The Star Wars News Roundup – 3.1.2013


Episode VII News Summary

Several rumors popped up this week and were promptly shot down. First up, Marketsaw reported that actor Simon Pegg was being courted for a role in Episode VII and director Alfonso Cuaron was being considered to direct one of the standalone films. Simon Pegg took directly to Twitter to address the rumor:

“No idea where this silly rumour about me attached to the new Star Wars film came from but I can confirm that it’s absolute Bantha poodoo.”

As for Cuaron, so many directors are being considered right now it’s way too premature to single one out as a frontrunner.

Ain’t It Cool News started another rumor that a movie version of the game “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” was being considered. They promptly retracted this rumor when contacted by the game writer Drew Karpyshyn.

Having run TheForce.Net during the Special Editions and all three prequels, I can tell you that movie news websites get flooded with fake news items. Some are obvious fabrications while others aren’t as obvious. You don’t start getting factual reports until much closer to the production start. So unless it is from official sources or reliable news sites, I wouldn’t put too much stock in these news reports.

Meanwhile, people continue to ask the original trilogy actors if they’re prepared to return for the new sequels. TheForce.Net reports that radio station 95.7 KJR finally caught up with Billy Dee Williams and asked if he wanted to come back.

“Well, I’m like everybody else, we’re all speculating and we’re all wondering. If they want me to participate, I’d love to participate. I love the idea of keeping the character alive. And I specifically want to keep him alive, as long as I’m alive.”

So when is someone going to catch up with Denis Lawson to ask if Wedge is coming back?

It has been mentioned that the new films will focus on the Skywalker and Solo children. So who are they? Well, if the films follow the Expanded Universe, then the family tree will look something like this as created by Chartgeek and pointed out by Geekologie.

Finally, check out the Forcecast for more podcast discussion about the Star Wars sequels.

The Villains of Episode VII

While it’s pretty clear who the heroes of the new “Star Wars” films will be, the antagonists are a bit less clear. Who will create the wars in “Star Wars”? There are an awful lot of options, and almost all of them have already been explored in the Expanded Universe. Which ones worked, which ones didn’t, and which ones are the best options? Read on…

The Cloned Emperor

Way back in 1991, the comic “Dark Empire” from Dark Horse featured an intriguing villain – a cloned Emperor Palpatine. The premise was that in “Return of the Jedi” when the Emperor was killed by Darth Vader, his Sith powers transferred his spirit into the body of a clone of himself in a vault on another planet. Palpatine then came back and started trying to reclaim control of the galaxy. (That was pretty cool, but then the story also featured Luke Skywalker becoming resurrected Palpatine’s apprentice in order to find a way to defeat him. That didn’t make a lot of sense.)

Why This Would Be A Good Idea
Cloning is a big theme in “Star Wars,” so resurrecting the Emperor using the technology is a fun idea. On top of that, it expands on the ‘unnatural’ powers of Palpatine which he alluded to in “Revenge of the Sith.” It might also open up the possibility that Anakin Skywalker wasn’t the product of a midi-clorian birth as described in “The Phantom Menace,” but a product of freaky-deaky Sith experimentation by Palpatine. Also, bringing in a new actor to play young Ian McDiarmid could be fun and it ties the previous two trilogies together. This is, essentially, resurrecting Hitler for World War III.

Why This Would Be A Bad Idea
Making the villain the cloned Emperor would be a lot like making a second Death Star in “Return of the Jedi.” It has all been done before….why do it again? Break new ground. Don’t retread old territory. And bringing back the Emperor would seem to take away from Darth Vader’s sacrifice at the end of Episode VI.

Invaders from a Neighboring Galaxy

With the book series “The New Jedi Order,” the Star Wars Universe was invaded by an external threat – the Yuuzhan Vong. These invaders took over the galaxy planet by planet, eventually going as far as Coruscant. The villains even managed to kill Chewbacca as well as Han and Leia’s youngest son Anakin Solo. These aliens had all of their technology based on organics and were also not visible in the Force, thus befuddling the new Jedi in the series. This unstoppable threat forced the Republic and what was left of the Empire to join forces before finally saving the day.

Why This Would Be A Good Idea
Bringing in any new threat from outside of the Star Wars galaxy, whether it is the Yuuzhan Vong or not, is a good idea because it is essentially a blank slate. The ships, aliens, and technology can be whatever you want them to be, and it’s not simply Jedi battling Sith again. It allows for fresh ideas to come into play. It also forces the Republic and Empire to work together, and the theme of reconciliation is a good one for a new trilogy. Having kids see enemies putting aside their differences for the greater good is a better theme than seeing their hero choke his pregnant wife to death.

Why This Would Be A Bad Idea
Having a blank slate for the villains can go off the rails pretty quickly. The Yuuzhan Vong had organic technology which was a good idea, but it didn’t take long for it to feel like it was not part of the Star Wars movie universe. It felt more like H.R. Giger and “Alien” than Ralph McQuarrie and “A New Hope.” The Yuuzhan Vong were also religious zealots and their cult of pain worship grew tedious over time. Finally, as far as villains, go they were dark. Very dark. They didn’t match the tone of the films well, and that’s a risk you take with any external invader.

Remnants of the Empire

In the book “Heir to the Empire” by Timothy Zahn, a group of Imperials returned from an expedition into the Unknown Region of the galaxy to find the Empire collapsed, the Jedi returned, and the Rebels now in control. Naturally, that didn’t sit too well with them. And fortunately for them, they were led by Grand Admiral Thrawn. A brilliant strategist sidelined by the Empire’s anti-alien policies, Thrawn leads the Imperials in victory after victory and begins to break the Alliance’s fragile control of the galaxy.

Why This Would Be A Good Idea
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing X-Wings battle TIE Fighters, AT-AT’s on the battlefield, and Star Destroyers blasting away at the Alliance fleet. So there is some appeal to seeing what’s left of the Empire backed into a corner and fighting to the last man.

Why This Would Be A Bad Idea
While Grand Admiral Thrawn was a great tactician who led the Imperials to numerous victories, he’s a limited threat to the Jedi one on one. Alone against Luke Skywalker and a lightsaber, any Imperial is outmatched. You need a threat that can take on a Jedi head to head (as Zahn addressed by bring an insane cloned Jedi into the mix to battle Luke). So if you’re going to bring Imperials into the mix, you have to bring a lot more in along with them.

New Sith

If the galaxy can be repopulated with new Jedi, it can be repopulated with new Sith as well, right? Since “Return of the Jedi,” there haven’t been many full blooded Sith. In the book series “Legacy of the Force,” Han Solo and Leia’s son Jacen turned to the Dark Side and became Darth Caedus. Later in the comic series “Legacy” from Dark Horse, Luke Skywalker’s descendant Cade Skywalker does battle with a host of red and black tattooed Sith including the female Darth Talon. But for further examples of Sith warriors, you can look back to the Old Republic for all sorts of varieties of Sith.

Why This Would Be A Good Idea
Sith and Jedi are like chocolate and peanut butter. They go great together. And since the whole Star Wars Saga is about the Light Side vs. the Dark Side, it makes sense that the Sith appear and represent the other side of the coin when it comes to the Force. Plus the Sith are one of the few legitimate threats the Jedi can face head on. You could also bring in some new characters to spice things up. A love interest for the kids of Leia and Han that is secretly evil? A character that is secretly the offspring of Palpatine? There are a bunch of possibilities.

Why This Would Be A Bad Idea
Practically every Sith that has been created since the films has been a weaker copy of Darth Maul or Darth Vader. They’re all either tattooed like Maul, a cyborg, or they have a strange armor. Few of the creators have really brought much new to the table when it comes to the Sith. And most of the Sith rant about the Dark Side in a repetitive way that becomes tedious. Neither their designs nor their motivations are that intriguing and a movie would have to really step things up to create something engaging. Even Darth Maul was simply a cool action character with little depth. Audiences will want something more. And I have to say that turning Han and Leia’s son to the Dark Side was pretty depressing, not to mention repetitive consider who his grandfather was. I hope the films don’t go in this direction.

There are, of course, other threats in the galaxy such as crime organizations (like in “Shadows of the Empire”), bounty hunters, Dark Jedi (who are not full fledged Sith), droids, and politicians, but they aren’t good antagonists on their own. They need to be part of a larger threat as mentioned above. (But please, let’s not have more Senate debates and trade discussions in a sequel.) Overall, J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt have a lot of great possibilities in front of them, but they have just as many pitfalls to avoid as the Expanded Universe shows.

Around The Web

The Huffington Post – Tim Curry has joined the cast of Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the role of Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. – A Star Wars baby mobile! Start your kid off in life right with this parenting win.
Geekologie – A Boba Fett mixer for the kitchen. Do not question it. – Jabba the Hutt and Slave Leia purse. So wrong, yet so right.

Geekologie – A Star Destroyer shaped cloud in Finland.
USA Today – A tour of Steve Sansweet’s legendary Star Wars collection at Rancho Obi-Wan – Get your lightsaber classes in San Francisco – Gentle Giant rolls out this list of 40 jumbo action figures
TheForce.Net Books – Del Rey has rolled up the release of their new books” as well as the untitled Leia novel
Del Rey – Check out the new book “The Last Jedi” by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Daily Mail UK – Read Alec Guinness’ private letters about the Star Wars cast and crew
Sideshow Toys – An exceptionally cool Darth Vader statue. Start saving your credits. – Star Wars toys in my French museum? It’s more likely than you may think. – Rare Star Wars comics from Palitoy
Yahoo! Sports – Yoda + red lightsaber + hockey helmet = manufactured fanboy outrage
Neatorama – Check out this amusing video talking about a costume contest at the premiere of “The Phantom Menace”
Comic Book Resources – Here is a preview of Brian Wood’s Star Wars #3 comic

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