Now that Disney owns Lucasfilm and plans are afoot for the company to release three new Star Wars films by 2021, speculation is growing about what audiences can expect from the upcoming “sequel trilogy”.
Little has been revealed about the films beyond the fact that Episode VII will be released in 2015, but that hasn’t stopped people making suggestions about the story content of Episodes VII, VIII and IX.
For instance the author Dale Pollock, who once wrote an unauthorised biography of Star Wars creator George Lucas (Skywalking: The Life And Films Of George Lucas), claims to have read outlines of the three sequels and says they will be the “most exciting” Star Wars films yet.
Speaking to The Wrap, Pollock said: “It was originally a 12-part saga. The three most exciting stories were 7, 8 and 9. They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, ‘I want to see these 3 movies.’”
Pollock also claimed the new films will feature Luke Skywalker in his 30s and 40s, and said that Disney’s writers will rely heavily on the story outlines he purports to have read. He said: “Writers will absolutely take [Lucas's] outline. That’s in part what Disney bought.”
While Pollock’s assertions are to be taken with a pinch of salt (he and Lucas reportedly fell out during the writing of Skywalking in 1999 and haven’t had any contact since), Lucas specifically mentioned his existing story outlines in the video released to explain reasons for the Disney-Lucasfilm deal.
He said: “I have story treatments of 7, 8, and 9, and a bunch of other movies and obviously we have hundreds of books and comics and everything you could possibly imagine. So I sort of moved that treasure trove of stories and various things to [Lucasfilm president] Kathy [Kennedy], and I have complete confidence that she’s gonna take them and make great movies.”
However, since first being discussed three decades ago, Lucas’s ideas about the sequel trilogy appear to have changed rather a lot.
In 1983 Lucas was interviewed by the author Denise Worrell for her book Icons: Intimate Portraits and revealed plans for a trio of films set after Return of the Jedi that would deal with “moral and philosophical problems”. He said: “The sequel is about Jedi knighthood, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned.”
According to Worrell, Lucas’s plan for the sequel trilogy at the time of writing was as follows: “In the sequel Luke would be a sixty-year-old Jedi knight. Han Solo and Leia would be together…The sequel focuses mainly on Luke, and Lucas says Mark Hamill will have first crack at the part if he is old enough.”
Of course, in the 30 years between then and now, Lucas has publicly denied that the sequels would ever be made and rubbished the notion that he would sign Star Wars over to anyone else.
But Mark Hamill, the actor who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, told EW earlier this week that he met up with Lucas last summer, and it was then that the director declared his intention to see a new trilogy made.
Hamill said: “[Lucas] did tell us last summer about wanting to go on and do [Episodes] VII, VIII,and IX, and that Kathleen Kennedy would be doing them.
“Yeah, last August, he asked Carrie and I to have lunch with him and we did. When he said, ‘We decided we’re going to do Episodes VII, VIII, and IX,’ I was just gobsmacked. ‘What? Are you nuts?!’”
Intriguingly, Hamill has not yet revealed whether or not he’s been asked to play any part in the new Star Wars sequels, and a report from E! Online suggests that the original trilogy’s characters may have nothing to do with the new films.
In a post on the site by Leslie Gornstein, the author quotes an unnamed Lucasfilm source as saying Episode VII will be “an original story". Gornstein then goes on to say: “In other words, forget the Star Wars novels. Forget the graphic novels. Forget everything you think you know about what happens to Luke Skywalker.
"According to my sources, Episode 7 will literally be nothing you've ever seen or read before from the Star Wars universe.”
Which may, in fact, make sense. After all, Luke, Han and Leia have featured in so many novels, comics and video games since Return of the Jedi, that any attempts on the part of Disney to effectively re-write Star Wars history would doubtless be met with an outcry from fans, making it a safer bet that Episode VII will centre on new characters.
And such a move might not be as difficult to justify as you’d think. During The Empire Strikes Back, Luke leaves Yoda hurriedly before completing his Jedi training, and Yoda hears the voice of Obi Wan Kenobi saying “that boy is our last hope.” Yoda’s response? “No. There is another.”
The line was deliberately ambiguous, and Lucas explained the reasoning behind it on the 2004 Empire Strikes Back DVD commentary. He said: "We don't need Luke to tell this story. We could get somebody else to do it... 'He's not the important one - there is another.' It's a cheap trick, but it works."
Instead of catching up with Luke, might it not make more sense for the makers of the new trilogy to seize on this canonical life-line and create a new story with a new hero?
Disney’s CEO Roger Iger reportedly told board members and stockholders earlier this week that there will be “no news about the upcoming Episode VII…until the ink is well dried on the buy,” but said that he hopes to make more announcements about the project next summer. So we'll just have to sit tight for now. But doesn't it feel really, really good to finally have a reason to get excited about Star Wars again?