UPDATE! Since originally publishing this article we've learned a lot about what Disney has planned for Star Wars: Episode 7. A full summary of all the latest Episode VII developments can be found in our what we know so far guide But below is a quick a break down of everything known about the plot of the next Star Wars movie so far....
Our original discussion of possibilities for Star Wars: Episode 7's plot follows...
That thud you heard this afternoon was the collective jaws of the Star Wars nation hitting the floor.
News broke that a seventh film in the thought-to-be-finished franchise was heading into production now that Lucasfilm had been sold to Walt Disney Pictures (in a deal that’s rumored to be near $4 billion). And as details continued to emerge, fans learned that Episode VII, due in theaters by 2015, will be the first of three new Star Wars films produced by Kathleen Kennedy, with George Lucas hanging around as a creative consultant.
I immediately jumped on a GChat with the biggest Star Wars geek I know: Adam Frazier of Geeks of Doom, who assured me that this is a great day for fans of the series. We immediately began discussing where the Star Wars storyline could and should go from here, as well as who should be shepherding the project as a director. Let’s break this news in half and see what emerges:
Sean: So, Adam, this is a bit of a bombshell. Not only the selling of Lucasfilm, which is huge, but the announcement of a seventh Star Wars film. Because they are maintaining continuity by calling it Episode VII (from what we can tell so far), do you think that means they will try to keep characters that we've seen in the original trilogy? Or do you believe we will start over completely with new characters and new worlds?
Adam: Yeah, it's hard to say, especially with George Lucas staying on as "Creative Consultant" -- being as he's maintained for years that there is no 7, 8, 9 -- and yet you've got tons of books in the Extended Universe like The Thrawn Trilogy or the Dark Empire graphic novels that have been accepted by fans as kind of the unofficial episode 7, 8, 9.
I feel like they can't really recast the characters, so they either have to fast-forward in time to where Luke is essentially the new Obi-Wan, or go even further into the future with new characters.
Sean: That's interesting. I never really followed the storyline after the Original Trilogy. Did you?
Adam: I did. I'm actually staring at the Dark Empire and Thrawn Trilogy books as we speak (er...chat). In the Dark Empire storyline, Luke had a brief flirtation with the Dark Side and at one point followed in his father's footsteps as apprentice to the Emperor. (Yes, Emperor Palpatine -- a clone that absorbed the dead Palpatine's force ghost, or something.) Luke's turn was short-lived though. He taught Leia in the ways of the Force. She became a Jedi and had three children with Han: twins Jacen and Jaina; and Anakin Solo.
Luke had a child of his own with Mara Jade, Ben Skywalker -- and Chewbacca died, sacrificing his life for Han and his family. That's all I remember off the top of my head, but there's no shortage of source material for Disney to pull from if they choose to. Though I'm assuming we'll be seeing all new stories.
Also... does this mean Leia is now A DISNEY PRINCESS!?
Sean: At the very least, everything you're saying here gives me a lot of hope that there are well-established plots that future screenwriters and directors could follow if they chose to go in this direction. It doesn't sound like they're simply hoping to crank out a film that has the Star Wars name because they know that it's bankable. There are legitimate places that this story can go on screen without tarnishing the legacy of the Original Trilogy. But basically, I have to ask: As a massive Star Wars fan, are you excited about the potential of another movie?
Adam: If you would have told me GEORGE was doing another trilogy of Star Wars movies, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I would be furious. But, as you said, the prospect of a new generation of screenwriters and filmmakers carrying the torch gives me hope that the legacy of Star Wars can truly be restored -=- after three abysmal prequels and the ever-devolving 'Special Editions' of the Original Trilogy.
Also, can we take a moment to think about Summer 2015: Avengers 2, Justice League of America, Star Wars: Episode VII … I can't even believe I'm typing that.
Sean: Well, yes. But I don't want to get too far off that track before I ask you this: Give me three filmmakers you'd want to see directing Star Wars: Episode VII.
Adam: Whoa. Joss Whedon. Duncan Jones. Rian Johnson. Who do you think? Len Wiseman? [crickets]
Sean: Whedon's off the table. His life is Marvel. He made that bed. He's sleeping in it.
Adam: But when Disney owns Marvel AND Star Wars ... Boba Fett in Guardians of the Galaxy!? Eh, you're probably right, though. Whedon's off the table.
Sean:: Duncan Jones would be tremendous. You also could hand it to J.J. Abrams, and the collective mind of the geek community would melt.
Adam: Oh. My. Yeah, Abrams essentially made the new Star Wars movie we always wanted with Star Trek. I can't imagine him involved in both franchises, but it clearly needs to be someone whose entire career as a filmmaker was inspired by that generation of movies. I'll throw Guillermo del Toro out there, too -- just because I recommend him for every project.
Sean: Yes, agreed. There's no shortage of filmmakers who were influenced by the original Star Wars. I'd still argue that Abrams will be coming off of Star Trek Into Darkness, and likely won't want to pick up another. The challenge of saving Star Wars might be too tempting to pass up. I can't wait to see who they get.
Let's wrap it on this, Adam. Tell me, is this a good day for Star Wars fans? Is Disney the right fit? Should we celebrate the fact that Star Wars is coming back to the big screen, or is the industry beating a dead horse?
Adam: I think it's absolutely a good day for Star Wars fans, whether they realize it or not. For far too long, George Lucas has strangled the life out of Star Wars -- and the fact that he is now passing the torch to a new generation of filmmakers (who are hopelessly in love with his original films) can mean nothing but good things for the franchise.
Not to mention, we're talking home video release rights -- and the possibility that Disney could some day release re-mastered theatrical versions of The Original Trilogy on Blu-Ray is enough to get excited about!