Remaking Star Wars

This may be one of the most controversial things I’ve ever written but I believe that eventually Lucasfilm is going to remake the original Star Wars trilogy. It sounds blasphemous even to contemplate but I’ve become convinced that there are 3 reasons why it will make sense for them to do so, not now, but perhaps within the next decade or so.

1. Time Marches On. To Star Wars fans like myself, the OT is Star Wars. When I grew up, there were no prequels, Clone Wars, or any other filmed Star Wars besides the much-despised Holiday Special. Episodes 4-6 are iconic and imagining another version of them seems strange and wrong. But I’m an older fan. To those in their early 30s, the PT was just as much a part of their childhood, and for younger fans, materials like Clone Wars and even Episodes 7-9 are iconic too, meaning that they’re not likely to be bothered by a remake in the same way. Conversely, viewers now watching the OT for the first time are going to find it increasingly dated. The effects and fight choreography in particular will seem old. They’re starting to seem that way to me, especially on a big, HD TV screen, and without my generation’s nostalgia, a younger fan maybe turned off.

That’s an issue for Lucasfilm. The OT is the core of the SW setting. Most of the other materials made since the 1980s are about setting up the story told in Episodes 4-6 and if the payoff doesn’t work for a new generation of fans, if the movies look worse than everything else in the franchise, it will hurt the long-time growth of the fandom.

2. Supplemental Materials: A lot of the new SW material may tie into the OT, but since none of it was planned in advance, the fit isn’t always clean. This extends back to the original films themselves, with the Luke/Leia sexual tension in Episodes 4+5 being an infamous example. Furthermore, all kinds of additional elements have been introduced since then, both by Lucas and later creators, that aren’t referenced in the OT. (Qui-Gonn, Ahsoka, Inquisitors, the Ghost crew, etc.) A remake could integrate those things into the trilogy, making the franchise more cohesive.

3. The Right Actors: Perhaps the most obvious problem with remaking the OT is how iconic many of the original actors are. Once, recasting these roles would’ve seemed an impossibly daunting task. Fortunately for Lucasfilm, later projects have created a crop of actors that many viewers, especially younger ones, would accept without difficulty. Ewen McGregor/Obi-Wan, Hayden Christianson/ Vader, Crispin Glover/Lando, and Temeura Morrison/Boba would all be popular and in 10 years or so, Vivien Lyra Blair can play the adult Leia, while Ian McDiarmid will hopefully remain available as Palpatine. Alden Ehrenreich was more divisive as Han, plus a bit old relative to some of the others, but he could be re-cast if necessary. A cast with built-in fan acceptance would reduce the blowback to a remake and if it worked, it would open up the way for post ROTJ projects and even a replacement of the controversial sequel trilogy if Lucasfilm was so inclined.

As for myself, I have mixed feelings about the prospect of an OT remake. For me, the original versions will always be the “real” Star Wars, and seeing other actors in roles like Luke, Leia, and Han will be (and has been) odd. On the other hand, it would be cool to see some of the iconic battles and lightsaber duels recreated with modern effects technology and the need to keep the remakes consistent with the existing SW material should prevent any radical deviations. But as I said earlier, for Lucasfilm, it’s not going to be about pleasing fans my age but rather trying to draw in a new generation who don’t have the same nostalgia for a movie made in the 1970s.

By paulewenstein

Professor of International Relations at Boston University and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

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