As I write this, it is Saturday, December 26th, 2015; I have seen Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens four times so far, and will probably see it again before the end of this month. Needless to say, I am very satisfied with the work of J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Kathleen Kennedy, and the entire cast & crew who spent the better part of the last two years creating this film. As a lifelong Star Wars fan, The Force Awakens presses all of my buttons–it has lightsaber duels, family drama, X-wing & TIE fighter dogfights, people struggling to find their purpose & destiny in a galaxy far, far away… the works.
Now that we’ve all (mostly) had a chance to let the events of this film sink in, it’s about that time for us uber-nerds to start to look towards the next installments in the franchise. Episode VII is, after all, the first in a new trilogy that that will include Episode 8 in 2017, and Episode 9 in 2019. When those films arrive, we will likely have answers to the many questions and issues that Episode VII has raised. What follows is my list of story elements and character developments that I’m hoping to see in these upcoming movies.
MASSIVE AND UNRELENTING SPOILER ALERT: The following discussion will thoroughly and enthusiastically destroy your ability to watch Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens if you care about experiencing all the twists and turns of the story as they occur. You have been warned.
1. Way More Luke Skywalker
The Classic Trilogy is inarguably the story of Luke Skywalker’s journey–so I remain disappointed that Mark Hamill was not given a single line of dialogue in the film. Luke’s knowledge and capabilities in the original films grow by leaps and bounds… where might he be decades later? With the amount of screen time Han has in The Force Awakens, we would be able to witness his development. So far, we can only imagine how his skills have progressed, even in his island exile.
Kylo Ren is the most powerful Force-user in Episode VII. We see him stop a blaster bolt in mid-air, extract information directly from Poe’s mind, and put Rey to sleep with a wave of his hand–but he is still young and undisciplined. What might Jedi Master Luke Skywalker be capable of?
We need to see Luke display Yoda-level abilities, from the casual to the monumental. That X-wing that he was unable to lift as an apprentice? Small potatoes. I want to see Master Skywalker display a positively supernatural awareness of the world(s) around him. Perhaps in his hermitage he has developed a relationship with his environment such that all of the plants and animals respond to his presence. Once-vicious predators are now his affectionate companions, and every time he returns from his cliff-side meditations there is a perfectly ripened apple waiting for him to pluck. I want to see a version of Luke Skywalker who has become one with the Force.
2. Leia using the Force
And while we’re on the subject of Force development: future Star Wars stories really ought to show Princess–now General–Leia Organa to be nearly as strong in the Force as her brother (if untrained.) We do see her react to the murder of Han Solo as it happens, but can we let her have some other abilities as well?
The version of Leia that we have in this series is definitely different from her Expanded Universe (“Legacy Canon”) counterpart, who became a Jedi Knight and built her own lightsaber, but surely a bit of telekinesis wouldn’t be out of the question? Leia is already an incisive and empathetic person, so we ought to be able to see her call upon the Force to help her plan Resistance attacks or build relationships with allies. In the wake of the destruction of the Senate of the Republic on Hosnian Prime, her role as a leader and mediator may be called upon once again–she was a diplomat, once upon a time, after all.
3. Rey’s Parentage Revealed
The sooner, the better. There has been a tremendous amount of fan speculation that she is the child of Leia or Han or even Obi-Wan Kenobi (somehow), but I favor the theory that she is Luke’s daughter. The specific flavors of relationships that she makes and maintains during the events of The Force Awakens make this the most likely possibility, even discounting her massive sensitivity to the Force.
Given Harrison Ford’s performance throughout his scenes with Daisy Ridley, I think it’s very clear that he knows her, or is pretty sure that he does. Han offers Rey a job, gives her a blaster, allows her to work on the Falcon, and seems generally invested in keeping her around and keeping her safe. Additionally, there is a conversation that occurs off-screen in a fairly conspicuous fashion: when Han has brought Rey, Finn and BB-8 to Takadona, Maz Kanata asks him, “who’s the girl?” and the film IMMEDIATELY cuts away. This film is full of very deliberate edits, so we must infer that the answer to that question isn’t, “she’s some scan girl I picked up near Jakku. I don’t think she’s important in any way. Pass the salt.”
Additionally, Rey understands both Astromech Binary and Shyriiwook. Wookiees seem to be relatively notorious, but not very common throughout the galaxy, and droids like Artoo and BB-8 are mostly used to co-pilot starfighters (and occasionally serve drinks.) Why would Rey have instant access to both of these languages unless she had been raised around, say, a certain little blue droid and her Uncle Chewie?
4. Lando Calrissian
Speaking of the extended family of the classic trilogy, we really need to have everyone’s favorite gambler, baron-administrator & general return. There were (of course) rampant rumors that Billy Dee Williams would be making some kind of cameo in these films, but Williams himself has stated that he has not yet (as of fall, 2015) been approached to reprise his role.
But, c’mon. Abrams, Kennedy, Rian Johnson, and everyone else involved in creating Episodes 8 and 9 must know that neglecting this fan favorite character would be a major mistake. Lando is a unique presence in the EU, sometimes acting on behalf of the New Republic, sometimes in his own interest. He’s the perfect guy to serve as another “old ally” like Maz or Lor San Tekka as our principle heroes face whatever the new challenges of the next stories are.
5. Kylo Ren Gets His Comeuppance
I think most Star Wars fans will agree that the primary theme of the first six films is redemption. Watching each installment in episode order gives a fairly transparent and Shakespearean arc: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Anakin Skywalker. However, after the events of The Force Awakens, I am left wondering if most fans will want to see Ben Solo redeemed in similar fashion.
While it is true that Ben murdering his father mirrors the death of his namesake at the hands of Darth Vader, we had far more time to get to know and love Han Solo than we did Obi-Wan Kenobi. There is definitely a part of me that just wants to see Chewie rip the kid’s arms off and then have Luke swoop in and slice him to ribbons with his lightsaber.
Yet, that’s not really the way Star Wars stories go. As much death and destruction as Vader wreaked on the galaxy, Anakin was not beyond saving, and this thematic message is more powerful than the simple desire for vengeance can ever be. It’s representative of the conflict between the Light and the Dark itself.
A more likely scenario might mirror the events of Empire and Jedi, where Rey attempts to redeem Ben (who may be her cousin) and fails in Episode VIII, but then ultimately succeeds in Episode IX.
6. BB-8 Gives Thumbs-Ups to Everyone All the Time
In all of my viewings of this movie so far, the most enthusiastic audience responses were not to Rey summoning Anakin’s lightsaber or the first appearance of Han and Chewie, they were for that round li’l bugger giving Finn a fiery thumbs-up. There was spontaneous laughter and cheering every time–for something which is such an incredibly small, but incredibly clever and sincere moment.
One of the greatest things about all Star Wars stories is the vastly different kinds of “people” coming together for common purpose. BB-8’s simple act of confidence and acquiescence means so much to Finn (and by extension us, the audience) because it indicates that they understand each other perfectly in that moment. It doesn’t matter that they’ve only just met each other; they believe in each other, as we believe in them.
So thumbs up, fellow Star Wars fans, and May the Force Be with You.