Star Wars Episode 7: Why This Movie Needs to Play Down Harrison Ford


Ever since Walt Disney purchased Star Wars maker Lucasfilm, forums have been plagued by incessant complaints. Just as fans used to complain that George Lucas was ruining the franchise, they now complain that Disney will prove to be Skywalker’s burial ground. However, it isn’t entirely unfair to say that the series has lost its way so the shift from George Lucas to Disney could actually help revitalize the franchise. To do so successfully, however, here are seven things Star Wars needs to be awesome again.

1. Follow Heir To the Empire: According to reports, the latest film will be an original story. However, fans have often regarded Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire as a proper follow up to the original trilogy, so that really should be the inspiration for the screenplay. Like some kind of space Hamlet, Skywalker’s grief following Obi-Wan’s dream departure is a catalyst for some wonderful philosophizing and Zahn's novel really does elevate the character to a new level of dramatic depth. So whether the writers craft an original tale or simply an adaptation, the novel's cathartic sense is the crucial element to maintain; it really does bring the universe several notches above traditional sci-fi fare. 

2. Focus on Mark Hamill and Ewan McGregor: No actors have been confirmed for the movie yet but the two Disney needs to keep are Mark Hamill and Ewan McGregor. Hamill’s voice-work as the Joker proves that it is his acting and not his affable personality that wins accolades. Ewan McGregor is a master of his craft and was impeccable in I Love You, Phillip Morris. It may be strange for the two to coexist in the storyline since Hamill’s Skywalker coincides with the other Obi-Wan but him and McGregor are, without a doubt, the series’ finest actors. Besides, Obi-Wan visits Skywalker in the story as a Force ghost anyway so a connection is not hard to imagine. Also, consider incorporating Liam Neeson; Jinn was the original master once so it’s easy to imagine his presence in the character’s dreams as well.

3. Minimize Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher: If the adaptation stays true to Zahn’s work, Han Solo and Princess Leia are fairly involved in the tale. However, neither Ford nor Fisher commands the screen the way they once did. The former brought ruin to another classic franchise while the latter looks laughably out of form. It is unimaginable that either would make sense fighting Noghri aliens or escaping the Empire’s last thugs. When it’s time for the inevitable rewrites, just change something so these two are not as central to the plot.

4. Less Space Warfare Please: Hollywood has this tendency to write in action pieces when they often aren’t necessary. However, by limiting the amount of gigantic stunts, Disney can focus on character development. Luckily, Zahn’s aforementioned novel is not entirely conducive to space battles, instead focusing on individual confrontations and stealthy infiltrations; it allows fans to see the inner turmoil in a more personal manner. Therefore, in accordance with the tale, keep away from Death Stars and imperial ships. Since it’s a trilogy anyway, the action can come in part two and three, after viewers have learned to relate with our protagonists.

5. Hire Woo-Ping Yuen for the fight scenes: Just because the action is very personal and combat-heavy, however, doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Therefore, the fight choreographer to hire is Woo-Ping Yuen. As the man that has defined the action genre over the last couple of decades, Ping is perfect to direct the confrontations between the characters. Given the highly fictionalized setting, the fight scenes in Star Wars always have a sense of improbability. However, as he showed in The Matrix, Ping can make even the most ludicrous battles seem believable. Combining the swordfights in Jet Li’s Hero with lightsabers is simply a formula for success, success that no battle of starship fleets can bring.

6. Keep Away from Jon Favreau: Star Wars is the science-fiction equivalent of a Shakespearian tragedy; the plots revolving around vengeance, dream sequences and the quest for power make this claim justifiable. And while none of the directors currently stated to be in the running are equally inappropriate, the most dangerous for the series is Jon Favreau, who has actually expressed interest in the job. Favreau creates stories that lie between the pathetically comedic and the absurd but never quite go into drama, so he is absolutely unfit for the role. Besides, if Star Wars needed a reboot that is both smarmy and smug, they could have simply hired JJ Abrams and Chris Pine.

7. Make the newcomers feel at home: The prequel trilogy was great because it answered some questions the originals failed to address. However, the references to Star Wars lore were so numerous and obscure that many newcomers were left scratching their heads. However, when making a sequel to a trilogy that started nearly four decades ago, Disney would do well to establish some background for the fans that are unaware of the franchise. If a crawling wall of text at the beginning of the movie is all the context viewers are provided, an entire generation may fail to understand why this series is such a legend.

If Disney makes sure to follow these seven simple steps, they may have on their hands yet another gigantic hit. Besides, the studio can find comfort in one certainty and that is that, no matter what kind of product they make, the fanboys will react in only one way.