The future is looking Force-ful, but let's go light on the shameless Jar-Jar types in the new promised films.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
"In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored," the company said in a press release posted on StarWars.com. "No release dates have been set for the new films, and no porgs were available for comment."
Damn porgs, never speaking to the press. But the news left Star Wars fans with a whole bright empty canvas upon which to speculate. Lucasfilm has had 40 years of Star Wars triumphs to draw on, and the company mostly knows its universe and its audience. Here are seven reminders about what works and what doesn't in a galaxy far, far away.
Fresh is best
Fans know Star Wars. They love Star Wars. But it can be too easy to lean on the old stories. The coming films might be tempted to simply transplant the plots that worked from the first saga, but back in 1977, "A New Hope" truly felt new. There are plenty of recurring themes in the saga that will likely show up (small group of rebels vs. enormous rich empire), but if an innocent farm boy with daddy issues ends up losing a hand, or the tiniest of deadly flaws is found in an enormous battle station, it's going to feel like a big ol' rerun.
There are always going to be some major names who appear in the Star Wars galaxy -- it's not like Oscar-toting Alec Guinness was a nobody back in 1977. But what lit up the screen were the newbies who rose to the occasion -- from Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill, to Daisy Ridley and John Boyega more recently. Don't throw in Tom Hanks as a rebel general, in other words -- we love him, but he'll never melt into the role in the way a newbie would.
Easy on the kid fodder
So the jury's still out on the porgs, but inserting kid-appealing characters into Star Wars can work just fine. The Ewoks weren't that bad, and BB-8 is hard to resist. But Jar Jar Binks? Meesa says: Let us never speak of him again. C-3PO and R2-D2 were the original kid-fodder characters, but they never condescended or felt like they'd been Cousin Oliver-shoehorned into the plot. More like them, please.
The wonderful freedom of being set in space, and on planets we haven't yet heard of, means humans can share the screen with everything from droids to aquatic creatures to whatever Yoda is. These characters don't even have to have a huge role to be taken to heart. Just ask Admiral Ackbar. Or maybe don't ask him. It might be a trap.
Get weird and go deep
The non-human characters will help with this one, but Star Wars fans relish the wonderfully weird elements that find their way into the stories. Desert planets. Ice planets. Swamp planets. The Sarlaac pit. Luke warming up in the Tauntaun's belly. The AT-ATs. Carbonite freezing. Moisture farming. Blue milk. Junk scavenging. Sand people always riding single file, to hide their numbers. Shake up the creativity vault and give us creatures and lands and actions we've never seen before, and we'll always come back.
Trust the story
And maybe most of all, start with the story, a good story, and go with it. Don't try to cram in a lame romance (Padme and Anakin will be forever cringeworthy) or wrap things up with too happy of a bow -- the ending of "Rogue One" was grim, but it worked. You've created some of the most loyal and dedicated fans in the world, and they're ready to journey into a new corner of the galaxy with you, don't feel you have to pander or write down to them. These are already the droids we're looking for.
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