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Who Are the Jedi Hunters in 'Star Wars: Episode VII'?

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Jun 17, 2014 | 2:15pm EDT

Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes BackLucasFilm via Everett Collection

J.J. Abrams has the shutters on Star Wars: Episode VII closed tight, but rumors continue to seep through the cracks. This time, a new rumor from the mega-fans at Making Star Wars (via Cinemablend) claims that the main villains of Abrams' sequel will be a group of "Jedi Hunters," fearsome warriors clad in black and wielding, you guessed it, lightsabers as their weapon of choice. Furthermore, the site reports that this group has been hunting down Luke Skywalker and his comrades for the past couple decades, and the seasoned Jedi has become tired and weary of fighting back his pursuers (we're hoping for at least one "I'm gettin' too old for this Bantha s**t"), and needs some help. It's an intriguing premise with a lot of possibilities going forward. But as exciting a prospect as this rumor may be, it leaves us with more questions than answers. Foremost: Who are the Jedi Hunters?

The idea of the Jedi being hunted down and killed isn't an idea new to Star Wars. Emperor Palpatine's infamous Order 66 was responsible for the deaths of a large portion of the Jedi order in Revenge of the Sith. It was this same order that sent Yoda into hiding in the swamps of Dagobah and Obi-Wan to the desolate sands of Tatooine. Additionally, the Expanded Universe has toyed around with he idea of "Jedi Hunters" frequently throughout its history (there's even a whole Wookieepedia page dedicated to the concept). But we're still left guessing as to the nature of these new villains. One inescapable theory: they're members of the Sith.

They certainly fit the description. The Sith are also warriors garbed in black who battle Jedi with lightsabers. It wouldn't be a leap to predict that a third-act twist in the film might be that these Jedi Hunters are really Sith warriors in disguise. The Sith, in some form or another, have been a mainstay in the Star Wars universe. They are the yang to the Jedi's yin. The dark counterbalance that levels out the force. It's hard to imagine a canonical Star Wars film that doesn't feature the Sith rearing its ugly head in some form or fashion, but that may be the franchise's biggest problem.

The Sith have been a part of every live-action Star Wars film to date. Even if they weren't known by name until 1999's The Phantom Menace, the dark order has been pulling the strings of the universe ever since the series' first opening crawl. Maybe it's time for the franchise to start a change of pace. Star Wars is a universe so steeped in customs, rules, codes, and prophecies, that going against established ideas may feel sacrilegious, but change can be a good thing. Having a Star Wars film without the Sith would be a bold move for the franchise that might pump some much needed novelty into its veins. George Lucas' previous films have hinted at a rich and diverse universe at the periphery of the main narrative, but have almost stubbornly stuck to telling the same old story of Sith vs. Jedi. Having a new group rise up to fight the Jedi, perhaps with completely different set of reasons for fighting, divorced from the same old prophecies, would be a good move for the Jedi. It may be time to leave the dark side of the force alone for a while.

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