This is the website of Neil McDougall, a musician/blogger/podcaster/bookie from Ayrshire.

My thoughts on Star Wars Episode VII

Right, been a while since I wrote a blog, but I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while.  I was thinking about shooting a video about it, but I reckon I can do a better job of getting my thoughts across in written form rather than by babbling into a webcam.  Warning, this article contains spoilers for some Expanded Universe stuff.  Most of the stuff I’m spoiling has been around for years, though, so fuck it.

So, friends, join me, as I prattle on for ages about what I think’s going to happen in the new Star Wars films.

So, in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last six months or so, George Lucas sold his Lucasfilm empire to Disney, who promptly announced they were going to do Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII and IX (that’s 7, 8 and 9, to those of you not familiar with Roman numerals).  Star Wars fanboys and fangirls around the interwebs collectively lost their shit for a moment at the prospect of all-new Star Wars movies, and immediately set about discussing what they would like to see in the new movies.  “They should just do Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy books!” “They should do the New Jedi Order/Yuuzahn Vong invasion story!” “Legacy Of The Force, bitches!”.

Stop all that bullshit, all of you.  None of these things are happening.  Uncle Neil is going to drop some science on you and tell you why, and also tell you about what’s probably going to happen, what I personally would like to see happen.

Let’s start by talking about what we definitely know about the movie.  JJ Abrams is directing, making history in the process by being the first guy to direct both Star Wars and Star Trek.  He’s like the Mo Johnston of sci-fi.  Will it have lens flares a go go and loads of shaky cam?  I for one hope not – it would feel a lot less like Star Wars if that was the case, and I have to feel that if a chump like me knows that, then JJ definitely knows that, and will shoot the movie accordingly.  Star Wars is meant to feel like an old-school sci-fi serial, like Buck Rogers or the like.  Cloverfield-style shaky cam would definitely not be in keeping with what’s already been established in the visual style of the preceeding six films.

Secondly, it’s being written by Michael Arndt.  When I heard this, I thought ‘who the fuck is Michael Arndt?’.  Hey, I’m not a movie buff.  Turns out he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Little Miss Sunshine, and got nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Toy Story 3.  And those were his first two scripts to get made into proper flicks.  Not a bad strike rate, and bodes well for Ep VII indeed.  Can’t write any worse dialogue than George did, at least.

We also know that the plots for the three sequel movies are going to be based on extensive outlines written by George Lucas himself, and I sincerely doubt that George would want to use pre-existing stories written by other writers as the basis for the new movies.  To be frank, I doubt he’s even massively aware of what goes on in the wider Expanded Universe beyond a few major points, and details that George needed to OK or veto that applied to characters he created (Han & Leia being married, Luke getting married, Chewie dying in Vector Prime, Anakin Solo dying, etc).

Lucas’ probable lack of extensive EU knowledge leads me onto my next point – Episode VII is more than likely going to stomp all over established Expanded Universe continuity.  Sorry, EU fanboys, but many of the stories that you love are most likely going to go the way of Alternate Universe stuff – most notably the entire Yuuzhan Vong conflict and everything that came after it.  I reckon a fair bit of established EU will stay though, and there might be some nice nods to those things in the new movies.  At least I hope so.  If Corran Horn makes a cameo, I will squee in the theatre.

It’s not 100% officially confirmed that Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are coming back for the new movies – it’s pretty much a lock, unofficially, between things that Carrie Fisher has said in an interview (and later claimed as a joke), and things that George Lucas said in an interview (he basically let slip that it was pretty much a done deal at this point – he can get away with doing that, though – it’s not like Disney could fire him without unleashing the mother of all fanboy shitstorms).  I imagine there’ll be a big official announcement of their involvement with the movies at the San Diego Comic-Con or maybe Star Wars Celebration (I reckon it’ll be SDCC due to the media presence there, and the fact that it’s the biggest event on the geek culture calendar).  So, let’s take it as a given that the Big Three will be back.

Right, so with all that established, let’s get into some details about what the movie’s setting and storyline will probably contain.  It’s been more than 30 years since Return of the Jedi came out, the actors are 30 years older, so we can assume that the new Episodes will be set in a similar time frame – 35 ABY or so (35 years after the Battle of Yavin at the end of Episode IV).  That can be pushed back a bit, but probably not too much.

However, setting it during this timeframe gets into why everything after Vision of the Future is probably going to be rendered non-canon.  35 ABY is after the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, which, in terms of the Expanded Universe, is probably the biggest, most important, galaxy-changing event since the end of the Clone Wars – major planets got seriously fucked up (in terms of the movies, most notably Coruscant), major characters die, or have already died by the start of that particular plot arc – Mon Mothma dies ‘off screen’ before Vector Prime, the first book in the Vong invasion arc, Chewbacca dies by being FLATTENED BY A FUCKING MOON LANDING ON HIS FACE at the climax of Vector Prime, Anakin Solo, Han and Leia’s youngest son, dies in battle against the Vong, and Admiral Ackbar dies of old age off-screen.  Try explaining all that, in addition to the formation of the New Republic, the peace treaty with the Empire, Han & Leia’s marriage and their other two kids, Luke’s marriage to Mara Jade, a woman who was the Emperor’s Hand, a smuggler, then became a Jedi, the birth of Ben Skywalker, their son, the restoration of the Jedi Order and last but not least, the ENTIRE YUUZHAN VONG INVASION all within the first paragraph of the opening crawl of Episode VII.

YOU CANNOT DO THIS.  Not without a scene of about half an hour of the most inexcusably ham-fisted exposition known to man or beast.  A lecture that starts with one character going ‘as you already know…’ to another character then lecturing for ages about shit that the character being lectured at ALREADY FUCKING KNOWS, entirely for the ‘benefit’ of the audience, completely ruining the immersion and turning the fourth wall into a window surrounded by Christmas lights and fireworks.

You want an opening crawl paragraph for Episode VII?  Here you go.

Many years have passed since the defeat of the GALACTIC EMPIRE at Endor, and peace now reigns across the galaxy.  Luke Skywalker has reestablished the JEDI ORDER, Leia Organa and her husband Han Solo now stand at the head of the NEW REPUBLIC, and their children are powerful JEDI KNIGHTS.

Boom.  No Vong invasion, just the basics for the vast majority of people who will see this movie, who have no idea about what happened in the EU.  This is why I reckon that everything up to and including Vision of the Future will be fine in terms of canonicity because, let’s be honest, very little in terms of major galaxy-shattering events happens in the books between Return of the Jedi and then.  Yeah, there’s some big battles, and some pretty big characters are introduced, but nothing that would cause the majority of people seeing Episode VII to go ‘What the FUCK is happening?’ like glossing over the Vong invasion would.

We left Episode VI with Luke as a Jedi Knight, Han and Leia in love and the Empire basically fucked.  If we use Vision of the Future as the jumping-off point for Episode VII, we open with Luke as a Jedi Master at the head of the reborn Jedi Order, Han and Leia married with grown-up kids, all Jedi, and the New Republic running shit after the peace treaty with the Imperial Remnant.   Nice and neat, and easy for the audience to go along with.

Now, assuming this, what’s going to be in Episode VII-IX?  ‘Ooh, I know’, I hear some of the fanboys shout, ‘the movies will be the Vong invasion storyline itself!’

No, Johnny Vong-fanboy.  Sit down and shut the fuck up.  Sorry to say this, but the Vong will NOT be the main baddies of Episode VII-IX.  Why?  The Vong don’t use lightsabers.

‘But Neil,’ I hear you cry, ‘The Vong are amazing foils for the Jedi!  They don’t exist in the Force!  They’re like Jedi Kryptonite!’  I agree, they would be really cool foes for the Jedi, but at best they might be used as muscle for the real antagonists of the sequel trilogy, which will, I have no doubt, be some sort of Dark Side-wielding Force-user(s).  More likely, the Vong won’t be in it at all, and consigned to the dustbin of non-canonicity.

‘Why does the main baddie have to be Dark Jedi/Sith?’ because of what the audience expects from a Star Wars movie – the opening crawl, space battles, blaster battles, chase sequences and lightsaber fights.  You put out an Episode-numbered Star Wars movie without a red-vs-blue saber fight and people are going to be PISSED.  All these things are in all six of the previous Star Wars movies, and Episodes VII-IX will be no different in any way.  Want proof?  Here you go

EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE
Space Battle/Blaster Battle: Battle of Naboo
Chase Sequence: Boonta Eve Podrace
Lightsaber Fight: Kenobi/Qui-Gon vs Darth Maul

EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Space Battle/Chase: Jango Fett vs Obi-Wan in the asteroid field
Blaster Battle: Battle of Geonosis
Lightsaber Fight: Kenobi/Anakin vs Dooku

EPISODE III: Revenge of the Sith
Space Battle: Battle of Coruscant
Blaster Battle: Battle of Kashyyyk
Chase Sequence: Grievous chasing Obi-Wan on Utapau (massive unicycle vs lizard-horse-thing)
Lightsaber Fight: Kenobi/Anakin vs Grievous, Kenobi/Anakin vs Dooku II, Kenobi vs Grievous, Sidious vs Windu, Kenobi vs Vader

EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE
Space Battle: Tantive IV capture, Battle of Yavin
Blaster Battle: Stormtroopers attack Tantive IV, Death Star Prison shootout
Chase Sequence: Death Star trench run
Lightsaber Fight: Kenobi vs Vader II

EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Space Battle/Chase: Falcon in the asteroid field (could also inclue Airspeeders vs. AT-ATs in here, although it’s an air battle, not a space battle)
Blaster battle: Battle of Hoth
Lightsaber Fight: Han Solo vs Tauntaun Belly, Luke vs Spectral Vader. Luke vs Real Vader

EPISODE VI: THE RETURN OF THE JEDI
Space Battle/Blaster Battle: Battle of Endor (Sail Barge fight also comes into the Blaster Battle category)
Chase Sequence: Speeder Bike chase
Lightsaber Fight: Luke vs Vader II

So, yeah, there’s tropes that have came up in all the Star Wars films, and will doubtlessly come up again in Episode VII.  When the vast majority of punters sit down in front of a Star Wars movie, they expect red lightsabers vs blue lightsabers, and that’s why the Vong can take a running fuck to themselves as the main baddies of Episodes VII-IX.

Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s still tons of good, good shit they can pull from the Expanded Universe, and I hope a good amount of it makes it in.  Coruscant started life as an EU world, and was fully canonised in Episode I, so there’s still hope for lots of juicy EU goodness for the fanboys.

For example, I expect that Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo will be major characters, and a young Ben Skywalker will be the main protagonist.  They might have to play with the timelines a bit, but if they establish that Luke and Mara Jade married shortly after Vision of the Future’s events, and Mara fell pregnant shortly after that, 35 ABY would put Ben at about 13 or 14.  That works for me.  Teenage Jedi-in-training, maybe serving as a Padawan under his big cousin Jacen or Jaina.

There’s another prediction about an Episode VII plot point I want to make, and it could be a controversial one.

Luke Skywalker will die in Episode VII.

‘What the shit?!’ I hear you yell.  ‘They can’t kill Luke!’

Yes they can, and yes they will – another recurring motif in the previous two trilogies was the death of the senior Jedi whose job it was to be all wise and bearded and deliver ham-fisted exposition – that role was Qui-Gon in Episode I and Obi-Wan in Episode IV.  I predict that role will be Luke Skywalker in VII, and he’ll bite the big one at the hands of some red-lightsaber-wielding scumfuck at the climax of Ep VII.  Assuming Ben Skywalker is the protagonist, killing Luke gives him a big stake in the story, and raises the spectre of what happened to his grandfather possibly happening to him as well, which could be a nice piece of tone poetry.

So, yeah, that’s about all I have at the moment, let’s TL;DR this for all you lazy cunts out there.

– Set 35 years or so after Yavin
– Everything after Vision of the Future = declared AU.  Bye bye Vong invasion, Chewie’s death, Anakin Solo’s death etc.
– Baddies are probably some sort of Sith/Dark Jedi types.  (Here’s a thought – the true Sith Empire?  Invading from the Unknown Regions after thousands of years of isolation?  Ties in nicely with the ending of VOTF, and maybe they use the Vong as muscle…)
– Luke Skywalker dies in Episode VII.  Mark my words, this WILL happen.  In three years or so, folk are going to look back at this blog post and go ‘holy shit, he was right!’.

How’s that for some discussion-prompting bold predictions?  Think I’m full of shit?  Have your own thoughts about what the new movies will contain?  Leave a comment, and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong.  😉

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on April 22, 2013 at 11:34 pm, filed under geekery, star wars and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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