With the announcement last month of a new Star Wars trilogy beginning with Episode VII in 2015, the minds of fans started racing faster than the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Next to nothing is known about the new movies, but that hasn’t stopped everyone who once owned a Boba Fett lunchbox from wildly speculating about what we could see on our next big-screen journey to that Galaxy Far, Far Away. The most popular questions: Will Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford return? If so, how large will their roles be? And will this new movie give Han Solo the heroic death Ford hoped for but was denied in Return of the Jedi? Star Wars fans, it’s time we take a collective breath. Decades worth of rumors that have swirled around George Lucas’ space opera should tell us that idle speculation usually gets you nowhere. A friend of mine was absolutely convinced after having seen The Empire Strikes Back as a kid that Boba Fett is in fact Luke Skywalker’s father, not Darth Vader. How else could Fett’s shot at Luke on Cloud City have missed its mark at such close range unless Fett deliberately missed. And why did he deliberately miss? Because Luke’s really his son!
Many of these theories say more about us than they do about the films. So before you totally OD on Episode VII speculation, take a look at some of the craziest rumors that have been attached to the Star Wars franchise over the past few decades, and decide for yourself how profitable such theorizing really is.
1. Darth Vader, the Robot—In the immediate aftermath of Star Wars’ 1977 release, chatter focused on what Darth Vader is, as much as who he is. Some fans thought that Vader was actually a robot, citing how he’s completely concealed in armor and how his heavy-footed gait has a metallic clank. Of course, why they thought that a robot would need to breathe is a bit of a headscratcher. And they obviously thought Obi-Wan Kenobi was a liar when he said that Darth Vader was a pupil of his, unless they really think he’d train, rather than just program, a droid. Scratch that, Obi-Wan Kenobi is a liar.
2. Mick Jagger Would Compose The Empire Strikes Back’s Score—This doozy came from an October 1979 issue of Starlog, a now semi-legendary sci-fi zine that’s long since bitten the dust. (And unfortunately is not archived online.) Apparently, a rumor started that John Williams, author of Star Wars’ soaring fanfare of a score, would be replaced with the Rolling Stones lead singer. “Play With Fire” could have made for a killer flashback, though, during which we see Darth Vader’s lava-induced injuries.
3. Han Solo Was Marked for Death—Everyone seemed to think that the spice smuggler was going to bite it, possibly in The Empire Strikes Back. A bunch of different theories spelled out exactly how he would die, though the craziest has to be one in which Han would fight a lightsaber duel—despite not being known to wield a lightsaber—against Darth Vader! Somehow in the course of the duel their respective life-force energies would fuse and they’d become one being, meaning that Luke Skywalker, in trying to defeat Vader, would also have to kill his best friend!
Even Darth Vader performer David Prowse suggested to Starlog in June 1979 that Han would die in a battle with the then-new villain Boba Fett. The surprisingly loose-lipped former wrestler also said that there would be twelve Star Wars movies, and that he would appear as Vader in the prequel installments Episodes II and III. The latter point didn’t happen, obviously, but Prowse wasn’t all wrong. This is something that could only have been kept quiet in the pre-Internet Era, but Prowse actually spoiled the secret of Luke Skywalker’s paternity to a fanzine in April 1978, the quotes from which were published later that summer in The San Francisco Examiner. Yes, he said that Darth Vader is Luke’s father a full two years before The Empire Strikes Back was released, and I quote: “In the film, Alec Guinness goes to great lengths to explain to poor Luke how his father had been killed by Darth Vader. Luke’s father was killed by Darth Vader, right? And how Darth Vader turned to evil, etc., etc. His father was good and all this sort of thing. In the next film, there is going to be a confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader and they then discover that Darth Vader never killed his father, that Darth Vader IS his father. So son can’t kill father, and father can’t kill son—so Darth Vader lives until the next sequel.”
4. Empire or Jedi Would Feature Time Travel—This seems like the musings of some overzealous Star Trek fans for what they’d like to see in Star Wars, but a theory reported by Starlog’s February 1980 issue suggested that the Millennium Falcon would pass through a time warp, sending Luke, Han, and Chewbacca into the era of the Clone Wars. During that time they’d up fighting alongside Luke’s father and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Just think for a moment how awesome a Han Solo/General Grievous showdown would be. Or not.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio as Anakin Skywalker—In 1999, the world’s most beloved movie franchise was about to get relaunched with the prequels. So why shouldn’t Lucasfilm tap the world’s biggest heartthrob, Leonardo DiCaprio, coming right off Titanic mania, as the adolescent Anakin Skywalker for Episode II? Fans everywhere thought he was the most likely choice, but the rumor that George Lucas was considering him for the role wasn't substantiated at the time beyond reports that the actor had visited Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, CA for a private screening of The Phantom Menace. However, this rumor turned out to be true. In 2010, while promoting Inception, DiCaprio finally went on the record to Shortlist about how he was approached for the role. "I did have a meeting with George Lucas about [Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels] as well, yes." he said. “Just didn't feel ready to take that dive. At that point." Other actors reportedly considered at the time were James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson, Eric Christian Olsen, Erik von Detten, Ryan Phillippe, and Chris Klein. What could have been!
6. The Prequels Would Show a More Primitive Star Wars Galaxy—Leading up to the release of The Phantom Menace in 1999, many fans thought that the prequels would show a less technologically sophisticated Galaxy Far, Far Away. After all, Episode I was set 33 years before the events of the original Star Wars. So the technology on display should appear regressive, right? Wrong! The underlying technological premise of Star Wars is that there isn’t much further a civilization can evolve once faster-than-light space travel has been invented. Therefore most of the Star Wars galaxy has had the level of tech you see in the original trilogy for thousands of years. That hasn’t stopped fans from griping about it, though.
7. The Obi-Wan/Anakin/Padmé Love Triangle—Also known as “The Theory in Which Obi-Wan is an Even Bigger Liar than Anyone Thought and is Actually Luke’s Father.” For years fans had speculated that the aged Jedi Master was more than just a father figure to Luke. But when the prequels were ramping up in earnest, it seemed like the new films might lend credence to the theory. For one, Natalie Portman’s Padmé Amidala was a mature adolescent in The Phantom Menace, while Jake Lloyd’s Anakin Skywalker was just a snotty ten-year-old who says stuff like “Are you an angel?” and “I’m a person!” Why wouldn’t Naboo’s Queen prefer Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan instead? Actually, this is a theory that is slightly acknowledged in Revenge of the Sith, when Hayden Christensen’s Anakin, brimming with accusatory rage, does seem to suggest when he says to his wife “You’re with him!” that Padmé may be having an affair with his old Master. But sorry, fans. Until Maury Povich says otherwise, Anakin is definitely the father.
So you see that rumormongering is usually not that fruitful an activity. Not that we’re discouraging your theories about the new trilogy! Just understand that they are likely to be proven totally wrong, and not just from a certain point of view.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Lucasfilm]
‘Star Wars: Episode VII’—Eight Directions It Could Take
Could Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher Return for ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’?
‘Toy Story 3’ Scribe Michael Arndt Has 40-50 Page Treatment for New Star Wars Trilogy
You Might Also Like:
’Two and a Half Men’ Star Says Sorry: Sincere or Lame Apology?
’X-Men’ Sequel: Huge Casting News!
Nice guy Jerry (Matthew Lillard) is the same numbingly trite character we've seen in hundreds of other movies. He faces 30 with uncertainty. He doesn't know if he should propose to his beautiful girlfriend Denise (Bonnie Somerville). He just can't commit darn it! Oh life is so confusing! Meeting up with his best buds Tom "the rebel" (Dax Shepard) and Dan "the runt" (Seth Green) at the funeral of their dead friend Billy they reunite in the-what else?--tree house of their youth. There they discover a map of Billy's longtime obsession: The disappearance of hijacker D.B. Cooper with $200 000 cash. (Never mind that the real Cooper's flight took off in 1971 well before any of these characters would be born.) So these three friends set out on an expedition from the heart and learn a few valuable life lessons along the way. They embark on a canoe trip in the Pacific Northwest in search of Cooper's lost treasure with a very large bear and two even larger hillbillies in hot pursuit. Which is of course just a big excuse for some crazy hijinks in the woods the obligatory stoner sequence gorgeous but unshaven tree-huggers living atop a redwood a crazed mountain man the usual.
Lillard has an off-kilter charm that works in his supporting roles but not so much as the lead. One imagines the producers offering the role first to Adam Sandler and then to Vince Vaughn or Luke Wilson before finally settling on Lillard after they all refuse. His overbearing earnestness in the role recalls his work in SLC Punk straining for normalcy when something completely off-the-wall would work so much better. Shepard (from MTV's Punk'd) fares better he is amusingly annoying but at least he takes a side. Green is usually funnier than this but he doesn't usually have to lug an inhaler around with him as a prop or constantly stoop for laughs as the token scaredy cat. The three of them do have an easygoing chemistry that makes them good company. Burt Reynolds turns up with a foot-long beard as the mountain man who might know something about the treasure. It is certainly the most vanity free performance of Reynolds' career and while it doesn't amount to much it's a step in the right direction for a guy who could still be a great character actor if he could finally get over the fact that he is no longer Stroker Ace.
Steven Brill is best known as the director of the first Adam Sandler movie that didn't reach nine figures at the box office Little Nicky and he hasn't exactly advanced the art of screen comedy here. Nevertheless the pacing is brisk the timing is crisp and the repartee (credited to five writers) is snappy. Even the action comedy sequences mostly running away from the bear and the hillbillies are convincingly done. But make no mistake this is clearly the work of a man hell-bent on paying homage to The Goonies and for that miniscule target audience that not only saw The Goonies in the theater it can also differentiate the Coreys. Of course '80s music has been back in vogue for several years so it's inevitable that the '80s comedy embodied in this movie The Girl Next Door
Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and others would return. But somebody had better make a good one soon or it will disappear faster than you can say Kajagoogoo.
Richard Riddick (Vin Diesel) has a really bad rep and with good reason: Five years ago convicted killer Riddick escaped the galaxy's law enforcement during a botched interplanetary prison transfer and has been on the lam ever since. As The Chronicles of Riddick picks up our antagonist finds his relative freedom has been compromised when mercenaries out for the $1 million bounty on his head discover his location and hunt him down. Riddick escapes their clutches steals their ship and sets off for Planet Helion to find Imam (Keith David) the Muslim cleric he rescued in Pitch Black and the only person who could have squealed his location to authorities. But while Riddick's hunch about Imam are correct the cleric has a reason for luring the mammoth murderer out of hiding: Helion is falling to unholy armies of Necromongers--warriors who conquer by force in the vein of Star Trek's Borg. Of course Riddick doesn't give a damn about the Helions or their plight--until he gets wind that the Necromogers want to kill him because of an old prophecy that foresees their end at Riddick's hands. Like it or not Riddick is left with no other choice but to battle the Necromongers.
The character of Riddick is unquestionably what made Pitch Black one of the most sequel-worthy sci-fi films in years. And Riddick would not have been one of sci-fi's most intoxicating characters if it weren't for Diesel. Like his Dominic Toretto in the 2001 actioner The Fast and the Furious Riddick is a villain of few words but when he speaks his carefully chosen words have impact--even if the dialogue is at times overly theatrical. Riddick is the perfect antihero; a cold-blooded and indifferent being who somehow evokes more compassion than the film's so-called good guys. Joining Riddick are some recurring characters including David as Imam but Riddick benefits the most from the addition of some new characters particularly Colm Feore as Lord Marshal the Necromonger leader whose goal is to rid the universe of all human life. Feore channeling nuggets of Julius Caesar into his role makes for one of Riddick's most thrilling foes. Another prominent addition to the cast is Judi Dench who has a surprisingly small role as Aereon an Elemental captured by the Necromongers and used for her special powers including ESP.
Writer/director David Twohy took his horror pic Pitch Black which gained a cult following since it was released four years ago and managed to successfully turn it into an sci-fi actioner of epic proportions. Everything is grander here which is almost a given considering Twohy shot Pitch Black on a dime in Australia using colored filters. In Riddick the director distinguishes the film's different environments--the Necros' mothership Crematoria's cavernous prison and Helion--using warm to cool tones that are dazzling yet more subtle than its predecessor. The CGI effects get a little gamey at times but production designer Holger Gross' gargantuan sets are impressive and help craft Twohy's otherworldly vision into a plausible one. And although Twohy jumps genres from Pitch Black to its sequel his storyline evolves logically from the original premise. But while moviegoers unfamiliar with Pitch Black will be able to follow the story easily enough they may have a difficult time grasping what makes Riddick such a big deal; the film explains the legend but never fully captures its quintessence. This could hurt Riddick's chances to broaden its Pitch Black fan base.