I’m a fan of the Expanded Universe. It’s what sucked me in to the saga, made me a fan, and made me stay a fan. Once the credits rolled on my first viewing of Return of the Jedi, I had to know what happened to the characters next. Little did I know that a book called Heir to the Empire had just been released, and coincidentally enough, it starred Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo.
Over the past 20+ years I’ve followed the EU pretty closely. I’ve gotten angry at certain plot developments and given up on it entirely. I’ve come crawling back with the promise of good Father-Son interaction, and a new X-Wing book. I’ve gotten tired of the Big Three starring in every story, and threw up my hands at the Crucible announcement. Before the Disney sale, I was optimistic about the future of the EU, and looking forward to more X-Wing books and a trilogy about Jaina Solo, Han and Leia’s daughter. It was about time she got her time in the spotlight, completely separate from her parents.
Now, with Episode VII on the horizon, I wholeheartedly believe that the Sequel Trilogy must star one of the next generation of Skywalkers, and I will argue this point until I’m blue in the face.
I love Expanded Universe stories that don’t star the Skywalkers or the Solos. But those are Expanded Universe stories, and not part of the film saga. They’re not “Episodes.” Episodes I-VI tell the story of the Skywalker family. The first trilogy focuses on Anakin, while the second focuses on Luke. (Or the first focuses on Luke, and the second on Anakin, depending on when you first watched.) Both trilogies fit together thematically. It all makes sense from a storytelling standpoint.
Now we’re getting the long-denied, never going to happen Sequel Trilogy, and I’ve seen a lot of people say it should star characters other than Skywalkers. They say that the Big Three are tired, that their plotlines have been exhausted. They point to the current Expanded Universe, especially Crucible, as proof of this, and hope that the Sequel Trilogy doesn’t make the same mistakes.
I actually agree with this. I think it would be a huge mistake for the Sequel Trilogy to focus on the Big Three.
But I’m not talking about them, I’m talking about the next generation of Skywalkers. Just as the Original Trilogy focuses on Anakin’s offspring, so should the Sequel Trilogy focus on Luke and/or Leia’s.
Don’t forget, we have standalone films coming as well. These stories will most likely not star Skywalkers, and I think that’s great. That’s exactly the point of standalone films. (And one of the reason I’m not as excited for them, but that’s a topic for another post.
But the Episodes are different. They are special. They tell the story of the Light Side, and the Dark Side. Of love and redemption. Of one particular family in the GFFA, and the people that surround them. A family, both through blood and friendship.
A Sequel Trilogy starring some random Jedi (at least I assume it will be a Jedi) won’t have the same impact or gravitas as the rest of the Episodes. I cared about Anakin because he was Luke and Leia’s father. I’ll care about Luke or Leia’s offspring because I already know Luke and Leia, and I care about them. Continuing the saga through the Sequel trilogy requires the next generation of Skywalkers–there’s no other way around it. Otherwise, why even bother making Episodes VII, VIII, and IX? Why not just just jump ahead and make standalone movies?
Later on, the standalone films, and the Expanded Universe in whatever form it continues, will have plenty of time to tell us the other awesome stories that make up the GFFA. For now, let’s stick with the Skywalkers.