It’s probably true that the small bit of hope that the Star Wars movies could reclaim their essential heart and soul ended both from Disney’s acquisition and the announcement of JJ Abrams as director. Neither of those are promising signs; neither the company nor the director could create anything close to A New Hope, let alone Empire Strikes Back.
In a way, that doesn’t matter. Star Wars has been about more than the movies for a long, long time, now anyway. The expanded universe (EU), with novels (particularly the Zahn trilogy), comics, and video games from Tie Fighter to Knights of the OldRepublic, has been the residence of the heart of Star Wars since the nineties.
But there is some hope for the movies. Clone Wars, both Tartakovsky’s original and the recently cancelled show on Cartoon network, have shown that the Star Wars universe is a fecund stetting for good storytellers. The trap is that like the prequels, like every Pierce Brosnan Bond flick, they become too self-referential. We don’t really need to see any more of Tatooine at this point. Why not emphasize the world-building?
If I were writing the screenplays, here are some things I would do.
Some of minor characters have moved on—no Akbar, Mon Mothma, Lando, Wedge. I’d be tempted to write out the ‘droids as well: 3P0 could be living as a god on Endor and R2 would have gone to that great jawa workshop in the sky. But maybe they are sacrosanct; as long as R2 isn’t taking on battle droids, their presence shouldn’t be too burdensome.
This is the most important thing: Han fucked off right after Jedi. Chewie too, naturally. Sure, when the chips were down, he dug into his heart and found some inner nobility, but it’s really hard (and quite disappointing) to imagine our favorite rogue living in marital bliss, arguing with bureaucrats all day long. It’s a betrayal of his character, I think, for him not to split, though I imagine he did manage to knock Leia up first. And I like the EU idea of her having twins.
Luke never got married. Like Frodo, his quest took too much out of him and he’s never really gotten over nearly turning to the Dark Side with only his father’s death saving him. As the only Jedi Master around, though, there isn’t much time for moping and he has been teaching Jedi (the term “padawans” shall never be used again.) Leia’s twins are the stars, but there are young Jedi from across the universe, including a Rhodian who is the only match for Leia’s progeny.
Twenty years ago Luke disappeared and came back a year later with a baby girl. He has never explained it (only Leia would dare ask) and though he treats her as his daughter she has not shown any affinity for the Force.
It’s been almost a generation now, and many of the planets feel that things haven’t improved all that much since the Empire. There are no Death Stars blowing up planets, true enough, but they still pay way too much in taxes to an uncaring, inefficient bureaucracy.
And so planets start to rebel. Ironic, since our heroes of the rebellion must now confront a new rebellion. The first one happens on a forest planet, with tree-like people. (The second planet, which would be the second movie, is a mist planet with ghost-like aliens, and the third would take place on Coruscant itself.)
Leia is planning on going in her role as figure-head Princess, but her kids convince her they’re ready for it. Luke, surprisingly, weighs in on their side. “I wasn’t much older when I destroyed the first Death Star.” It becomes a mission and Luke’s daughter and some of the other young Jedi join them.
Here things go horribly, predictably, wrong. The delegation goes missing. Only the Rhodian Jedi escapes, and manages a daring escape. He gets to Coruscant barely alive and reports that everyone is gone. The Republic comes in quickly but they can find no trace of them. Until at last they uncover signs of the Sith.
Leia is suspicious, but Luke is convinced the Sith have returned. The Republic reluctantly gears up for a war they know is coming. This will involve increasing the burden on small planets, which will just exacerbate the problem (“The more you tighten your fist…”)
As the movie goes on, they will learn it’s not the Sith at all, who are truly extinct. It is, in fact, someone who works in the Republic. As the search crews comb the galaxy for the missing children, evidence emerges that Leia is in fact responsible for the mischief. Luke apologetically arrests her, placing her in jail with a promise that he’ll get her out.
It is now that Han returns. He has the young Jedi with him, and they tell another story. One that involves Han (and Chewie) rescuing them from a trap set by Luke himself. Han almost captures Luke, but when the Rhodian Jedi sees him he loses his shit. He is, it turns out, a descendant of Greedo. Only Luke’s intervention keeps Han from being killed.
Han is defeated and thrown into a cell with Leia. He’ll quip something clever and then I think Episode 1 will end on this cliffhanger, with Luke trying to recreate his father’s Empire, more and more planets trying to escape the Republic, Leia and Han imprisoned. Some of elements (Luke’s daughter) wouldn’t bear fruit until later in the trilogy. Obviously there needs to be a lot more fleshing out to get a full movie out of this, but I think the framework is there.
I’d love to hear any thoughts. Would you see this? And what do you want to see in the new Star Wars movies?