Sunday, September 13, 2015

Early Retirement - the Special Edition

So I was at Target this week, back from DragonCon and attempting to soak up some Force Friday fun, albeit a few days late. The decorations are pretty neat, particularly the beeping BB-8 and the roaring Chewbacca who greets you at the entrance. And who doesn’t love the First Order stormtroopers plastered to the front doors that you have to “Force Push” out of the way to enter?

(Although I will note, one Target boasted them on the doors you have to “pull” open as opposed to the ones that operate automatically, thus redefining the phrase “epic fail”)

Anyway, one little boy and his mother were having a fine time posing for pictures with the life-sized Chewbacca stand-up, all smiles and geeked out. It was just a very pure expression of fun and fandom, something often not to be found in our troubled, slightly mad, Internet era.

Likewise, there was none of the drama and politics my last rant and diatribe outlined in the toy aisle or in the Halloween section with all the new kids’ costumes. I doubt a single boy or girl in the toy department excitedly chatting away about the new displays were inwardly wringing their hands and existentially worrying that The Force Awakens is some kind of backhanded attack on the legacy of George Lucas because of the constant emphasis on practical effects in the PR campaign.

Perhaps a belabored point, dear readers, but one I’ve often pondered over the years. Seeing us frantically and angrily typing at each other, and just acting the way we fans do, would it be so hard to imagine that our younger fan selves would label their older incarnations as categorically insane? Have we just lost our way, as surely as the Jedi and the Republic? Is this really what it’s all about?

So I’ve written a book which, according to my publishers at DragonCon, has become a standard fixture at their displays at cons. I’ve shepherded this blog to well over a hundred thousand views (so sincere thanks for all the reading). But still, time for something new.

As Yoda said, twilight is upon us, and soon, light must fall. That is the way of things. The way of the Force.

If you’re wondering why I’m writing this at all, it’s just because there was so much frustration and negativity built into that last post, just as surely as Kylo Ren built a lot of anger and madness into that volatile crossguard lightsaber of his. And despite everything, it seems bad form to go out on such a dark side note. The basics are still intact, the online fandom is still unsalvageable, but hey, the good news is the drama and problems get smaller and smaller the less time one wastes on the Internet.

Still, as usual, I’m going to beat a dead bantha and deconstruct my feelings on this some more. I suppose I do owe at least that.

The Star Wars Heresies were born out of a very specific time and place in the history of George Lucas and Lucasfilm. It originated from the era framed by the special editions and prequels, that so often merrily maligned chapter in the Star Wars saga. Yet how ironic is it that this period – far, far more than the pristine, untouched original original trilogy – created and sustained the world we know today, the world where people began to definitively claim the title of Star Wars Fan? As in, “I am a Star Wars fan, this is my life, hear me roar”?


Maybe I’m still spouting heresy and nonsense, but face it. Before this era, the original trilogy was buried and largely forgotten. Honestly, even for me. This relaunch was largely the origin of it all.

The Star Wars Heresies also sprang largely formed from The Phantom Heresies, all the way back to Episode One. This was my first bit of professional (meaning paid) writing about our favorite galaxy, this long-running series of articles published on, which offered a fresh, indepth look at the prequel era. That seems like a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

But what an era it was! The special editions broke all box office records. The prequel trilogy did much the same, as well as, yes, win another generation of fans. Then there was the amazing run of The Clone Wars series. It was extraordinary. Star Wars redefined fandom as we know it. The toys. The games. The merchandise. The cosplay. And on my end, the academic criticism.

And it all came down to one man, George Lucas. The Flannelled One. Uncle George. The creator who exclusively owned it, lock, stock, and Tauntaun. It was Lucas Unplugged, an artist with no limit but his imagination and the work of ILM.

Pay attention, kids. It was utterly unique. And in today’s corporate-fueled atmosphere, it may not happen again for a very long time.

But even Lucas couldn’t stop the suns from setting. He sold Lucasfilm to Disney, gave all the money to charity, got remarried, and retired. No, I wasn’t consulted. And no, I can’t call him up and lure him out of said retirement. So the fact remains, there simply is no longer a Lucas to champion, nor his singular vision for the franchise.

For a long time, I felt tempted to retire too. I mean, exclusively, just completely withdraw from that one fixed star in my life. Or rather, that fixed Star Wars. Those were the real dark times, that black hole of secrecy and uncertainty and nothingness in a post-Clone Wars world.

The timing of all this was truly interesting. Keep in mind, not three days after I’d polished and edited and submitted the final copy of The Star Wars Heresies to MacFarland & Co., Disney bought Lucasfilm. Lucas was on his way out. The sequel trilogy was being made without him. The era my book was inspired by was inexorably ending, and with it, a lot of my personal understanding and interpretation of things.

It was big stuff, and most of you know it was a genuinely hard on me as a fan. Okay, it was hard in a lot of other, more important real life ways too, but still. There was a lot of change all the way around.

Yet, as Anakin so tragically failed to understand, as surely as the suns set, they do rise again too. After a year of fanboy soul-searching, I got with the franchise again. That second trailer sealed the deal. Of course, my fandom still occasionally got water-boarded by online arguments and anything concerning the King of Haters, that walking, talking bag of hypocrisy and idiocy, Simon Pegg.

In short, my fandom is still intact, but The Star Wars Heresies really are over, too tied to a time and place that have gone the way of the Old Republic. The problem I’ve struggled with on this blog is that it doesn’t make much sense for me to continue down this path. Plus, there are other things I want to do. And, you know, general busyness.

As Lucas sagely realized, it is sometimes necessary to let go. A lot of my writing of late honestly had very little to do with the original mission statement here. I may chronicle adventures to Star Wars Weekends or the events of the upcoming Star Wars Reads Day I’m orchestrating at my library, but I’m not sure how relevant it all is here, much less how “heretical.”

There is more writing I want to do, though in the teen fiction vein again, something with a sci-fi bent to it. And libraries. Working on it has actually been fun, something that became almost totally divorced from writing for me over the years. And even if I go off and write on Star Wars Rebels, or even the original and sequel trilogies, alas, this obviously isn’t the home for it anymore.

I will say the criticism I’ve produced still holds up. People still respond to it. While it isn’t going to happen due to lots of logistical difficulties on both sides, I was asked to participate in the promising The Prequels Strike Back documentary. At DragonCon, Vanessa Marshall, the voice of Hera Syndulla, was very enthusiastic upon hearing of my book, and even mentioned doing a feature on me in the Star Wars Insider. That probably won’t happen either, but I’m grateful for and honored by the attention. There are still shining points out there.

If I personally can claim any legacy from all this, I will assert the whole current movement recognizing “Star Wars as Poetry” is rooted mainly in my work, being both the impetus for my book, as well as me simply being the first I know of to put it out there.

As for now, I personally will follow Lucas’ lead. Again, he sold the franchise. He had a hand in appointing his successors. While I may not agree with it all, I am going to do my best to enjoy it. And with three months to go before The Force Awakens, I am happy to report, I’m succeeding.

(And for those of you who have a problem with me having fun with The Force Awakens, might I suggest you have far, far deeper issues to deal with than Mickey Mouse and the Force)

True, my DragonCon companion and I came at Force Friday a week late, but we had a blast the following weekend. Very few things make me happier than new Star Wars toys and merchandise. It all started with the action figures for me. I had Luke, Vader, Chewie, and C-3PO in my hand before I’d seen a single frame of any film. And at this point, it’s astonishing Hasbro can get products in the stores at all, but they have!

It remains borderline magical holding brand new action figures in hand after a long bounty hunt in the stores. I’m loving the Black Series Rey and Kylo Ren, even as anything Captain Phasma remains elusive. And that app-controlled BB-8 is frankly off the hook from what I’ve seen of it. God forbid, it’s going to be nice to be a mindless consumer and just geek out awhile.

(On the other hand, I’ve often considered Star Wars action figures the closest we contemporaries can score to the mythic totems and ancient statuettes of gods and saints and heroes. That hasn’t changed. It tugs at that very transrational core of us, much like the inspired rhythms of John Williams)

In closing, it seems to me we have a choice. We can all try to embrace this new era of the Wars, or let it go and leave. Just don’t twist into dark side haters haunting the shadowy corners of the Internet. Life is too short. Those of us who have been with it since the beginning sincerely deserve our enjoyment. Remember that.

So take heart. It you don’t like the current creative regime, that too will pass. Just rest in the knowledge that Star Wars is always going to be bigger than the Abrams’ and the Kennedys, maybe even the Lucas’. As Thomas Carlyle noted, no poet is equal his poem. And Star Wars is a poem, if not the poem.

For some reason, the iconic words of Obi-Wan Kenobi recorded in the holocron in the premiere of Rebels seem very appropriate to launch into hyperspace on one last time …

This is Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. I regret to report that both our Jedi Order and the Republic have fallen – with the dark shadow of the Empire to take their place.

This message is a warning and a reminder for any surviving Jedi: Trust in the Force. Do not return to the temple. That time has passed, and our future is uncertain. Avoid Coruscant, avoid detection, be secret …

But be strong. We will be challenged. Our trust. Our faith. Our friendships. But we must persevere, and in time, I believe a new hope will emerge.

May the Force be with you … always.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Early Retirement

So here's me in the latest issue of Star Wars Insider. Talking all about midichlorians. It was nice. 

And so, here's me also just stepping down from the batshit insanity that Star Wars fandom has devolved into since the Disney sale. It seems impossible to post anything - no matter how bland and non-confrontational - about the Wars these days without getting into endless drama and debate. Enough is enough. Never, even in the summer of 1999, have I seen the online incarnation of this fandom in such a state, where one is attacked for everything they do say, or don't say, or insinuate, or whatever. 

The mantra continues. Life is too short. I have neither the time nor energy nor interest in arguing about The Force Awakens or practical effects or canon until the ghastly hours of the morning. But that is precisely what it now requires. Even if one goes out of their desire to simply state their stance and move on, the conflict that ensues is just absurd. Arguments that chase each other around in circles for hours and hours. People keep wanting me too, but I don't even care at this point. 

I also pretty much refuse to take part in a fandom that even partially insinuates that people like Simon Pegg aren't the problem, but people like myself are. 

My relationship with Star Wars, whatever it will be, will have to be personal. I am going to make a sincere effort to divorce it from social media. But again, I've never seen it this bad, with one incomprehensible argument fired against one with no context whatsoever, and really, who needs it? There is no evidence that it is going to improve. It's merely the slow circling of the drain of a once promising fandom.


Edited: Okay, one more, that's happily coming from a much better place - Early Retirement - The Special Edition


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Square Peggs in Round Holes

So this post isn't going to be anywhere near as long as it originally was going to be. Like a considerable part of the Internet, I feel like I've already written several volumes on the San Diego Comic Con panel. And as always with Star Wars, passions have run pretty high. Enough to make me have to stop and evaluate and remember what I'm actually in all this for to begin with. Or rather why I'm back. 

And it isn't just to spend all day, every day arguing about "CGI" vs. "practical effects."

But I am sympathetic to anyone who feels differently. When someone gets out there praising the production team for - of all things! - actually filming in an actual desert for the new movie, that's a bit much. I mean, sure, we all know the prequels weren't filmed in a real desert, but rather a fake, CGI, air-conditioned one, but come on. 

(What you think that's actual sweat?! No. That was all digitally added later. But argh. It really is sooo easy to let go and rip on this stuff.)

Anyway, there has been some great commentary provided on other sites. If you're on Facebook, where much of my own writing has been, you should check out the Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy page. As always, the Star Wars Prequel Appreciation Society has weighed in with its characteristic style and wit. There is also a phenomenal video on YouTube that deserves your attention, and I'm just not saying this because my book got a shout-out. 

In short, I agree with the commentators.I hope there's not another online fan war on the horizon. If so, I may just be a conscience objector this time around.  #1999

Oh, I had a lot to say about the Comic Con stuff. The puns and the zingers were going to be off the hook. But enough of that.

For the record, The Star Wars Heresies does think Kennedy is way too in awe of the fanbase and gives them way too much credit, particularly given their online behavior for the past fifteen years. And J.J. Abrams' relentless advocacy of "practical effects" is way too overstated, whatever his actual feelings on the subject. One of the high points was definitely Lawrence Kasdan's shout-out to George Lucas and his "genius," but overall it was a pretty lackluster panel, nothing compared to the stuff at Star Wars Celebration. Which perhaps is somewhat inevitable when everyone is on a panel to talk about a movie no one is actually allowed to talk about.

(Sorry to pimp Doctor Who on here, but that panel was way more fun and lively. Plus a new trailer.)

And may I just say, if you really want a good time, just put Adam Driver alone on stage, and he can stare at seven thousand fans, and they can stare back, thus surely resulting in the most awkward, uncomfortable sixty minutes of anyone's life. 

But come on, I'm sure he's going to be awesome as Kylo Ren. It's a delicate balance, my readers. My own journey to The Force Awakens has been complicated. I have criticisms but I have no urge to let my fandom fall to the dark side of negativity. Plus, it would be so nice just to let go and let the Disney era take care of itself, Jedi-style. 

The one thing I feel that is absolutely inexcusable is the inclusion of Simon Pegg in The Force Awakens footage. His crimes against fandom are too numerous to mention, but the main issue is, as Jason Swank of Rebel Force Radio put it, that he keeps being rewarded for bad behavior. 

I was enjoying the footage, I really was, but if you follow me on Facebook, you know I was ready to slug him through the screen the first time he popped up on the set, basically wetting himself with glee. Then again, Kyle Newman's wife Jamie King has already openly expressed the desire to punch him in the face, so at least I'm in good company. 

So I will offer a very serious challenge to fandom. We all know about the infamous Phantom Edit, where the very fanboys raging about the joys of film preservation deleted footage from Episode I and edited it to their liking. So this is what I want. The Pegg Edit. I basically want Simon Pegg edited out of this otherwise pretty nifty footage. 

If possible, put Jar Jar Binks in his place, or possibly an animated midichlorian. That would be awesome. 

But in the interest of emphasizing the light side, and wanting to be a positive force in fandom, it was indescribably wonderful to have Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford on stage at the same time. Particularly Harrison. A few years ago, it looked as though Mustafar would have to freeze over before that guy would ever be on a stage at Comic Con talking about Star Wars. And looking as though he were actually enjoying himself, which so many of us struggle with sometimes. 

 That's about all I have to say on the subject. I could go on and on and on about this, that, and the other, but life is too short. And again, I just don't have time to spend on this stuff day in and day out. 

I love Star Wars. I love George Lucas. I still think The Force Awakens will be a fun, entertaining addition to the saga. The new books, comics, and television series have provided some great content thus far. I just wish being a fan wasn't so exhausting sometimes. 

May the Force be with You.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Great Awakening

“There has been an awakening. Have you felt it? The dark side … and the light.”

Those were the haunting, mysterious words that launched the very first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It has since been confirmed that they were spoken by motion capture aficionado Andy Serkis. Vanity Fair has also revealed the name of his character is Supreme Leader Snoke, a title that is evocative of military status, yet he also clearly knows something of the ways of the Force ...

Before we proceed, a word on the inexorable inevitabilities of the great spoiler controversy must be addressed. With each new photo leaked and each new character name announced, flames of debate rage across the Internet. Some emphatically want spoilers. Some emphatically do not. Adding to the argument is confusion over what even constitutes a spoiler.

The Star Wars Heresies certainly suffered a major loss in energy and enthusiasm, in part due to the black hole of secrecy J.J. Abrams and Disney imposed on the new film, a vortex of blackness from which not even the tiniest of spoilers could escape. This state of affairs for an entire year was a mistake in my opinion, as it opened up a void following endless cancellations and silence. I for one find it difficult to grow excited about a film no one knows anything about, which is why I think it was a bit of a forced hand (pardon the pun) to finally release a ninety-second teaser trailer mere months after production wrapped.

So while I have tried to avoid spoilers such as storyline reveals and plot twists, any new image or character tidbit from The Force Awakens has been welcome. For the record, I’m only offering up speculation here for the sake of entertainment. Even with two trailers, Vanity Fair interviews, and the occasional image leaked online, I feel like I know almost nothing about this new episode. Nor do I really want to.

On the other hand, the veil of secrecy has to be parted a little eventually. Especially in this day and age of social media, where every new photo eventually winds up as background on someone’s Facebook page. And the more information released officially, the more the audience is eased into this new era of the galaxy, not to mention the more control the powers-that-be have over said information. So no need for everyone, Abrams included, to grow sideburns, don bell bottoms, and pretend it’s 1979 all over again, because it can’t work. 

So as I ramble and speculate and theorize a bit here, the official The Star Wars Heresies spoiler policy is going to be framed as succinctly as possible. In short, a leaked photo of Han Solo piloting the Millennium Falcon with new characters Rey and Finn in the cockpit does not constitute a spoiler. A leaked photo of Han Solo slumped over the controls of the Falcon with Rey and Finn standing behind him in the cockpit holding bloody vibroblades does.

Simple enough?

So on to this "awakening" motif, as well as two of the more intriguing elements at play in the galaxy decades after the destruction of the second Death Star, the Jedi and the Sith. Or whatever the next evolution of Force talented beings may be.  That potential incarnation is the most intriguing element of the sequel trilogy to me. 

The release of the episode title for any new Star Wars film is a big moment, perhaps right up there with the first trailer. Episode VII adds to the mythos. The Force Awakens may take a moment to settle into the cultural zeitgeist, but it honestly brings with it not only multiple possible meanings but ties the new addition to the saga into a rich tradition of symbolism. Provided the new generation of filmmakers fish the metaphoric depths of storytelling and folklore as thoroughly as their bearded predecessor would have, the mysterious title can evoke more than its share of mythological underpinnings. 

The concept of awakening is a powerful one in Western mythology. For example, more than one reference is made in Norse stories. There is of course the tale of Brunhilde, who Odin imprisoned on a remote mountain, cursing her with sleep in a ring of flames until she could be awakened again. There is also the story of Heimdall, the watchmen of Norse myth, who was destined to blow on the horn Gjallar to awaken all the gods for Ragnarok and the end of the world. This theme is active in fairy tales to0, ranging from Rumpelstiltskin to Sleeping Beauty.

The same follows through in Eastern mythology. One of the most famous images of Hinduism is Brahma growing out of the navel of the sleeping Vishnu to create the universe again. And of course, the very name "Buddha" means the "awakened one," the one who awoke to the enlightenment inherently sleeping in everything. Not to mention the Taoist musings of Chuang Tzu wondering whether he was a man dreaming about being a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming about being a man. 

In theory, all of this could be forming a viable mythic backbone for the sequel trilogy. After one pushes past the hater tone of the first couple of parts, the Vanity Fair article does an adequate job of filling in a bit of behind-the-scenes coverage regarding the film. If nothing else, it is reassuring Abrams is aware that the prequels have a fanbase, and we can infer he and writer Lawrence Kasdan are hopefully taking to heart the prophecy of the Chosen One, and his eventual bringing balance to the Force at the end of the original trilogy. 

Now that the slate has been intriguingly wiped clean in most respects, it will be interesting to learn what state the Force has been existing in for over thirty years. As noted, it has been brought back into balance and, presumably, the dark side that had so clouded and infested the galaxy during the Clone Wars and the civil war has largely dissipated. In my book, I likened the galaxy-wide mystical energy field to an enormous sea, with countless beings floating around in it, as oblivious to it as fish are to water.  

Still, hopefully things have improved and stabilized enough for a few decades for everyone to notice. 

It would feel like something of a waste if the galaxy has been in nothing but a state of strife and conflict during the thirty year gap. Crashed Star Destroyers aside, the Force awakening at the very least implies a bit of rest, a well-earned cosmic sabbatical for the conflict of the light and the dark. The Force partially slumbering in a peaceful, balanced equilibrium for awhile seems only fair. 

But as the galactic pendulum swings in one direction, it must swing in another. And as simple drama dictates, conflict has to start to creep its way center stage again. That certainly seems to be the way of things in the trailers, with stormtroopers running around and the possibility of some kind of Imperial civil war erupting. 

Along the political spectrum, George Lucas once commented that the end of the Empire would see the uprooting of corruption and fascism, and the real Republic would return in fine form. This strikes me as a potentially slippery slope, with lots of possibility for history and the mistakes of the past to repeat themselves. With the Sith gone and the Force balanced, my own vision of the future galaxy would be a bit freer, maybe even a touch anarchic, with any kind of centralized authority being shied away from for the time being. 

But understandably, the galaxy is complicated, and civil war has left it's mark. A lot of this isn't going to be remotely understood until the post Return of the Jedi novel Star Wars Aftermath debuts in September. Granted, the Empire isn't finished, and the political situation in the Inner Rim is largely a complete mystery.

Judging by Abrams and company's fondness for Star Wars as a "western" set out on the frontier, it is reasonable to speculate a lot of the events in the film are taking place in the wilder Outer Rim of the galaxy. Daisy Ridley's character, Rey, is reported to be a scavenger on the desert planet of Jakku, probably far off the beaten path of Coruscant. Might it be speculated that it's the planet farthest from the bright center of the universe, Tatooine renamed by the fractured Empire or some such?

Thanks to Vanity Fair again, we have likewise seen Adam Driver's Kylo Ren marching new stormtroopers about on an ice planet. It would be interesting if this was a deliberate juxtaposition with the Rebel Alliance's former base on the frozen world of Hoth, only with the bad guys on the run in the far reaches of galactic civilization this time around. Whatever the rationale, those new stormtroopers look really sweet, particularly the chrome-plated Captain Phasma, potentially poised to be the next fanboy favorite ancillary character, following in the footsteps of Boba Fett or Darth Maul. 

From the little we know, it seems the primary conflict isn't going to be another tired military clash between the rebuilding Alliance and the collapsing Empire. The now defunct "Expanded Universe" has beat that bantha to death over twenty years of publishing. From what publicity has been announced at the last Celebration and such, the big battle is going to be between the Resistance, featuring such hotshot X-wing pilots as Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron, and the equally mysterious First Order, which seems more than reminiscient of the Third Reich, what with their title and their fondness for Nuremberg-type rallies. 

Sure, the First Order may be a broken remnant of the Empire. And the Resistance may be a Rebel-Alliance inspired movement, which is struggling without Republic protection in the Outer Rim. But at least it's a little new, with updated X-Wings and refurbished TIE fighters. 

Speaking of the First Order, admittedly one of the biggest concerns here at the Star Wars Heresies was the handling of any new nemesis in follow-up movies. For one, simply bringing back the Sith would potentially negate the destruction of the Emperor and Anakin returning to the light side. And we all know Lucas has been adamant that the Sith are a very specific lineage, and a very specific tradition. Dark side users aside, only two Sith there are, no more, no less. And that thousand year cycle of brutality and violence was finally broken in Return of the Jedi.

But on the other hand, how does one not resurrect the Sith as a threat? Anyone would be hard pressed to best Darth Sidious in terms of personal and galactic evil and oppression. And as far as Darth Vader goes, it's surely equally impossible to top the single most iconic villain in the history of cinema. 

If certain random rumors hold true, the filmmakers at work on the new trilogy may have found a reasonably clever way to maneuver around this problem. The poster boy of evil in The Force Awakens is undeniably Kylo Ren, who we have already seen brandishing a tell-tale red lightsaber and throwing around Force pushes in the new trailers. Speculation has it that he is actually a Sith wannabe, a Darth Vader fanboy, a galactic copycat killer of sorts who goes around snatching up dark side artifacts. Possibly like that primitive-looking crossguard lightsaber or even the aged, melted Vader mask given a close up in the second teaser trailer.

This could possibly alleviate a few problems. To begin with, it would supply the film with the inevitable dark side bad guy, but reasonably count for his retro, somewhat familiar evil look, black mask and robes and all. Yet at the same time, Kylo Ren is obviously missing an official "darth" in front of his name, thus he's not a direct part of the Sith, and that lineage remains successfully destroyed.

Not to mention, let's face it, the idea is just suitably creepy. 

The other big question mark is the light side of the coin, the Jedi. It will be really intriguing to see what is done here. There are a few Force ghosts floating about in the ether of the netherworld, a trick only light siders can accomplish, as depicted in the Lost Missions arc at the end of The Clone Wars. I for one would love to hear a philosophical discussion with Qui-Gon Jinn and, given Liam Neeson's voice over work in animated series, it is not out of the realm of possibility. Perhaps the most dramatic ghostly exchange could be with Anakin Skywalker himself. 

Despite stirring up fanboy tensions, it is perhaps likely that this was the original plan, thus explaining Lucas' insistence that the Force ghost at the end of Return of the Jedi be edited to include Hayden Christensen. 

Whatever the state of affairs in the Force netherworld, there is only one remaining physical Jedi left that we know of. When we last saw Luke Skywalker, he had thrown down his lightsaber, defeated the Sith through his father's redemptive love, and was encircled by old friends on the moon of Endor. This presents its own set of dramatic challenges, not the least of which is the new Jedi Order of one renouncing violence and succeeding, as a counterpoint to the old Jedi Order feeding into war and failing. 

The narrative's depiction of the Jedi and violence is unknown, as is Luke's story. Again, if some rumors and speculation hold, the first film may very well be the "Search for Luke Skywalker." The new Jedi is rumored to have gone into an exile of sorts, traveling "upriver" like a retiring soldier, or riding off into the galactic sunset like a cowboy. 

Whatever the story, it already sounds far more right than Luke just immediately establishing a new Jedi Order on Coruscant and, again, just repeating the mistakes of the past. With all the prequel saga in place, it would seem ridiculous to simply cobble together another bloated, dogmatic order, with one foot in the mystic current of the Force, and the other snared in the bureaucratic traps of government. 

While Yoda did impress the importance of passing on his new wisdom, he never explicitly instructed Luke to rebuild the old Order. The point was largely that Luke became something new, with hints that the Jedi had moved from a religion of law to one of love. At least at the end of the last film. And if this next episode is being read correctly, Luke passing on his knowledge and abilities will be on a much more personal, intimate level, as he himself learned from Obi-Wan and Yoda. 

The recapped lines he spoke in the trailer are already legend. The Force runs strong in his family. He has it. His father has it. His sister has it. With the mysterious promise that "You have that power too." 

And that's where the real speculation begins. Is he referring to John Boyega's character Finn? His image is the first new face seen, popping into frame wearing stormtrooper armor and a frantic look of considerable distress. If the Force is awakening, he could pass for one just snapping out of a dream, maybe scoring a violent hint of a "larger world"?

The odds on favorite may be a certain scavenger from the world of Jakku, though. 

Everyone seems eager, myself included, to see a female lead take the reins. Kathleen Kennedy even played up that angle on stage at Celebration. It would open up a new world of mythic and symbolic possibilities if it was Rey who possessed that familiar power. Not only would she be keeping with the tradition of beings with major Force potential being found in lowly, isolated places and starting their journey from humble beginnings, it could also be wonderful to have a full-fledged mother of the Force in that long ago, far away galaxy ...

P.S. Welcome to the family, you three.