One of the first things diehard Star Wars fans thought when news broke that a new trilogy set after Return of the Jedi will be made was this: "What will Episodes VII, VIII, and IX mean for the Expanded Universe?"
The timeline after the destruction of the second Death Star and the deaths of Darth Vader and the Emperor has already been heavily explored. Dozens of novels since 1991's Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn have furthered the saga, showing us how the Rebel Alliance became the New Republic — not to mention the marriage of Princess Leia and Han Solo, the birth of their three children, Luke Skywalker's efforts to rebuild the Jedi Order, and eventually his own nuptials to feisty Emperor's Hand-turned-Jedi Mara Jade. The events depicted in these novels have always been considered to be canon. But is it a continuity that will be honored by screenwriter Michael Arndt and director J.J. Abrams when Episode VII hits theaters in 2015?
When you talk to the Expanded Universe authors themselves, however, you find that's not something that overly concerns them. They're such big Star Wars fans the biggest issue for them is the fact we have to wait three long years to see the words "A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy Far, Far Away...." on the big screen. And, like any fans, they have some major opinions about what they want to see from the new films. We reached out to eight of the most prominent authors in Star Wars publishing — Drew Karpyshyn, Paul S. Kemp, Troy Denning, John Jackson Miller, James Luceno, Michael Reaves, Christie Golden, and Aaron Allston — and asked them what they hope to see from the new films, what supporting or Expanded Universe characters they'd like to see get a bigger role, and how, if they are indeed fated in these movies to become One with the Force, they would like to see Luke, Han, and Leia die. Here's what each had to say.
Drew Karpyshyn, author of Star Wars: The Old Republic — Annihilation
What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: I'd like to see films that are directed towards an older, more mature audience. It felt like Episodes I-III were directed at children and a generally younger demographic - which is great for bringing in new fans - but as an adult Star Wars fan I'd like to return to the darker, more serious tone of The Empire Strikes Back.
What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: Obviously I'd love to see the films explore the Old Republic era; I think there's so much potential there, particularly with a character like Darth Bane. (The fact that I wrote three Darth Bane novels in no way makes me biased!)
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How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: My hope is that they live to ripe old ages before passing away peacefully. I'd prefer to see their role in the later films be more as mentors/advisors in the same way Obi-Wan was in the original trilogy, though I hope they don't all end up having to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. These characters have paid their dues, so as a fan I don't want to see them suffer an untimely or violent death.
Paul Kemp, author of Star Wars: The Old Republic—Deceived
What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: What I really hope to see is love of the underlying subject matter. I think Star Wars is a phenomenon because it’s more than just a space opera or space fantasy (take your pick). It’s a mythic story and touches at something deep in the human experience. It’s built on a foundation of heroic myth and heroic transformation and that’s what makes it so appealing, generation after generation. I’d just like to see the new stories build off that foundation (because it’s a rich one, and there is lots of room for new and wonderful stories, all while hewing to the mythic structure).
What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: Hmm. That’s a real toughie so I’m just going to weasel a bit. I’d very much like to see a female Jedi in one of the leading roles. In that regard, Jaina Solo would be excellent, but there are many others to choose from.
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How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: If they have to die, Han and Leia should go out together, wrapped in each other’s arms. “I love you,” he says. She smiles and answers, “I know.” And then it’s lights out. Yeah, that’d work. As for Luke, I think Luke has to go out in a grand, self-sacrificing way, with full knowledge of what he’s doing before he does it, and all in service to the greater good of rebuilding the Jedi Order. Ideally, just before he goes out he’d see the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin (thus recalling for the viewer/reader the iconic ending of Return of the Jedi), and in dying Luke would take his place among them.
NEXT: Could Episode VII Finally Put a Woman in the Driver's Seat?
Troy Denning, author of Star Wars: Crucible (Out July 9)
What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: This time, I think it would be fun to follow the hero’s journey of a young woman, the way we followed Luke’s journey in Episodes IV – VI. And I want the thrilling lightsaber duels and epic starship battles of Episodes I-III. Give me three films that combine great action with mythic themes, and I’ll be a happy fan.
What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: Jaina Solo, without a doubt. Jaina is Han and Leia’s only surviving child, and one of the most capable members of the Jedi Order. She’s emerging as the leader of the next generation, and she’s one of the most popular characters in the novel line. I don’t think there could be a better choice.
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How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: I’d want to see Luke go fairly early, in an incredible display of Jedi power that saves his companions and/or deals the villain a real setback. And I’d want his sacrifice to become a rallying point for the good guys. I’d want him to become more dangerous to the villain in death than he was in life.
Han and Leia should go out as a team, executing a cunning trick that sets the villain up for a hard fall. I wouldn’t want a lot of on-screen sentimentality, just a sense of courageous self-sacrifice from Leia and, from Han, a smug smirk. But as the final moment comes, I'd want to see them together — holding hands or leaning in for a final kiss — because that's who these characters are, two people in love to the last.
John Jackson Miller, author of the upcoming Star Wars: Kenobi (Out Sept. 24)
What I hope to see from Episodes VII-IX: It's something I've speculated about since I first saw them mentioned in Lucas's Time magazine interview back in 1980. My presumption would be that, obviously, it jumps ahead a generation, matching the gap between the other two trilogies — and I would assume that it takes on the larger themes of the ongoing series: power and temptation. My assumption was always that Luke, not Anakin, was really the "chosen one" who brought "balance to the Force" — but as those lines weren't in the original trilogy, they could also take this opportunity to bookend that section by addressing it anew.
Something delving more into Sith philosophy and why it's attractive would be fun to see. I did a deep dive into Sithiness with my Lost Tribe of the Sith stories — their all-for-me-nothing-for-you views are interesting, as are the challenges with achieving power on a galactic stage. You can see why Palpatine had to hijack an existing government — they're not the most attractive bosses to work with!
I would also hope to see something addressing one of the broader issues that I've attempted to take up in stories in other parts of the timeline (in Knights of the Old Republic and Knight Errant) -- namely, the love-hate relationship between the Jedi and the Republic, which is a far larger organization. The Jedi do a lot for the Republic, yes, but they've also been more trouble than they're worth on more than one occasion. One can imagine the Republic chancellor finally revoking the Jedi Council's parking spaces!
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What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: From the movies, it'd be a blast to see Lando as Chancellor. The gamblers, smugglers, and criminals have sort of a world of their own, apart from what's going on in the galactic drama between the Jedi and the Sith.
From the Expanded Universe, most of my work has been in the past or distant past, so if we're getting pantheons of blue ghosts, there's a range of folks that would be fun to see, from Arca Jeth to my own Zayne Carrick and Kerra Holt. There are some old villains that could do turns in holographic form, too. And practically every droid from the past has at least a theoretical chance of still being around. If we see a droid that's refusing to do any work, that'd be Elbee from the KOTOR comics. Sitting immobile for 4,000 years would suit him just fine!
How I want to see Luke, Han, or Leia die: I'm certain that I don't want to see that — it's much more fun to imagine them living on. It would be preferable to think that they died while sitting on a beach drinking blue martinis delivered by serving droids — but I imagine that's not very cinematic!
James Luceno, author of Star Wars: Darth Plageuis
What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: A new and perilous threat — of the Sith sort, to be certain that the dark and light sides of Force, as well as lightsabers, are heavily featured.
What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: If for whatever reasons the Sith don't figure into the film plots, I would love to see an appearance by the extra-galactic Yuuzhan Vong, who battled the Jedi through the twenty-one Expanded Universe novels that comprise The New Jedi Order.
How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: Luke, with lightsaber in hand, in a blaze of glory; Han, Leia and the Millennium Falcon in an act of heroic sacrifice.
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Michael Reaves, co-author of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Out Feb. 26)
What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: The latest estimates for the Milky Way suggest literally billions of Earthlike worlds. With lifeforms like gigantic space slugs that can live in hard vacuum, it's obvious that life in the GFFA is at least as tenacious as it is here, if not more so.
My tendency is to poke around the backwaters and the seedier places of these many and richly varied worlds. There are many other monomyths and archetypes besides the Hero's Journey. One thing I do not want to see is the same storyline with new faces.
What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: Hey, I'm not gonna be disingenuous; I'd love for Jax Pavan and I-Five to get a shot.
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How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: Saving the galaxy. They're heroes, right? So let 'em die heroically.
Christie Golden, author of Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi—Ascension
What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: Follow-up adventures with Luke, Han and Leia! I would be amenable to seeing new actors in the old roles if Lucasfilm wants to pick up right where Return of the Jedi left off, but the actors would have to be VERY well cast. I'd actually love to see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford reprise the roles of Luke, Leia and Han...alongside their kids! ;)
What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: Vestara Khai. *coughs a little* Okay...Pocket the chitlik. No? Seriously, though, the Skywalker and Solo offspring are such terrific characters in their own right, it would be wonderful to see them brought to life.
How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: Oh this question is just cruel! Well...if they HAVE to, Han or Leia would have to die sacrificing him/herself for the other. And I want a "dies in your arms" scene, darn it, if either one has to go. Luke...should die alone, of his own free choice, saving countless lives. It should be set to John Williams' most beautiful music, and I better see Luke become One with the Force pretty much immediately or I will not be responsible for all that Kleenex on the movie theater floor.
Aaron Allston, author of Star Wars: X-Wing—Mercy Kill
What I Hope to See from Episodes VII-IX: Could I see "Screenplay by Aaron Allston"? No?
Well, barring that, I'd like to see the story move away from the Skywalkers, Solos, even the Jedi a bit, reminding us that there are other people doing important things in the galaxy. I'd like to see a greater proportion of female characters. I want to see more spectacle — Tatooine junkyards and bongo interiors aren't exactly challenges for ILM's skills. And I hope to see a return to the lightheartedness and humor of A New Hope, putting the fatalism of the prequels behind us.
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What secondary or Expanded Universe character I'd Like to See Get the Spotlight: This kind of depends on exactly when in the timeline Episodes VII through IX take place. Timothy Zahn's Mara Jade would always be a good choice. The next-generation Solos and Skywalkers, such as Jaina Solo and Ben Skywalker, would be welcome. If any sort of espionage is in the offing, some sort of nod to my own Wraith Squadron characters would be a thrill for me.
But what I really hope to see most is any sort of appearance by recognizable EU characters, which would be an acknowledgement that the EU is a significant part of what constitutes Star Wars.
How I Want to See Luke, Han, or Leia Die: You know, I actually don't want to see them die in the movies, and it's not just because of affection for the characters.
Action movie characters live pretty tortured lives. There's no chance of them appearing on-screen for 90 minutes of shopping or gossip, so any time we put them in front of the camera, it's for punishment. At a certain point, we recognize there's no way they can keep doing this and survive, so we kill them, an act so common and callous we don't even refer to it as killing them — it's "killing them off." Ellen Ripley. Bernard Quatermass. Hoban "Wash" Washburne. Sometimes characters die because their portrayers can only show up for one or two day's filming, and the director and producer decide to maximize those three minutes of screen time by whacking the character.
Me, I'm all for having Luke, Leia, and Han be in a scene showing them knocking back shots of Corellian brandy while playing cards. Then the screen can go through a 1940s-style wipe and the camera can zoom in on their descendants saving the galaxy for a new generation.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: LucasBooks (5)]
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Jay Roach’s political comedy couldn’t have come at a better time. Just as the U.S. is beginning to suffer from the fatigue that comes with enduring the final months of the heated presidential campaign between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis give us exactly what we need: a good laugh.
The Campaign stars Ferrell as Conservative Senate shoe-in Cam Newton who gets himself in a bit of a campaigning pickle – if you can call a widely publicized sexual slip-up a pickle – and prompts the powers that be (an evil duo courtesy of the always fantastic John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd) to bring in a ringer: Marty Huggins (Galifianakis). Huggins is flanked by his two trusty pugs and spends his days giving empty trolley tours of his tiny North Carolina town – a naïve happy existence that flummoxes his former political operator of a father (Brian Cox). But once Marty’s appointed campaign manager gangster Tim (a ruthless and surprisingly hilarious Dylan McDermott) Pretty-Womans the grinning familial misfit into a standard cutthroat political candidate the messy misinformation-driven games begin.
Everything we’ve ever feared or discovered about our shiny politicians during campaign season is magnified for the sake of this 90-minute cathartic joke. Right as Romney and Obama are getting headlines for the underhanded loosely regulated practice that is the campaign commercial Ferrell and Galifianakis’ characters take the seemingly lawless practice to a wonderful hyperbolic place where having a mustache makes you a friend of Sadam Hussein and splicing quotes to blaspheme your opponent is kosher. Oh wait that last part is actually true.
This story from frequent Ferrell collaborator Adam McKay along with Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell plays on the clichés of the campaign trail and dresses them up with baby-punching and butt-licking. Right out of the gate we’re treated to Ferrell cheating on his wife with a squealing harlot in a porta-potty. The writers have no mercy for the political world and coincidentally neither do most of us. And even as the film stretches the limits of our ability to stomach schlocky gross gags it’s not entirely uncalled for. In fact this over-the-top flick is practically an extension of the way many of us view the idea of campaigning in the U.S. – the key is abject cynicism.
Raunchy gags are the name of the game but The Campaign doesn’t shirk the necessary weight of its source material. Sure Ferrell’s requisite nude scene merits a few giggles but it’s the moments that are centered on speeches and strategy that really make the film. They’re rife with spot-on frustrated commentary about the emptiness of political speeches and promises and draped in the hilarious inflections of the films’ funnymen.
But beyond the parts that make us laugh hard enough to eke out a sideways tear The Campaign actually has something that most raunchy Ferrell comedies only purport deliver: a heart-warming gooey center. We can chalk this up to Galifianikis’ Marty who represents the political fantasy we try to believe in every election: the existence of a truly honest well-meaning politician. He’s the guy who runs on the platform that “Washington is a mess” and he actually believes he can clean it up. When Cam is running his mouth about loving America Marty is the one who actually offers up idealistic solutions. To some extent Marty is a character we’ve seen before but he’s this bright spot that keeps The Campaign from becoming a long-form rant.
In addition to Galifianakis’ lovable Marty we find gems in the form of McDermott – whose phantom-like presence throughout the film is always worth a laugh – and newcomer Katherine La Nasa as Rose Cam’s gut-wrenchingly opportunistic Barbie of a wife. Oddly enough a big name like Jason Sudeikis receives low-billing this time around and perhaps it’s because his role is a rather mild one for a man who’s solidified himself as the overgrown frat-boy du jour. Still it’s Galifianakis who carries the film and Farrell’s usual shtick that provides the platform for his character’s unavoidable goodness.
The Campaign is a surprising oddly adorable summer comedy combining the disgusting cringe-worthy visuals we’ve come to expect from a Will Ferrell flick with the brains we hope for any time we see the word “political” tied to a film.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.