A proposal for Disney! How NOT to screw up Star Wars 7!This morning, the internet belched forth a potentially awful hunk of nerd news: Disney has bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas for 4.05 billion. Lucas, who owns 100% of the company, and whose financial savvy has been attributed to the Huttese bloat infection contracted during shooting on Return of the Jedi, is sitting pretty. The prequel trilogy were, by and large, turgid. Any lingering goodwill about Lucas and his writing chops were similarly pissed away with the advent of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a film with all the narrative wit and deftness of this guy. This guy right here.
Disney gets everything in this deal: Lucasfilm, everything Star Wars related, and all the associated Lucasfilm technologies. But where this news gets truly interesting, and potentially terrifying (depending on how much you enjoyed Tron: Legacy, I guess) is that Disney are planning on releasing a seventh Star Wars feature in 2015, followed by new Star Wars movies every few years.
So without delaying any further, here's how I think the new Star Wars film could work.
Don't Ignore The Expanded Universe.
Many people with an understandably passing interest in Star Wars might not know this, but... actually, there isn't anything understandable about having a passing interest in Star Wars, unless you're young enough to have seen the prequels before the originals, and enjoyed the decade or so of accompanying complaining from fans, in which case I totally get your reticence. But wedged solidly in the gap between Return of the Jedi and the prequels, authors, artists and creators of all kinds made something magical happen.
They expanded the universe.
I mean that quite literally, by the way. Whilst Lucas was planning a prequel trilogy buried in an almost inbred, myopic, four-planet universe where every character was inexplicably connected yet somehow blissfully unaware of said connections, authors like Timothy Zahn, Michael A. Stackpole, Kevin J. Anderson and Barbara Hambly went to work. They created staggering works of immense scope that continued the story where Lucas left off, and those are just the novelists.
Dark Horse comics spawned a legion of labyrinthine stories which, due to Lucasarts canonizing, are official lore all of their associated stories, tied in deftly with the novels. Read Dark Empire I and II, the graphic novels in which Palpatine comes back younger and stronger than ever, and turns Luke to the dark side. Read The Thrawn Trilogy. Read The Jedi Academy Trilogy, and I, Jedi, and The Black Fleet Crisis. And if you're feeling brave and have months to spend getting no sunlight whatsoever, the controversial New Jedi Order arc is worth a look. And the Star Wars universe practically exploded with the Knights of the Old Republic series, the Dark Forces games, X-Wing... the list goes on. And on.
Feeling intimidated? Lucas wasn't when he conceived the trilogy. It's not that he should have taken all of the decades of gorgeously, painstakingly woven lore into account, because that would have alienated casual audiences, and casual audiences are what made the original trilogy such an enduring success. What he should have done was take cues in terms of pace, scope and delivery. No Jar Jar Binks. No armies of CGI bad guys whose deaths mean literally nothing emotionally to the viewer. No petulant protagonist who murders men, women and children, compares Natalie Portmans skin to warm sand and then inexplicably gets laid. And for the love of all that is holy, no Jake Lloyd. Because when you make idiotic, fatuous decisions based on money, merchandise and more money, you end up with a broken legacy. And this.
Hopefully, Disney will create something true to the originals. You see, I have this theory that Lucas did what many creatives did: he made something genius largely by accident, then spent years trying to figure out how he did it. He's a lot like George from the Roald Dahl novel George's Marvelous Medicine, in that respect. Except instead of toying idly with a formula in his backyard, he was mangling our childhood dreams and laughing it off the entire time. Rumor has it that Francis Ford Coppola was on set for much of the A New Hope shoot.
And Lucas didn't even direct Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi; Empire was Irvin Kershner, and acclaimed screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay with science fiction writer Leigh Brackett. Richard Marquand directed Jedi. I guess what I'm driving at here is that the original trilogy wasn't, as his 100% share in Lucasfilm would suggest, the sole brainchild of Lucas. He birthed it, and it was raised by far more talented and creative people than he. And now, it's been adopted by a very wealthy family after years of abuse, and we can only hope that Daddy Warbuck will have the fortitude of character to ask little Star Wars what it wants to be when it grows up.
Personally? I'd like a Dark Forces trilogy, with Michael Fassbender as Kyle Katarn. Which I think I'm allowed to suggest, seeing as how, as a lifelong fan, I'm sort of like Star Wars' cool uncle. We're all invested in this kid. Here's hoping it doesn't grow up a total jerk.