When Return of the Jedi flickered out with Darth Vader’s funeral pyre in 1983, I don’t recall thinking, I wonder what Darth was like as a boy? Who was Luke and Leia’s mom? Could there be a character more annoying than the Ewoks? Or C-3PO?
We wanted to move forward, to see what was next for Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia.
Of course, there have been books and other media that have done that. But when George Lucas decided to add to the Star Wars feature film canon, he decided to go a longer time ago to tell the origin stories that were alluded to in the original trilogy, an idea that was ultimately better in concept than execution. While I think Revenge of the Sith (2005) was a solid entry with a heckuva final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan, The Phantom Menace (1999) gets more annoying every time you watch it and Attack of the Clones (2002) is just certifiably awful — any film that makes Natalie Portman that bad has deep, deep problems.
The most recent trilogy left a lot of fans very wary of any more movies, lest the franchise be defiled any more.
But the new hope with the announcement of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the planned new trilogy of Star Wars movies is that Lucas will not be directly involved and the story will finally be moved forward on the big screen.
With all due respect to the franchise’s creator, Lucas had really become more of a film technician and toy salesman by the time he took the helm of the prequels. It was nice in this week’s announcement to see he has the self-awareness to know that it is time to hand off the series. And we are moving ahead with the story of characters we have loved for decades instead of meeting new ones it was hard to warm up to.
At this point, there is a lot of room for speculation about characters, casting, and all that good stuff. While Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy books have long been seen as the Star Wars sequels, there are reports that Lucasfilm sources say the new stories will be entirely original, not based on anything seen before. If that’s the case, who knows what forms these stories make take, if they will even involve the characters we know, and if they do, if any of the original cast will come back to play space cowboys again.
It is all speculative at the moment with secrets known only to those in the know deep within Disney and Lucasfilm. But at least we know come 2015, we’re moving forward.