Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Star Wars VII- What I Would Have Done

Star Wars is back! With the release of the upcoming episode VIII and Rogue One, we're going to have plenty of Star Wars to keep us busy for the next few years. The Force awakens got a lot of acclaim for "getting it right", which baffled me because I thought it was very derivative of the first Star Wars movie. To me "getting it right" would be breaking some new ground while still capturing that Star Wars feel- which admittedly may be harder than it sounds, but instead they went in the opposite direction. They intentionally mimicked the plot of Star Wars and by doing so played it safe- I thought I was watching a retread of the first movie.

So... what would I have done differently? Well this post is meant to answer that question. Now this will by nature be a self- indulgent exercise- after all I'm telling you what I like and would have done, and of course everyone's ideas will be different. So this was just fun for me to write as an exercise in what if, and I'd love to see your thoughts or reactions. So here's the direction I would have gone.

So thirty years later you have a fledgling New Republic, trying to extend its rule over a galaxy riven by war. There would still be Imperial remnants, former governors and warlords in command of perhaps substantial elements of the star fleet. And no Death Star or Starkiller for crying out loud- how many times do we go to the well on that  one? Enough already.

To me the biggest difference would be the state of the galaxy and the New Republic. I imagine the seat of government would be on Coruscant- after all that's where the levers of power are, including the Imperial palace and the Jedi temple. Plus Coruscant is just cool- I understand they may have wanted to minimize the prequels and avoid Coruscant, but I think that was a mistake. Coruscant should have been where Leia and Han were.

Let me explain. After winning the war against the Empire, it makes sense that Leia would be on the most important planet in the galaxy. After everything they've fought for, Coruscant is the prize. As a war hero and the face of the Rebellion it just makes sense for Leia to be there, involved in the New Republic. I can see her frustrated with politics and having enemies (as portrayed in the new Star Wars novel Bloodlines) and one neat thing about that book is- what would happen if people knew she was the daughter of Darth Vader? Let's explore that.

Also I think Han would be with her- they're married and while he's not into politics he would still be involved in the New Republic military. He was a general in the Alliance after all. Why would he leave after victory? To resume smuggling?? That's just silly. With Leia in the political realm it just makes sense he would remain as an adviser on military affairs or something. I can see him at some function pulling on his collar and commiserating with Leia about the good ole days! It would be a good way to highlight the fact that even in a time of peace there are still challenges.

Now I'm not saying the movie would have to be a boring exercise in politics. On the contrary, Coruscant is the place to be and there are zillions of story ideas you could go with. And that leads to Luke. You can still have Luke looking for the first Jedi temple or training new Force sensitives. But consider this. The Emperor and (presumably) Darth Vader were based on Coruscant and had residences there. If you were Luke and wanted to explore the Jedi origins (and keep in mind he's a VERY new Jedi), wouldn't you explore the Jedi temple where Yoda and all of them hung out? Imagine the knowledge there, the archives, the libraries and storehouses of knowledge.

And even more intriguing- what knowledge could be found in the Emperor's domicile? Or Vader's?  Imagine the dark forces Luke would encounter if he explored those chambers. Would he have to destroy a Sith shrine, and would he be tempted by it? Would there be clues there that the Jedi had a dark secret perhaps- introducing a situation where you make the Sith somewhat sympathetic? Then Luke has to deal with this secret and somehow reconcile that with the teachings of Yoda and Obi- Wan.

Luke redeemed Vader. He was willing to give his life to save his father, and Vader sacrificed himself to save Luke. Imagine the emotional moment you could have with Luke entering Vader's chambers for the first time. What would he discover there? Sure it's been thirty years, but you could use a flashback to show what happened the first time he entered. Maybe there's so much lore there (or in the Jedi temple) that he's still researching it after all this time, or still walling off something so dangerous he doesn't dare unleash it.

Part of the appealing aspect of Star Wars are the various planets. To have the Alliance win the war and not show Coruscant is baffling to me. The problem is the new planets are not very distinctive. Jakku looks just like Tatooine (without the cool Jawas or sandcrawlers) and the planet that the Resistance is on (I don't even remember the name) was like- well we don't see any of it. We see a landing strip and the inside of a building. The world where the New Republic is apparently located also only appears for a moment (and gets blown up).

Luke, Leia and Han are the big leagues now- they're gonna be on Coruscant. They're movers and shakers. Make new planets distinctive- don't go to Tatooine and call it Jakku. Go to Tatooine or come up with something new. Remember how Hoth and Dagobah were a big part of the movies they were in? That should be the model. Also use C3PO and Artoo. They are in many ways the heart and soul of the original trilogy- they're comic relief but they're also absolutely essential to the plot. I think the prequels and yes The Force Awakens suffered for not having them front and center. They should be the glue that connects the new cast with the old guard. "This R2 unit has been around for a while, but he's got it where it counts," Leia or even Han could tell Rey as they pass the droid to her. Sort of like passing the torch. BB-8 is cute but he replaced Artoo essentially and that connection was missed.

Han's a Corellian- maybe we get to see Corellia or another Inner Rim world. Maybe he has to schmooze his contacts in the underworld, and we can see the famous shipyards where starships are built. Show us new stuff! He could be a great mentor to Rey and give her the Falcon- again passing the torch- not have her find it sitting in a junkyard somewhere. What's Lando doing? He should have a role somewhere- and probably still has a foot in the scoundrel world. It sounds like I'm focusing on the old cast- and I am- but Rey is going to take center stage and you build that here with new stuff- not a rehashed plot from thirty years ago.

So that's what I would do. Something along those lines. Instead of introducing lame new characters (Snoke?) deal with the legacy of Vader and his master. What's on Coruscant? Make it matter. Take us new places, like Corellia, places that matter because our heroes are in the big leagues now- they don't always have to be on some dump in the middle of nowhere. Let's SEE the galaxy. A Star Wars movie should feel like nothing we've ever seen- not a reimagining of the first movie.


  1. You know I shared much of your thoughts on the new Star Wars so this was really great to read! The new Star Wars had a lot of potential but it was wasted on a derivative plot and to me, they wasted a lot of character development with Han, Leia and Luke. Plus you kept Leia and Han together!!! The should have explored Leia as Vader's daughter, other planets, political aspects. ALL OF IT. The producers should hire you :D

    1. Aww thanks! I hate to be negative about the movie but I remember sitting there going this is the best we can get?? So I had to write this lol. Thanks for reading!

      And yes the character development. I remember asking myself why exactly is Han like 70 and doing smuggling again?? Like 30 years later? Baffling. :)

  2. I do agree that breaking new ground while keeping the star wars feel is difficult. And while I enjoyed the Force Awakens I also felt that it was too similar to the first movie and they could've at least shaken things up a bit.

    If they wouldn't have gone with the death star road again it would have been nice already, as that's just overdone at this point. Yes it would have made sense to keep the center of power on Curscant. And I didn't buy that han would go back to smuggling instead of staying with leia. I would've preferred to see them being together still.

    And you make some good points of how Luke could have a role in all this and maybe even tie things in with vader and give him something to discover or explore on coruscant.

    And in the series like Rebels and Clone Wars they do such a good job with coming up with new planets, why not use some of those planets or think up something new again.

    I like BB8, but I agree that it would've been nice to give artoo and 3CPO a bigger role, they are always in the movies and we even joke sometimes that Artoo is the real main character. But maybe in the next movie we see more of them.

    It's kinda sad to think about all the missed potential this movie had. And now I kinda want to see a movie based on these ideas. then again i did enjoy the Force Awakens, I just would've liked it if it had been less the same of the first movie.

    1. It was definitely too similar to the first movie. And Han as a smuggler, after all those years? Just didn't make a lot of sense to me. I mean, he's like 70. :) And with all the planets they come up with on the shows you mention, it makes you wonder why they can't do a better job with planets in the movie.

      I agre w/ you, there was a ton of missed potential. :)

  3. My husband and I watched The Force Awakens last night for the second time and though I enjoyed it I totally agree with you, Greg. To me it seemed like a rehash of the first movie so people who didn't watch the first three movies could get up to speed and for the people who love those movies to get their nostalgia fix...lol!

    I liked seeing Leia and Han, but would have liked them still together. I didn't understand why they still are the rebels. And that there's still a Death Star and storm troopers.

    I haven't read the Star Wars books (my husband has read most of them), but we re-watch the originals regularly.

    It will be interesting to see where the next movie goes though I'm disappointed with way it looks from the end of Star Wars VII. Like you I would like to see cities and planets and some triumph since the rebels won--didn't they??!

    1. I think you're right, they seemed to be wanting to bring people up to speed as part of the focus of the movie- which I thought was the wrong way to go . Although lots of people have enjoyed it so maybe I'm overthinking it lol.

      I had the same thought though- if the rebels won, why are we still sort of in the same place? The rebels are just the resistance now? It almost feels like everything they went through didn't matter because nothing changed?

  4. We did something similar when the movie first came out, though I don't think we went into as much depth as you did. D-Qar is the planet the Resistance is on...I don't think I even noticed the name in the movie, but I'm playing Lego Force Awakens and it's the planet you are centered on.

    I would have loved to see more of the planets and the political/social turmoil that the galaxy undoubtedly went through after the fall of the Emperor. I think this movie ushered in the old style of Star Wars story telling. They put a ton of distance between it and the Prequels, which were world building heavy. If there was one thing the prequels got right it was the amount of world building they offered. The originals? Not so much. They were also character driven, and always focused on the main three without deviating for so much as a explanation on impact of their actions anywhere else. Force Awakens was highly enjoyable, but there were so many moments where the story could have been bolstered or flat out improved...and it has that in common with the originals.
    The one thing I did like about Han and Leia, is that they were not together. I actually hate Han Solo, I always have...he was always the 'bad boy' of the three and instead of being suave like everyone else sees him I just saw him as sleazy. And I never saw it in his personality to stick around and be a part of a family unit, especially if things ever got hard for them and I actually liked that Kylo had a serious problem with him.
    I do think the whole Death Star gambit is tired though, or atleast in the way they handled it. I would have loved Starkiller base to stick around for atleast two of the three films. I mean it's a planet sized planet killer, I don't care if you do have the two best pilots of the resistance going to take it down...it needs to be a 'big bad' for more than a movie to feel like anything other than a cheap story telling trick. They didn't spend decades hiding on the far reaches of charted space just to have their toy blown up by a half-baked plan devised in what a single conversation.

    And R2 being in low power mode drove me insane. As soon as I saw that I hated it. I don't like obvious plot devices and that was incredibly obvious. Anyone in that theater at that moment would have been able to tell you that R2 would only wake up at the end of the movie because that map probably isn't complete.

    1. D-Qar- interesting. See I didn't even know that name. I know Takodama came up (where Maz is) I think... as for the prequels, I think you're right. There must have been some directive or creative decision to minimize the prequels, but by eliminating Coruscant I think they hurt the chance to move forward. There has to be some positive come out of the original victory or does it mean anything? They could have then built a new story organically, rather than lazily go with Empire/ Order and Rebellion/ resistance.

      I can understand how you feel about Han. Frankly I like him but to me Luke was the focus of the orig trilogy, and the early novelizations and stuff said "from the adventures of Luke Skywalker", so that was clearly Lucas' focus. I did a post a while back arguing that Luke and Leia might have even made a better couple, which I think Lucas also intended before Empire. And you can certainly make an argument that a smuggler who works for Jabba the Hutt isn't gonna be a family man. :)

      I hated the R2 thing. Way to waste a character. I think your point about the prequels is a good one- the prequels expanded the universe, I don't always like how they did it, but they did and this movie just seemed to shrink it again. No name planets, no big things like asteroid belts or anything new really.

  5. I'm not a big Star Wars aficionado, so I just sit back and enjoy the movies (I actually haven't even seen this one yet). But I love that you've put this much thought into this. The books (or stories) that make me think the most are my absolute favorites.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction