Screen Rant: the Star Wars sequels take “far more thematically from the prequels” than from the original trilogy

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From Screen Rant:

“Disney’s Star Wars sequel trilogy is often credited for its original trilogy aesthetic, but it takes far more thematically from the prequels. […]

Star Wars fandom is no stranger to debate, and one of the biggest ones right out the gate with the sequel trilogy was the perception that it was actually ignoring the prequels for the sake of original trilogy nostalgia, and while it’s true that, to an extent, the sequels look more like the original trilogy, thematically they harken back to the more complicated story of the prequels.

When Star Wars first arrived in theaters back in 1977, Lucas drew inspiration from the adventure serials he had enjoyed as a youth, like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. These stories centered on a clear-cut division between good and evil, and it was the universal battle between the two that the original trilogy aims to communicate. The heroes, by and large, wear white and/or bright colors, while the villain is a part-man, part-machine creature in a terrifying black suit. Even the lightsabers are color-coordinated. […]

THE PREQUELS SUBVERTED WHAT AUDIENCES THOUGHT ABOUT THEIR HEROES

Then came the prequels. Suddenly, the badass Jedi-turned-Sith Darth Vader was a peppy little podracer prodigy, and the wisdom and power of the Jedi was ultimately revealed to be mired by arrogance. Blinded by the dark side and their own pride, the Jedi Council — epitomized by Yoda himself — consistently fails to make the right decisions, failing to see that the Dark Lord of the Sith was right under their nose the whole tie, allowing Chancellor Palpatine claim more and more power and ascend to the role of Emperor.

Even Obi-Wan Kenobi is first presented as a pompous padawan learner who doesn’t develop into the hero we know until well into Revenge of the Sith. The entire foundation of righteousness that Obi-Wan and Yoda represent in the original trilogy is recontextualized by the prequels, which aim to shed new light on the characters and explore the truth that led the Republic to its doom and the Jedi to near-extinction at the hands of the Chosen One.

THE DISNEY MOVIES ARE ABOUT PROCESSING AND MOVING ON FROM THE FAILURES OF THE PREQUEL TRILOGY

As you might imagine, that’s exactly what the new films, especially The Last Jedi, are commenting on. Luke himself even points out how the “hypocrisy” and “hubris” of the Jedi played an integral role in creating the Empire, and for this reason, he is convinced that the only way for the galaxy (i.e., the Star Wars saga itself) to survive is for the Jedi to be removed from the equation entirely. Meanwhile, his nephew — the main villain of this trilogy — worships his grandfather’s dark deeds, hoping to restore his greatness unto the galaxy. In a sort of meta-commentary, Kylo Ren could represent the fans who are yearning for the original trilogy, lacking the full context of how Anakin became Vader or why Luke won by throwing his lightsaber, not striking Vader down.

Yoda even reaches forth from the beyond to confess to Luke that “the greatest teacher, failure is.” His entire appearance in The Last Jedi is predicated on a need to let go of the Jedi’s past mistakes, drawing a smooth parallel between his failure to stop Darth Sidious from claiming control of the galaxy and Luke’s failure to recreate the Jedi Order in his own image. Although it remains to be seen how Episode IX will wrap up this thematic throughline, it doesn’t take much scrutiny to reveal the meta-commentary that the sequel trilogy is going for.

RECONCILING THE PAST TRILOGIES SO THAT THE SAGA CAN LIVE ON

While the Disney Star Wars films ultimately condemn not the prequel trilogy itself but the actions of its heroes, they certainly don’t shy away from referencing and incorporating certain elements into the stories they’re trying to tell. Take that Solo villain cameo, for example. In fact, every single one of the four films that Disney has released since taking ownership has included references, cameos and narrative ties to the prequels. You could even say that one of the greatest objectives of the sequel trilogy is the unification of all that has come before, equally legitimizing both trilogies while allowing fans to accept them all and move on.

In The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata discusses the never-ending fight against evil in its many forms, name-checking the Sith, the Empire, and the First Order as various incarnations of the same struggle. Then, of course, there is the philosophical debate between Kylo “Let the past die” Ren and Rey’s desire to salvage what remains of the Jedi, even if all she ultimately saves is the Order’s sacred texts. These two central pillars of the sequel trilogy find themselves in a philosophical quarrel over how to treat the future of the Star Wars galaxy, and no film captures that conversation as much as The Last Jedi.

In that respect, Rian Johnson’s film — and the vitriolic response some fans have had to it — embodies a transitional period for the saga. By bringing back the themes of the prequels and the cast of the original trilogy, the Disney films are tying the whole saga together once and for all. After all, what comes next in the main saga, spinoffs aside, will likely not be beholden to either the original trilogy or the prequels. And it shouldn’t have to. The Star Wars universe is a vast one with infinite storytelling potential. As J.J. Abrams once explained, the purpose of the sequel trilogy is to “reclaim the story,” and that mission is well on its way to being accomplished.”

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Rumor: Ewan McGregor to return as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IX?

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From The Sun:

“EWAN McGregor is set to return as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the next Star Wars movie.

He will film scenes for the finale of the sequel trilogy directed by JJ Abrams, ­sources in Los Angeles said.

Star Wars fans will have mixed feelings as they have been hoping for a full-scale Obi-Wan spin-off from Disney.

Scot Ewan, 47, last played Obi-Wan in 2005’s Revenge Of The Sith.

A source said: “Ewan will secretly film for the next Star Wars movie.

“Disney have been mulling over a stand-alone film for Obi-Wan. There have been concerns about getting the story right.” […]”

George Lucas wanted the third Star Wars trilogy to get into the world of the Whills (UPDATE: the complete excerpt from the interview)

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UPDATE!

Here’s a longer excerpt from “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction” (2018) where George Lucas talks about his intention to put the Whills in Episodes VII, VIII and IX.

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Thanks to Alexrd for sharing this.


Here’s an older quote from Lucas in Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays (1997), about the Journal of the Whills:

“Originally, I was trying to have the story be told by somebody else; there was somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events. I eventually dropped this idea, and the concepts behind the Whills turned into the Force. But the Whills became part of this massive amount of notes, quotes, background information that I used for the scripts; the stories were actually taken from the Journal of the Whills.”


Qui-Gon mentioned “a Shaman of the Whills” in this deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith.

222 INT. POLIS MASSA-OBSERVATION DOME-NIGHT

On the isolated asteroid of Polis Massa, YODA meditates.

YODA: Failed to stop the Sith Lord, I have. Still much to learn, there is …

QUI -GON: (V.O.) Patience. You will have time. I did not. When I became one with the Force I made a great discovery. With my training, you will be able to merge with the Force at will. Your physical self will fade away, but you will still retain your consciousness. You will become more powerful than any Sith.

YODA: Eternal consciousness.

QUI-GON: (V.O.) The ability to defy oblivion can be achieved, but only for oneself. It was accomplished by a Shaman of the Whills. It is a state acquired through compassion, not greed.

YODA: . . . to become one with the Force, and influence still have . . . A power greater than all, it is.

QUI-GON: (V.O.) You will learn to let go of everything. No attachment, no thought of self. No physical self.

YODA: A great Jedi Master, you have become, Qui-Gon Jinn. Your apprentice I gratefully become.

YODA thinks about this for a minute, then BAIL ORGANA enters the room and breaks his meditation.

BAIL ORGANA: Excuse me, Master Yoda. Obi-Wan Kenobi has made contact.

Mark Hamill says George Lucas didn’t intend to kill Luke “until the end of Episode IX, after he trained Leia”

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From IGN:

“Speaking to IGN about the differences in approach to the character of Luke Skywalker between J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, [Mark] Hamill suddenly changed tack, and explained:

“I happen to know that George didn’t kill Luke until the end of [Episode] 9, after he trained Leia. Which is another thread that was never played upon [in The Last Jedi].” […]

More generally, Hamill compared the approaches between Lucas and Disney’s Star Wars films:

“George had an overall arc – if he didn’t have all the details, he had sort of an overall feel for where the [sequel trilogy was] going – but this one’s more like a relay race. You run and hand the torch off to the next guy, he picks it up and goes.

“Ryan didn’t write what happens in 9 – he was going to hand it off to, originally, Colin Trevorrow and now J.J. […] It’s an ever-evolving, living, breathing thing. Whoever’s onboard gets to play with the life-size action figures that we all are.” […]”

George Lucas wanted Darth Talon to corrupt Han and Leia’s son in Episode VII

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Lucasfilm Development Exec Pablo Hidalgo shared more information about George Lucas’ treatments for the third Star Wars trilogy.

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Darth Talon is a Twi’lek Sith Lady created for the Star Wars: Legacy comic series (check out her Wookieepedia entry).


Here are some concept arts from The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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George Lucas wanted a recluse Luke to train a female hero in Episode VII, as shown in those concept arts

From Slashfilm:

“Before Disney had acquired Lucasfilm on October 30, 2012, George Lucas himself wrote a treatment for a new trilogy of Star Wars movies. We’ve chronicled in the past how those story treatments were largely thrown out by director J.J. Abrams when he came on board the project on January 24, 2013. We will likely never find out what Lucas had planned for the Star Wars sequel trilogy, but the new Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi book gives us one small peek at a George Lucas-approved Jedi Temple on the planet that later became known as Ahch-to. This is the closest we might ever come to seeing Lucas’ original vision for the sequel trilogy.

In the book, we learn that one of the first meetings to visualize The Force Awakens happened on January 16, 2013 at Skywalker Ranch with George Lucas himself. Among the pieces presented at the meeting were portraits of an older Luke Skywalker training a new disciple named Kira (who was later renamed Rey). The idea was that, 30 years after the fall of the Empire, Luke had gone to a dark place and secluded himself in a Jedi temple on a new planet. The paintings show Luke meditating, reassessing his whole life.

Apparently, the initial plan for Star Wars: Episode 7 was that Luke, over the course of that movie, would rediscover his vitality and train this new Jedi. So basically, what we got from the Rey/Luke storyline in The Last Jedi was initially supposed to be the bones for George Lucas’ Episode 7. Imagine an alternate universe where Episode 7 was Luke reluctantly training a new Jedi – it would be completely different. […]

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The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi features many of these old designs, including one of an old Luke standing next to structures that crumbled long ago. Another one features an ugly bell-shaped building that was approved by George Lucas before J.J. Abrams was even hired for The Force Awakens. You can see it above.

Here are some details:

“This was a very early take on Luke’s temple, way back when there was still no director. This artwork was shown to George Lucas in a presentation. Doug [Chiang] came back and said, “Congratulations, James. You got a George “Fabulouso” stamp.” VFX art director James Clyne recalls.

Adds Lucasfilm executive creative director Doug Chiang, “After working with George on the prequels for seven years, I knew in some ways how to anticipate what forms he would like – which is really good, because he still likes those forms. So for the Jedi temple, he loved that bell shape. It’s reminiscent of some of the imagery that [original Star Wars trilogy concept artist] Ralph McQuarrie painted way back.”

Some of these designs look very much like something from the prequels. One features Luke in heavy thought and another could depict a Sith Force ghost haunting him. You’ll have to buy the book to see them all, but here are a few noteworthy images:

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From reddit:

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George Lucas reportedly wanted Leia to be a trained Force-user in the sequel trilogy

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Mark Hamill: “This is something that always interested me because [Luke and Leia] can communicate telepathically and I tell her in one of the movies, I guess the third one, you have that power too. So I always wondered, and I don’t read the fanfiction, why she wouldn’t fully develop her Force sensibilities and I think that’s something George Lucas addressed in his original outline for VII, VIII and IX. I was talking to him last week, but they’re not following George’s ideas so we’ll have to wait and see on that one. But it seems like a waste of an innate talent that she should utilize in some way.”