I’m not going to be the first person to say this, and I certainly won’t be the last: Don’t expect the sequel trilogy to follow the existing Expanded Universe. We know that George Lucas has done story treatments for these films that he’s handing over to Kathleen Kennedy and Disney’s LFL, and Lucas’s take on the EU has been, for most of its existence, that they’re an alternate universe. He has been a distant and uncaring god, at least as far as post-Return of the Jedi is concerned. He has used things from the EU occasionally, but I wouldn’t expect straight adaptations of any of the existing books or comics – at least not as actual episodes.
Best case scenario for the EU? A jump. We know that Lucas mentioned Luke as an Obi-Wan figure to Mark Hamill back during the 1976 filming of Star Wars, and a jump to an older Luke could leave some or most of the existing storylines intact. And, as oft-mentioned yesterday, Hamill will be 63 in 2015 – the same age Alec Guinness was when he originated Obi-Wan.
I do find the idea of a Star Wars episode without Skywalkers – or descendants of Skywalkers – rather unlikely. So I’d think that they’d have to call on the likes of Jaina Solo and Ben Skywalker – or at least their children. We don’t know what thoughts Lucas has on that, but it’s possible he’s painted his concepts in wide strokes (‘Luke’s granddaughter,’ for instance) that will allow the actual screenwriters to incorporate the EU.
But, again – that’s a best case scenario. I don’t doubt that we will see some sort of time jump, Tron: Legacy tech or no Tron: Legacy tech. As for specifics? Well, there will be no end of others speculating for the next few years. (Just as I’m prepping this column, EUCantina posted their own.)
Let’s face it, Disney didn’t pay $4B for Lucasfilm just to dance around some books and comics that only make up a (comparative) sliver of the Star Wars profit margin. They’re a major part of the franchise for us, but they are far from a major part of it as a whole. Disney is absolutely going to want to make movies that don’t require fans to have 20 years of background reading – they want a movie that’s going to be accessible to the vast, mainstream audience.
Now, me? I’m an Expanded Universe fan, no question, but I believe that the EU, while vast and filled with some great stories, has a lot of chaff and good/decent ideas executed badly and mistakes made large. It may not be a popular opinion, but I honestly don’t mind if Disney decides they want to do sequels comic-book style, by cherry-picking the best ideas and concepts and molding them into something new. For a movie, for a mainstream audience, it might just be the best way to go.
So I would absolutely prepare yourselves, EU fans, for the books and comics, the current ‘canon,’ whatever you want to call it – I would prepare yourself, now, for the idea that some, all, or most of it may be shunted aside to an alternate universe. The EU is a huge and somewhat rickety foundation as it is – for movies? It may just not hold.
It seems like so many EU fans want to see what we already know, just bigger, louder, in 3D. They want it to be what they’ve already imagined. But that’s also the mindset that helped sink the prequels for so many people – and the prequels didn’t have 40 years worth of nonstop ‘official’ stories to pin those hopes on.
Will the Expanded Universe survive new movies? I certainly don’t think they’re going to stop publishing books and comics. But I do think things are going to change, that things perhaps need to change, and maybe this is just the thing to do the trick. After all, maybe we’ll finally get to see a Star Wars movie with an unquestioned female lead. Or two female leads. Fully dressed, even. Dare to dream.
Star Wars, and the post-ROTJ continuity in particular, is absolutely in need of some fresh eyes – and that doesn’t just include Disney, or Kathleen Kennedy, or whoever director(s) they decide to helm the sequel trilogy. It means us, too. We need to step back, take a deep breath, and wait and see what they decide to do. In the theater, with an open mind. Not pre-judging on every tidbit, and especially not letting those obnoxious Comic Book Guys inside us win.
I don’t think Disney is going to ‘mess up’ Star Wars. They’ve shown they know how to make movies that are fun and entertaining and I think their chances of making Star Wars movies that work are very, very good. I’m just saying that it might not look a thing like what the EU has led us to expect – and that’s okay.
Just… Enjoy the ride. Because we never, in a million years thought we’d get here.