7 things we hope to see in the new Star Wars saga

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.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
4 min read

Star Wars fans already had "The Last Jedi" to look forward to come December, "Solo" in 2018 and Episode IX in 2019.

But on Thursday, the future got even more Force-ful. Disney chief Bob Iger announced that "Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson would write and direct a new series of Star Wars films.

"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


How many times can a tiny flaw be discovered in a giant deadly weapon? Lots of times, that's how many.


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.

Cast unknowns

Luke, Leia, and Han

Thanks for not casting John Travolta, Farrah Fawcett and Burt Reynolds in these roles, 1977 casting directors.

Lucasfilm Ltd.

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


The porgs are pretty cute, but let's not Jar Jar Binks-up this new universe with characters that only exist to sell toys.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

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.

You've got the look


Not many villains look as cool as Darth Vader.

Krause, Johansen, Lucasfilm Ltd.

No question, Star Wars staffers know how to design a world. Darth Vader's look was crafted from an ecclesiastical robe, motorcycle suit and German helmet and gas mask, and yet those disparate elements created a look of sleek menace that has seldom been equalled. Tatooine's two suns, the diverse creatures populating the Mos Eisley cantina, the Millennium Falcon's recognizable shape -- we're not too worried about this one, really. With a whole new saga to invent, Johnson and crew will undoubtedly come up with some memorable looks and creatures that kids will be wearing for many Halloweens to come.

Bring on the non-humans


It's no trap for the new Star Wars universe to keep adding delightfully bizarre non-human characters, like Admiral Ackbar of the Mon Calamari.


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


Sorry for what's about to happen to you, Tauntaun old buddy.


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


"Oh man, you're not going to tell me how you don't like sand again, are you?"


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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