Optional Soundtrack For This Post: John Williams’ magnificent, soaring score for STAR WARS. Pick any of the films. Even the prequels. I’m starting with the A NEW HOPE soundtrack as I write this.
You can’t pick a more talked about, hyped, and all around controversial film than STAR WARS: EPISODE VII, the first installment in what Disney and Lucasfilm hope to be the sequel trilogy that fans have always dreamed about.
That likely won’t be the case, more because of unruly expectations than anything, but it won’t take much for it to be better than Episodes I-III. With J.J. Abrams switching fan favorite universes to take the helm, Michael Arndt penning the script, and Lawrence Kasdan (EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, RETURN OF THE JEDI, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) around to consult alongside Simon Kinberg (SHERLOCK HOLMES, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST), there’s a promising nucleus surrounding the first post-George Lucas STAR WARS project.
But what can we expect in a sequel? The easy answer is who the hell knows. The only concrete fact we’ve gotten is that Disney and Lucasfilm want to distance themselves from the Expanded Universe (EU) found in the books. However, they’ll likely have to use some of the new pillars of the STAR WARS universe that have been created by Timothy Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson, and the hundreds of other writers who have lent their vision to the world we’ve all grown up with.
It seems likely and almost certain that Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill will reprise their star-making roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker, respectively. They’ve all but been confirmed already. It’s also not a stretch to imagine Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew, and Anthony Daniels returning as Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, and C-3PO. The popular new rumor is that Ian McDiarmid would return as Emperor Palpatine, despite the character being crazy dead (sparking clone whispers and me groaning). Unless you’re suffering from delusions of grandeur, it’s clear that we shouldn’t expect them to carry the movie by themselves, they’re simply too old or out of shape to make it convincing.
The STAR WARS trilogies have always focused on the Skywalker family, and once Han Solo and Leia get married, the Solo family becomes intertwined. It’s obvious that a new trilogy SHOULD focus on the next generation of Jedi found within their ranks and the strife that befalls them.
My favorite, and I’m certainly not alone, of the EU books is Timothy Zahn’s sterling Thrawn Trilogy (HEIR TO THE EMPIRE, DARK FORCE RISING, and THE LAST COMMAND), but the series takes place five years after RETURN OF THE JEDI and features many of our favorites as the main characters in extremely active roles, something that would be problematic with a straight adaptation (assuming the roles remain inhabited by the original stars). The other two pillars of EU (besides the excellent ROGUE SQUADRON series, which likely won’t factor into the sequel trilogy) are:
- The JEDI ACADEMY trilogy from Kevin J. Anderson, that takes place seven years after the end of the original trilogy, as Luke sets out to create a new Jedi Academy as per Yoda’s wishes.
- The sprawling NEW JEDI ORDER saga chronicling the Yuuzhan Vong invasion that brings another layer of darkness and death to the STAR WARS universe, that takes place 21 years after ROTJ.
Ideally, some sort of mix of these stories will happen, but the timeline will have to shift, unless J.J. Abrams is planning on casting younger actors to play Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker while featuring the original actors in flash forwards. I, for one, don’t want that to happen. It’s unfair to make any other actor take on these iconic roles. Yes, it worked for STAR TREK, but I think a new trilogy should focus on new characters, new stories, and imbue some originality into the darn process. Plus, there’s many ways that Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker could add to the narrative, even as elder statesmen. Especially Luke.
And so, I’ve gathered together some of my favorite characters from the EU, and sought to cast them. Envision that this story takes place 30-40 years after RETURN OF THE JEDI, with the next generation taking the forefront against some new baddies. First up is a certain redhead…
In my mind, this is the hardest one to cast. She’s one of, if not, the best character to come from the EU, and offers potential for one of the greatest, strongest, and most kickass female roles in movies today. The problem is, she marries Luke, is his love interest, and his contemporary. If she’s going to be acting alongside Luke, it’ll have to be someone in her 50s or 60s, unless we want gold digger status (and we don’t).
The fascinating aspect of her character is that she was the Emperor’s Hand when she was younger, then a smuggler, and then became Luke’s apprentice and wife and a Jedi Master. This crazy journey is what makes her great, and to short change that is to neglect her character. So I’m going to settle for a woman in her 40′s that’s still badass, and hope that the movies offer glimpses into her past, or even use a younger actress to bring the timeline to the present. After debating Julianne Moore, Christina Hendricks, and Jessica Chastain, I opted for…
She routinely plays strong, confident women — a leader on THE KILLING, a brave mother in WORLD WAR Z — and humanizes these characters. Plus, it’s hard to come up with people I would take seriously in Jedi robes. She has the intensity along with enough charm and sarcasm, not to mention that glare, to inhabit the role. So, she’ll only be 40 when 2015 rolls around, but there’s something about Enos that makes her seem older and more wizened than she is.
Next up: Jaina Solo!