Star Wars Sequel Trilogy - Deconstruction and Reconstruction

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Star Wars Sequel Trilogy - Deconstruction and Reconstruction

Post by Ares » Sun Nov 24, 2019 3:36 pm

So many of you may not know this, but I'm not really a fan of the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. I know, I've been super subtle about it, the way I am about all poor creative decisions in the media and fandoms I'm invested in. One day perhaps I will learn to not be so restrained in what I'm feeling. 8-)

Jokes aside, I mostly see the Sequel Trilogy as a waste of potential. There are generally good ideas buried in that mess, but they managed to piss them away, along with fan goodwill. The irony is that the Sequels try too hard to be exactly like the original films while also trying to subvert them hard. The Force Awakens tried too hard to be a "win back the crowd" film by essentially mirroring the first Star Wars film to the point of almost parody. It basically renders the original trilogy pointless because its cycled the galaxy back to the starting point of A New Hope, with the Resistance vs the First Order, the Death Star 3 - "Bigger, Longer and Uncut", etc. In fact, if I listed plot elements simply as they are, you'd be forgiven not knowing which film I'm talking about.

For instance, an important member of the heroes is captured during a raid by Stormtroopers, lead by a helmeted man in black wielding a red lightsaber. The captured hero fortunately managed to implant vital information inside an astromech droid, which escapes to wander the desert planet in search for aid. The captured hero is then taken to the villains base, where they are tortured for information by the helmeted man in black. The hero is then freed from captivity by someone wearing Stormtrooper armor, and they make a daring escape out the hanger bay in a ship, the ex-Stormtrooper managing the turrets and sharing some banter as they make a daring, action filled escape from the base, TIE Fighters in pursuit.

The Last Jedi is no better in mirroring the plot of Empire Strikes Back, but it's made much worse by the inclusion of Rian Johnson. However badly J.J. Abrams handled the first film, I at least get the impression that J.J. likes Star Wars, had a general idea on where he wanted the franchise to go, worked to lay out plans for a trilogy that would have felt like one connected story. Rian Johnson, however, does not. Johnson has said point blank that a movie that pleases everyone is boring, and that it's much more fun for him to create a film where half the people love it and half the people hate it. And there's him bragging about how he subverted expectations.

It still boggles my mind that Disney put Star Wars, the most profitable and popular Science Fiction franchise in history, so popular that normies around the world accepted it and made it into a phenomena, and gave it to Rian Johnson, an indie-film creator with barely a handful of films to his name. They let a guy with no love for the franchise or respect for its fans basically undermine all the good will that had been built up over the course of 40 years. The fanbase was as broken as Anakin's lightsaber by the end of the film, to the point that it caused Solo's performance to suffer and has left it up in the air as to the fate of Rise of the Skywalker.

And like I said, the sad thing is that there was potential in the new films. Finn is a fantastic concept, a Stormtrooper who has a conscience but not a backbone. He starts out as someone who runs from danger because he initially has no cause to fight for but himself, and ends up someone who runs towards danger to defend his friends, who he's come to value more than himself. Poe is great as a New Republic hero, basically being a more cocky version of Wedge Antilles from the novels, whom movie audiences never really got to know. And Rey would have worked fine as the new iconic Jedi for the trilogy if they'd given her a personality and a character arc. And everyone wanted to see familiar faces like Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Lando, 3PO and R2.

Unfortunately, they managed to basically mishandle every character there. Finn gets his character arc derailed for the sake of comedy and "go nowhere" plot line about the evils of capitalism, animal cruelty and the 1%. Poe gets his character arc derailed in order for him to learn that he needs to be less heroic, less competent and take less initiative in order to be subservient to the older women in his life that know better. Rey gets no real personality beyond "vaguely compassionate and strong" while also having the skillset of "best at everything". She reads like a text book Mary Sue: she's good at everything save for moments where she isn't to endear her to the audience, everyone loves her, and the story is twisted to revolve around her. Luke, Han and Leia are all basically broken versions of themselves from the earlier movies, to the point that their deaths feel less like tragedies and more like mercy killings.

Which is not to say I haven't enjoyed a lot of Disney Star Wars outside of the Sequel Trilogy. I love Rogue One and the Mandalorian. Solo honestly gets a bad rap, and I like it just fine. Rebels was pretty solid, though it didn't match the best of the Clone Wars. But the Sequel Trilogy on a whole I have no love for, and will be happy to ignore. I honestly am thinking of selling my copy of The Force Awakens.

Now, most of you are probably thinking "Will this guy just shut up already?" Which is perfectly understandable. But some of you might be thinking, "That's all well and good Ares, but if you're going to complain about it like that, how would YOU handle a Sequel Trilogy to Star Wars?" For those hypothetical few, I'm glad you asked! See my next post for the answer.

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Re: Star Wars Sequel Trilogy - Deconstruction and Reconstruction

Post by Ares » Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:23 pm

So like I mentioned, an issue the Sequel Trilogy has is that it gives us basically the original trilogy, but "with a lot of subversive darker and edgier shit (literal shit) smeared over it". The Prequels had their problems, but in retrospect, they only appeared as bad as they did because all we had to compare them to were the original Star Wars films . . . and maybe the Ewok movies and the Holiday Special. Within the Sequel Trilogy to add additional contrast, we can see the Prequels had a lot going for them. They did a lot to expand on the lore of the Star Wars setting, letting us see the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, the machinations of the Emperor, the Jedi at the height of their power (which ironically was also them at their most vulnerable), the Clone Wars, etc. The Prequels were DIFFERENT, a Galactic Civil War, an examination of the Jedi and Old Republic, and something that felt like it fit with the original trilogy.

Sidenote, I HATE it when Disney refers to the Sequels as being part of the "Skywalker Saga". No. Fuck that. The Skywalker Saga was the story of Anakin Skywalker, his rise to become a great hero and his fall into villainy, only to be saved and redeemed through the actions of his children. Everything that happens after Return of the Jedi should have been its own Saga and story, and trying to tie the Sequels into the "Skywalker Saga" is just trying to appeal to the fans.

So then how would I handle a Sequel Trilogy?

I'd first set it to take place probably around 75-100 years after Return of the Jedi. Luke, R2 and 3PO are the only members of the original cast still alive, but there would be a scene of the cast in their current ages going on an adventure, only for it to be revealed as a holo-recording R2 is projecting at Luke's request, telling a story of that last adventure to a group of Jedi younglings. After they leave, Luke would be alone in the room with holograms of his old friends, smiling at him as R2 then projects the cockpick of the Falcon around them all, making it feel like old times, just for a little bit. Luke smiles, walks over to R2 and places a hand on the droid's dome, saying, "Thank you, old friend" before leaving the room. R2 lets out a melancholy little beep before following after him.

We then get some scenes to establish the new state of things. The New Republic has reclaimed something like 70-80% of the galaxy, managing to avoid many of the pitfalls that plagued the Old Republic in its last days. The Empire still exists, holding onto its 20-30% of the galaxy, but without Palpatine has become a much more reasonable government. The systems that remain with the Empire are actually proud and loyal citizens, they have a good life, and the current Emperor is a stern but good leader. This is subverting expectations in the RIGHT way, where you make the Empire seem like the obvious villains, but that isn't the case anymore. The Republic and the Empire have a truce going on, effectively in a Galactic Cold War, where there's a lot of spy stuff going on, mild border skirmishes, and both sides preparing for the day the other decides to make the first move.

The Jedi Order has been restored, and Luke serves as it's current Grand Master. Unlike the previous Jedi, Luke's Order is not officially part of the New Republic, feeling that it was subservience to the Republic that lead to the Old Jedi's downfall. Instead, the Republic has granted the Jedi a special status that allows them to work with law enforcement and protect the innocent from evil. The Jedi has a similar but less friendly relationship with the Empire, accepting their help on a case by case basis, but with the understanding that Luke Skywalker never be allowed to personally set foot into Empire space, due to his being responsible for the death of the first Emperor.

I'd want the cast of this film to feel more like an RPG group that does more things together and reflect some of the more iconic archetypes in Star Wars. I don't have the idea for a full roster, but I'm thinking something like the following:
  • A new Jedi, freshly Knighted, serving as a Rey-like character. Only with an actual personality and not a Mary Sue. She's be used to illustrate the differences between Luke's Jedi and the Prequel Jedi.
  • A Storm Trooper, acting as a Finn-like character, a young but professional soldier. However, he's loyal to the Empire, an excellent leader and commander, but has some initial friction with the team for his by-the-book attitude and discipline.
  • An Imperial Diplomat, very charismatic but apparently a coward. But said appearance is deceptive, as they're also trained to serve as a spy, infiltration specialist and occasional assassin. Basically the Empire's version of James Bond.
  • A Teras Kasi Adept to showcase that the Jedi aren't the only folks who can do cool things with training. And because of course I'm going to throw some martial arts into my Star Wars production. Thankfully Rogue One helped to make that a thing. This guy would serve as a contrast to the Jedi, being a bit more worldly and able to switch more easily between disciplined and relaxed, basically a Star Wars version of Iron Fist.
  • A Mandalorian, serving as a warrior rather than a soldier. She'd be a walking arsenal, skilled in combat, weapon design and technology in general, and very confident in her abilities. The confidence would be justified in that she'd be a one-woman army, and while a bit of a showboat, does understand the importance of tactics. She would have to learn how to play better with others tho.
  • An Ewok scout. Yes, you heard me, I'd want an Ewok in this cast. Why? Because I think Ewoks get a bad rap, and I'd like to fix that. He'd be able to speak Basic, be the oldest of the group, wise but grumpy and annoyed at the squabbling of the kids, and basically be a hybrid of Aragorn and Old Bruce from Batman Beyond. I'd work to make him actually one of the scarier guys in a fight, and essentially try to Catman the Ewoks as a whole.
Might make the Jedi and/or the Mandalorian non-human. Maybe make the Mandalorian a Mirilan, Zabrak or Chiss to explain how Mandalorians are a society and culture, not a species. Or maybe make the Jedi a Zabrak to have the opposite of Darth Maul, a female Jedi Zabrak devoted to Force and serving others. And there'd likely be a droid companion as well.

The theme of the villains of the piece would be "The Sins of the Past". The idea is that, following the Clone Wars, Palpatine told the rest of the galaxy that the deactivated droids and the factories that created them would be destroyed, with new facilities made to repair the damage the Clone Wars had done to the galaxy. Instead, Palpatine had the droids, vehicles and factories moved to a planet whose coordinates were wiped from galactic records, which served as a kind of complex for various war technology Palpatine had a use for. In the Thrawn Trilogy, it was established Palpatine had a planet like this where he stored unique bits of technology that were too valuable to be destroyed. In my film series the Thrawn Trilogy is canon, and this planet serves a similar function, only it's for mass produced resources Palpatine felt he might need one day. So he had the droid factories moved and rebuilt there, and had the old Clone Wars battle droids repaired and upgraded over the years, just in case he ever needed an army of robots loyal only to him.

The main villain of this piece would have discovered this planet at some point after Palpatine's death, and really ramped up production to produce state of the art versions of Clone Wars era-droids, vehicles and weapons. There would also be other war technology Palpatine had plundered from other species, such as the Mandalorian's Basalisk War Droids. The main villain would also gather other people unhappy with how things have turned out since the Clone Wars of roughly 100 years ago. These would include:
  • The last Vigo of the Black Sun, since between the Republic and the Empire, most large crime families have been crushed.
  • The last remaining Nightsisters, a group of Darkside using witches that were almost wiped out in the Clone Wars.
  • The remnants of Death Watch, a group of rogue Mandalorians who were exiled from the larger culture for crimes against their people.
  • Some Imperial warlords who refused to join the new Empire and want to hold on to their power.
  • Some Sith Inquisitors who have gone from hunting Jedi to being hunted by the Jedi and the Empire.
  • A group of Wookie terrorists who feel that the Republic didn't go far enough in punishing the Empire for the horrors they committed.
Along with other groups that feel the New Republic are just as flawed as the old one and needs to fall, as well as some group that feels the Jedi should have stayed dead. Basically make it this kind of Legion of Doom of people who feel the Empire and the Republic have both damaged the Galaxy and want to take it over themselves. Their initial plan is to start a war between the Empire and Republic, so that both sides will cripple themselves, weakening them so that their force (I don't have a name for them yet) can come in, decimate the weakened forces, and take over.

The first film in the trilogy would have more of a "Spy Movie" feel to it, lots of intrigue, setting up the Empire as the obvious villains while having hints that someone else is behind things, with the heroes having their own agendas, but eventually coming together. A key point would be an assassination attempt during a peace meeting between the Republic and Empire, where the heroes are all present and thwart the assassination attempt. They then spend the movie trying to uncover the culprits while the Empire and Republic prepare for war. The heroes eventually discover the real plot, reveal it to the galaxy, forcing the bad guys to launch their invasion early in the hopes of taking the Empire and Republic by surprise. The Empire and Republic then agree to fight this war together, the heroes having proven that they can work together. So the bad guys now face a united galaxy.

The second film would be more of an action piece, uncover more of the mystery behind the villains, have the heroes miss a chance to defeat the villains and the bad guys gain something that will potentially give them an edge in the war. The final film would resolve the conflict in a grand spectacle, and end with the Republic and the Empire formally signing a peace treaty, deciding that they can co-exist as good neighbors rather than friendly enemies. Luke Skywalker gets several moments to be a badass, but the victory ultimately comes from the actions of the heroes. Still, I'd want some moment where Luke is allowed into Empire space, the first time to perform a rescue mission for the new Emperor, and the second time as an honored guest and hero.

This would hopefully come off as a love letter to Star Wars fans and be recognizable enough to the average person to be Star Wars, while being different enough to keep people's interest.

Anyway, that's my thoughts on the whole thing, in all their rambling glory.

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Re: Star Wars Sequel Trilogy - Deconstruction and Reconstruction

Post by Ares » Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:03 pm

So with my thoughts on the Sequel Trilogy out there, I might as well add my two cents about the other things Disney Star Wars has created:

Rogue One: A film I consider close to the original trilogy in quality. We get a decent-sized cast with some good story and action. It also show shows how to do a Star Wars story where there are no Jedi on the heroes side, giving us a very good look at what it was like for the average Rebel trooper without plot armor. My one complaint is that it felt the need to explain something that didn't need explaining. The idea of the Death Star having such a glaring weakness really isn't an issue, because the only way to exploit that issue requires an impossible shot. The whole point of showing the previous runs that all failed was that the vast majority of pilots attempting the trench run would get destroyed. The best pilots alive might be able to get in range of the port, but they'll never make the shot. The only way to pull it off required one of the best pilots alive who is also trained in how to use the Force and having the other best pilot alive cover his back. The Death Star exhaust port basically got memed into existence the same way as Stormtrooper marksmanship being poor. But still, that minor gripe aside, I love this film, and I've seen it almost as much as I have the original films.

REBELS: A solid show. Not as good as Clone Wars eventually became, but definitely not bad. Some parts were a bit wonky (like the episode with the B-Wing), but it had a lot going for it. In some ways it felt like a Star Wars tabletop RPG being played out on screen, and to my mind that isn't a bad thing.

SOLO: I think Solo gets a bad rap, being it was the Star Wars film that had the unfortunate luck to happen after the Last Jedi traumatized the fanbase. I think the adventures of Han Solo pre-A New Hope has a lot of potential for fun, as there were a lot of great Han Solo stories in the original canon. It had the potential to be to smugglers and scoundrels what the Mandalorian is to bounty hunters and . . . well, Mandalorians. Its problems are that it wanted this origin story where Han Solo's background should be mentioned in passing at some point, but not really shown. The other problem is that the film tries to cram a lot of Han's background into a single film. In the course of one movie we see him as a street urchin, him as a failed Imperial soldier, him get Chewie as a friend, him get the Falcon from Lando, him do the Kessel run, the mention of working for Jabba, etc. It's like they tried to cram all of Han's backstory into a single film. I might do a treatment of how I'd done Solo in my next post.

RESISTANCE: Never saw it, had no interest in it.

The Novels: Haven't read any of them yet, and if the shenanigans of folks like Chuck Wendig are any indication, I'm not missing much.

The Comics: A mixed bag. Some of the Vader comics have been exceptional, some of them have included stupid retcons like "the woman who REALLY ran the Empire because Palpatine was incompetent".

The Mandalorian: Nothing but praise for this series so far. Can't wait to see where it goes and praying they don't drop the ball. Up there with Rogue One and near the original trilogy.

Star Wars: Fallen Order: Haven't gotten to play it yet, but very much looking forward to it.

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