It’s been an interesting time to be a Star Wars fan like I am and I expect a lot of geeks are. The discussion of what’s going on with the franchise, and more specifically the movies, since it was bought by Disney has been constant and the news is coming out at a fast enough pace to keep the buzz flowing. Everybody has their opinion on what the new movies should be and what the new movies shouldn’t be. Given that this is the notoriously loud and opinionated (and frequently obnoxious and entitled) Star Wars fandom, that shouldn’t come as a shock. About the only general consensus is that they really really hope that Disney steers the franchise away from the direction Lucas went with the prequels and that the majority of fans are happy and/or relieved that Lucas is not directly working on them.
I’m a Star Wars fan, of course, and a big one. I’ve got a bunch of merchandise, read many of the books and comics, played the games (video and tabletop), and of course watched the movies many many a time. So that means I have an opinion too. Unlike most, I don’t have really strong opinions on what I think the plot should be or what era it’s set in or even who should be writing or directing it (aside from not-George-Lucas). No, my strongest opinion is regarding who should be in it. Or, more accurately, who shouldn’t really be in it.
Let Luke, Leia, and Han go.
I see a lot of people on different social networks talking about who they think should be cast as a younger version of the main trio from the original movies. Those who aren’t doing that are wondering if Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford will come back to reprise their roles. As of right now, Harrison Ford is reportedly signed on to reprise his role, Carrie Fisher is supposedly already involved, and Mark Hamill has seemed open to the idea.
But for me, I’m just hoping that they’re in for a short cameo and little more than that. Just a nod back to the fans before fading into the background. And the reason why I hope that the movie doesn’t focus around those characters is because their story is, by and large, done and has been for 30 years now. Luke, Leia, and Han all had their character arcs, their time in the spotlight, and they walked off stage at what felt like the right time. Sure, the Expanded Universe kept their adventures going in books, in comics, in video games, and in other media, but I think that most EU fans agree that sometimes the further adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han were a mixed bag. Sometimes felt like it really strained disbelief to keep those three iconic characters involved in ~every~ big happening in the galaxy for years and years in-universe and out.
Plus there’s the matter of the actors. Harrison Ford is 70 years old and hasn’t exactly been churning out amazing movies for a while now. Mark Hamill is 61 and has generally been doing (admittedly excellent) voice-over work far more than traditional acting for a long time. Carrie Fisher is 56 and doesn’t seem like she’s done very many big projects in years either. And let’s face it, none of them look young for their age.
So you’re either forced to use a lot of CG (akin to what they did with Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy, which was met with… mixed reactions and many mutterings of “uncanny valley”), set the new movies much farther in the future of the Star Wars universe, or to recast the characters with younger actors. Could replacing them with younger actors work? Maybe, but I really don’t think so. As much as people talk about things like Nathan Fillion being a good younger Han Solo and people like Jennifer Lawrence being batted around for Leia, and a whole bunch of shotgun ideas for Luke, do we really want to see other people playing those roles? It’s fun to speculate, but I think a lot of Star Wars fans don’t want to see those three characters be recast.
So the only real solution, as far as I’m concerned, is to walk away from Han, Luke, and Leia as leading characters in Star Wars. There’s an entire universe of stories, plots, and places to be found in a galaxy far, far away that can be explored and enjoyed. That doesn’t mean that I think the new movies should entirely ignore the heroes of old. Far from it. I just think that their story has been told and that it would be a welcome breath of fresh air to get to know new and different characters. Welcome the old trio back for a cameo, to nod to the fans and give the characters (and actors) one last bow on the Star Wars stage, and then see what new stories can be told.