(Warning - mild SPOILERS for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens may lie below - or they may not, seeing as much of what we have to go on at this point is pure speculation. Proceed, then, with whatever level of caution that suggests to you...)
Now, when it comes to loving Star Wars, there aren't a whole lot of limitations on what we can embrace. Only love the original trilogy? That's a-ok. Ruthlessly devoured every Expanded Universe novel? That's a-ok too. Think Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the best movie in the series? That's completely legitimate (although I'd be prepared for a few arguments at parties).
There is, though, one small problem with the saga's wide-reaching appeal: A whole lot of what we once thought of as 'Star Wars' has, over the past few years, been relegated to second class status. Love the novels? Well, if they came out more than a year ago, they're now unofficial. Love the classic comic books? Well, they are too. In fact, with Episode VII: The Force Awakens now very much on the horizon, there's even cause for fans of the prequel trilogy to get a little nervy.
It Seems Episode VII Might Skip the Prequels Entirely
Or, rather, that it might ignore a whole lot of what went on within the three movies' running time, and that of the TV series' that ran alongside them.
After all, when asked earlier this year about his influences while making Episode VII, director J.J. Abrams revealed:
"We tried to sit down and ask ourselves, ‘what feels right?...The only real mandate we had was what delights us. We treated the films, especially 4, 5, and 6, we treated those as canon."
Which, added to his comments in August that there would definitively not be any midi-chlorians in the upcoming Episode VII, would seem to suggest that Abrams has taken a pretty hard line when it comes to incorporating elements of the prequels mythos into the new trilogy. At the very least, it seems that he and the rest of the creative team will have been highly selective, and it's not at all impossible to imagine that we'll see pretty much no referencing of the prequels whatsoever.
What Does That Mean for Episode VII, Though?
Well, on the surface, not all that much. Indeed, the apparent absence of the prequels in Abrams's planning may well serve -- for the films' detractors, at any rate -- to highlight how inconsequential they can be seen as being to the enjoyment of the original trilogy. You can, after all, enjoy Empire Strikes Back without knowing anything about Darth Vader's youth, and love (or hate) the Ewoks with little awareness of what a Jar Jar Binks is.
On the other hand, though, it suggests a move away from several key concepts that Lucas introduced within the prequels. Midi-chlorians seem to be gone -- and may not be missed by many -- but key elements such as the 'balancing of the force' and the centrality of the Skywalker family could well be absent too.
With a whole lot of our assumptions about the upcoming Episode VII based on those themes being present -- hence the multitude of theories involving a load of new Jedis, and multiple Skywalker kids -- Abrams having moved away from the prequels could well make a big difference come this December...