1. So what happens next?
Return of the Jedi hits the credits with an exploded Death Star, space fireworks, and a visit from hologram Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a surprisingly un-burnt and grandfatherly-looking Darth Vader. But what happens next, exactly? One of two things. The next sequels (and yes, I said sequels because it would be fiscally irresponsible not to make at least three more), will either document Luke Skywalker going into retirement, playing space-golf with Han Solo, and complaining that he has empty nest syndrome over a couple of blue cocktails when he has to drop his kids off to the rebel academy, or we learn that all is not well in the galaxy far, far away. I’m guessing, the conflict comes from within. That after all the celebration, and galactic de-Palpatine-izaton, the rebels find that it’s much harder to keep a peace in the galaxy than to tear down some statues or destroy the Death Star. And that we'll learn the dark side of the force, isn’t shepherded by one master and his apprentice, but rather is one side of the continuum that even the most pious Jedi can fall into under the right circumstances. If that’s the case, there’s some galaxy-sized implications. Will we see a Luke Vader or Darth Skywalker? Is managing a balance between the light and dark side of the force as challenging as managing a balance between right and wrong in our everyday life? Brace yourselves for betrayal by our beloved characters. It's a good thing, it means that they will take on unthinkable new amounts of depth.
2. Will the script stay focused on what actually matters?Episodes I-III had so many damn characters to keep track of, the DVD release set should have come with your own R2 unit to project an interactive diagram so you knew who to root for. I lost track of the cornucopia of villains the moment I had to watch a 4-armed asthmatic robot fight Ewan McGreggor. Look, no one is saying they didn’t do a good job showing the vastness of the empire with so many settings and characters. But if you want your audience to empathize with who’s on the screen, you need to give them some time with those characters, and you need to let those characters develop. The best villains are the ones we like. There’s a reason why Heath Ledger (posthumously) won an Oscar after all. Give us three-dimensional characters and help us understand their motivation, and then let us spend a lot of time with them. Did you ever want the camera to leave Luke and Vader during their battle in The Empire Strikes Back? When Luke was hanging on that flimsy pylon, learning the truth about his father, no other conversation in the entire Star Wars universe mattered more to the audience.
3. So who is in charge of the galaxy?Is it the rebels? All they did was destroy the Death Star. I don’t know anything about space politics and fighting a war across an entire galaxy, but it seems like its a little premature to claim total victory if you just knock out one command center and space-base (albeit one pretty damn large one). I don’t think one could conquer the United States by surrounding the Pentagon with Ewoks. If in fact, that the Battle of Endor didn’t defeat the Empire, then there still may be a war to fight. If it does mean that the Empire as we know it doesn’t exist, then the rebels are now the new Empire. Or at least, they find themselves in charge of a lot of planets, needing to make the same decisions that their former enemy did. How do you preserve order in the galaxy? How do you protect it from other factions, like the Trade Federation? Who is in charge of the government? What kind of government do you establish? I imagine that before long, the rebels aren’t going to look much like rebels at all anymore. That’s okay in my book -- it means the seeds could be sowed for a really good film.
4. What happened to all the ancillary characters?I need to know! No..I’m kidding. We don’t need to know about them at all. I’m confident that the Chewbacca scene in Episode III was phoned in after someone in the editing room realized he hadn’t been referenced yet. Honestly, I don’t need to know what happens to Chewbacca unless he becomes seduced by the Dark Side and becomes Darth Chewie and stars lifting his enemies into the air with his Wookie screams. I could go three more Star Wars films and be content without seeing what happened to Chewbacca, R2D2, the Rancor, and that moth-lookin’ alien that sold Anakin Skywalker off. You know how to make this series good? Make it a standalone film that doesn’t need to make connections to the old ones. The beauty of setting the story after all of the previous films is that there’s a blank canvas. So, use it please!
5. How many special effects are we going to see exactly?I’m hoping the answer is somewhere between none, and a only a few -- and they’ll be so subtle we won’t even notice them. Anyone else feel like the new episodes all looked like those cheesy video game cutscenes from PC games in the 90s, with actors in goofy costumes that were so clearly in front of a green screen that you couldn’t wait to skip them, and get back to some Command & Conquer gameplay? Even in a beautiful and expansive universe, I still never felt like I was “in” the action. The cartoony feel made everything look so fake that I couldn’t be engaged. Let’s keep it simple and gritty. Think of how much more compelling the the final battle in Episode III could have been if it took place where you weren’t distracted by the surroundings. The lava and backflips took away the focus from what should have been one of the most epic moments in all of film, the betrayal of Obi Wan Kenobi by his protege Anikin Skywalker. I would have rather seen the fight in an Arby’s parking lot if it meant the focus was on the characters.
What else do you want to see in the new films?
(Cover image credit Brett Jordan)