In the video above, George Lucas and LucasFilm executive Kathleen Kennedy sit down to discuss the future of the franchise now that Disney owns the rights. It's fair to say that this announcement is the biggest industry news of the year, and the fact we're getting new Star Wars films out of the deal only makes the news even bigger.
But this is when the understandable worry sets in. The last time we were promised new Star Wars films, we fans got burned. Hard. The framework was there for a great prequel series, but the execution was nothing short of dismal. Disney has a long way to go to earn the old guard fan base back. But I have faith in the Mouse. The last time they did something like this, we got The Avengers, and that was a pretty great movie.
No doubt that Disney has its top people working away at coming up with the future of the franchise. But I have my own ideas of what should happen, mainly because I'm an egotist. So Disney, and I know you're reading this, here are my nine suggestions on how to expand and continue the Star Wars franchise. Go ahead and take them, just make sure you name me Head of Star Wars.
No Skywalkers, Solos, Chewbacca, R2-D2, or C-3P0 in the Sequel Trilogy
How do you expand upon a universe with sequels and prequels? You expand the cast of characters, obviously. But why do you do this? If the series continues to focus on a set group of characters all having adventures together, the universe's scope becomes severely limited. Basically, you're boxed in with these characters. One of Star Wars' greatest strengths is it's incredibly large and diverse universe. Why should the Sequel Trilogy (and movies set after) follow the same characters we've known since 1977? Their story has been told already, so let's focus on new characters that are just as interesting and well thought out.
And while we're at it, let's check out some new planets we haven't seen yet. The prequels locked us in to the same three worlds over and over, with only a couple jaunts to new landscapes. Let's see Dantooine! Maybe even Mon Calamari!
The Empire has been defeated, so let's keep it that way
After the destruction of Death Star II and the defeat of the Emperor, the Empire starts crumbling, and the New Republic gets established soon after. However, that doesn't mean the Empire has been completely wiped out. There are still some smaller factions and splinter groups out there in the furthest reaches of the galaxy, plotting their return to power. A story focusing on the clean-up of these forces could be pretty interesting. You could broach the subject of the Rebel Alliance essentially being terrorist forces, toppling of regimes, etc. And it'd be pretty topical, too.
Draw from the Expanded Universe
Even though this one is unlikely, it'd make the most sense. Sure, Lucas never really signed off on the Expanded Universe stories, and technically they aren't canon. But there are some incredible stories being told. The common consensus with fans of the Expanded Universe is that the Thrawn Trilogy should be the upcoming Sequel Trilogy. An interesting prospect, and definitely worthwhile for a new film trilogy. But it just doesn't jive with those recent rumors about Episodes VII, VIII, and IX being original stories. Doesn't mean that the writers can't pick and choose some elements from the EU, though. And speaking of elements from the Expanded Universe…
Introduce the Yuuzhan Vong
The Yuuzhan Vong are an alien race with one thing on their mind: Total galactic domination. There's no morality to them, just ruthlessness. Zealous and religious oriented, one of the most unique things about the Vong is the fact that they shun most technology, instead organically producing everything (think Zerg in Starcraft). But there's a fan theory poking around the internet that makes this race potentially the most fascinating element of the entire Star Wars mythos.
The theory goes that everything Palpatine did, turning to the dark side, taking control of the Republic, building the Empire, was all in preparation for the oncoming Yuuzhan Vong invasion. Why else is the Empire's Navy as large as it is? This also gives another explanation to the existence of the Death Star, and why the Empire was so eager to rebuild it. Imagine the shock if in Episode VIII, this theory is proven true. Powerful stuff, and it makes you rethink everything you know about the Original Trilogy.
Do you know why the Jedi were so interesting and complex in the Original Trilogy? There were only two left in the galaxy, and one of them got killed off in the first film. The mysteries of the Jedi have been something nearly every Expanded Universe writer has written about. From their foundations and ancient traditions, to Luke starting the New Jedi Order on Yavin IV, it's safe to say the Jedi are the most iconic element of Star Wars. But do you remember Attack of the Clones? There were seventeen thousand Jedi at the final battle of the film. That's pretty overkill in my mind. And see how disposable they are? Aren't Jedi supposed to be the ultimate warriors? For cripe's sake, they have the Force on their side! How does a Battle Droid take one out? Jedi battles are always great because they mean something thematically. In the prequels, the only meaningful battle was between Anikan and Obi-Wan. Every duel in the Original Trilogy meant something. Coming to terms with your destiny. Old friends turned enemies burying the hatchet once and for all. Redemption and unconditional love.
New rule for the sequel trilogy: If a lightsaber is drawn, it better have meaningful ramifications.
Release the theatrical cuts of the Original Trilogy
Probably the #1 thing die hard fans of the series want out of this deal with Disney. How amazing would it be to own the original theatrical cuts of Star Wars, legally and beautifully, on Blu-Ray? It turns out that this might not be a thing that happens for many years though, since Fox still owns distribution rights to the Original Trilogy until 2020, but their ownership of A New Hope has no end date. A new unaltered Blu-Ray release could still happen, but it'd require Fox and Disney to play nice. And let's be honest, do you see that happening?
Launch the live action TV series on ABC
Lucas has been wanting to do a live action Star Wars television series since 2005. The reason nothing has transpired with it? Apparently, the scope of the project was too ambitious for TV at the time. The main concern has always been that the technology to make the series isn't financially viable yet. Last year, Lucas was quoted as saying the tech would be ready in "two to three years". Hey, that lines up pretty nicely with the release of Episode VII, doesn't it? And it's not like the writing team isn't ready. The last report stated that 50 scripts have been written and are just sitting there, begging to be made.
Release a good Star Wars videogame
Last year saw the launch of Bioware's ambitious MMORPG The Old Republic, based in their Old Republic mythos. And while the game may resonate with fans of MMO's, it certainly did nothing for folks (like myself) who can't stand them. When was the last time you played a really great Star Wars game? Battlefront II? Republic Commando? Knights of the Old Republic? The point is, it's been too long. Sure, Star Wars 1313 looks promising, but it also comes off as an Uncharted clone. Used to be Star Wars games took you on incredible journeys and adventures only possible in that universe. Let's do that again, Disney.
Don't be afraid to say "no" to George
It's an imposing prospect, but one that must be addressed. Lucas has confirmed that he'll be brought on to be a creative consultant for the future of Star Wars. What that means is that Disney will take his story outlines, as well as his opinions on the finer details (certain plot points, characterizations, etc), and be on their way to develop from there. But Disney, don't be afraid to say "No" to him! Remember, the last time nobody said "No" to George, we ended up with the Prequel Trilogy. As Jim Sterling said on a recent episode of Podtoid, Lucas is a fine storyteller, but he needs to be reeled in. And Jim is absolutely correct. The Prequel Trilogy, when you look at their basic story beats and elements, are actually pretty fascinating in their own right. It's just that the script had some of the most atrocious and asinine dialogue and pacing. Reel Lucas in, put your top folks on writing duty, and I'm sure we'll get the Sequel Trilogy we deserve.