Gaming | Film | TV
Gaming | Film | TV

We should be wary of Star Wars VII’s reverential casting

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There’s a danger that Star Wars: Episode VII will squander its great new cast by relying on Solo and co.

There may be hope for the latest outing for the Star Wars universe. Two weeks ago, the cast was revealed for Episode VII and a series of indie-inclined actors seemed to be taking to the forefront of this next generation. Up-and-comers like Domhnall Gleeson, John Boyega and Harrison Ford will certainly make a splash as…wait. Surely, Star Wars isn’t going to try and recklessly squeeze characters from previous outings into this brand new venture? Certainly not for a second time? Honestly, given the track record, we shouldn’t be surprised. Say goodbye to any new hope of a fresh tale, free of the mistakes of its past, and instead quake in ancient fear of this geriatric generation.

Star Wars, once again, is clinging to its past by incorporating its old characters, when really it should be shedding them

If the amount of news regarding the role reprisals of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, R2 and 3PO are anything to go by, you have to believe the true potential of the upstarts will be hindered. Star Wars, once again, is clinging to its past by incorporating its old characters, when really it should be shedding them. Thinking the future of Star Wars looked bright due to the amount of new talent being used is misguided. The stars of the originals were relatively unknown when they began their Star Wars journey too – Ford was George Lucas’s carpenter for crying out loud.

The same goes for the prequels, where Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christenson were hardly a blip on anyone’s radar. The difference between those two trilogies and this new effort, however, is that those men and women really were the stars, without anybody else placed higher to steal their thunder. Although an argument can be made for the fact we need to tie these trilogies together somehow, the old cast being the perfect bridge, unfortunately a point must also be made that the story of episodes I-VI is over. The prequels taught us that Star Wars was in fact never about Luke and his journey, but Vader’s. Now that Vader is gone, why bother putting so much stock in the old cast when they’re no longer relevant?

return of the jedi vader luke

It would appear that director JJ Abrams and co are trying to play things safe by kissing up to a nostalgia-hungry audience almost guaranteed to be highly critical of them anyway. These are the same fans whose beloved original trilogy was filled with more face-palming shortcomings than the prequels ever were (with added incest). Episode VII’s makers can’t and won’t win, because it will never be shot for shot the same as that ‘classic’ trilogy. They should at least go down swinging, sinking their teeth into new stories and themes.

The rumour that Harrison Ford is taking on a “gigantic role” in Episode VII is worrying

The canon is already convoluted. Fitting the droids into the prequels was a waste of plot space (how long do their power cells even last?). With Disney doing away with the Expanded Universe, it leaves the next trilogy wide open for literally anything – why limit yourself with such a huge playground to play in? It’s time to start afresh and take full advantage of the beautiful world that Lucas, and all those involved in the Star Wars franchise, created.

Deadline’s rumour of Harrison Ford taking on a “gigantic role” is worrying. Solo’s popularity over the likes of Luke Skywalker is already a poor reflection on society’s interpretation of things considered ‘cool’. People excited by this will soon enough be holding their heads in their hands, as the new cast and all their new abilities and characteristics are dumped firmly in the background while a past-it gunslinger and his whining carpet lead them through their adventure. With Hamill and Fisher getting into shape for their roles, one has to wonder how much screen time they will steal too.

More on Episode VII: Star Wars, and the commodification of nostalgia

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At this rate, Star Wars could be doomed to the same critical fate as its prequels, marred with the scars of its plotholes as it tries to squeeze the extra bucks out of its history. We can currently take solace in the fact that we know next to nothing about the new story and the characters’ roles within it. Maybe, as stated, the original cast will simply be used to transition us into this new saga, being used sparingly within, and gone by the end of, the new trilogy’s first flick. Any trepidation should certainly be shed until we get more concrete evidence – just don’t get your hopes up.

At the end of the day, Star Wars is the granddaddy of all summer blockbusters. Its spectacle unmatched, it isn’t meant to be too thought-provoking or serious. We are to have fun with it, and whether or not it unapologetically fails to capitalise on its new cast, the nerd within us all will sit back and enjoy it anyway because, well, it will have lightsabers. Would be a crying shame to waste that talent though.


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All images: 20th Century Fox


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