Disney Star Wars VII: A New Hope, or Should I Have a Bad Feeling About This?

Leia: Now, officially a Disney Princess
They look scared, don’t they? Don’t worry. The Mouse can’t possibly mishandle your galaxy any worse than Lucas did, in the end.
So this week, Disney purchased Lucasfilm, and announced three more Star Wars movies, sans George Lucas.

Color the internet surprised.

I’ve been scouring Twitter to see the reactions from both Disney and Star Wars fans. People are speculating most on who will helm the new films, with names like J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Joss Whedon, and even Brad Bird thrown out as possibilities.

With The Avengers, indie darling Whedon has shown that he can have a deft and respectful hand with someone else’s mythology. Firefly, while not a commercial success, has a legion of rabid fans and could easily be viewed as a bittersweet love note to the original trilogy. Meanwhile, Super 8 showed that J.J. Abrams can out-Amblin Spielberg, successfully migrating the wonder of something like Goonies or E.T. into something that connects with a post-modern audience. And his reboot of that other space opera franchise was darn-near perfect, even to a childhood fan like me. He and LOST co-creator Damon Lindelof first bonded over a vintage Star Wars t-shirt, after all.

As for me, I’m more curious about where the story is going to go. There are two strong and obvious possibilities, based on my trolling of Twitter: Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy (also known as the Thrawn Trilogy) or The Knights of the Old Republic video game series.

The Heir to the Empire

The Good

We already love the characters. It answers the age-old question “Since his sister’s obviously not an option, does Luke Skywalker ever get an actual girlfriend?” It’s probably the closest thing in existence to an actual “sequel trilogy” for Star Wars. Grand Admiral Thrawn is one of the more impressive villains in the Expanded Universe.

The Bad

Much of what would have been new ground has already been covered in the prequel trilogy. A statement about the fragility and vulnerability of democracy? A pregnant heroine continuing to kick butt and play politics? A suave, erudite villain maneuvering with clones, a long-hidden military force and shady alliances to sneak up on the Republic? A crazed Jedi gone over to the dark side convincing a naive young Jedi he needs his training? We’ve kind of been there, done that already.

The Knights of the Old Republic

The Good

The games were extremely popular, and expanded the Star Wars universe in a direction that felt both fresh and authentic. It also created a new starting point for younger fans who missed the Original Trilogy, and introduced some fun and interesting new characters. (I personally would pay movie theatre prices just to see the hilariously homicidal droid HK-47 on the big screen.) It wouldn’t feel like a retread of ground already covered, and it sidesteps the issue of having to recast Luke, Leia, Han and the rest.

The Bad

It would be a lot more work translating the stories from the video games to something that would work for a movie franchise. Structurally, the two non-MMO games weren’t nearly as closely connected as the movie trilogies have been, with only a few secondary characters common between them. It would be tricky figuring out how to break one or both stories neatly into three self-contained parts. And some fans would be deeply disappointed in a Star Wars that didn’t have any common characters from the earlier films. Even Yoda isn’t as old as the Old Republic.

Of course, Disney may elect to do neither. They may come up with entirely new stories set in Lucas’ galaxy far, far away. It could become a Pixar project, for all we know.

I do know that I’ll be watching eagerly for news. Perhaps with Lucas stepping aside, there’s a new hope for great Star Wars stories on the big screen after all. What do you think?

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