Star Wars Episode VII: A New Plot Theory

*** WARNING! This article could contain spoilers for the upcoming Episode VII ***

    The title for the latest instalment of the Star Wars franchise poses many questions.
The title for the latest instalment of the Star Wars franchise poses many questions.

A familiar-looking desert planet. A hero in a Stormtrooper outfit. X-wings in atmosphere. After watching the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I was feeling slightly less dubious about the Disney take on the sci-fi epic of our times.

It has been widely agreed that director J.J. Abrams’ teaser has combined the established greatness of the original (Millennium Falcon) with a new look and intrigue (a ‘broadsabre’ wielding Sith?) But the trailer has understandably left us with more questions than answers. After watching it, I went back to the original films, the books and storylines of the Star Wars Expanded Universe to keep me going until the next trailer is released. And I began to wonder if I might have found the answer to some questions as well?

The Expanded Universe, or EU, is a vast array of characters and plot that have been licensed by Lucasfilm as official representations of the Star Wars galaxy post Return of the Jedi. But in spring last year, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy released a statement that confirmed:

“In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-‘Return of the Jedi’ Expanded Universe.”

An artistic representation of the gunner from  the first Death Star.
An artistic representation of the gunner from the first Death Star.

For those fans, such as myself, who have grown up reading books about Han and Leia’s children, Luke’s love-life and a new Jedi Order, it was sad to hear that the new Disney trilogy might not draw on this part of the galaxy far, far away. The EU is a bloody and complicated place. The medium of literature, game plotlines and comics has allowed a more in-depth, psychological look at new characters and established ones. It even explained how the gunner on the first Death Star met his end fairly nobly. (He was feeling so guilty about pulling the trigger on the planet of Alderaan, and the Empire was not the best at looking after its staff welfare, so the gunner stalled and never fired on Yavin 4, allowing Luke Skywalker the time to fire his torpedo.)

J.J. Abrams was already one of the most spoiler-conscious directors in Hollywood before he was in charge of the most anticipated franchise continuation in cinematic history. It would not be a surprise to discover that he and Kennedy have lied to our (or the press’) faces to keep ‘an element of surprise and discovery for the audience.’ Admitting that they were drawing from the expanded universe would be akin to leaving the script in a Starbucks. But after the success of the Marvel Universe amongst comic book fans and novices alike, and after analysing the teaser trailer beyond normal amounts, I have become convinced that we might be seeing more of the EU than expected in Episode VII. Here is a personal breakdown of the teaser trailer with my educated guesses of how Abrams may have been influenced by the EU.

Easter Eggs

    The Millennium Falcon fights Tie Fighters in the teaser trailer
The Millennium Falcon fights Tie Fighters in the teaser trailer

Despite the fact we did not see any old faces in the trailer, the moneyshot of the 88 seconds is still undoubtedly the reveal of the Millennium Falcon. Eagle-eyed critics have already pointed out that it has a new, square satellite dish to replace the one Lando Calrissian lost escaping the second Death Star. But the new film is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi, so the big question is, who is flying the ‘piece of junk’? Even if we ignore the EU, Han Solo is surely married to a Princess (Leia) by now, and pretty famous himself as a general of the Rebel Alliance. He can afford something a bit nicer and less conspicious surely? It would make sense for him to want to keep it in the family, and Han and Leia’s kids would be the obvious choice. In the EU, they had three: A twin girl and boy, Jaina and Jacen, and a younger son called Anakin. The first Anakin was a great pilot – might Abrams reference this?

Another easter-egg for the bat-eared is at the very end. The lightsabre sound is exactly the same as Luke’s first one, which was his father’s beforehand. In the EU, Luke’s first lightsabre was lost along with his hand in Cloud City, but it reappeared years later and found its way back to Luke – and eventually his wife, Mara-Jade and son, Ben. As this idea has been directly influenced by an unanswered aspect of The Empire Strikes Back film, it seems more than likely that this idea will creep up in Episode VII.

Stormtroopers and Rebels

John Boyega's character, Finn, is dressed as a stormtrooper in the trailer's opening.
John Boyega’s character, Finn, is dressed as a stormtrooper in the trailer’s opening.

The teaser trailer gave us a glimpse of remodelled Stormtroopers and Rebel pilots. In the EU, the line between Empire and Rebel, good and evil, is understandably more blurred. There are light-sided Stormtroopers and dark-sided rebels. It is much more political than the original trilogy, and would be a good mirror of the Senate-turned-Empire storyline of the prequels to see this element expanded on in the new trilogy. It might explain why our hero, John Boyega, is dressed as a Stormtrooper – and why the new rebel helmets have a distinctly dark tint to them. Modern audiences like to see more morally grey characters than they did in the seventies, and this concept would also assure audiences that the new trilogy has not been too ‘Disneyfied’. As Obi-Wan said, “Only Sith deal in absolutes.”

New Planets

It has been widely assumed (although still not confirmed by ol’ J.J. ) that the trailer opens on Tatooine. The desert landscape, and the fact that Daisy Ridley’s character (allegedly called ‘Rey’ if Abrams is to be believed) appears to own a Tusken Raider’s weapon seems to confirm this. If this is the case, there are several things that could be gleaned from the EU. Tusken Raiders, for example, have adopted human orphans on occasion, including a young girl called Tahiri Veila who becomes a Jedi. She also becomes friends with Leia and Han’s son, the aforementioned Anakin Solo. Could this be an influence for Ridley’s character?

    The audience's only glimpse of Alderaan so far, at the end of Episode III.
The audience’s only glimpse of Alderaan so far, at the end of Episode III.

We see at least one other planet in the trailer – a mountainous, lake covered planet. This is not a planet that is instantly recognisable, and therefore very possibly has not been in the films to date. But it does look similar to one planet – the Alderaan we saw at the end of Revenge of the Sith. It is impossible for it to be Aldaraan, given how it was oliterated in A New Hope (side note: is that the largest mass genocide we have ever seen on film?) But the EU has Alderaanians who were off planet at the time of destructuion conolising a similar planet that was renowned for its natural beauty. Maybe Leia has a hand in rebuilding and protecting her home planet during the new trilogy.

A New Dark Side

A dark Jedi, called Githabny, weilds a lightwhip.
A dark Jedi, called Githany, weilds a lightwhip.

The trailer introduces us to a new, presumably dark character (called Kylo Ren, if we can trust anyone from the production team.) It has also been confirmed that Andy Serkis is the voiceover on the trailer, suggesting he, too, may veer towards the dark. In the prequels it was confirmed that the Sith always come in twos. But the idea of an ‘awakening’ definitely suggests that there will be more than two people with Force-powers set against our heroes. This matches the EU, where the Sith reform and re-emerge in large groups, almost balanced with the light’s speed of recruiting. This will certainly give the trilogy the surprise element Disney want, as we will not be able to guess who will turn next. Unless they really have followed the EU as I think.

We also have the introduction of a new type of lightsabre. This is very interesting, and does bring hope to the idea that we could see some weapons from the EU. The lightwhip, for example, is a very unusual weapon that comes in different forms. The cat o’nine tails style is particularly terrifying: It bested Luke Skywalker, and would now be possible to show on screen with current CGI.

The Force Awakens…?

Since before it was revealed, the title for the 7th episode has been infamous. And since the confirmation of Star – The Force Awakens – Wars, these three words have aroused speculation. People have been contemplating the vast meanings of ‘force’ and ‘awaken’ with more scrutiny than an English Literature M.A. Theories have flown about the ‘Force’ being new dark forces, a more powerful version of force we know or a new jedi order started by Luke. And the ‘awaken’ has been met with dirision, with cynics scared that Luke has been asleep for 30years. But the cryptic title is greater confirmation than anything else that Abrams and company are definitly drawing from the EU storylines for their trilogy, because there is a EU storyline that can explain everything.

Once you were all with me. Now you are apart, but one by one, you are all awakening. And once awake, you can hear my call, and come to me.

These words are spoken by a character called Abeloth, a very powerful dark side of the Force user, who is awoken after a member of the Solo family turns to the darkside (sob.) She can be found in the outer reaches of the galaxy, near a place called the Shelter that was set up by Lando Calrissian for Force-sensitives (those can feel the force) who were in hiding. The ‘awakening’ she speaks of is a ‘Force-psychosis’ she induces in the minds of Force-sensitives – both the dark and the light. The psychosis leads to both severe paranoia (a great concept for a modern blockbuster that is conscious of complex characters) and incredible, extra-crazy-Force-skills (an amazing idea for the great franchise that wants to improve on its laurels.) This storyline brings together all the Solo family, Luke Skywalker and his son, the aformentioned Tahiri Veila as well as fan-favourite Lando. It is impossible that Abrams and his team have not been influenced by (at the least) or adapted (more likely) this story for screen.

The Kessel Run is a dangerous section of space near Abeloth's resting place. The Millennium Falcon made the Kessel run in less than 18 parsecs.
The Kessel Run is a dangerous section of space near Abeloth’s resting place. The Millennium Falcon made the Kessel run in less than 18 parsecs.

Force Vision?

“Premonitions… Premonitions… deep questions they are. Sense the future, once all Jedi could; now few alone have the skill. Visions… gifts from the Force, and curses.”

When Disney took over the franchise and began the new trilogy, it changed the rules on the EU. Whereas before it was regarded as almost canon, the Extended work is now seen as ‘legend.’ It acts as a parallel universe, a chaos theory Star Wars that is now a ‘what-if’ senario. Those of us who are well versed in Extened Universe might have to get our heads around the new films being the new canon. But having been assured it will not be disregarded, we can surely look forward to fan favourites being clearly referenced.

As a Star Wars fan, and a film fan, it is both a gift and a curse – a gift to guess what is coming, but a curse if I am right and have spoiled it for us all.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Aaron Hatch

    I really hope this Episode VII Is great, or at least good. Im still dying to know who the red lightsaber guy really is. Loved this article.

  2. Francesca Turauskis

    Thank you! Yes all fingers crossed, the trailer has made me more hopeful!

  3. George, you sold it. It’s not yours anymore. In the words of Obi-Wan, “Let go, Luke.”

  4. So happy they are using practical effects it just looks so much more genuine than all the cgi bull shit nowadays but it looks like it has a good balance of both

  5. Honestly I don’t think we deserved that trailer. As soon as it came out people decided to complain when we really know nothing and saw very little…meanwhile I’m just grateful Star Wars is back on the big screen and looks amazing.

    • Francesca Turauskis

      Who’s complaining? I’m not! It looks amazing. But my mind is also far to analytical and I can’t help but pick things apart! Dosen’t mean I don’t enjoy it, I just appreciate the thought gone in 🙂

    • Tyler Tang

      honestly, this trailer didn’t really wow me and the practical effects weren’t obvious. That rolling droid doesn’t look like a practical effect. The stormtroopers have the same shiny look that the PT Clones did. It all looked CGI. It might not have been, but except maybe for the X-Wings it had that shiny quality I tend to associate with CGI.

  6. I actually want to go into this movie cold. I’m not watching or reading anything else about this movie from here on out.

    • Francesca Turauskis

      Haven’t ruined it for you!

    • Aillard Peck

      i made up my mind on that a year ago…. then the teaser hit.. i lasted 1 week TT_TT

      My hope is that any future trailers reveal SO little. i mean, they honestly don’t need anything else. it will already make $1bil. the news, talk shows, and the internet will do all the advertising it needs.

      Of course, what you have to stay away from are the toys. action figures and lego sets… those things spoil characters

  7. One thing that made the originals feel real and tangible is how lived in the universe was. The prequels had a disconnect with pristine, mirror like ships and sterile environments. The practical effects and grime will give it a mood and atmosphere closer to the originals.

  8. Mr. Leon

    All I can say is… whew! I gotta admit I was about to explode. I’m pretty chilled now. I got a sense of what may be and that’s all I needed. Thanks for the read.

  9. Jemarc Axinto

    I am hoping that Episode VII is everything I dream of it becoming. I’m guilty of not being well-versed in the EU but I thank you for the article. Your love of Star Wars is apparent and quite helpful :).

    • Francesca Turauskis

      Not guilty, lucky! I used to read bits of the EU when I was much younger, but I have to confess the best nuggets in the article came from research as much as knowledge. Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Mo Sadek

    Other than Knights of the Old republic and other Star Wars games, I’m not so knowledgable about the EU and was a little thankful that it was being left out in the VII. However, it just occurred to me how much stuff was actually in the EU and now I’m a little sad. Well, I guess that will make whatever happens more surprising. So excited, hope this turns out well! Great article!

    • Francesca Turauskis

      Thank you 🙂 I am hopeful that the film is in the right hands, and should be very good, whether it follows the storyline I think it should or not

  11. All the trailer did was make those Star Wars nerds who still live in their parent’s basement and are still virgins upset. They should know that the Empire stopped using clones years ago.

  12. Question unrelated to article–
    Is the clone wars series good? I saw that garbage movie in 2008, and found little to no redeeming qualities. Is the series similar to the movie, or is the series better in then the movie?

    • KeithHong

      I can sum it up for you

      Season 1: Utter crap but slightly better than the movie

      Season 2: starts to get decent

      Season 3: The beginning of something amazing.

      Season 4: All….of……the….Star Wars cannon goodness

      Season 5: doesn’t get better than this

      Season 6: (the lost episodes) Answer really good questions like how the clones were able to become mindless droids and execute order 66 even thou they loved the Jedi so much. And answers question about the origins of almost everything everything in the star wars universe and sets up episode 4.

  13. Antione

    Well on behalf of nerds everywhere, I personally thank you!

  14. did anyone else see the recent Sony hack emails about Star Wars saying that Adam Driver was a terrible choice for the villain. Fuudge. let’s hope they made it work with him, cuz EVERYONE is looking forward to this movie haha

  15. Al Pinckney

    Lets be honest, this movie will be SO much better than any of the prequels. Just by seeing the teaser, I’m already convinced this will top any of the newer episodes

    • Francesca Turauskis

      Yes, definitely agree. Although I don’t hate the prequels because I was so young when the came out. (I was about 7 when JarJar Binks came into existance. I din’t HATE him, but i’m still not sure who he was meant for…)

  16. I can’t imagine the pressure Abram is probably feeling in making this film.

  17. CitizenKane

    I hope Star Wars can keep spoilers and leaks controlled, and just roll out a new teaser every few months. I was sad the original actors weren’t in this first one but hope to see Luke in the next! Please!

  18. Sheppard

    They should have hit up some other star wars writers to help out with the movie. drew karpyshyn is in my opinion the best writer star wars has ever had and if he did the movie it could only be amazing.

    • Francesca Turauskis

      Yea, I’m hoping that they are just keeping quiet about how much help they are getting. I’m confident that they won’t throw away the EU and writer’s work but think they should at least have consultants – it works for Game of Thrones having G.R.R. Martin helping (although they are distracting him form writing the last book!!)

  19. In agreement with most of the past comments, I’d say the two things I’m most excited about are the use of practical effects and the clear desire that the filmmakers want to make this series different. On the first count, it’ll just be nice to see actual props and effects just have a better aesthetic quality in movies, I think, and on the second count, it’s good to see filmmakers being brave enough to add to a previously established franchise while respecting the material. I really enjoyed your article Francesca.

  20. 4 Billion dollar film? Maybe we just should’ve built a Death Star.

  21. Dam, one full year to this movie comes out. At frist i was indifferent towards it, but now…. Just OnE full year 🙁

    • Andy Hodge

      I am excited for this movie too, but the waiting time will go by fast. I remember the big surprise on October 31st, 2012 when Disney announced that they bought LucasFilm and Bob Iger stated in a video that they were going to make Episode VII for 2015, and I thought “Man, that’s freakin’ fantastic! BUT…that’s 3 years away!!” And just look…that was 2 years ago already! So trust me, December 2015 will be here before we know it.

  22. Awesome article! I’m still a little skeptical whether Episode VII will be Disneyfied, but your article made me even more excited for this movie to come out than I already was!

    • Francesca Turauskis

      Thank you , I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 only time will tell eh? From some Disney films I feel like there are some people working within the establishment there as a force for good in film making.

  23. Damn, I can’t believe this movie is one year away.

  24. K.W. Colyard

    Typos noticed: Jacen Solo (not Jacan Solo) and J.J. Abrams (not J.J. Abrahms).

    • Francesca Turauskis

      Oh no! Ach, I specifically remember going through for name spellings as well… Got all the trickier ones and missed the simple ones! There’s a lesson learnt.

  25. I have been surprised by how many people I’ve spoken to aren’t excited for this movie to come out. I know I am!

  26. You know what would be awesome? If this movie was 100% on rotten tomatoes and oscar worthy.

  27. Giovanni Insignares

    I’m very interested in seeing how this story progresses from the classic trilogy of so many years ago, while simultaneously carrying these unbelievable expectations. I’m starting to think that as we get closer and closer to December and the release date, this film will challenge Avatar and The Avengers as one of the highest grossing films of all time. With the goodwill toward the original trilogy, the angst against the new trilogy, and the unbridled excitement toward this new story…people of all ages and generations will want to head out to check this out. And if the film is actually good or great? That’s when the money will endlessly roll in.

    Terrific article. I think that no matter what direction the story of episode VII takes, all that matters is that the film pays quick respect to the past while pushing forward. Disney clearly has so much riding on this film and franchise that it would take a monumental collapse to ruin the franchise financially. I have high hopes, and I’m confident Abrams will do Star Wars justice.

  28. I can’t believe I’m about to say this. *Phew*. I haven’t seen the Star Wars films since I was about 3 or 4, so virtually I haven’t really seen them. This article was great for me to read to compare to the originals from a neutral perspective. I plan on seeing the films before this one is released, but for now this insight was very helpful. Thanks!

  29. Candice Evenson

    Not even George Lucas knows what it will be about XD
    But it would be nice if the movie took characters, rather than plot lines, from the books that are now considered non-cannon.

  30. This is such a concise breakdown and really leaves me much food for thought! Really looking forward to the new instalment of Star Wars!

  31. Ive been waiting for a new chapter of star wars… it seems like its gonna be great… i cant wait to see the Dark force and their new Stormtroopers

  32. This is definitely an attempt to expand and deepen the Star Wars lore.

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