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The galaxy far, far away wasn’t always such a big place. The series has undergone a remarkable evolution in the subsequent years, and as such, series star Mark Hamill believes that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will provide a decidedly different audience experience from the series’ original installment... one that will match the expectations of its already Star Wars savvy audiences.
In a new interview with Famous Monsters, Hamill discusses how while The Force Awakens will be full of the thrills the series is known for, it won’t be like his first outing in A New Hope:
I think [THE FORCE AWAKENS] could be every bit as exciting for the audience, [but] it’s not going to be like it was then, when we’re rattling around in the Death Star, and exchanging quips, and jockeying for the affections of the princess. It’s going to be age appropriate. The story has moved on, and our purpose in the story is different than it was then.
When Star Wars: A New Hope hit theaters in 1977, the adventures of Hamill's Luke Skywalker took place on a rather small and whimsical scale, when compared to what followed it. It’s one of those things that have become so obvious that people seldom stop to think about it. The Star Wars franchise has matured since it first came to cinemas back in 1977, and as such the style of movie that we will get will be different. As the Star Wars universe has grown and expanded with each passing installment, the stakes have continuously gone up. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi showed the original trilogy characters becoming much more directly involved in the widespread galactic conflict of the Rebellion and the Empire, taking the series to a darker, more mature place.
Hamill explains earlier in the interview that much of Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ premise is predicated on the idea of passing the torch. Luke, Han, Leia, and the rest are there to provide – as Hamill refers to it – context for the new protagonists to pick up and carry their legacy. A New Hope was a hero’s journey centered upon an impetuous teenager with aspirations of adventure and excitement; in the words of Yoda, "a Jedi craves not these things." The Force Awakens seems poised to start out on an almost immediately darker note, with Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) immediately aware of the danger posed by the threat of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) the First Order.
It’s difficult to fully analyze what Hamill means in this interview, because as of now the marketing campaign has shown little to nothing about how Luke Skywalker himself has changed in the years since the original trilogy. We will just have to wait see for ourselves just how much the story has evolved when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18.