Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one of the best films of all time, with some suggesting that it even eclipsed the original Star Wars films, thanks to a combination of storyline, humor, and adorable droids. The film was peppered with magical moments (spoiler alert) including the showdown between Hans Solo and Sith Lord Kylo Ren, the moment when Rey realizes she’s able to use the force and when BB8 reactivates R2D2 after decades of being on standby.
But now there’s a new film to look forward to, Episode XIII, the next chapter in the story, and hopefully, the film that will explain the curious link between Rey and Luke Skywalker, hero of the original series in the fight against Vader.
New Characters, New Stories
One of the complaints about The Force Awakens was the fact that it seemed all too similar to A New Hope. A lost Jedi is discovered on a desert planet, doing nothing with her life. She’s then suddenly whisked off by Hans Solo, Chewbacca and the rest of the Star Wars stalwarts on an epic adventure, meeting Jedi masters along the way and learning all about her ability to use the Force. The Force Awakens could easily have been the name for the very first film, having so similar a plot and cast.
One can easily understand why the film’s creators went with so familiar a formula. They knew they had to please the old guard: those people who wanted a “Star Wars experience” – something that was so faithful to the original that it was, in fact, the original, just in a different garb. But what was so clever about The Force Awakens was the way in which the film set up the next and did it in a way that was arguably more intelligent that the original.
The first films were, in a word “immature.” Hans Solo and Chewbacca, combined with Darth Vader’s suggestive helmet, gave the entire series an almost juvenile feel. The new film, on the other hand, employed far more subtle humor, yet remained in keeping with the atmosphere of the originals. It was as if the entire IP had somehow grown up.
After the Force Awakens, we’re left asking a bunch of questions about the next film. How will the Empire strike back this time, and what secret weapons do they have under construction that could once again destroy the hard won peace throughout the galaxy?
Luke Skywalker Returns
The Force Awakens had an epic and memorable ending. Newly discovered Jedi, Rey, goes on a trip to find Luke Skywalker, now an old man, so that she can be further trained in the force. JJ Abrams, the director of The Force Awakens, has publicly discussed the difficulty in constructing that final scene in a way that felt right. The reason for this probably bodes well for the next film in the series. There are so many unanswered questions. Will Skywalker train Rey in a similar way to how Yoda trained him? Will he even be willing to pick up his lightsaber again, after so many years of isolation? Is Rey his biological daughter? And will Luke Skywalker have a significant role against the forces of the Dark Side of the Force in films to come?
Benicio Del Toro, The New Villain
The next film will feature Benicio Del Toro as a villain – something that many film buffs are extremely excited about. He’s been praised for his jaw-dropping performance in Sicario and promises to hit the big time, once his skills are put on show in the year’s biggest blockbuster film.
Del Toro has a habit of going deep and emotional with the characters he portrays, promising to add layers upon layers of evil to whatever role he’s cast for. It’s worth asking what relationship Del Toro’s character will have to Snoke, the new evil emperor of the Empire.
New Female Actresses
As this quiz shows, the original Star Wars cast was eclectic, especially for a film series begun in the 1970s. Over the last few years, Hollywood has been lamenting the fact that there isn’t greater diversity in its films. As a result, Episode 8 is hiring an ethnic cast, including the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Mbatha-Raw will play a new lead, alongside Rey in the upcoming film and fans all over the world will be hoping that she’ll perform well and that this isn’t just a political decision.
Mbatha-Raw starred in the recent film, Beyond the Lights, which according to some, was underrated.