Five questions about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy

What will Disney do with the 'Star Wars' franchise?

The Walt Disney Company has bought George Lucas’s movie studio Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, and while Disney will doubtless have lots of ideas about what to do with assets like Skywalker Sound and the Industrial Light and Magic special effects arm of the business, we all know the real reason the company is worth so much: the ‘Star Wars’ franchise.

A new movie in the series has already been announced. ‘Star Wars 7’, as we’re currently confined to calling it, will be the first part of a new trilogy (or, potentially, an even longer series), with instalments to follow every two to three years. George Lucas will remain on board as ‘creative consultant’, but seeing as he’s repeatedly sworn off making any more ‘Star Wars’ movies, it seems unlikely that he’ll be too closely involved. Which leaves Tom Huddleston with a few pressing questions…

1. Will ‘Star Wars 7’ be a direct sequel?

The major problem with continuing the series after the fall of the Galactic Empire is that there are no baddies left to fight: Darth Vader died in his son’s arms, the Emperor fell down a big hole, even Jabba got cruelly strangled. So they’ll need a new set of villains.

The obvious solution would be to shift the story forward a couple of decades, when the new republic set up by Luke and pals has begun to rot from within. We all know the Skywalker family has a bit of a problem with anger management. So, who knows, maybe Luke himself could be on a rocky path to dictatorship? Could Han and Leia be forced to kickstart a new Rebel Alliance?

2. Will any of the old cast return?

It’s hard to imagine Harrison Ford eagerly signing up to reappear as Han Solo. That said, it’s equally hard to imagine Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher turning it down – both of them have done little but bit parts and voiceover work of late. It’ll all depend on a number of factors: the script, the creative team, and (let’s face it) the paycheck.

But a couple of cast members are a shoo-in: no ‘Star Wars’ movie would be complete without Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Peter Mayhew actually played Chewbacca in a recent episode of ‘Glee’ and presumably Billy Dee Williams is still kicking about somewhere.

3. Who will they get to direct it?

Well, this is where it starts to get interesting. With Lucas out, the producers are free to hire literally anyone they want. Disney won’t be looking to mess with the formula too much, so don’t expect any seriously leftfield choices (no echoes of the time Lucas asked David Lynch to direct ‘Jedi’). But there must be a few names in the frame already, and most young, geek-friendly directors would doubtless give their right arm for the opportunity.

Our top picks include: Neill Blomkamp, the ‘District 9’ director whose new film ‘Elysium’ looks like old-school hard sci-fi; Rupert Wyatt, whose ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ was a really solid, interesting blockbuster; and of course Edgar Wright, the ultimate ‘Star Wars’ geek. But anyone who even breathes the words Zack Snyder or Len Wiseman will be run out of town on a rail.

4. What exactly does ‘creative consultant’ mean?

In other words, how much is George going to be involved with this new series? From all reports, not a lot: the ‘Star Wars’ prequel trilogy may have made a shedload of cash, but Disney must recognise that if they’d been better movies they’d have reaped even more. A well-handled ‘Star Wars’ movie could surely be a match for the likes of ‘Avatar’. Doubtless, Lucas will be kept in the loop – he’s a big enough name to warrant that – but it's hard to imagine the new creatives reacting very positively if he tries to throw his weight around.

The other question, of course, is what will Lucas do now? He’s asserted his intention to focus on ‘philanthropy’, but does that mean no more Lucas movies, ever? Well, after ‘Red Tails’, we’re not sure how much we really care…

5. Could these new movies actually be any good?

Yes. If the world is properly developed, with new villains, new planets and new struggles, if the scripting is good, if the cast and characters are strong (no Jar Jar this time, please), if the director is smart and committed, then ‘Star Wars’ fans may finally get the sequel the original trilogy always deserved.

And over the next few years, it’s going to be loads of fun to watch the new movies take shape: to see writers hired, directors discussed, cast lists come together, trailers released. We can’t wait.

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Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

The best (and bleakest) movie in the series? Most fans think so.

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Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

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Episode I - The Phantom Menace

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Episode II - Attack of the Clones

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Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Breathless, dramatic, effects-filled, badly acted and slightly disappointing.

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