Nearly four decades after Star Wars first hit cinemas the cult sci-fi saga is getting a reboot with the cast of the latest instalment finally announced.
Star Trek director J.J. Abrams has been given job of directing the seventh episode in the franchise, and with great power comes great responsibility.
Many of the original characters will return. Mark Hamill, the one-handed acolyte. Harrison Ford, the roguish, gungslinging bandit and his loyal sidekick, Chewbacca. Princess Leia – though probably without that infamous bikini. Even C3P0 and R2D2 are rumoured to make an appearance. The characters from the first three films, dear to so many hearts, are sure to attract legions of diehard fans back into the cinema.
A new band of brothers, so to speak, also enter the fray, with Girls’ star Adam Driver and his Inside Llewyn Davis co-star Oscar Isaac making the cut, as well as legendary Swedish actor Max von Sydow, 85.
The weight of the world
While there is enormous excitement about the long-awaited movie, some of the biggest fans are looking on worriedly. Garrett Wells is the publicity officer for the 501st Legion, an international stormtroopers fan club, and he says he’d be sweating laser beams if he was in charge of the new film.
“If I was the director, I’d be really nervous,” Mr Well says. “J.J. Abrams has admitted that he is nervous going into this because he knows the love for this universe.”
Another fan, Neal Maidment, from Sydney, says the recent trilogy of prequels (Episodes I, II and III) were “dire”, and he is sceptical about the in-the-works sequels.
“Given that the definition of success for this will doubtless be how many dollars this reaps, rather than giving the knowledgeable audience what it truly wants, my expectations are extremely low,” says Mr Maidment.
Now that the franchise has finally been prised from George Lucas’ hands (although he is involved in the creative process), one can only hope that its new owner, Disney, doesn’t make a mess of the beloved pantheon of righteous saber-wielding heroes and their evil nemeses.
Will Disney ruin a classic?
The story of Star Wars is a classic tale of good versus evil. It was this that made the original three movies so classic – and which eroded the following three. But in the hands of entertainment behemoth Disney, fans are worried that quality might be sacrificed for profit, or story will be sacrificed for special effects.
Wade Kuhn, 37, from Sydney’s south coast, is the administrator of the Geek Zone, a facebook page with over 15,000 followers. He says a lot could go wrong, from plot to finding new characters who could serve as the intergalactic heroes of a new generation.
“Do they start a new heroes journey? How do they capture the sense of adventure and fun that is Star Wars yet make it for modern times? How do you top iconic characters like Darth Vader and Yoda who are now dead?”
“[Disney needs to] focus on better acting, not just special effects, and embrace the look of a used, dirty, lived-in universe again.”
The new director, Abrams, is also a divisive figure.
Neal Maidment says he has “zero faith” in Abrams, who has swapped one star-spangled galaxy of die-hard fans for another.
“I think he’s all style over substance and the Star Trek reboot, especially Into Darkness last year, proved that beyond doubt,” says Mr Maidment
A New Hope
Not everyone is so concerned, though.
Chris Brennan, director of fan club Star Walking Inc, is certain that the franchise is safe with Disney, given its success in adapting several key parts of the Marvel comic book universe for the big screen.
“I’ve looked at the X-Men movies that Disney did, and the Avengers,” Mr Brennan says. “Disney knows how to make movies, and I’m quietly confident that they’re going to do a real kick ass job with it.”
Surely nothing could be worse than the Phantom Menace, and the deplorable, floppy-eared space rabbit Jar Jar Binks, who even the fan boys love to hate.
“Jar Jar was a good character for what he was meant to be – comic relief. But I think Disney will probably listen to the fans’ outcry,” says Brennan.
Where will the films take us?
The sum of Star Wars is much greater than its cinematic parts. Novels, comics and other bits and pieces of literature have expanded the story in various, and often contradictory, directions.
This raises serious questions about which storylines the new films will adopt into the accepted cannon of Star Wars lore.
Garrett Wells of the 501st Legion is confident that Disney won’t lose the fan literature and start from scratch. At least, he hopes so.
“Undoubtedly, the fan’s opinion and the novels that we’ve loved and the story lines that we’ve loved are going to form some context there. They’re not just going to throw it all out and start again,” Mr Wells said.
“They’re not going to do that because there is that love there already. At least, this is what they’re telling us,” Mr Wells said.
For Garrett Wells, the message to Disney is clear: “Listen to the fans and do what they love.”
It sounds like an unenviable task. May the force be with Disney and J.J. Abrams.