Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Well, the Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens and Avengers: Age of Ultron trailers have been unveiled. We now have months of deafening silence and rumors to contend with until the actual films are released. Personally, the distance between now and this summer seems insurmountable. My interest in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens is slowly bubbling. I mean, I’m a pretty hardcore X-Wing: Rogue Squadron fan, so even a single scene of X-Wing combat would ALONE sell the movie for me.
I guess the thing I’m struck by, considering all of the rumors and even the teaser itself, is how strange I think this next trilogy might be. I’ve heard George Lucas described the story outlines he gave over to Disney for this last trilogy as ethereal. What would that mean exactly?
The Force Awakens. Was it not awake before? Has it been dormant for some time? There’s something about that Stormtrooper's tense, alert, panicked look at the beginning that leave me wondering what exactly he’s reacting to. Maybe it’s as simple as "I can’t believe I’m alive!" but then again maybe it’s something like "what is this wild, spiritual sensation I’m suddenly having!?"
I guess if there’s one thing I’m bracing myself for (again), it’s this: the future of the Star Wars universe might be depressing (at least at the start of this new episode). At the end of Return of the Jedi, there was the iconic vision of victory. All that was wrong seemed like it had been put right. But has the Alliance made any ground since then? Those X-Wing pilots uniforms show us that the Alliance--if not the New Republic--is still active. But have they even been able to set up a stable government or have things just ground into an endless conflict, an eternal back and forth between rebel forces and the old imperial guard? Sure, you can blow up a Death Star, but there’s still a lot of Star Destroyers out there.
I guess, growing up, I always sort of thought of Star Wars as this visionary struggle of good and evil. When we finally got to see the complicated and winding politics of the Old Republic, we realized that the Star Wars universe wasn’t that simple. It wasn’t that Anakin and Obi-Wan’s struggles weren’t heroic exactly; it’s just that the conflicts they fought in didn’t amount to much given the tide of history. In the end, there was little they could do to stop the decline of the Republic. And suddenly the fight against the Separatists seems strange given that twenty some years later, the Rebels are suddenly the good guys.
Governments change and wars shift. The Star Wars universe has begun to highlight this a little bit more than I think our childhood selves are totally comfortable with. The point is this: maybe things haven’t worked out the way we hoped? Did Han and Leia really have a happy marriage? Did Luke find inner peace? Did all that fighting even lead to anything? Or now, another twenty years later, do the conflicts that came before suddenly seem old and meaningless? See, at the end of the day Luke Skywalker is actually my favorite character in Star Wars (excluding Wedge Antilles). When I take a step back and look at the whole thing Luke is kind of the man! I have often wondered what future episodes featuring him would entail.
It’s interesting to me that the final episode we saw was Return of the Jedi/ Because honestly, even though I love Yoda and Obi-Wan, I’m not totally sure if I felt like the Jedi really had all of the answers Luke needed. See I’m wondering how much Luke might not go on to be a Jedi, but maybe something else entirely? I guess part of what I’m thinking about is that word ethereal. And maybe I’m way off on this because frankly, the Jedi seem kind of synonymous with all that’s heroic and good in the Star Wars universe. And I have no problem with Lucas and J.J. Abrams keeping things that way.
But what if the final conclusion Star Wars is headed for isn’t the Light side overcoming the Dark side, but the idea that the conflict between them needs to stop altogether? I’m not exactly sure how that would all play out in plot elements. Or you know, it could be more simple and down to earth than that. Maybe it’ll be a classic return to the good guys vs. the bad guys. And that’d still be a movie that’d be fun for me. One thing I’m worried about. It seems to me that esteemed Jedi have a habit of dying off in the first episodes of trilogies (Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan). I'm going to be bumming if Luke dies right out of the gate. Although I’m not ruling it out.
One last thing here: it’ll be interesting to me to see how, if at all, this new cast of characters is connected to the previous generations. Nobody seems like they’re Han or Leia’s kids or anything (that we know). It would be an interesting departure if suddenly we get a cast of characters who aren’t necessarily part of the Skywalker lineage. Although I can’t confirm or deny that they will or won’t be. Just a thought.