Regardless of whether you like or dislike the new Star Wars movies, it seems clear that, with the possible exception of Rogue One, Disney/Lucasfilm has had difficulty coming up with interesting new directions to explore in the franchise. Despite a galaxy-spanning story with a rich backdrop of worlds, cultures, and ideas to draw upon, the newest trilogy has so far been a series of movies that pay homage to everything from the originals except what made them popular.
So, drawing only on the movies, let’s see if we can find some interesting bits of the unexplored Star Wars universe that might be nice to see more of in future movies or, dare we hope, they may even become a starting point for entirely new, original, and exciting plotlines. After all, the current Lucasfilm seems determined to ‘go in different directions’ despite a noticeable lack of success with that goal, so let’s suggest some good directions they might consider that won’t sacrifice a good story.
Here are eight examples of unexplored potential in the Star Wars universe.
1. Star Wars, Game of Thrones
Remember, Star Wars was first envisioned as a space fairy tale with knights and princesses and castles and evil wizards. Even with the apparent shift to a republican system, there are still noble houses on many of the planets, some supporting the Empire and some supporting the Rebellion / Resistance. I’d love to see some new heroes arising from storylines that involve fighting between the powerful houses. Do they fully support the Empire and try to destroy competing houses? Do they pretend to support the new power while dealing under the table to the old republic? Do they openly defy the Empire and struggle with the consequences? And what about family conflicts? What about the heirs who don’t agree with their parents? What about forbidden love between houses in the midst of conflict? It might be interesting to set such stories amid a backdrop of a Force-users war that frames the story but is not the main conflict.
These are all classic ideas, sure, but that’s what the original Star Wars was based on too. It worked because it built on classic themes, fairy tales, The Hero’s Journey, good vs evil, and larger-than-life-heroes, and I’d like to see more of this woven into the current Star Wars movie-going experience.
2. Kicking it Old School
The Bioware MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic didn’t do as well as it’s creators had hoped, for a variety of reasons, but story was not one of them. Not only did we have the clash of two empires – the ancient and brutal Sith and the young upstart Republic supported by the Jedi – but we got to see some excellent examples of political power-grabbing and backstabbing in the Sith storylines that have only been hinted at in distant past backstory of the movies. The Sith storylines were easily my favourite part of SWTOR and I’d love to see a movie set in that time based around the Sith power structures.
This period is ripe for amazing and dramatic storylines from either (or preferably both) the viewpoint of the Republic (stop the Sith while supporting the fledgeling democratic political structure of the galaxy) or the Sith (in-fighting and power-grabs among powerful force-wielders as they attempt to dominate the galaxy).
3. Species Diversity
The story of Star Wars is almost entirely one of humans, which appear to be either the most populous or the most successful species in the Star Wars galaxy (or at least in the parts we’ve seen). That’s fine, after all, it is primarily a story of one family or, if expanded, one line of teachers and students (which is why Rey’s suggested lineage in The Last Jedi was so disappointing and will likely be altered in the next movie). Even still, we have to take stock of the abilities of the numerous other species in the galaxy to make the worlds feel more ‘realistically’ populated. At some point that also means considering them as more than just scenery.
Humans are a generalist species, adaptable and good at most things, but not necessarily great at anything (except adaptation). There are several examples in Star War of other species with abilities that, it seems, the various factions (Empire, Republic, and Other) should be utilizing to a much greater degree.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace gave us a few examples of species with special abilities. Watto, the Toydarian, described his species as being immune to Jedi mind tricks (as is Jabba the Hutt’s species as mentioned in Return of the Jedi). Perhaps even more importantly, Phantom Menace gave us pod racing, which demonstrated that many other species have natural reflexes on par, or possibly greater than, Jedi. So why have no factions harnessed these species to counter the Jedi? What about their general usefulness as pilots? Furthermore, what about a Jedi from one of those species? Such a being could be almost unstoppable. And if they’re not force-sensitive, why not?
Of course, Wookies have been used, and abused (by the Empire) in Star Wars, mostly for their great strength. They are one of the few non-human species that has been developed to a noticeably degree.
Attack of the Clones introduced the Kaminoans, an intelligent species gifted in cloning technologies. They were never heard from again. We also met a number of forgettable races allied with Count Dooku that seemed little more than caricatures.
The Mon Calamari, from Return of the Jedi, are described (at least in the extended universe) as being gifted shipbuilders. Their shipyards could be at least an interesting side plot in a rebel storyline and a target for the Empire.
The prequel gave us a lot of non-human species in the background, even among the Jedi masters, but we didn’t see any of them in action or learn whether any of them had more abilities. A few were developed more in Clone Wars and Rebels, but rarely showed any interesting characteristics beyond that of humans. And, strangely, for all the talk of diversity in the new series, the only alien species we’ve seen have been killed off (notably Admiral Ackbar and Snoke).
One notably exception in the prequel was the universally disliked character of Jar Jar Binks. Please Disney/Lucasfilm, if you introduce more aliens, don’t do it like that.
4. The Life-draining Force
Something that has bothered me since the prequel trilogy came out was the short lifespan of force users. In the original movie I had taken Obi-Wan to be very old, perhaps 100-150. Likewise, Darth Vader would also then be an ancient terror. However, once the prequels were over it became clear neither was over 60 despite appearing very old.
Furthermore, the effects on Palpatine of channelling the full strength of the dark side where brutally obvious in Revenge of the Sith, when he aged instantly upon attacking Mace Windu with lightning.
The question must be asked: does force use drain the user’s life, regardless of whether it’s the light or dark side?
Consider some approximate ages at death:
- Obi-Wan – 57
- Anakin – 47
- Luke – 52
- Yoda – 900
Most (except Yoda) are very young. I think this would be a very interesting aspect of the force to explore in the movies. We’re at an especially good point to do that, as it seems Rey will be taking on the mantle of the new chosen one and thus could ‘bring balance to the force’! With both Yoda and Luke to guide her from the beyond, she could actually acquire the balance that only… Yoda (and perhaps Qui Gon Jinn? Because he discovered the force ghost ability) previously appear to have achieved. (I suggest Yoda because, of all the Jedi, he seems to be the only one who has achieved an incredibly long lifespan. He’s also the only one to demonstrate the ability to absorb force lightning with his bare hands.
5. The Religion Supporting the Religion
I’m going to be honest with you here, I didn’t like Rogue One very much (other than the epic ending!). However, one thing I did find very interesting was the idea that a religion of non-force users had grown up around the force – my favourite character in Rogue One, by far, was Chirrut the blind swordsman. While I don’t see this as being worthy of a movie itself, it would be great to see more of it in the background of other Star Wars movies and it could form a significant plot device or even a new avenue for learning more about the force.
6. The Rebel Underground
The rebels are incredibly well equipped for a rag-tag band that’s opposing a galactic empire. They have to have significant resources at their disposal. The story is somewhat different for the Resistance in the new trilogy, but not completely. While The Last Jedi attempted some political commentary about the rich playing both sides, what I’d really like to see at some point is an actual space dock. I’d love to see the rebels collecting new corvettes, or at least making the deals to procure them. Again, not enough for a movie or major plotline on its own, but it could definitely lead the heroes further into the fray. We could see deals with smugglers, the underworld, or even noble houses trying to stay under the imperial radar.
7. Lightsabers! More Diversity
While the books, and some games, have discussed alternative duel stances and strategies, little of this diversity has made it into the movies. There were some attempts to change things up a bit with Darth Maul’s very cool light staff (dual-sided sabre), and Kylo’s controversial crossguard lightsaber, but most of the combat styles we’ve seen in the movies have developed from a similar line of combat based largely on Japanese martial arts with very little creativity – Rey’s very novice style and Kylo’s aggressive, angry style are some new exceptions.
Still, the fans have been much more creative in their discussion of lightsaber techniques. Shadiversity has recently suggested that such a light weapon with an infinite cutting edge requiring almost no power to guide or cut would produce a more rapier-like combat style. Meanwhile, other fans such as Ferocity’s LCCX Winning Lightsaber Duel have done videos playing with tactics that involve switching the lightsaber on and off during combat to control the flow of the fight in unexpected ways (perhaps the inspiration for a few parts of the throne room fight in The Last Jedi?).
Don’t get me wrong, I love the acrobatic, sword-spinning styles of the prequels but, however future directors attempt to play with lightsaber duels, it would still be very cool if they introduced some fun and interesting new strategies. Perhaps these could be interpreted as developments by the new force users no longer fettered by the weight and tradition of the old Jedi thinking.
8. Droid Story
Droids are nearly ubiquitous in Star Wars and, while I have little interest in the ‘droids rights’ direction Lucasfilm attempted to go in during Solo: A Star Wars Story, or the C-3PO/R2D2 kids comedies that come around occasionally, insights into the life of droids would be an interesting addition to a Star Wars movie. This was done once in an extended universe Jabba’s Palace book anthology and worked quite well and I’d love a movie to take us ‘behind the veneer’ into the work-a-day world of droids.
And what about cyborgs? Amirite? From what I remember, we see cyborgs only in Empire Strikes Back – on cloud city as assistants and possibly on Vader’s ship as bounty hunters. No reason to have a plotline about them, but at least they should be added into the background more. As it is, they seem to have disappeared from the galaxy.
Well, those are eight relatively unexplored aspects of the Star Wars universe that I think could be used to fill out movies more and, in some cases, be the basis for entire movie plotlines. What do you think? Do you agree, disagree? Do you have any others that you think should be included? Let me know in the comments and, until next time,
Insight and longevity.