Well folks . . . it happened. The latest entry in the Star Wars saga came and blew us all away! While there are a few criticisms, the general consensus is that the film lived up to the hype as well as perfectly setting up a bold, new future for the franchise. JJ Abrams gave us a funny, exciting, sometimes scary, nostalgic film that delivered on all levels.
Having said that, there are still a lot of unanswered questions that need to be addressed going forward. I think we all knew that the film wasn't going to end with everything wrapped up nicely, that's just not how films these days work anymore (which is annoying, Hollywood!). The future is unclear but I'd like to share my thoughts on what I hope to see in the next two Star Wars films.
LUKE SKYWALKER VS KYLO REN
One thing that the Force Awakens was lacking on was a bad ass lightsaber fight. Now, it makes perfect sense that the lightsaber fight would be somewhat subdued given that Kylo is so experienced and Finn and Rey had never held a lightsaber before that night. The fight was simple, emotional, and extremely effective. For the first film, a simple, quiet battle is all we needed. However, we're gonna need a little more next time. I want to see an experienced Luke Skywalker kick the crap out of his nephew in a lightsaber fight. Remember how when Luke first fought Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back? Vader barely lifted a finger at first and Luke swung at him with everything he had. I want to see the reversal of that where Kylo is angry, lashing out at his former master while Luke keeps his composure and still bests the former Solo. It doesn't need to be anything as crazy as in Revenge of the Sith but it still does need to be an epic battle between the Light and the Dark Side of the Force. The stakes will be much higher this time.
THE FORCE AWAKENING
So, if we're to believe the conversation between Snoke and Ren, Rey has awakened the Force. If The Force Awakens was basically a remake of A New Hope, then Episode VIII will be The Empire Strikes Back with Luke training Rey in the ways of the Force. Obviously, like Yoda, Luke will be reluctant at first but then he'll train Rey to be a new Jedi Knight. Or . . . maybe it will be the opposite where Luke is eager to teach again but Rey doesn't want to learn. Either way, I fully expect the mythology of the Force to be explored in the next few films. Lucas had the chance to do it during the prequel films but didn't really do much with it, despite showing the Jedi in their prime. It would be great to see Luke and Rey learn about the Force together. I'd like to see Rey surprise Luke with abilities and powers that he didn't even know were possible.
FOLLOW UP TO THE REPUBLIC'S DESTRUCTION
One of the weakest moments of The Force Awakens was when the Republic was apparently destroyed and no one did or said anything about it. I mean . . . really. They talk about it for a second . . . But that's it. I mean, this is a pretty huge thing that gets overlooked in the film. I'm sure there will be some fallout in the next film or two. The government was DESTROYED! I mean, just imagine if the White House exploded! We would want like IMMEDIATE action to be taken to have a replacement government or something like that. That will definitely need to be addressed in the next film. I mean, the opening crawl will have to say something about it right? RIGHT??
POE DAMERON - MORE PLEASE!
Oscar Isaac is a wonderful actor. Sadly, he was underused in The Force Awakens. Granted the film was very crowded and the story needed to get moving but I feel like, of the new main characters, he was the one we got to know the least. Clearly, he's meant to be the "new Han Solo" of this trilogy. He was a great pilot, cocky, a bit of a smart ass, but loyal to the Resistance. A little bit of his backstory was explored in the comic book tie in Journey to the Force Awakens: Shattered Empire. I'd like Isaac to get more screen time in Episode VIII. I think that Isaac's star is gonna be on the rise especially given that he plays the main antagonist in next year's X-Men: Apocalypse. Odds are we'll be seeing more of Poe Dameron in the next couple of Star Wars films. Which is a good thing. Let's get away from the Jedi training and get back to the wars in the stars! I mean he's kinda been set up as the new Han Solo. Which brings me to my next point . . .
WE'RE GONNA NEED A NEW SOLO . . .
With Harrison Ford finally getting his wish and Han Solo being killed off, there's a gap that needs to be filled in the Star Wars franchise. I think it's going to be Poe Dameron but I also think I could be wrong. Actually, I kinda hope I'm wrong. Poe is a cool character but he has just a little too much nobility to be the new generation's Han Solo. We need a character like Solo was in A New Hope. A total asshole. He's only worried about getting paid. Yeah, he's looking after his friends and loyal to them but for the most part, he's pretty much a selfish dick. I mean let's face it, Solo went through the biggest change in the Star Wars films. He started off a big asshole only concerned with his reward for saving the princess to fighting the Empire. We're gonna need someone like that in the new films. Someone to go through a major life change. It's one thing to be uprooted from your home, it's quite another to have a total personality shift. Ford was one of the major highlights of the original films and he carried that into the Force Awakens. In true Han Solo fashion, he was still a scoundrel but he obviously had grown and was a little more mature than when we first met him. That's what we need. We need a new character that isn't a villain but also isn't a hero in the beginning. Damn it, I'm gonna miss you, Solo.
FINN AND REY'S PARENTAGE
One of the (probably) deliberate unanswered questions from The Force Awakens was where Finn and Rey come from. It's said that Rey was abandoned on Jakku as a child and she has spent many years waiting for them. Finn was taken by the First Order as a baby and conditioned to be a weapon for them. Finn's story may not be as interesting as Rey's though. Rey is extremely powerful with the Force and takes it upon herself to find the self-exiled Luke. The current theory/rumor is that Rey is Luke's daughter. However, I think that is too obvious and shouldn't be the way the next film goes. I think it's much more interesting if she is either the lost twin and/or daughter of Han and Leia or someone else that we're not expecting. Odds are, she will be Luke's daughter, but I think it would just be too obvious and not as big of a reveal as Kylo Ren's origin. However, it would be interesting to see where Finn comes from. Who are his parents? Did his family willingly give him to the First Order or was he stolen because he might be Force-sensitive? I believe we will find out soon. There must be some reason he was able to fight off the brain-washing that the First Order did on him. How could he do that? Hopefully, we'll find out soon enough.
LUKE BACK IN AN X-WING
Yes. This! When I was a kid, I really looked up to Luke Skywalker. Although he was an untrained Jedi and there was the fear that he would turn to the Dark Side, he was still an ace pilot. Before he blew up the Death Star he was kicking ass and blowing up TIE Fighters left and right. Because of his bravery and self-sacrifice he was promoted to Commander in Empire. It was a well deserved promotion and Mark Hamill was great in the role. I loved seeing Luke in the X-Wing and was kinda bummed he didn't do anything with it during Return of the Jedi. I'm hoping that in Episode VIII we'll see Luke want to jump back in that orange jumpsuit. Maybe he and Poe can geek out over different flight patterns and attack scenarios. I definitely think and hope that Luke will play a much bigger part in future films. We got to see Anakin fly around during the Clone Wars! Why not see Luke get back in the X-Wings and show these kids how it's done?
LESS IS MORE
So we've seen two Death Stars and the Starkiller base. That's uh . . . That's enough, Disney/Lucasfilm. You claim that the First Order is based on the Nazis, well then show them as an invading force rather than a terrorist group blowing up planets. We've seen planets, ships, and whole star systems blown up by the First Order and Empire. I'd be more interested in seeing the First Order invade star systems and force their rule. Since the Republic was destroyed (and not talked about) this would make perfect sense. There's no need to keep blowing up planets or else there's nothing left to rule. Instead, let's see the First Order fight to take control of the galaxy. That would be a very exciting and different way to go with a Star Wars film.
MAZ KANATA: STRONG WITH THE FORCE?
Maz Kanata was one of the new characters created for the new trilogy clearly meant to be this new generation's Yoda. She's a small, wise, weird, old, cryptic speaking character. As quickly as she was introduced she was taken off screen. Obviously her story is just beginning. She knows about Luke, Kylo Ren, and the ways of the Force. How did she get Luke's original lightsaber? Was she a Jedi? Was she one of Luke's padawans that survived Kylo Ren's destruction of the new Jedi order? Maz was introduced simply to set up Rey's connection to the Force. Next time, I'd like to see her do more in the film than just advance the plot a little bit. Let's see her in action or give her more of a reason to fight the First Order.
WHO IS SUPREME LEADER SNOKE?
Seriously, who is this guy? Clearly he's someone that is powerful with the Dark Side of the Force. He wants to eradicate the Jedi. But why? Is he threatened by Luke's power? What does he have to gain by destroying planets and turning people to the Dark Side? Andy Serkis is a magnificent actor and he definitely deserves more screen time. I'd like to see him in the flesh this time fighting side by side with Kylo Ren against Rey and Luke. Like I said before, we got a subdued fight in The Force Awakens. In the next film, let's see more than just lightsaber fights. Let's see what the Jedi and Knights of Ren can really do in a fight. This guy is obviously very powerful if he was able to rebuild and rebrand the Empire. Instead of talking about how dangerous he is , let's see it! This film gave us a great new antagonist with Kylo Ren, now let's see Snoke in action!
I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens! My major complaint is that a good chunk of the new characters were created just to set up the sequels. That's all well and good but let's actually see the next film really expand the new characters and take the series into a new direction. I personally can't wait!
Till Next Time!
JJ - The Comic Junkie