‘Star Wars’ Has No Ending: Kennedy, Kasdan, and Abrams on the “Forever Franchise”

     November 17, 2015


Perhaps it’s fitting that the last time Star Wars was on the big screen, it was for the prequels—a straight shot of films that may not have been good, but they fit the linear franchise mold of the time. However, thanks to Marvel and the rise of television, that linear format is gone. Now is the time of shared universes and huge storylines, and Disney is ready. For them, there’s no beating Star Wars into the ground. In a massive feature on the future of Star Wars, Wired writes:

The company intends to put out a new Star Wars movie every year for as long as people will buy tickets. Let me put it another way: If everything works out for Disney, and if you are (like me) old enough to have been conscious for the first Star Wars film, you will probably not live to see the last one. It’s the forever franchise.

star-wars-the-force-awakens-posterThat’s not to say these movies will be bad, and they do have a clear vision for what they want at least on a basic level. For Episode VII, producer Kathleen Kennedy, director J.J. Abrams, and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan wanted to come at the story from an emotional perspective:

“The first question J.J. asked us when we all sat down was, what do we want to feel?” Kennedy says.

The answers Kennedy’s brain trust gave: A sense of a beginning. A sense of urgency but also humor. Working with Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, Abrams developed another list: “The feeling we wanted was from the first trilogy,” Kasdan says. “It’s fun, it’s delightful, it moves like a son of a bitch, and you don’t question too much.”

But before you believe there’s a giant map on the wall showing how these movies will interconnect, don’t expect anything so concrete:

“I love how you’ve already jumped to the conclusion that it’s all working,” she answers, laughing. “Oh my God, there is so much to get right. It’s by no means laid out beat for beat. I’ll borrow a line from Raiders of the Lost Ark: We’re making this up as we go.”


Image via Disney

Perhaps as time goes on Kennedy will need to come up with a more detailed battle plan. If characters from the sequel trilogy catch on with fans, then perhaps there’s room to move into a new shared universe, but for now, it’s all about setting up the new trilogy and picking out pieces for the anthology films like Rogue One, and spinoff movies for Han Solo and Boba Fett.

When it came to getting a Han Solo movie going forward, that was Kasdan:

Kasdan is talking to Lucas again, and Kennedy too, and they want him to write another—another!—Star Wars. It turns out Lucas has been sitting on a whole crop of ideas. “Pick,” they tell him. Kasdan chooses something about Han Solo when he was a kid. “Because Han is my favorite character,” Kasdan says.

He also explained how he brought in Abrams and their guiding ethos for Force Awakens:

They cut the deal, but ask Kasdan for a little more. Could he stick around and, you know, consult a little bit on Episode VII? Could he help persuade Abrams to take the directing chair?

Kasdan says the only must-have item was to bring back Han, Chewie, Luke, and Leia. “On the first day, I said, look: Delight, that’s the word. In every scene, that should be the criterion we’re using. Does it delight?”


Image via Disney

The Wired piece doesn’t have many details about the individual films Lucasfilm is planning. The most concrete piece of info is from Lucasfilm Story Group head Kiri Hart, who said “In the case of Rogue One, we’re essentially making a period piece,” and even then, audiences were already expecting that since the movie takes place before the events of Episode IV.

But the larger truth behind the article far exceeds any one movie. In a film culture that’s become obsessed with “What’s next?”, The Force Awakens is probably about to become a distant memory like Avengers: Age of Ultron or the positively ancient The Dark Knight Rises. But both of these superhero movies are tied to mythologies, where as Star Wars has the edge of being its own universe:

Star Wars is its own genre,” Kasdan says. “Like all genre, it can hold a million different kinds of artists and stories. They say ‘Buddha is what you do to it.’ And that’s Star Wars. It can be anything you want it to be.”

And while wanting it to be a story about a young Han Solo or a Boba Fett movie seems frustratingly small, who knows? We haven’t kicked the tires on this new X-Wing to see what it can do. We don’t know if this new generation will get good Star Wars films (if the opening crawl for The Force Awakens doesn’t contain anything about trade negotiations, it will already be better than The Phantom Menace), but I hope they do.


Image via Disney

But I also hope they get original properties. Kathleen Kennedy isn’t opposed to those original properties, and neither is Disney, but they want to go with the sure bet, or rather, sure bets:

“I’ve talked about it with everybody at Disney. Alan [Horn, chair of Walt Disney Studios] is very supportive of it. But at the same time, he’s right when he says we’ve got a lot on our plate,” Kennedy says. She takes a breath. “And then I’ll be working with them on Indiana Jones.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens December 18th. For more on the film, click here or on the links below:


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