When Disney announced that it was releasing a new Star Wars trilogy, many fans, understandably, pumped their hands in the air and yelled “Nooooo!” What was once a cool Hollywood maverick of a saga had already been brand-extended nearly past recognition: first with the CGI-“enhanced” versions of the originals in the ‘90s, then the Jar Jar Binks-addled prequels, followed by the 3-D theatrical re-releases and a critically-panned animated movie. So it was totally valid to suspect that along with Lucasfilm’s holdings and rights (those went to Disney for $4.05 billion), the franchise had also, finally, sold its soul.
But in the two years since, skepticism has given way to optimistic speculation and hype about the new sequels, the first of which is set for a December 2015 release. And a novel paradox has emerged: What the new Star Wars is selling is its original soul.
The faces heading the Disney creative team may be relatively young, but their tastes skew old. Episode VII director J.J. Abrams is essentially a professional fanboy, with a career in making blockbuster sci-fi that doubles as nostalgic post-postmodern art (hence his signature motif in Star Trek and Super 8, the celluloid-celebrating lens flare). He’s penning the screenplay with the writer of The Empire Strikes Back. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford are all returning to star. If that wasn’t enough to invoke the feeling of balance being restored back to the galaxy, watch this promotional video in which original composer John Williams enthuses to the longing strains of the binary-sunset “Force Theme.”