuity from Episode 6. And by shifting the action a few decades, we could take the original cast (Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill ...)
Disadvantages: Apart from Luke and Leia, there are no more Jedi. Or Sith. No lightsaber battles can therefore be expected. A Star Wars without such duels? Hard to believe.
Between Episode 3 ('Revenge of the Sith') and Episode 4 ('A New Hope'), the order "66" has been given, all soldiers must kill the Jedi. Played out on film in merely minutes during Episode 3, eradication of the Jedi order by Darth Vader and his cohorts obviously lasted much longer.
Advantages: Staging of many Jedi, stalking and frantic chase, development of the embryo that would become the rebellion ... there would be action. Lots of action. And Darth Vader is at the heart of the film.
Disadvantages: We know the end of the story and it is not joyful, with only Yoda, Obi Wan Kenobi, Luke and Leia surviving the holocaust of the Jedi. A very dark story, probably not to the taste of Disney.
In the long gap between Episodes 3 and 4, George Lucas launched in 2008 a large multi-media saga (comics, video games, novel) around the 'Force Unleashed'. The story in a nutshell: Darth Vader has found a new disciple, who holds the dark side of the force, whose mission is to wipe out the Jedi survivors and nip in the bud the incipient rebellion. Machiavellian scenario with nice twists at the end of a troubled period in the saga.
Advantages: A real hero with whom we can identify as the disciple, quickly beset by doubts, splendid fighting lightsaber, a solid screenplay and the opportunity to learn how the rebellion was born (with some key surprises). And the presence of Darth Vader.
Disadvantages: Difficult to hold more than one movie on this story. The comic 'The Force Unleashed 2' is also of far inferior quality.
The Old Republic:
Going back 1000 years, the authors of the "expanded universe" of Star Wars have even imagined the founding narratives of the Jedi Order. A return to the Saga discovering the original myth. A bit like the book "The Silmarillion" by Tolkien, well before 'The Lord of the Rings'.
Advantages: Being able to show the origin of lightsabers, the famous "War of the Sith" which is often referred to, and free from the constraints of the saga in terms of scriptwriting, but also architecture, design and aesthetics. Indeed, the new trilogy of George Lucas was a problem: it was like seeing a design becoming increasingly antiquated over the episodes. With the action shifted thousands of years earlier, it's a smaller problem (regression technology having taken place in the meantime for X reasons).
Disadvantages: Stories too disconnected from the original saga, in which we do not find any protagonist (even Yoda because he is "only" 800 years old) may disturb viewers who want to see their new episodes bring new elements to the old saga.
The New Republic:
Few decades after Episode 6 and the Battle of Endor, the Alliance of Free Planets attempts to establish a new republic. With a lack of resources, it is unstable and can not prevent pockets of rebels still loyal to the deceased Emperor and pirates continuing to do their worst in the most distant galaxies. In parallel, the tensions between "human" and alien races rise.
Advantages: With such a backdrop, the film would have a nice resonance to current problems, just as 'Avatar' was able to play on green themes as well as those of colonisation. Again, we could see the actors' original trilogy (could Messrs Hammill and Ford be tempted?) be in control of the new government, leaving the action scenes with younger actors.
Disadvantages: Unless writers introduce a return of the Sith, absent from most episodes of this part of the Saga, and contrive to insert younger faces like Leia or Luke, there would be little space given to lightsabers . And it's a lot less worrying when heroes are in power ...
So are any of these a good fit for the new film, or should producers start again from scratch? Contribute your own thoughts below... and here are some initial reactions to the big sale: