I have discussed my thoughts and feelings about the Star Wars franchise at great length here on We Are Respectable Negroes. I am not a casual fan. I consider Lucas' creation a personal gift. Star Wars was a cultural phenomenon during the 1970's and 1980's. Along with hip hop, it defined my childhood and teen years.
Because of that allegiance, I am very worried about what Star Wars has become with the Prequels. Lucas did not "rape" our childhoods. Such talk is silly fan boy blubbering. Lucas did however make some choices about his own creation that many of us disagree with. It is his universe to play with; we just live in it. We also do not have to be pleased with his unfortunate choices.
J.J. Abrams, working for Disney films, will direct and help to write the new Star Wars sequels. He is the best of many bad options for the films. He resuscitated Star Trek as a franchise for the general public. In doing so, Abrams killed Star Trek as serious fans understood it. Abrams has told the media that Star Trek was his promotional reel for getting the Star Wars job. The latter is Abrams' true love--so he claims. However, I worry that we often do wrong by those we deeply care for. I am practical. If I were hiring a chef, I would not accept his poorly prepared dish of filet mignon and a promise that he will do better in the future as grounds to give him a job running my flagship restaurant.
The last few days have brought a flurry of news about the new Star Wars trilogies. If one believes the leaks posted online, Obi-wan Kenobi may have a secret love child who is a young person of color. Hugo Weaving, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberpatch, and 12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejioforare are also supposedly being considered for roles in the new Star Wars films.
Hugo Weaving is a natural fit. Fassbender could work too. Chiwetel Ejioforare? Benedict Cumberpatch? We shall see.
I am more struck by the announcement that the original script will be rewritten. Instead of a cast of younger actors who are the heirs to Han, Luke, Leia, Lando, and the rest of the Original Trilogy ensemble, Abrams wants the first installment in the new films, Episode VII, to be a homage and send off for the original characters. We have also learned that Disney and Lucasfilm are going to review what is known as the "Expanded Universe"--those novels, comic books, video games, etc.--and the suitability of its various elements for official Star Wars "canon" and lore.
I applaud this long needed decision. Most of the Expanded Universe was/is a money grab. It is generally of poor quality and has caused unnecessary confusion about what constitutes the "official" Star Wars Universe.
The timing of this announcement is very curious to this ghetto nerd's eyes. I sense a disturbance in the Force. The Star Wars script is being rewritten, in a very rushed fashion, for filming that is set to being in several months. Sets have been built. Concept art is approved. Casting is imminent. Episode VII will be released in December of 2015. Star Wars is a licence to print money. Disney will not miss their deadline.
Revisiting and scrubbing the canon is a smart and necessary move that will allow Disney to borrow the few great elements in the Expanded Universe and discard the garbage (for example, stories that featured "zombie" Stormtroopers, as well as Oceans 11 and Usual Suspects inspired novels featuring Han, Chewie, and the other more roguish characters).
Time is of the essence. My suspicion is that the script and screenplay for Episode VII are imperiled. Lucas hit two grand-slams with A New Hope and Empire. Jedi was a triple with runs walked in for the win. Abrams, despite his confidence, is discovering that talking about writing and developing a new Star Wars Trilogy that honors the spirit and energy and story of the Original Trilogy is far easier than it initially seems.
The rebooted canon suggests that Abrams and Disney are going with the obvious choice for the new films.
Despite what supposed insiders such as Supershadow have suggested, Episode VII will feature Grand Admiral Thrawn from the Timothy Zahn novels. If Abrams can mate Thrawn with the Dark Empire graphic novels, Star Wars' newest iteration will be fun and good. Outside of the official films, those two options from the Expanded Universe are the most "Star Wars" in feel and energy. Casual fans will be moved and excited. Real and die hard followers of Lucas' vision will exhale again. Disaster will be averted; a great visionary success akin to Episode IV will not be gifted to them/us.
There is lots of good in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Echoing what our friend Werner Herzog's Bear wrote on his site, the Expanded Universe was a life preserver that fueled our youthful love of the Trilogies, fleshed out Lucas' worlds, and kept us hungry for the Prequels.
If I had to nominate elements from the Expanded Universe that should be made into canon, they would include the Dark Empire and Crimson Empire graphic novels, The Knights of the Old Republic video games, the novels about Han and Lando's early adventures, Shadows of the Empire, Bounty Hunter Wars, Death Star, Outbound Flight, and Order 66. I would also consult the original West End Star Wars roleplaying game source books and explicitly detail what facts and events are now considered "official".
Do you think Grand Admiral Thrawn is now the default choice for Abrams' Star Wars movie at present? For fans of Star Wars, what elements or characters from the Expanded Universe would you like to see made into official canon?
Are you also worried about the troubles Episode VII is experiencing pre-production? Or are you happy that Abrams is apparently being so very careful with the new Star Wars Trilogy?