By Spencer Blohm
Fans of the Star Wars franchise are a uniquely avid and loyal group, even within the largely avid and loyal collective of science fiction fandom. Spanning generations and media channels, and with staying power that crosses decades, any new addition is both highly anticipated and held to almost impossibly high expectations. With the latest film in the series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, having already sold over $6.5 million in presale tickets and due to hit theaters on December 18, rabid fans are enthusiastically speculating on whether their expectations and demands will be met – let’s take a look at the top things Star Wars fanatics are hoping to see in this next installment.
A Skywalker Reveal Worth the Wait
After viewing the various teasers and trailers for this film, one of the most prominent mysteries surrounding it relates to the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker. Star Wars isn’t Star Wars without Luke Skywalker, and while the trailers, posters, and other promotional material have all shown the presence of longtime favorites Han Solo, Princess-turned-General Leia and Chewbacca, Luke has been noticeably absent. However, as shared by both Abrams and Mark Hamill the absence has been intentional and all Luke-related questions will be answered in the film itself. Abrams and crew have been secretive when it comes to sharing details surround The Force Awakens, but overly protective when it comes to anything related to what Luke has been up to, spawning hundreds of wild fan theories we can only hope will match the excitement of the actual reveal.
Practical Special Effects
Other than the concern over the Luke storyline, other expectations relate specifically to the making of any new films in the franchise, particularly after the heavy use of CGI in the prequel trilogy as opposed to the practical effects of the original trilogy – something that fans generally didn’t see as an improvement. Part of what made the original films so unique and spectacular was the old school special effects magic that was achieved before CGI was widely available, and fans would like to see some of that magic returned in this latest film installment via more use of such practical effects. On the bright side, Abrams and his crew have openly commented on working to take a more practical filmmaking approach as seen in the original trilogy, while also taking advantage of today’s technology to ensure Episode VII is as visually pleasing and cutting edge as possible.
Strong Acting and New Characters
Strong and memorable characters were also a part of what made the original films have such staying power. With this new film projecting the Star Wars universe 30 years forward from those originals, fans are expecting to see equally strong and memorable characters in this new generation, starting with the characters of Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren. Speculation is rampant surrounding the familial origins of these three, particularly Rey, as last names are intentionally left out of all promotional materials surrounding them. It’s generally believed that Rey, at least, is the child of either Luke or Leia, as family and legacy have always been main themes in the Star Wars storyline.
To be expected, most expectations lead back to the magic that was the original trilogy, and the expectation that the fight scenes and duels be more than just fast action sequences for the sake of action sequences goes along with that magic. In the original series, characters conversed while they dueled, often forwarding the storyline and providing much needed background information. A return to these epic lightsaber battles would make the majority of the fandom very happy.
Visually Captivating Vehicles and Aerial Battles
Along those same lines, a return to the unique vehicle designs and spectacular aerial battles must be included if this new film is to be deemed worthy of being part of the Star Wars universe. This is the one thing that fans can seem to agree was done well in both the original trilogy and in the prequel trilogy, and nothing less will do for this new set of films. From the X-Wing and TIE Fighters to the prequels podracers, Abrams should have an easy go with this considering their drawing from the past for inspiration.
New Force Powers
The Force has always been one of the main attractions of the Star Wars universe. Us fans continue to tune in to each new installment intrigued by how the Force users will use their powers, for good or evil – so it’s only natural an expectation for this film would include new and expanded Force powers that go beyond use simply as battle tactics. This was the one area that fans found lacking in the earlier films, were the Force was discussed as being all around each of us, but then was only seen in practical use as a tactical strategy.
A Darker Darkside
Along these same lines, as the Force is supposed to encompass both the light and the dark, fans need to see an expansion of the Dark Side mythology in this new film particularly as it seems that, in the 30 years since the end of Return of the Jedi, the universe really hasn’t changed all that much. There is also the notion that just one wrong compromise or a slip in perspective could lead down to the dark, and fans want to see the Darkside do just think and return to a place where its ideals are wildly seductive. While names and leaders have changed, there still seems to be a rebel force fighting against a new version of the empire, and recent trailers have indicated a connection between Kylo Ren and Darth Vader bringing what Ren and his Knights are doing with their abilities into question.
All in all, fans seem hopeful that the highly anticipated theatrical release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will satisfy the demands of even the most avid fan. In the meantime, for those who can’t wait until December 18th, fans can catch a variety of Stars Wars spin-offs on demand (more info) or through streaming platforms to help ease the withdrawal pains.