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Spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens are ahead.
At this point, Star Wars fans around the world have been able to take a collective sigh of relief. After years of anticipation, excitement, and trepidation, we were delivered with the awesomeness that is Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But, it turns out quite a few titles were workshopped before landing on The Force Awakens. Pablo Hidalgo, a member of the Lucasfilm story group, recently took to twitter to reveal the original title for Episode VII:
There you go wookies and nerf herders, the title that almost was. Earlier in the twitter conversation, Pablo Hidalgo references that The Force Awakens once shared a title with one of the Star Wars novels. Luckily for us, all it took was a follow up question to find out exactly which novel almost inspired The Force Awakens. While the expanded universe, including all of the novels, are now no longer considered canon, it’s clear that there are some bits of magic floating around those pages that served to influence the newest film.
To be honest, Shadow of the Empire actually sounds like a pretty epic choice for the movie. Visually, The Force Awakens had a bunch of moments where the Empire’s shadow was present in the new galaxy. Particularly, Rey’s existence at Jakku was dependent on the Empire’s shadow. She foraged within fallen Star Destroyers in order to support and feed herself while waiting for the parents who would never come. Additionally, Rey lived inside a broken AT-AT, making the shadow her only shelter.
Metatheatrically, Shadow of the Empire surely represented J.J. Abrams’ quest to step out from the shadow of George Lucas, and create something remarkable. And he did just that; combining nostalgia and callbacks to the original trilogy while also creating dynamic and captivating original characters who will lead a new generation of films.
Despite the effectiveness of the working title, I do feel that the team behind The Force Awakens made the right choice. The current title summed up the crux of the film, which all came to a glorious conclusion in the final act. Rey’s force adeptness was awakened as she was able to somehow master Jedi mind control, some telekinesis, as well as defeat Kylo Ren in her first ever lightsaber duel. Additionally, Finn awakened as a hero and R2-D2 literally woke up from a nap that he’d been taking for years. While Yoda originally stated that Luke would be the last of the Jedi in Episode VI, it seems that all hope is not lost for the Jedi order, and the force as a whole.
I’m eager to see how the awakening of the force will continue to play out in future Star Wars films. Will Finn have abilities like Rey? He did hold his own in a lightsaber duel, and made it out alive. Additionally, we saw General Leia’s force sensitivity, as she sensed the tragedy that befell in the last act of the movie.
We’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out, and if our heroes can truly step out of the shadow of the empire.