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[Debate] – The Future Of Star Wars Characters – Expectations Vs Reality

 

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Posted December 28, 2015 by

 
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Previously on ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’:-

The Emperor is dead and with him the Empire has lost its leadership. The entire galaxy celebrates new possibilities while our heroes, the Rebel Alliance, rejoice after a job well done. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) can happily be together now – the prospect of promising careers and comfortable lives awaiting them. Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) can look forward to the life of a pilot and freely benefit from the produce of Bespin. Maybe Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) could become his co-pilot. Finally, now that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has made peace with his dead father, he can look at rearing the next generation of Jedi. Everyone is happy and we can all expect them to grow old in peace.

Uh… no. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ puts a shuddering halt on any of those dreams. The film moves away from the extended universe of books and comics while also paying homage to the basic essence of those stories. And that means things aren’t as peachy as we would want them to be.

Death Star-sized spoilers ahead.

The world of ‘The Force Awakens’ is such that the heroes of yore are non-existent. Their efforts are merely legends; their names myths. Lando is not spoken of; implying his role in the defeat of the Empire disappeared into nothing. And since the leads from the original series also don’t mention him, I can take it to mean he fell out with them or died soon after the events of ROTJ. Episodes VIII and IX may prove me wrong.

On top of that, Han and Leia’s galactic romance didn’t seem to last long. It’s implied that they married, but I don’t think that’s mentioned specifically in the film. In fact, Han even loses the other great love of his life; The Millennium Falcon is stolen and left abandoned on a planet in the Outer Rim!

During ‘The Force Awakens’, Han and Leia talk about their relationship as if it didn’t take long for things to sour between them – they fell apart and started to fight. This is brought on by their son defecting to the Dark Side. Can’t blame them for falling out over that, but that’s not what any of us would have wanted for them. Honestly, wouldn’t we have loved it if they’d decided to be there for each other during that tough time instead of drifting away and heading back to what they both knew best – for Han, it’s taking on smuggling runs with Chewie. For Leia, it was a return to politics.

What emphasises this loss is how quickly that electric spark of chemistry starts flying between the characters once they meet again. Despite 30-odd years having gone by since Ford and Fisher played these iconic roles, the film makes an effort to build up the anticipation of seeing them on screen together again. And the reunion is as sombre and subtle as they come – yet, one of the most intense.

And am I the only one that really hates the fact that Han dies without meeting Luke again? They were everyone’s favourite space bros (or at least one of the many favourites), and they’ve been separated for so long, they deserved one last goodbye.

What’s bleakest about this future depicted in TFA is the fact that our heroes, old and new, are fighting yet another version of the Galactic Empire. The First Order is run by a mysterious Force-sensitive overlord, under whom young and inexperienced minions wreak havoc on the galaxy. Look at General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson). He’s too young to be commanding a starship like the Finalizer, forget making decisions involving a system-destroying weapon like the one on Starkiller Base. And his right-hand man, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), looks even less competent, suffering as he is from self-doubt and poor knowledge of the Force. The First Order is chaotic and even more difficult to fathom, making them far more dangerous.

However realistic it is to have an equally evil force arise decades after the original, this is not what any of us would have wanted Luke, Han and Leia to have to deal with yet again. They lost their youths to fighting this battle; do they need to dedicate their twilight years to the same?

Of course, all of this makes sense when you consider how the film parallels the events of the World Wars. If the original trilogy led to the end of the first galactic war, then this new trilogy follows the events of its successor. It’s no wonder then that the same group of protagonists now fight the same battle against a new enemy. Perhaps that’s why the film has worked so well for most audiences – it could very well be a re-telling of our own past.

The film does a great job at keeping up the optimism through the three new protagonists. The redemption of former Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron’s (Oscar Isaac) confidence in winning, coupled with Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) story arc and possible closure in the sequels gives the audience a new hope.

The trouble with sequels that were never meant to be is that the hopes and dreams resulting from the conclusion of the originals must be thwarted to make way for the future. Does this affect the enjoyability of watching the original? No, but it does make that stunning climax to ROTJ bittersweet, instead of triumphant.

 

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Lestat de Lioncourt
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@EnsignLestat58
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