As we continue ramping up to the release of Episode VII in 2015, there’s going to be no shortage of these sorts of posts. I’m anticipating it as much as I can, given the paucity of information out there.
Arguably, I’m in a different place with my fandom now. I enjoy the entire body of work for a galaxy far, far away with a different eye than I did even ten years ago. All of the “original class” of childhood fans are different people by this point. At least, we are if we’ve made any attempt to experience life.
It’s no secret, of course, that the supposedly prevailing popular opinion of the prequels is different from mine. I don’t know if it will be always. Perhaps a shift in the zeitgeist will lead to a softening of my generation’s hard hearts as it seems to have done for Star Trek V.
But there is a fear that I have about the approach to the new work that makes me wary.
It’s going to be far too easy for JJ Abrams to indulge in excessive self-reference in these films. This is not a specific shot at Abrams, either. As a whole I enjoy his work.
What I mean is that there is going to be a temptation to create lines of dialogue or situations that play with too much self-awareness of the work. We’ve seen this happen across the board with the current crop of mega-budget directors; Joss Whedon finally managed to make his winks palatable on the big screen with Marvel’s® The Avengers™ released by Disney®™.
When it’s done poorly, you get a modern Kevin Smith movie (post–Chasing Amy, really). Whedon still has to prove that Marvel’s® The Avengers™ released by Disney®™ isn’t a fluke.
While I don’t think that Abrams will go down that road since Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan (as well as Lucas himself per some reports) are there as checks and balances, the temptation will be strong.
Why Would the Self-Referential Urge Be Strong?
It would be strong because that’s what a large part of the fan base wants. They want to see the same thing they saw growing up, and the main characters telling them they sure had a good time, too. The rumored decision to give the original cast a larger piece of the action in Episode VII would point us in that direction.
They already had their curtain call in Episode VI. I can see an easy argument for Luke to be in an Obi–Wan–like role in the next one, but I’m not sure I can see an argument for Carrie Fisher to play as prominent a role as she did before. If the point is to hand things off to a new set of characters, let’s not spend too much time re-establishing the ones we’ve all watched 6000 times before.
Qualifiers and Conclusion
To be clear, I could be eating my words in another year and a half. I would be happy to do so.
I just want them to give us the Star Wars movie that they want to tell, not the one that the “audience wants.” A work will only ring true if it fulfills a true artistic vision, as opposed to trying to be overly–accommodating to a fan base.
Because if they do that, we run a really strong risk that this goes the way of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
And no one wants that.