Let's hope Abrams brings this little guy back. Photo via Flickr user State Farm
Star Wars is one of the most beloved film franchises of all time. The original movies spawned mountains and mountains of merchandise along with hundreds of novels, comic books, TV shows, and Christmas specials—making George Lucas a very wealthy guy in the process—which attests to the fact that everyone loves Star Wars, except for the people who really love it, who tend to hate it.
Let me paint you a picture of the inside of a Star Wars fanatic's head: Imagine watching two amazing movies that created a rich universe, a fantasy worth escaping into, a nuanced struggle between good and evil whose conclusion would inevitably be even more thrilling than the adventures that preceded it. Those movies were Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, and they are the only Star Wars movies worth liking. And people like them. A lot. They like them so much that even as Lucas systematically shitted on his own legacy by making Return of the Jedi and three vomit-inducingly horrible prequels, people continued to love Star Wars with the earnestness that only children should possess. A lot of this has to do with the fact that for many fans, Star Wars and their childhoods are inextricably linked, to the point where even after they realized Lucas had been making children's movies all along, they continued to hold out hope that perhaps, just once, the creator of the Force would decide that making a well-crafted film that would appeal to adults was better than churning out another shitty, very expensive kids' movie that moves a lot of toys off shelves. For a large part of my life, I have been one of these people.
I say that to say this: Yesterday, the cast of the next Star Wars movie was announced. The as-of-now unnamed film, helmed by J. J. Abrams (you're either going to know everything this dude's done or not care enough to click his Wikipedia page), will star OG Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels (C-3P0), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2), along with a bunch of newcomers including Andy Serkis, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Max von Sydow, Domhnall Gleeson, and Adam Driver. In case you don't recognize those guys by name, Andy Serkis played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, and Adam Driver—rumored to be playing the main villain of the film—is best recognized as Hannah's boyfriend on Girls. Understandably, fans of Star Wars are not excited about one of the stars of a show that is basically Thought Catalog made flesh coming into their universe.
But I'm not here to complain about Driver. I'm here to tell you, as an almost embarrassingly knowledgeable Star Wars nerd, there are three ways the film will go, and I'm not very excited about two of them. They are as follows:
1. Given that the film is being directed by Abrams, it's tempting to say that the director will treat his source material about as gently as he treated Star Trek when he rebooted the franchise. In that case, the dude literally ripped a hole in the space-time continuum and created an alternate timeline that he could fuck around in. Still, the presence of the original cast suggests this probably won't happen, unless Abrams has brought them back as a red herring to appease fans, giving them cameo appearances (he did this with Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek) before veering wildly off in his own direction, creating an effective but ultimately bland sci-fi action movie that happens to contain elements of the Star Wars universe. The plot to this nonexistent movie would feature a Jedi academy helmed by all of the characters from the original movies and resemble the Harry Potter books crossed with Die Hard 7 or whatever, but in space, with an unnecessary Ewok scene. That would fucking suck and be the final nail in the coffin of a franchise whose coffin already has a healthy number of nails in it. In this version of the new Star Wars, the dude from Girls personally kills every original cast member in the first scene.
2. It's possible, if not probable, that Abrams will choose to adapt some of the reams of available source material from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, such as The New Jedi Order or Legacy of the Force novels—which are dense, convoluted, and not very fun to read. While pleasing fans nerdy enough to have powered through these books, if Abrams chooses this path Star Wars: Episode VII won't make much money, as most people are not going to be all "Hell fucking yes! Give me some Ganner Rhysode!" The plot would resemble one of the Star Trek movies that they let William Shatner direct crossed with one of the episodes of The Wire that is devoted to union politics, and will feature a 30-minute scene in which Luke Skywalker, now head of the Jedi Council, debates Bantha domestication policy with Han Solo as well as a character played by the boyfriend on Girls. I would watch the shit out of this movie.
3. The dream scenario: Abrams miraculously doesn't fuck it up and comes up with an original story that pays homage to the truly great things the Star Wars movies have accomplished and the good parts of Lucas's legacy while not getting bogged down in the minutiae that tends to plague well-loved franchises with annoying, protective fan bases. This movie would allow each original cast member to have a significant role in the film while also managing a seamless torch-passing between them and the next generation of Star Wars actors. The plot of this film would resemble that of a Kurosawa movie, there would be zero Ewoks or Jedi academies, and the dude from Girls would die in, like, the third scene.
Since this world is deeply unfair, the new Star Wars will probably somehow manage to combine the most disappointing elements of scenarios one and two, causing sadness. Good luck, J. J. Abrams!