It’s official. We are living in an age where we get a new Star Wars movie every year. This week we got the first trailer for Rogue One, the first of three upcoming Star Wars Story Anthology films. Set to tell the story of how the rebellion got the plans for the Death Star, Rogue One will be an interesting experiment.
It does have an uphill battle. It’s a prequel of sorts that doesn’t involve any of the original cast as far as we know. Which means unlike The Force Awakens, it can’t rely very heavily on nostalgia. Not too mention it’s a break from the main story. Going back in time instead of moving forward. None of this is necessarily bad, but it is something new and different from what we’ve seen.
What makes me most excited about Rogue One is in fact because it’s taking a break from the main episodes. Outside of the Expanded Universe, now defunct, it seems like the entire galaxy revolved around the Skywalkers and their friends. The comics and TV shows help to broaden the universe but generally, Star Wars has pretty much been the Skywalker reality show.
With Rogue One, it might be the first film where a Skywalker never appears. I say might because Darth Vader could still make a surprise appearance. Or even Princess Leia could appear at the very end to receive the plans. Rogue One will give us a chance to see what everyone else does when the Skywalkers leave the room. What’s even more exciting about this prospect is the lack of Jedi.
Don’t get me wrong. Space wizards who wield laser swords are one of the biggest draws of Star Wars. But they are only one small sect of actual force users in the galaxy. Not too mention all the other other warrior groups out their just waiting for their time in the spotlight. That’s why Rogue One is going to be extra special. Or at least, why I hope it’s extra special. We get a chance to see a Star Wars story of the regular non-space wizard populace.
Plus, if the film does stay away from the Jedi/Sith war, we can explore the force in a new way. It’s one aspect that the movies have never explored. Sure, the Expanded Universe has given many different kinds of force users and beliefs outside of the Jedi and Sith. Even the Clone Wars animated show explored these groups, which is the only piece of EU which survived the purging. However, the films have not which is the general populaces only knowledge source for Star Wars.
The point is, the Force is obviously not strictly good or bad. It has a dark side and a light side. But what about the space in between? Not everyone is a hero and not everyone is a villain. It’s time for those grey areas to be put in the spotlight.
Basically, while the conflict is still the Rebellion/Empire conflict from the old movies, it has opportunities to add depth to the universe. The biggest problem with purging the EU is this loss of depth. The shades of grey between the Jedi and Sith. My hope, is the characters we meet will be those shades of grey. Not all good but not all bad. Which from the trailer, looks to be the case.
If you’ve been keeping up with the current trends of Hollywood, you might notice something alarming. The fact that the summer movie line-up might look eerily familiar to years past. Just this year we had Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, Terminator: Genisys, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Furious 7, and more that I’d rather not take the time to list. It’s been an increasing trend in Hollywood to simply update a film rather than start something new. Now first and foremost this isn’t a bad thing, however if the current strategy continues it won’t be sustained.
Now, the simple explanation for this recent trend is because studios like to make money. SURPRISE! This simple idea is largely why we have so many re-do’s. Why spend the money and take the risk on an untried property when there is a host of great franchises that have already proved to be money-makers? That’s just smart business. The problem that occurs is when they rely too heavily on audience nostalgia. That the fond feelings audiences have give studios the excuse to scoot by with either a reused or rehashed plot. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t work. Especially when studios decide to tweak the original stories. All that built up nostalgia can quickly turn the audience against the studios.
Let’s look at Jurassic World and Mad Max: Fury Road. These two films are easily the two big budget standouts of the summer. Jurassic World made all the money there was while Mad Max preceded to take people by their ears and drag them along on a thrill ride that has redefined the very word. Why did these two films work? Jurassic World had essentially the same plot as Jurassic Park just with more dinosaurs and more people. While Mad Max‘s plot was simply a more violent depiction of your parents turning the car around on the family road trip. The reason why both these films worked so well is they knew who they were making them for.
Jurassic World being the lesser of the two, had it easier. Everyone loves dinosaurs and as long as the dinosaurs looked good enough, people won’t grumble to much. That’s part of what made Jurassic Park so great. It made us believe Steven Spielberg had made some demonic pact to bring dinosaurs back from extinction so he could make a movie. Not only that, but Speilberg put those dinosaurs at the top of the food chain and made humans the prey. Making us irrationally fear Raptors bursting into our kitchens. Ultimately Jurassic World relied on including more dinosaurs and having them fight. Going for more spectacle rather than suspense. With characters just deep enough to make us care about them over the dinosaurs, the movie came out with a pretty positive result.
Mad Max was a completely different story. Cracked.com does a much better job at praising Mad Max: Fury Road, which you can read on their site. The basic thing I want to get across is that Mad Max was made to a specific audience. It didn’t try to water anything down to make it PG-13, thus hitting a bigger market. Unlike Terminator: Genysis, Mad Max knew that their loudest audience members are old enough to see an R-rated film and made a film for them. Which is how we got the masterpiece that is Mad Max: Fury Road.
This all boils down to one thing, know your audience. If you are going to make a sequel or a reboot, know who loved the original and why. It’s partly why there is so much excitement around the the new Star Wars. If you read any of the hundreds of hype articles out there you’ll see that J.J. Abrams has an understanding of why people loved the originals and built of off them. It also helps that while making his second Star Trek film he went on record of being more of a Star Wars fan.
If you haven’t seen it yet, then stop whatever you are doing invite those around you to gather around to watch the first Star War VII: The Force Awakens trailer. Now, watch it again just because. Done? Watch it a third time just to catch up. Okay so I don’t know about you but I startled pretty much everyone around me when I started to giggle like a hyperactive child because that is what this trailer reduced me to. It looked fantastic and too be honest that Millenium Falcon shot was all I really needed in life.
This trailer is our first full official glimpse into J.J. Abrams vision for the next chapter in a galaxy far, far away. The secrecy surrounding the production of Star Wars VII has been so iron clad that anything short of aerial photos taken by an accidental flyover is the most we got. Otherwise we have simply been getting vague photos and tidbits of information from J.J. Abrams. Even though we got a decent look from this trailer, we are left with even more questions.
Now before I get into my own hopes, dreams, and theories lets delve into the most popular theory so far. I have a more complete breakdown of a supposedly confirmed script rumor over at The Disney Blog. However, I will give you the highlights here. One more note, Oscar Isaac has come out and said that apparently he hasn’t heard any rumors that are close to the actual story. While possible, I would be surprised if these were completely off base:
POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
- Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are going to be the two main protagonists of the film
- Daisy is a scavenger on the sands of Tatooine who rescues John’s storm trooper character after he crash lands
- One or both of them will discover that they are Jedi
- They discover something (potentially a severed hand holding a lightsaber) that they take to Daisy’s mentor/boss, Max Von Sidow
- Max is a cyborg that has been around since the clone wars and could possibly have fought on the side of empire
- Max may also have some connection to the Sith, possibly being an Inquisitor or Jedi Hunter
- Max sends Daisy and John to someone who may know more
- This somehow lead them to Han and Chewie
- Whether or not hey were the original destination is unclear
- Han reveals that Luke has been in exile nearly since the Death Star was destroyed the second time
- They go on a journey to find him
- It is revealed that Luke has unleashed some kind of force power that could alter the course of the galaxy
- He is worried he will give in to the dark side
- He has gone crazy and wild due to his self-imposed exile
- The final battle will see our new heroes face off against new villains, very likely the Inquisitors and a new Sith Lord
- Luke will join in the battle and by the end we will know whether he is good or evil
That right there is the largely rumored plot. A series of events that seems to quite naturally tie in old and new characters. Now the trailer for the most part doesn’t confirm any of this. It does seem to confirm how Daisy and John will meet up and that Han and Chewie are on Tatooine. Beyond that, nothing else really has enough information to confirm much.
Now the big thing that caused a lot of fans to question J.J. Abrams vision is the new Sith lightsaber. The internet instantly latched onto this detail and a slew of parodies began. It really divided the fans down the middle about whether or not having a lightsaber cross-guard is functionally effective. Most worry that the Sith might cut of his hand or that it’s usefulness is infinitesimally small. Bantha Fodder to that I say! I thought this was a really cool design and is actually much more telling than you might think.
First, we are talking about a fictional weapon that can cut through nearly anything with little resistance. It’s a miracle that most padawan’s don’t dismember themselves on their first use since the tiniest nick would over no pressure and no resistance. So from this we know that any lightsaber requires training to use. This lightsaber would be no different and if Jedi and Sith can learn to wield two of these death blades at once, they can avoid the cross-guards. Not to mention that having a smaller lightsaber attached is not unheard of in the extended universe. Many Jedi and Sith throughout this universe have used a similar attachment to aid in battle.
Some naysayers might say that Disney has gone on record to say that they do not count the expanded universe material as canon. Well lets look at the facts presented by the films then. The Sith are gone. The closest we get at this point are the Inquisitors (think of them as force empowered servants of Sith), who are in hiding at this point. So here we have a new force user who has no one to turn to for training. Maybe he comes across an older lightsaber (more on that later) or he puts his own together. Not having any proper training he creates what he imagines a sword to be. Complete with cross-guard and everything. Even looking at the blade, it seems to not be as clean as a regular lightsaber. In the extended universe it is known that Sith generally prefer a different type of crystal for their lightsabers. A synthetic one that offers more power but less focus. Maybe this Sith-to-be finds a crystal, puts the saber together, and uses the cross-guard to divert excess energy.
Earlier I said he might come across an older lightsaber. Well, since the title is The Force Awakens what if he stumbles upon an old Sith tomb of sorts? The Jedi and Sith have been around for awhile so it wouldn’t be too unusual to have ancient tombs. Not to mention that in the expanded universe, there is one Sith is asleep in a tomb only to be awoken. Arden Lyn is that Sith. I think the whole idea of a “mummy” Sith is a little far fetched. Having an old Sith tomb is a little more believable. This would also give our new villain a starting point for his new belief, worldview, religion, or whatever it’s supposed to be called.
The last thing I want to talk about is Luke’s new found power. Supposedly, he unleashes a new force power that forces him to exile himself. In the expanded universe there is this power called “Oneness“. Basically, the force user becomes a physical representation of the force. Think Super Saiyan for Jedi. This could very easily be adapted some how into the film. Luke unlocks a new power that allows him reach whole new levels of powers, ones that could affect the whole galaxy.
Again, none of the expanded universe is going to be considered canon. I think this is a smart move by Disney since it narrows a very, very large pool of content. However if they were smart they would still pool from it. By denying the expanded universe it allows them to draw inspiration from it instead of adapting stories. All in all I have no idea what to expect. Everything I know is based on rumors and leaks. It could all change or it could be similar to my ideas. Whatever happens, I’m excited to see the return of a galaxy far, far, away.