After months of speculation, an official list of cast members for “Star Wars: Episode VII” was finally announced earlier this week. Although we still don’t know what kind of characters the cast will play, nor the official title of the film, it has also been confirmed that the Expanded Universe storylines and characters will not be part of the story. That pretty much leaves an empty canvas full of possibilities. Until we receive any hint of the plot, here are 7 things that we want to see in “Star Wars: Episode VII.”
1. New Planets and New Species
“The Return of the Jedi” gave us the Ewoks. “The Phantom Menace” cursed us with gave us the Gungans. The Rebel Alliance/Republic always seem to rely on another species when stuck in a bind, and chances are that thirty odd years down the line, they’re going to need to call on some non-humans to help their cause once again. That is, unless the Republic has since then sanctioned a new wave of armed forces, but we all know what went down last time that happened. New planets or an emphasis on previously mentioned planets would also be cool, as there are a bunch of environments and elements that have yet to be touched or focused on in the non-animated films of the franchise. Just as long as polar bears or smoke monsters aren’t thrown into the mix.
2. A Lightsaber Battle of Epic Proportions
A “Star Wars” movie without a lightsaber battle would be like a Nicholas Sparks adaptation without a devastating death. Although I’m firm observer of the Sacredness of All Things Original Trilogy, I do have to admit that the showdown between Darth Maul (Ray Park) versus Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) in “The Phantom Menace” was pretty cool, especially to my twelve-year-old self, as they got to jump around and do flips. The latter two prequel films, however? Well… I guess when it comes down to it, the Jedi and Sith involved in said lightsaber battles do make a difference, and there are some characters who I admittedly wish I could unsee wielding a lightsaber. Perhaps that can be made up for if Luke (Mark Hamill) is one of the Jedi involved in a lightsaber battle. Bonus points if he does it with the blast shield down.
3. The Loss of Limbs
And from the above mentioned lightsaber battles — or perhaps just a little public brawl, someone absolutely must have the misfortune of getting a limb sliced off. Preferably an arm or a hand. For obvious reasons.
4. A Clever Enemy to be Feared
Let’s pretend that Darth Vader is still 100% completely badass and daunting, i.e. that we didn’t find out that while he was still Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) circa Episodes II and III, he was broody, childish, and kind of annoying. That Darth Vader — of “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” especially – was an antagonist. One of the best, in fact. In the prequel films, there wasn’t really a single enemy to be massively feared. Sure, there was Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid), but half his scenes were holograms and nobody knew his true identity until the end which must have been thanks to his oh so wonderfully cloaked disguise. There was the much hyped up General Grievous, but he turned out to be just a half robot-half alien with a bad cough. Darth Maul, although an apprentice, could have been great, but he got killed off. (Sort of, anyway. He did make a good comeback in “The Clone Wars,” the animated series that takes place between Episodes II and III, but to the general audience, he kicked the bucket when he was sliced in half by Obi-Wan). Whether the antagonist of the “Star Wars” sequels is a criminal mastermind or a sick sociopath, he or she or it would truly make a memorable impact with their ability to make the audience quiver in fear combined with both wit and intrigue. Adam Driver, one of the first speculated and now officially announced cast members, was rumored to be playing the role of the film’s villain. If that’s true, he’s certain to put an interesting spin on things.
5. A Non-Throwaway, Legit Romance
Romance did play a role in the original trilogy, and the chemistry between Han (Harrison Ford) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) are totally a favorite. Legit romance, right there. Not uber-mushy. Sometimes corny, but always endearing. Chemistry off the charts. In “Attack of the Clones,” well… the star-crossed romance between Anakin and Padmé (Natalie Portman) was supposed to be one of the main driving forces behind Anakin’s turn to the dark side. Or maybe it was the fact that their relationship was so sappy and flat that made him want to change teams. The set up was pretty great and provided mounds of potential: Childhood-ish friends. A politician and a Jedi. Forbidden love during a time of war. Instead of inducing swoons or sympathy, it garnered cringes and secondhand embarrassment. The older generation — or would that be newer? — did it way better. Romance doesn’t have to be a main plot device in the film, but a good balanced one would be a nice addition.
6. Jedi of the Female Variety
At the very least, at least one female Jedi, please! They were pretty much non-existent in the original trilogy. Yeah, Leia did have the Force, but this is a fact that’s realized near the end, so we never really get to see her physically use her abilities. In the prequel trilogy, there were some female Jedi, and there were even a few on the Jedi Council, but I’m 99% sure they didn’t have any speaking lines. They didn’t even get much screen time to be honest except for the mass battles which mostly focused on the main cast. The only female Jedi who exchanged dialogue was Jocasta Nu (Alethea McGrath), the chief librarian. Knowledge is power, but come on. We didn’t even get to see her use her Jedi abilities to defend the Jedi Archives from Anakin’s murderous spree. “The Clone Wars” featured plenty of female Jedi, and a few Sith, who were integral to the plot. So it’s not like they don’t exist, and it isn’t like they’re boring. In fact, they’re pretty dang interesting. A female Jedi or Sith in a significant role would be beyond awesome. A female Jedi master would be even better. Save for Fisher, only one female cast member has been announced thus far. Will Daisy Ridley get to use the Force and slash away with a lightsaber? We hope so!
7. Non-Cheesy References or Allusions to the Past
Of course, we want the little connections that can be made to the original trilogy. Nods to some Expanded Universe stuff would be cool, too. Random details or cameos from “The Clone Wars”? Bring them on. But please, nothing completely corny and no weird homages to the past. Maybe this is in vain since “Star Wars” contains some of the cheesiest lines, but there’s the good cheese and there’s the bad — or to borrow a line from Obi-Wan in “Revenge of the Sith” – the “I can’t watch anymore.” If there are going to be names dropped (and you know it’s bound to happen), they hopefully won’t come across as trying way too hard. Please don’t let Han and Leia’s kids’ names be a combo of Bail Organa and Ben Kenobi. No Lando Solo or Padmé Skywalker II, and no giant portraits of Yoda in the Republic’s rec room. Admittedly in this case, it’s a little tricky to judge what will and won’t work, so I suppose we’ll just have to hope that the Force is strong in J.J. Abrams and crew.
I’m going to be honest and admit that I’ve probably got rose-colored glasses on right now and I’ll take anything that this film wants to give us. Receive first, judge later. Or as Master Yoda would state, “First receive, later judge.” In all seriousness, I know I’m not the only one with my fingers crossed that the film sticks to the original tropes that made the “Star Wars” franchise such a classic. With the original cast locked in and a refreshing mix of up and coming stars and unknowns, so far Episode VII is looking good. Just as long as we steer clear of Jar Jar Binks’ descendants or any talk of midi-chlorians, I think it’ll be okay.