Editor's note: This was originally written on Dec. 10, 2015.
In exactly one week, I will be watching "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." There have been so many expectations, hopes, and fears. Even as a Star Wars immigrant, I feel the turmoil within. Star Wars is about to take a step into a larger world.
"The Force Awakens" is a significant milestone in the Star Wars life-cycle. It is the first Star Wars motion picture that was not created by George Lucas, for one thing, and let's face facts: there will never not be another Star Wars movie. Disney will milk it for our entire lifetime; there is simply too much money on the table. But this one is the first, and as such it is the most significant. It sets the tone for the next generation of Star Wars.
There are some who wish there would never be another Star Wars movie. I can understand that; let it rest on its laurels, and retain the epic status it has in our culture. On the other hand, I think the fate of Star Wars passing from Lucas to others was inevitable. The impact on our culture is too great. It must face its destiny. We have seen that to a large extent with all of the extra media surrounding it: books, games, and TV shows have already expanded the “Lucas canon,” taking it beyond its creator.
You can see other properties that have already followed this path. Star Trek was started by Gene Roddenberry, but the franchise has grown and expanded beyond what Roddenberry had envisioned. Comic book characters have been around for 50 years, but there is always new material about them. On the whole, I think the properties are stronger for this expansion. There are new interpretations and new perspectives, new characters and new stories. Don't like the latest Superman movies? There's plenty of Superman comic books and movies to go around. I think Star Wars is going the same way.
There is potential for this movie. Its new creators could dazzle us with new stories and entertain us with new characters. On the other hand, it could be terrible and dash all our hopes. It is the risk we take by loving a franchise. It is the risk we take by caring. As geeks and nerds, we love to get into this kind of thing, but it is a risk. With all of that in mind, allow me to present my hopes and fears for the next movie. To avoid spoilers, all I have seen are the trailers, so bear with me if existing information contradicts any of these:
- FEAR: I saw what Episode VII director J.J. Abrams did to Star Trek, and I am afraid he will repeat himself. Abrams misses the point of Star Trek. It is not an action/thriller flick; it is about our humanity. Star Wars is about fun and excitement (not thrills) and the characters and story. It needs to move us emotionally. I am afraid Abrams will make it a thriller while relying on cheap fan service tricks.
- FEAR: I've seen the trailers, and they all look pretty dismal. Han's statement, “It's all true: the Force, the dark side, the Jedi,” has me very concerned. It could mean the victory at Endor did not mean anything, allowing the Empire to continue undeterred. This ruins the resolution of "Return of the Jedi." However, it could also mean that whoever he is speaking to is outside the realm of knowledge; our defecting stormtrooper may have been lied to by the powers that be. I hold out hope, but I am nervous.
- HOPE/FEAR: I really want good characters. One of the greatest strengths of the original trilogy is the quality of characters. Luke, Han, Leia, Vader, R2, C-3PO, and Lando are all vivid and engaging. I really want this to be a strong element of the movie, and am afraid it will not be.
- FEAR: I am afraid Abrams will introduce us to several new bald aliens. Seriously, is anyone else bothered by the fact he has some sort of weird thing about the “other guys” being bald? Star Trek has bald Klingons and Romulans, and Fringe has those bald Observers. I don't have a problem with baldness per se, but does J.J. ever invent anything with hair?
- HOPE: The villain looks interesting. I am hopeful that we get a cunning villain with gravitas and power. Either way, our masked friend Kylo Ren looks like he could fit the bill. He certainly seems driven and power-hungry. After Count Dooku and General Grievous, we could use a solid main villain.
- HOPE: The trailers do seem to look good. If there were not so many expectations for the movie, I think I would be looking forward to it more. Taking the trailers by themselves and removing the expectations from the original trilogy, I really think "The Force Awakens" looks like a good movie.
- HOPE: I really hope that John Williams gets the music right. This doesn't feel like a hope, because I trust him to put together a good score, but I'm looking forward to the new Star Wars themes.
- FEAR: By far my biggest fear is that "The Force Awakens" will be a good movie, but I will not be able to enjoy it because of all the hopes and fears. I am worried that I will be so wrapped up in what I want it to be that I won't be able to enjoy what Abrams and company have created. It will be different. The style will change. It's 2015, not 1977. What we expect and want out of movies is different. I can't live in the past and sacrifice what is now. I don't want to be a Star Wars curmudgeon.
And so I go, in one week, to see a new Star Wars film. I hope it is good.