The Star Wars News Roundup – 3.8.13


Episode VII News Summary

George Lucas spilled the beans this week that Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were pretty much signed already for Star Wars: Episode VII before the Disney deal was even made.

“We had already signed Mark and Carrie and Harrison—or we were pretty much in final stages of negotiation,” Lucas said. “So I called them to say, ‘Look, this is what’s going on.'” He pauses. “Maybe I’m not supposed to say that. I think they want to announce that with some big whoop-de-do, but we were negotiating with them.” Then he adds: “I won’t say whether the negotiations were successful or not.”

Earlier in the week, PalmBeachIllustrated reported that Carrie Fisher confirmed her return to the series. Even though her rep claims it was a joke, here is what she said:

Can you confirm whether you’ll reprise the role of Princess Leia?


What do you think Princess Leia is like today?

Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home [laughs]. I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle.

And still wearing the bagel buns?

The bagel buns and the bikini, because probably she has sundowners syndrome. At sundown, she thinks that she’s 20-something. And she puts it on and gets institutionalized.

TheForce.Net also directed readers to an interview in The Sydney Morning Herald where James Earl Jones confirmed he’d like to return to Star Wars:

“Oh yeah, I would love to be a part of that,” he told media in Sydney, while promoting the play Driving Miss Daisy.
“David Prowse would return in the costume and I would do the voice for David.”
Disney has said the standalone films would be released during the six-year period of the new trilogy, starting in 2015 with Star Wars: Episode VII, with Star Trek director JJ Abrams taking the helm.
Jones likes the idea of making more Star Wars movies.
“It’s money isn’t it?” he said, getting laughs from the media.
“It’s always a good idea. But George has left. George has gone onto something else.”

While Darth Vader isn’t really an option for “Episode VII,” maybe he could lend his voice to one of the standalone films?

In the rumor department, Nerdvana reports that “Episode VII” will introduce Han and Leia’s “child and grandchild.” If this is true and it follow’s the Expanded Universe, then this would indicate it would feature Jaina Solo and a new grandchild character. This could also indicate that it would be set AFTER the current books and comics and could potentially leave all of that continuity intact.

The same source of the rumor also claims that there will be no Yoda spinoff movie and that J.J. Abrams is signed for three movies. We’ll see if this source pans out.

Star Wars Episode VII Wish List

As a lifelong fan of Star Wars, I have to say that it still hasn’t sunk in that a sequel trilogy is in the works. I honestly never expected it to happen and it still doesn’t seem real. Yet here we are. Now with Kathleen Kennedy producing, Michael Arndt writing, and J.J. Abrams directing, they can maybe deliver the Star Wars film that fans have wanted so long for. But what, exactly, is that?

The only way I can illustrate what I, personally, want in a Star Wars sequel is to point at my favorite movie in the saga – “The Empire Strikes Back.” It did practically everything right and is a good roadmap for building a better trilogy. So what did it do so right that should be replicated? Read on!

Big Revelations
Unless you lived it, it’s hard to explain what jaw dropping revelations “The Empire Strikes Back” delivered to fans. There was, of course, the surprise that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Very rarely has such a bombshell been dropped on audiences. It came out of nowhere and even after it was revealed, kids on the playground debated it for three years before it was confirmed in “Return of the Jedi.” Surely Vader was lying! Anyway, if Episode VII could deliver a similar shock and let audiences experience that feeling again, it would be a great thing. And while Luke’s parentage was the most well-known surprise of the film, there were others. As far as audiences knew, the little green Muppet on Dagobah was the herald of Yoda, not Yoda himself. As far as audiences knew, Leia might still fall in love with Luke rather than Han Solo. The prequel trilogy didn’t really have any major surprises like this. I would hope that Episode VII could make fans rethink everything they thought they knew about the Star Wars Saga.

New Characters
It’s easy to forget just how many major characters were introduced in “The Empire Strikes Back.” We got Yoda for the first time and he made us rethink what a Jedi could be. We got Lando Calrissian, who further expanded Han Solo’s background and proved there were actually black people in the Star Wars Universe. We got Boba Fett, who introduced us to the world of Bounty Hunters. And we got our first look at The Emperor, albeit in a different form. While the Emperor had little screentime, you knew he was bad if Darth Vader bowed to him. None of the other films were able to bring so many major characters to the series at one time with such lasting impact. The prequels gave us Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, Mace Windu, Padme, Jango Fett, and General Grevious, but none of them have had the staying power of the classic trilogy characters. Episode VII has a huge blank slate to work with and can create a whole slew of new characters. They all just need to have similarly cool designs and bring something new to the universe.

Mystify the Force
In “A New Hope,” we got our first little glimpse of the Force. We knew a little bit of what you could do with it, but “The Empire Strikes Back” took it to a whole other level. Luke used the Force to make objects fly to him. It allowed Obi-Wan to appear as a ghost. Yoda taught us that it had a will of its own and it was guiding people to some unknown goal. It could allow you to see the future. It was a mystical, mysterious power that drew audiences in. Then in “The Phantom Menace,” George Lucas took much of that mysticism away by saying people accessed the Force through ‘midi-chlorians,’ microscopic critters that infected certain people’s bodies. By adding some sort of science to the Force, it took away from a lot of what had been built up before. J.J. Abrams needs to try and take the series back to its mystical roots. We need more ghosts, light, dark, faith, and hope and less science.

The Music
“The Empire Strikes Back” continued the great music tradition of “A New Hope.” It is best known for “The Imperial March” and deservedly so. But it brought some other great themes as well. We got “Yoda’s Theme,” which recurred throughout the rest of the films. We got “Han Solo and The Princess,” the classic love theme. And we got “The Asteroid Field,” one of the best action scores in any movie. While this single episode produced many recognizable tunes, the most notable themes in the entire prequel trilogy were “Duel of the Fates” and “Battle of the Heroes.” John Williams needs to find his A-game again if he’s able to. The music needs as much attention as the effects.

Iconic Ships
ESB also introduced us to new technology we hadn’t seen before. We got the iconic AT-AT, a design that still resonates today. While we see parody videos and art featuring the AT-AT33 years later, you don’t exactly see the Naboo Starfighter from the “The Phantom Menace” viewed with the same fondness. We also got a Star Destroyer on steroids – The Super Star Destroyer. It made the already impressive Star Destroyer look like a guppy next to a Great White shark. Then we also got Cloud City and Boba Fett’s ship Slave-I. All of these were great designs that fit in the world while all of the ships in the prequels never quite felt like they fit and they didn’t foster the same sense of nostalgia. Find a battle scene where they fit and practically become characters on their own.

New Worlds
“The Empire Strikes Back” introduced us to four new locations – the ice planet of Hoth, the asteroid field, the swamp planet of Dagobah, and the gas planet of Bespin. These were all great locations and ones that we hadn’t visited before like with the numerous trips to Tatooine. And while they worked for the original trilogy, they were all still extrapolations of Earth environments (or planets in our solar system). While “Episode VII” should similarly expand on the new worlds of the Star Wars universe, it should also give us something out of imagination. “Avatar” raised the bar by giving us a world with giant aliens, bioluminescent life forms, and entirely new topography and flora. Even “Oz The Great and Powerful” gives us entirely new worlds. “Episode VII” needs to find that balance of incredibly imaginative locations that still feel real and not like a CG cartoon world. The prequels did this to some degree, but it needs to be taken to the next level in “Episode VII.” It will be a challenge for J.J. Abrams to pull off.

The Right Tone
ESB managed to find the perfectly right tone for the episode. It had humor in the scenes with Han and Leia fighting, Yoda antagonizing Luke, and Lando getting choked by Chewbacca. But it also had plenty of drama with Luke almost dying on Hoth, Vader chopping off his hand, Han Solo being frozen and carbonite, and more. Then there was romance with Leia falling in love with Han. It managed to take action, drama, comedy, and romance and merge them into a pitch perfect story. J.J. Abrams needs to replicate that like he did in the “Star Trek” movie. He also needs to stay away from dumbing down the movie in an effort to appeal to kids like Lucas did in the prequels. There was little, if anything, in “The Empire Strikes Back” that was dumbed down for kids and we all loved it. Chances are if adults think it is cool, kids will, too.

Cliffhanger Moment
Many people don’t realize it, but “The Empire Strikes Back” featured the first feature-length film with a cliffhanger ending. Up until then, every film was wrapped up in the end with a nice and neat conclusion. By the end of ESB, Han Solo was encased in carbonite on his way to Jabba the Hutt, Darth Vader may or may not be Luke Skywalker’s father, and Luke hadn’t finished his Jedi training. Plus Yoda made mention of a mysterious “other” in a throwaway line. All this left audiences in a buzz for the next three years until “Return of the Jedi” came along. It would be cool if J.J. Abrams and Co. could recreate that anticipation it would be a great thing.

While there is a heck of a lot more fans are looking for (like, say, a great plot), this is a good start. J.J. Abrams is working from a unique position where he has seen what worked and what didn’t from the previous films. Hopefully he can learn from those lessons and craft a film that we can call the best in the series.

Around The Web

TV Guide reports that Mark Hamill will have a guest appearance alongside George Takei on the March 27th episode of “The Neighbors.”

Despite decades of fan conventions, the sci-fi legends’ paths had never before crossed. “I apologized to George for not knowing Star Trek as well as most of the people who come up to him, and he thought that was a breath of fresh air,” says Hamill, who was living with his family in Japan when Trek first aired on CBS.

CBS News interviewed George Lucas and he took them on a tour of Skywalker Ranch. He also expressed his interest in creating an art museum in San Francisco. Watch the video below:

Additional plans for the art museum can be seen at The Presidio.

Neatorama – New Yoda street art….with a moustache.

Neatorama – Darth Vader with a pineapple head street art. No, I don’t know why either. Just go with it.

The Hollywood Reporter – Obama accidentally called it a “Jedi Mind Meld” rather than a “Jedi Mind Trick.” The media then immediately went online to try and drum up fanboy rage. Honestly, who cares.

Speaking of manufactured fanboy rage, TheForce.Net reports that Lucasfilm is making the Flyers hockey team fix the red lightsaber Yoda is carrying on a player’s helmet. Now I can finally sleep at night.

Book & Comic News

Lucasfilm executive editor and writer J.W. Rinzler confirmed that Brad Bird will be writing the upcoming introduction to “The Making of Return of the Jedi.”

Met with Brad Bird last week and he agreed to write the foreword for the Making of ROTJ. Everyone is excited…

TheForce.Net interviewed Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, author of the new book “The Last Jedi”:

“What fascinated me about it, and I know Michael too, was this idea that the Darth Vader that Jax Pavan is confronting is not the Darth Vader that Luke Skywalker confronts in A New Hope or in Return of the Jedi. It’s not the same creature; it’s not the same person. What’s really inside that suit at the point that Jax comes into the picture is another young man his own age, maybe a little bit older, who is in psychic pain and beyond angry. He is in both psychic pain and physical pain. When they meet in The Last Jedi, they meet as two young men who are both in tremendous amounts of pain.”

ABC – LEGOLAND is welcoming a Star Wars exhibit.

TheForce.Net – guys made a Jabba the Hutt out of snow!

Bloomberg Businessweek – How Disney Bought Lucasfilm.

Collecting News – Stormtrooper Chocolate Easter Bunnies! Who said Walmart has no class! You can also see more Star Wars Easter items here. – Check out this video of a new die cast C-3PO figure from Tamashii Nation

Matt Busch – Jedi baseball stickers for sale!

Follow Scott on Twitter at @Red5Aggie!