J.J. Abrams caught the ire of millions of Star Wars fans when he recently came out and said he would not be following the Timothy Zahn "Heir to the Empire" book series that, up to this point, was considered canon to the Star Wars universe. After nearly two decades of Zahn’s book being out, with all the climactic points and the ending already given, it can be understandable why Abrams would want to tread a new path. After all, we make movies for ticket sales, and knowing the whole story already doesn’t do well for science fiction.
To these ends I have scoured over the first trilogy in hopes of finding out what lies in store for us. Below is what I would consider the strongest possibility to appear in Abrams readaption. I have also included some of the more popular ideas put out in fanfic, assuming that Abrams will draw pieces from these to help cushion the blow to the angry fans who were hoping they would get a glimpse of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
[Star Wars: Episode VII](movie:711158): Birth of the New Republic.
With the demise of the two Sith Lords, Vader and Palpatine, and the subsequent success of the Rebel Alliance, inner turmoil begins to rise as people of power begin to vie for position. Within the political halls of the New Republic, both Princess Leia and Rebel Alliance founder Mon Mothma battle for Chief of State. Having pushed Admiral Ackbar out during what has been considered a move of "racial intolerance" many star systems see the New Republic as no better than the Empire, which often chose less worthy humans over experts of other races.
While Leia has the popular vote, Mothma strikes a heavy blow by informing the galaxy of Mrs. Solo's Jedi abilities. Quoting the beliefs of the Jedi of the Old Republic and their condemnation of Jedi entering politics, Mon Mothma uses Palpatine's rise to power as a selling point to why the princess should be banned from this and subsequent ballots. To further these aims, Mothma also makes public the knowledge that Leia Solo is the daughter of Darth Vader himself, and while she may have been pivotal in the destruction of the Emperor and his apprentice, killing off Sith Lords of greater power is a commonality with those who practice the Dark Side, and because of this the Princess cannot be trusted.
In her continued assault on Leia's character, Mothma also connects Leia's bloodline to Luke Skywalker, who has left to rebuild the Jedi Academy far away from Coruscant; a move Mothma considered "strange and unnerving," holding the belief that if the Academy is moved from where it had once stood, it could only mean that Luke and his sister must be hiding something from the New Republic. She then reminds the council of the Sith “rule of two,” and how convenient it is that the two known Jedi are already making secrets.
Han Solo, meanwhile, has joined forces with his old friend Lando Calrissian and several dozen fighters of the Red 5-9 divisions to hunt down the remaining Imperial forces and take their ships and resources to rebuild the New Republic. While pursuing a Star Destroyer beyond the Outer Rim, Solo and Lando are captured by a new threat to the Republic. A Sith Lord and his apprentices who pay lineage to a powerful sith known as Darth Saedus, who had the foresight to escape the purging of the Dark Jedi brought on by Darth Bane and his Rule of Two. Darth Revius, leader of the new sith band, has waited patiently for the rebels to remove his greatest threat, Darth Sidious, so his plans of galactic domination can come to fruition.
As darkness once again begins to shroud the galaxy, Obi Wan Kenobi speaks to Luke about a former Jedi Master who went into hiding after the destruction of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant who can help Luke restore the Jedi to their former glory as well as push back the oppression Darth Revius wishes to deliver to the New Republic. What only a handful of despicable beings understands is that Revius is merely a ruse, a focal point for the real threat which already calmly walks the floors of the new Senate Leia and Mothma have created. This Dark Lord of the Sith has no desire to climb the political ranks as Palpatine did, however. He plans to crush the New Republic from within even as he gathers the remnants of the Empire together on an attack that threatens to destroy Coruscant itself. Leia can feel the presence of the Dark Side among them as she battles Mothma for position, but knows she cannot speak publicly of it as Mothma would use it against her to further her own ambitions.
While on the way to meet the Jedi Master Obi wan spoke about, Luke comes across a young, beautiful girl who he quickly realizes is strong in the Force, but doesn't appear to realize it. He becomes smitten over her and promises to train her to be a Jedi. What Luke fails to foresee is that this innocent female has already been trained in how to use the Force by Darth Revius. She was sent to seduce the Jedi Master and stop him from completing the Jedi Academy altogether. If she can turn him to the Dark Side, all the better.
While Lucas claims the six movies under his belt were about the rise, fall and rebirth of Anakin Skywalker, the series itself also is about the corruption of the Old Republic. Its demise at the hands of Palpatine and its rebirth into something new but fragile as well. It would be wise to think that if Abrams is not going to follow the stories that Zahn and others have written, he will most likely hold onto core components that held all the movies together. Without the menacing monster in the black body suit to swing around, and with the subject being a major issue in real life, focusing the main plot around political greed, social unrest and characters with cloudy motives, Abrams is sure to draw attention.
(Header image thanks to Wookiepedia)