We all heard the news. With the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, we can fully expect the release of a new Star Wars film – and therefore, the advent of a new Sequel Trilogy – as early as 2015. Chances are we all reacted to it in very different ways: some of us bellowed “NOOOO!” in a Vader-esque plea to the heavens. Some of us started choking out “No! No! No!” between Palpatinian cackles. And only a select few of us squealed “Yippee!!!!” in our most high-pitched Anakin voice. True, the smattering of Star Wars films we’ve seen over the last few years weren’t exactly met with particular enthusiasm by anybody, least of which from the most devout students of the Skywalker genealogy. But before this news prompts all the naysayers to make a quick pre-Apocalypse run to the Tosche station for some emergency power converters, I would like to proffer an alternative reaction to this news: optimism.
Perhaps I speak from a position of zero credibility, as I have gone on record saying I do not exactly feel George Lucas’ prequels “raped” my childhood, as some callous ass-hats casually like to say (that, folks, is an instance of “illegitimate rape”). But I think about the success many other companies have had under Disney’s wing, from Pixar to Marvel Studios, and I wonder if maybe – just maybe – relegating Mr. Lucas to the position of a “creative consultant” in favor of bringing in new blood could be the ticket that brings a modicum of respect back to the franchise. Seeing as Star Wars is indeed happening, and seeing as most of us – myself included – will likely buy tickets despite our reluctance, being hopeful just seems far more productive and far less painful than being bitter.
So in the spirit of optimism, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on what I personally would like to see in a new Star Wars sequel trilogy, before more substantial rumors begin hitting the Internet. Some of my wishes are totally sincere and others are flat-out facetious. Admittedly, I’m not sure if I am currently capable of saying which ones are which. So I’ll just run down the list and chat about what I would like to see:
My Star Wars Sequel Trilogy Wish-List
From what little has been revealed so far, it sounds like the suits at Disney are not likely to adapt Timothy Zahn’s superbly written “Thrawn” trilogy, a series of books that took place five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. That probably makes sense – those books are quite dense and more than five years have passed since Jedi – but that doesn’t mean they can’t rope in characters from the already well-established Star Wars literary universe. Most notably, I would be a little sad if they excluded Mara Jade, a former Empire lackey-turned-Jedi-turned-Mrs. Luke Skywalker. Seeing as the whole downfall of Anakin Skywalker was basically predicated on a love the Jedi forbid, wouldn’t it be nice to see a new Jedi Order wherein forcing Padawans into a life of sexual repression is not part of contract?
A few years ago, former Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back producer Gary Kurtz gave what was for many a deeply cathartic interview, explicitly spilling the beans on his creative differences with Lucas over the more
toy kid-friendly direction of Return of the Jedi. Personally, I would have killed to see a Star Wars universe that had the audacity to end things on a more bittersweet note, and to depict a Galactic Empire too smart to spend money on a second Death Star, let alone allow it to be blown up by freaking teddy bears. Disney has the power to reverse fifteen years of bad decision-enabling by Special Edition/Prequel producer Rick McCallum, and to bring Kurtz’s insight back on the table. Asking for a less merch-friendly trilogy probably won’t jive over at Disney… but hell, I can hope.
Conventional wisdom goes that Harrison Ford always wanted Han Solo to die right before the climax of Return of the Jedi. “I thought that would have given the whole film a bottom,” Ford’s said, “but I couldn’t talk [Lucas] into it.” When I first heard this rumor, my mind was effectively BLOWN. Dramatically, it completely made sense killing off a beloved character who had nonetheless exhausted his use, regardless of how crowd-pleasing it ain’t. Imagine how shocking and potentially moving it would be to kill off a character like Han, Queen Leia (I’m guessing she gets promoted post-Jedi) or even Luke Skywalker during the climactic battle of Episode VIII. If they do kill off a major character, though, it needs to be climactic. I don’t just want to watch an aging Jar-Jar Binks slipping peacefully into his eternal sleep, or some crap like that (I would, however, accept a Godfather III-style “death by cannoli”).
While my interest in Star Wars Merchandise started diminishing around the time I hit puberty, I can’t deny being able to play a Kingdom Hearts game that allows you to fight simultaneously alongside Goofy and Boba Fett would result in multiple, consecutive nerd-gasms. If any one thing justifies this sale of Lucasfilm, then surely it is the ability to wield keyblades and lightsabers interchangeably. Speaking of Lightsabers…
I think most of us can concede that Darth Maul was the coolest thing going on in The Phantom Menace (even his accompanying musical theme – “Duel of the Fates” – thoroughly rocked). Part of the reason why he was so cool was that double-bladed lightsaber, something we had never seen before! Episodes II and III never fully explored the potential of Jedi weaponry that much deeper; all we really had was the curved handle of Count Dooku’s fencing blade. Think of all the nifty toys at the disposal of a now-replenished league of Jedi! Light-Machetes, Light-Daggers, Light-Nunchaku, Light-Maces, Light-Spears…. I really could go on and on.
Let’s face facts. At 80 years old, there’s a chance that John Williams – whose Episode IV music the AFI (justly) calls the greatest movie score of all time – is unlikely to make an eight-year, 3-movie commitment, especially not one that will require him to innovate a bunch of new themes, motifs and leitmotifs (I saw Lincoln this week, and frankly, not much was expected of him there either). So let’s open things up to a composer whose sensibilities would be best-suited to the franchise. My mind first went to Michael Giacchino, considering his great work on sci-fi adventures like Lost, John Carter and Star Trek, but that’s maybe too easy. A guy like Desplat – whose credits include The Golden Compass, The Tree of Life and Argo – has both the diverse background and the melodic prowess to turn each musical theme into an anthem for the characters, for each scene and for the film as a whole. Desplat is no stranger to playing the John Williams alternate either; he scored Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, after all.
A lot of names have already been dropped as ideal helmers for Episode VII, and many have unsurprisingly called for the likes of Brad Bird and even Andrew Stanton. But if I wanted to see another Pixar auteur venture into the realm of live-action, it really ought to be the guy whose movie most closely boasted a Star Wars-like tone. With Up, Docter proved his abilities to pack whimsy, imagination, adventure, humor and heart into every single moment. Star Wars needs desperately to retain that sensibility, and in that respect, Pete would be (wait for it) just what the Docter ordered.
8) Make the Protagonist a Gay Woman of Color
Alright, I admit this likely would never happen in our lifetime, but I would truly love the perspective of this new trilogy to come from a character that is something other than a straight white male. I think the franchise is popular enough to warrant such a change too, considering the gender-transgressing success of franchises like Buffy or The Hunger Games, or the esteem of Disney films like Mulan or The Princess and the Frog. It would just be fun – and refreshing – to see something new.
I’m not saying Star Wars needs to go Breaking Bad or anything like that, but I do think it would be at least interesting to see a major character going through some kind of intense personal strife, if only as a poignant accompaniment to the main plot. Maybe Chewie could get busted freebasing Bacta fumes with Han and Leia’s kids, or he can get reduced to selling his fur for space-crack. I don’t know; I’m not really a storyteller. But I do know that seeing a beloved character hit rock-bottom would make for some fun, melodramatic counter-programming.
Have you seen the CGI in those 1997 Special Edition re-releases of the original trilogy lately? Or even the animation in The Phantom Menance? It’s not aged well. Even if it’s cheaper and affords for a more imaginative canvas, I think many would agree that – from an aesthetic standpoint – CGI depreciates in quality much more quickly. Star Wars has always been celebrated for its revolutionary special effects. Always. So why not take things to the step beyond CGI? why not use this franchise to transform the perception of visual effects as something that is no longer merely a technological innovation, but an aesthetic tool? Maybe Star Wars can now (re)shape the culture of visual effect wielding in a way that presumes how a movie might be regarded years down the line.
11) Water-Based (Non-Gungan) Action Scenes
In Revenge of the Sith, we got to see a little bit of Wookies riding and commandeering war vehicles that coasted on the surface of the water, and we saw some mildly Errol Flynn-style action in Return of the Jedi aboard Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge. But true-blue nautical warfare? It’s never really happened in this series, and I think it should. Maybe it’s a little old-school, but it would make for a great venue for some Jedi derring-do. I’d also entertain the possibility of air-based warfare, well within a planet’s atmosphere. How cool would it be to see an all-out siege on the cityscape of the urban planet Coruscant?
12) At Least One Disney-Style Showtune!!!
Because, really, Star Wars absolutely, positively needs stuff like this:
What would you like to see in a Star Wars Sequel Trilogy?