It’s kind of a good news/bad news situation for the new Star Wars film, Episode VII. The bad news is that Michael Arndt is no longer writing the screenplay. However, his work has not been for nothing, as they are merely taking over from where he left off. It’s also likely that they’ll go back through everything he’s written, making changes whenever and wherever necessary. We probably won’t know until the film gets closer to release whether Arndt will be credited in any way.
The good news is that J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan are the writers that are taking over the screenwriting duties. J.J. Abrams is, of course, the creator of many of the best TV shows of the last decade. Lawrence Kasdan is a name that, if you know Star Wars history, you’ll recognize as the screenwriter for The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s been a while since his words have been spoken in a Star Wars film, and kind of sad that he didn’t get to take a few passes on each of the Star Wars prequels. However, that is changing with the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII. Kasdan is now at work on the new film, and I couldn’t be more excited about it than I am now.
A rumor has surfaced in the past couple of days that has actor Benedict Cumberbatch potentially playing a role in the new Star Wars trilogy. As Cumberbatch recently played a major villain in Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, the idea of him playing a primary villain in the new Star Wars trilogy has me more excited than ever for the next three films. The rumor is that he’ll play a Sith villain in all three of the films in the trilogy, making him the new trilogy’s Darth Vader of sorts. If this keeps up, the Sherlock actor will have played a pretty major villain in some of the largest movies in history. This casting, if it pans out, is absolutely a brilliant maneuver, and should happen.
Benedict Cumberbatch could add this role to a list that includes the dragon Smaug from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The rumor is that he had to drop out of Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak for this role. It hasn’t been announced yet, however, and could turn out to be as much of a rumor as anything. If this pans out… whoa… somehow they’re making moves on these films that are both shockingly cool and giving us a lot of hope that we’ll finally get a Star Wars film that brings the fandom back to where I have remained since I got in to the saga in the mid-90s. Please be true.
Since the announcement that Disney bought Lucasfilm, there has been a wide range of reactions to it, from the very optimistic and positive, to the stunningly negative and outrageous. There are many reasons to be optimistic though, and I feel there are no valid arguments against Disney at this point. Within the last few years, Disney has made some pretty smart moves with their acquisitions. Let’s take a look at that to see why Star Wars is safe in the House of Mouse.
First, some background on the Expanded Universe
Since 1991’s release of Heir to the Empire, new Star Wars stories have been released pretty consistently. Books that cover, so far, about 44 years of adventures after the Battle of Yavin (which is the battle that takes place in A New Hope). This territory includes many adventures with the primary cast from the trilogy, as well as their children, the Empire, and changes to the known universe. A lot of great adventures that land all over the timeline. If a character dies in a particular book, any book that happens later on cannot have that character suddenly living as if nothing has happened. What people that don’t know, or understand, that haven’t looked into the Expanded Universe, is that it all happens on the same timeline. This means that a book that happens on the timeline between two previously written books can’t change things so much that the following story doesn’t make sense, so that there’s a logical progression.
Now, with new Star Wars sequels coming to film, how does that effect the Expanded Universe?
Since the Star Wars prequels, many things have been said about the state of Star Wars and the fandom. And that includes a massive hours-long rant by a fan that people claim to be the definitive answer to George Lucas’ prequel trilogy. To that particular individual I say, “eh, get over it.” At this point, it’s all moot anyway.
Many things have been said about the new Star Wars trilogy, but I’ve not yet read anything that talks about why this isn’t going to be another prequel trilogy repeat. The reason why it’s different from the prequels will surprise you, because it has nothing to do with the quality of the films, and everything to do with the story.
It comes down to this: we don’t know what is going to happen next. The sense of discovery that we had with the Original Trilogy unfolding before us will be present.