With “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” less than a week into its theatrical run and fans still digesting and debating its various twists and turns, it’s anyone’s guess at this point where the “Star Wars” saga will go from here -- and many Bothan spies would need to die in order to pry concrete information from those in know. (Warning, “Force Awakens” spoiler talk ahead.)
There is no shortage of loose plot threads to be further explored, from big ones such as Rey’s family origins and where exactly Luke Skywalker has been, to small ones like why C-3PO now has one red arm. But there are at least a few things we do know.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Captain Phasma would be returning in the future films and recently suggested in a interview with the Evening Standard that all of the principal cast members from “The Force Awakens” will return in “Star Wars: Episode VIII” (whether that includes any characters who may have, shall we say, left the galaxy is unclear). But with shooting on the film, set for release in May 2017, scheduled to begin next month (according to Kennedy), not so much as an official title has been revealed.
If there’s anyone who has expertise in rounding out a “Star Wars” trilogy, it’s Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Return of the Jedi” long before he was recruited to co-write “The Force Awakens." But speaking with The Times in October, Kasdan said he wasn’t entirely sure how the story would unfold in this trilogy’s next two installments, to be directed by Rian Johnson (“Looper”) and Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic World”).
Asked if he and “The Force Awakens” director J.J. Abrams had sketched out the next chapters in the saga while collaborating on the film’s script, Kasdan answered, “Not really. [‘The Force Awakens’] sets up a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of people to deal with. And Rian took on that job and he’s going to change it, because he’s Rian. And I’m sure Colin will change what Rian does.... These movies will all be so different. Rian Johnson is a friend of mine -- he’s going to make some weird thing. If you’ve seen Rian’s work, you know it’s not going be like anything that’s ever been in ‘Star Wars.’ ”
Kasdan said he wasn’t even sure yet how the story would ultimately end. Will Rey, presumably under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker, ultimately become a Jedi master and lead the Resistance to a final victory over The First Order, a la “The Return of the Jedi”? Will Kylo Ren ultimately repudiate the Dark Side, following in the footsteps of Darth Vader? Or will this trilogy end up somewhere altogether unfamiliar?
“We talked about [the ending] -- and there’s a certain thing that people who are involved with it feel should happen,” Kasdan said. “There’s a kind of movement that happens. But it’s not in your control. It’s going to veer off with Rian, and it’s going to veer off another way with Colin.”
What that “certain thing” could be is anyone’s guess, but it sounds like there’s, at least, some vague suggestion of an end game for the episodic movies.
For that matter, Kasdan said he wasn’t even sure how the next “Star Wars” film he is personally working on -- a spinoff film due in 2018 about a young Han Solo, which Kasdan is co-writing with his son Jon -- will come together. That film is set to be co-directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, whose credits include “21 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie,” suggesting the film could end up taking more of a directly comedic approach than anything we’ve seen so far in the “Star Wars” franchise.
“Those guys are geniuses in their own right, and they did something with ‘The Lego Movie’ that no one had ever seen,” Kasdan said. “I think the Han movie is going to be crazy different, and I haven’t got a clue what it will be. We’re so far from putting it on film.”
Given the massive success of “The Force Awakens,” Disney and Lucasfilm will no doubt follow a similar playbook with future “Star Wars” films, unspooling information slowly and carefully.
As Yoda would say, “Have patience you must.”