[Update: Reposted from January 10th for #StarWarsDay 2018. May the 4th be with you!]
With the Star Wars sequel trilogy speeding towards its conclusion, details about George Lucas' vision for the series have come to light over the past few years. Lucas, of course, spearheaded the first six episodes of the Skywalker saga, watching his creation grow from a strange Flash Gordon homage to the most popular film series on the planet. In 2012, he shocked the entertainment industry by selling Lucasfilm to Disney, passing the torch over to a new generation of creatives so they could add to the galaxy's legacy. So far, three movies in this era have been released with at least five more on the way (as of this writing). In addition to spinoff Solo and Episode IX, Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is developing an all-new trilogy.
Well before what would become The Force Awakens was an inkling in anyone's mind, Lucas spent a year sketching an outline for the sequels he would later share with Disney. It's no secret Lucasfilm and the Mouse House opted to go in a different direction, discarding many of Lucas' ideas (a fact that upset Mark Hamill), and many are wondering what he had in mind. We may never get to read the full story, but some information has been unveiled since the Star Wars renaissance began. Here's everything we know about Lucas' sequel trilogy so far.
Disney's 'Retro Movie'
There's no denying The Force Awakens was an overwhelming success, grossing $2 billion at the global box office and earning widely positive reviews from critics. That said, there was a vocal group of detractors who bemoaned Episode VII for a perceived lack of vision. There were a number of surface similarities to the original film (which was intentional on J.J. Abrams' part), such as the cute droid with top secret information and a planet-killing weapon. Even the general conflict was highly reminiscent of the original trilogy - with a well-resourced First Order waging battle against the scrappy Resistance. Force Awakens was very much an exercise of nostalgia, and Lucas wasn't particularly thrilled about that.
While Star Wars 7 was rewriting the box office record book, Lucas was doing interviews about his feelings on the picture. His thoughts were quite clear, as he criticized Disney for wanting to "make something for the fans," which he qualified as a "retro movie." This approach greatly differed from Lucas, who had something "completely different" in mind. The specifics of his treatment have not publicly been revealed, but it stands reason to believe the story would have gone in some new directions instead of retreading familiar ground. Even the ships of the sequels (the Millennium Falcon, X-wings, TIE fighters) were carried over from the classic films. Eventually, the saga did get turned on its head, with Last Jedi becoming the most divisive entry in the franchise.
One aspect of Lucas' sequel that has become public knowledge is his proposed age for the new heroes that would carry the series forward. Months before The Force Awakens was released, it was stated the protagonists were teenagers, which called to mind the young Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala from The Phantom Menace. Given how maligned the prequel trilogy was at the time, it's understandable why Lucasfilm would want to go in a different direction. Studio president Kathleen Kennedy admitted they made "some departures" from Lucas' treatment, but said it was just like any other process she experienced.
In Episode I, Padmé proved a 14-year old queen could lead her people to victory, but it's hard to fault Lucasfilm for deviating from Lucas' intentions here. The new characters rank among the sequel trilogy's strongest assets, as the likes of Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron have endeared themselves to generations of fans in a quick period of time. Just because children make up a significant portion of Star Wars' target audience doesn't mean the movies need child stars in order to resonate. The original trilogy is living proof of that, and the sequels simply followed their lead by revolving around a group of people in their 20s and 30s.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019