A blog about Star Wars and especially about my thoughts and ideas and musings as we wait for Episode VII.

onsdag 4. juni 2014

Holy Load of Pictures

The feels!
Oh my, so many set photos leaked this week. At first I thought, "I'm not going to give them a look, I need to be at least a little unspoiled" but that notion was of course drained from the mind immediately. Some very exciting material, of course, though I've always expected her to be back, but there she is, the Millenium Falcon, ready for takeoff (almost). Well, so far that fits what I've been dreaming up in the first scenes, with loner Han Solo (solo) hiding his old beloved hunk of junk in a silo-like structure on a remote world.
I was more surprised to see an X-Wing-like fighter. Does this mean we'll see space combat? Why else fly a fighter? It's not quite an X-Wing, though.
And all the pictures from the Tatooine set were nice to watch, surprisingly few aliens, but that big monster thingy is nice, and feels very Star Warsy.
The use of old discarded Ralph McQuarrie designs (from his concept art) is PROMISING, of course. I have a suspicion we'll have the characters come to Tatooine in search of something or someone (Luke Skywalker? The remains of the Lars family so they can finally get a proper burial?), it seems like the only plausible way to include that same old tired dust ball yet again.

Exciting times, indeed.

lørdag 31. mai 2014

Scenes I - VII

Aaawright, I've been toying with Scrivener, writing up the first draft of the first seven (short) scenes of "my" Star Wars: The Dark Legacy. The beginning went in a totally different direction than I had originally intended, because since I first began to dream of a seventh story in the saga, rumor has it that Han Solo is an important piece of the story line. I've gone away from my initial thoughts of exploring the Force and the ghost-thingy to rethinking it into a simpler storyline that has more in common with the original Star Wars with perhaps a dash of the drama of The Empire Strikes Back. After all, those are the two actually excellent films in the saga, right? In fact, if there's no Force ghosts in the sequel trilogy I'd be more than happy. I always thought the concept one of the weakest parts of the original trilogy (and they actually managed to weaken the weakest part in the prequels but that's another story). No, I believe now that Star Wars VII shouldn't concern itself overly with the grand mythology of the saga - instead, keep the esoteric parts under lid, like it was done in the first two films. It's there, but not in your face. No need for long, boring speeches while walking around in CGI-lit hallways of nothingness. Action and adventure, those are the things a Jedi crave!

Anyway, here are seven scenes in chronological order to start off Star Wars VII: The Dark Legacy. I am not saying this is well written material but the core idea is in place, which is: Two young characters arrive on desolate planet to seek and find the legendary captain Han Solo.  I haven't thought of an opening crawl yet. In this first rough vision, which I admit lacks a little bit color and zest, there is one wink to a line spoken by Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back ("Yeah, you're a real hero") and even that I feel is taking it too far (can you imagine how I felt with the endless nods and winks in the prequels)? I am also not sure about the whole "...father" reveal, which I guess is quite warsy, but also silly. Now, I know I don't know how they will re-introduce Solo in the actual film, but I think it would be a good choice if Han and Leia parted, thus setting up a plot line where they can find back to each other again. It's at least better than just having them happily married the last thirty years. While strolling the CGI-lit hallways of nothingness. ANYWAY, what do you think? If something like this occurred before your eyes in the cinema at the end of next year, would you be groaning with agitation or moaning with pleasure? Or something in between? I feel the weakest part right now is the last part, where Han is revealed to be Han; the dialogue feels stiff and unnatural; I need to think of a good way to introduce these characters to each other; it should be obvious that the two young ones hold no high ideas about their father, think of him as a loser who ran away on their mother, which could be another layer to the story - Han Solo gaining the acceptance of his kids...I don't know. All this family stuff tends to become icky and dramatic (and not necessarily in a good way). It sure has to be brief so we can get to the lasers and the starships and the planet hopping.

Against the backdrop of space, the familiar title crawl appears to the music of John Williams.
STAR WARS
EPISODE VII
THE DARK LEGACY

[Here comes the title crawl]

The camera pans sideways to reveal a string of planetoids of various colors and patterns.
From below, a small starcraft zips into view, following a trajectory that takes it along the planetoids.
A closer look reveals that the spacecraft is a Scimitar class shuttle, an improved design based on the Lambda class shuttle seen in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. It is smaller and faster, with red stripes adorning the wings.
It passes the closest (to the camera) of the planetoids as it drifts by and out of view, then moves past the second closest, a grey world with white clouds roiling across the surface.

INT. SCIMITAR-CLASS SHUTTLE
Inside the cockpit, we see two characters, a young man and a young woman. The man is steering the vessel, while the girl is studying a radar screen display. Its red light gives her face an orange glow. She wears a metallic band on her head, with a small antenna attached on one side. The man wears a dark blue jacket. They both have dark brown hair.
ESTEL:
"It must be that one. The red moon."
JAKE:
"You sure?"
ESTEL
(Twitching her mouth as she looks at him)
"Just land on the far side."

EXT. THE RED MOON
The Scimitar-class shuttle lands in a deep, shadowy canyon. Dust whirls. A landing ramp is lowered, and the sound of starting engines can be heard just as the ship's engines' noise fades away.
The young man and the young woman exit the shuttle, leading a speeder bike each. The machines hover at their sides as they strap on their helmets with goggles. Estel wears a dark red pilot suit and a tracking device is strapped to her thigh, with a tube going to a generator strapped to her back.
YOUNG MAN:
"Must be pretty lonely out here, even for him."
YOUNG WOMAN:
"Let's go."


EXT. THE RED MOON CANYON
The two characters race through the canyon on their speeder bikes at dizzying speeds, avoiding natural obstacles as they move close to their target. Several shots show them from different angles as they speed through the dusty, rocky landscape.
ESTEL
(Talking to her companion in a comlink)
"All right, we're close."
JAKE
(Breaks and stops the speeder bike, dust whirling around him)
"Why would he want to live on this forsaken world?"

EXT. THE RED MOON HIDEOUT
The two characters move with stealth through the canyon on foot. The young man looks through a pair of binoculars.
JAKE
"There."
Through the binoculars, we see a structure built into the side of the canyon. A cylindrical building is built half into the rock, with a few windows looking into the canyon. Next to it sits a dilapidated, low building with a rusty roof, a porch, and garbage - mechanical parts mostly - surrounding it all. It looks like no one has lived here for a long time.
ESTEL
(sarcastic)
"What a beautiful place..."
JAKE
"Wait, there's someone there."
Through the binoculars, we see someone moving on the porch, hidden by the shadows. A pair of brown, tattered boots resting on the porch fence now move away.
(V.O.) ESTEL
"Is it him?"
The young man is about to reply, when a laser is shot from the porch toward them, hitting a stalagmite near the man. They scramble for cover, surprised.
JAKE
"I wouldn't be surprised."

EXT. THE RED MOON HIDEOUT

The stranger in the shadows of the porch takes a step forward - the silhouette of a man peering toward where the two characters are hiding. We see the man from behind, with longish gray hair and a dusty poncho, holding a blaster rifle in his hands, aiming toward the two characters.
THE STRANGER
"Come out so I can see you."
The two young characters come forward, hands in the air. The stranger puts one arm on the porch rail. His jaw comes out in the light, revealing a scar below the lips.
THE STRANGER
"I don't like trespassers on my property."
ESTEL
"We are looking for a hero."
THE STRANGER
"Go see the neighbors. They live on the next planet. Maybe they've got a hero hidden on their farm."
JAKE
"Mister, with all due respect..."
The two young characters move slowly, carefully, toward the man on the porch. He wears a wide-brimmed hat shadowing his face. A couple of empty bottles lie on the porch at his feet. The stranger raises his rifle again. The two young characters stop in their tracks.
THE STRANGER
"There are no heroes on this ball of dust."
ESTEL
"A war hero, who helped destroy the galactic Empire."
THE STRANGER
"You're off your boosters."
JAKE
"You are hiding a ship in there, aren't you?"
The young man nods toward the silo-like structure next to the cabin. The stranger shakes his head.
ESTEL
"We are looking for a ship called the Millenium Falcon. We tracked it here."
JAKE
"It's captain was a man named Han Solo."
The stranger takes a step back, lowers his rifle. He stares, dumbfounded, at the tracking device Estel carries. There is a moment of silence. A gust of wind blows dust and debris through the canyon.
THE STRANGER
"Never heard of him."
JAKE
"Can we come up or are you going to shoot us down, mister?"
THE STRANGER
"Maybe I won that ship in a game."
YOUNG WOMAN
"Maybe you did."
THE STRANGER
"I don't understand how you could track her but..."
Suddenly, rocks and pebbles burst forth from the earth, and a slimy rock-burrowing worm with stone-like scales erupts to attack the two young characters. A tentacled mouth opens toward them. Before they can react, the man on the porch fires his rifle twice, shooting the monster in the head and it disappears down the hole it came from.

THE STRANGER
"You're in their territory."
ESTEL
"T-thank you. We didn't know..."
THE STRANGER
"Come up here."
JAKE
"You sure know how to shoot, mister."
They take the creaking steps up to the porch, and finally get a good look at the old man with the rifle. It is Han Solo, captain of the Millenium Falcon...but he is not looking his best.
HAN SOLO
"Lots of rockworm in these parts."
Han sits down in a rickety chair, puts his boots back up on the porch railing, pulls the hat back on his brow.
HAN SOLO
"Now tell me, how were you able to track the Falcon, and who sent you?"
ESTEL
"A woman from your past sent us."
HAN SOLO
(grinning)
"I've known a lot of women. You've got to be more specific."
JAKE
"You loved her. And then you left her."
Han Solo's eyes widen as realization dawns on him.
HAN SOLO
"Leia! Leia sent you?"
ESTEL
"She needs this man's help. You sure you don't know a Han Solo hiding out on this planet?"
HAN SOLO
"I guess I do."
Han Solo gestures with a shrug and holding out his arms, and Estel and Jake realize that this man is the one they have been looking for.
ESTEL
"Did you know that after you left her, she learned that she was pregnant?"
Han Solo looks confused, scratches his head, and the hat falls off.
JAKE
"She gave birth to twins."
ESTEL
"A boy and a girl."
Han Solo's eyes widen.
HAN SOLO
"She would have told me..."
ESTEL
"Maybe she realized that the man she loved wouldn't take the responsibility."
JAKE
"A real hero."
ESTEL
"But now she has no choice. Only you can help her. Please....father."


This deal is getting worse all the time

So, it's been a while since I posted anything here, but that doesn't mean I haven't been following the rumors, tidbits et al concerning Star Wars VII. In a way I am as obsessed now as I was in the years during the theatrical re-releases and the hype leading up to The Phantom Menace, and I hate myself for falling in the trap again.

Over the last couple of weeks there have been a few small leaks that all have made me less hopeful for a good seventh episode, an episode in the mold of the original trilogy rather than the prequel trilogy. The illusion began to shatter with the location shown in the J.J. Abrams 'Force for Change' video which looked more like a set from The Phantom Menace than something from the original trilogy. That's not too bad, of course, as long as the characters and story are awesome.

But in comes a smattering of, what I personally deem, horrible ideas that I can only hope are false rumors, but that many claim to be legit. The worst of these is a leaked photo supposedly showing a so-called "Night Sister", from the acrid The Clone Wars series.


Now, I am sure a lot of fans of newer Star Wars material will be delighted if the Night Sisters make an appearance in the film; they might be happy if this is only a character inspired by the "witches of Dathomir". But I never felt that they made sense within the Star Wars galaxy, nor were they interesting. Their increased importance in the cartoon show only made me dislike them more. After Return of the Jedi, there was only one Force-user left in the galaxy, and that was Luke Skywalker. With Leia as a potential apprentice at that time. If these stupid Night Sisters were alive and kicking during the original trilogy and the cartoons, it takes away the poignancy of having Luke be the last of the Jedi. I'm still clinging to the hope that this is just fake crap. ANYWAY, I am filing the Night Sisters under MOST LIKELY CRAP.

Another seemingly confirmed rumor is that there will be a sort of music/dance number. I'm categorizing this one as WORRYING, seeing that such scenes have been pretty much hit and miss, with the Specialized version of Sy Snootles & the Max Rebo Band in Return of the Jedi: Special Edition being absolutely cringe-worthy. Of course, it could be pretty cool, and as for the dancers that have been working on the episode, they might just have been there to perform stunts. I'm filing it under WORRYING for now.

Oh, and there's the rumor they are looking to film in Scotland. Scotland! Now that's a scenic, beautiful, fantastic country and I sincerely hope it's true. I am filing this one under PROMISING.

There has been some confirmation on a stand-alone movie, I am not going to spend time on those here as this is about Episode VII and its sequels, but I'm counting this stuff as WORRYING -.

And just now, there's been a photo leaked showing parts of a Tatooine set (again similar to what we saw in The Phantom Menace, looking like Mos Espa rather than Mos Eisley), seemingly built in England at the Pinewood Studios and not at Abu Dhabi, which is curious. Could JJ Abrams, in that video clip of his, be in England? It looks like the same set, but from a different angle. Go to Star Wars 7 News for pictures.

So, tallying it all up I'm still firmly in the Worried camp. Which I suppose isn't all that strange, considering how the prequel trilogy was like a big fat poisonous fish slapped in the face and the groin.



With the (now old) news that Han Solo will have an important, possibly large, role in VII I have finally realized where I am going with my own vision, which I began in the first posts on this blog, where I started The Dark Legacy with a starcraft flying past a string of planetoids. Now I know who's flying it, and where they are headed, and why.

Look for the first scenes of Star Wars: The Dark Legacy soon :-D

onsdag 21. mai 2014

It's becoming real

Well, holy cow (a shame they didn't make tigers holy instead, that would a) keep the population down on a more normal level and b) they wouldn't be an endangered species now) - with the latest video initiative from J.J. Abrams straight from the first location shooting / set of Episode VII, we have our very first glimpse of the next installment.


Aaaaand it has something Promising, and something Worrying.

PROMISING:
The alien merchant passing by with his cage of chickens looks promising for Abrams' return to rubber mask aliens. Though it moves its neck in a somewhat stiff manner, it feels much more like lifelike than the CGI we had to endure in the prequel trilogy. Also, its design looks much more like Star Wars than the prequel aliens which were, almost all across the board, not very interesting. I get shivers just thinking of some of the stupid designs in the prequel trilogy, like Kit Fisto or that duck-head Jedi, or the Gungans.

WORRYING:
The scenery, a marketplace by the look and feel of it, looks more like Mos Espa (from The Phantom Menace) than Mos Eisley (from Star Wars). Will we have a third "Mos" on the planet? Or is this one of the aforementioned cities on the desert planet? It pretty much has to be Tatooine, it doesn't look different enough to be anywhere else, so I take this video as confirmation that Tatooine is in. And that worries me a little because I've seen that planet more than enough already in five out of six existing films. I hope the writers had some good deliberate reasons for going back there again. So far, though - this scenery gives me more of a The Phantom Menace vibe than anything so far.

mandag 19. mai 2014

A New Rift in the Force?

Dammit, I knew this would happen the moment Episodes VII - IX were announced. It would take over my mind, and I don't like it! Now I am thinking about Star Wars all the damned time again, trying to figure out just how they are going to make it all work, worrying that they will make choices that will hurt my feelings (tongue in cheek, folks, tongue in cheek!) and being annoyed that news is so little forthcoming to the point that people are happy that somebody figured out that the picture of the Ep VII clapperboard was taken at Abu Dabhi or whatever the place is called. And I am back to checking the interwebs many times a day for a new trickle of Ep VII news. It's crazy. Some part of me forgets this will just be a movie, a two hour stretch of moving pictures. Fortunately I am not the only one obsessing over this. I don't have to feel alone. But still. It's crazy I tells you!

From the latest rumors and hearsay I have come to the conclusion that, until proven otherwise, Han Solo is most likely to go out in a blaze of glory in VII; mainly because Ford is being coy about his potential involvement in VIII and IX, really. Not because he, decades ago, had wanted Solo to die in Return of the Jedi. No one signs on for a film just to have a character killed. Better to say "No" in the first place, I suppose.

I'm still considering what a worthwhile plot would be, and as it seems (again, according to rumors and hearsay) that Han Solo will be a "co-lead" along with a trio of younger actors, and Luke and Leia will have important roles as well, that it does seem very likely that the younger actors will indeed portray the offspring of the original trilogy's cast members. I have to admit I am not particularly fond of the concept myself. It was used in the now non-canon 'Expanded Universe' (not that I bothered much with it; I did buy some books in the initial excitement and aftermath of Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire but realized how silly much of it is the moment I read the novella about IG-88 and his adventures with the second Death Star), and so it is one step in the direction of "predictable" (along with "Luke is a Jedi Master now", "Leia tends to the government" and "Han is a space admiral"). Then again, if the pattern of the three trilogies is to be followed through, it pretty much has to be about the next Skywalker, whether it be Luke's son/daughter, or a son/daughter of Leia. Now, if Solo and Organa indeed never made their relationship work (a suggestion I made in my previous post), Leia would be a Skywalker, so there's that.

It's so early yet. There is no game to speak of, little to comment upon. I have a bad feeling about this, not in the least because of the massive and utter disappointments of the prequel films, but it's also early enough for me to be hopeful with the rest of the Star Wars fans. It is kind of interesting to see all those prequel fans (the worldwide prequel fanbase is gathered at theforce.net's forums) being miffed that it seems the production is taking steps to avoid anything prequelly. Now they know how it felt to disagree with the direction of the prequels for us old-time "bashers" as we were called back in the day. Now they can just wish that they could wish away their feelings. Muha! I hope there's nothing that connects the prequels and the new trilogy but I guess there will be something as Lucas was involved with the story treatment. Even though I am cautiously distrusting JJ Abrams I can't imagine any worse than what Lucas did with episodes I-III.

This resurgence of Star Wars obsession also led me to go back in time and revisit some old threads in which I participated back in the day on theforce.net, before I was banned for life (I had a brief return a year or two ago, I guess around october '12 when the announcement was made) but somehow they managed to figure out it was me, even though I had changed IP and all since I was banned in '05. Strange, that. I was banned after having written a long post comparing A New Hope to the prequels to show how and why A New Hope is a much better film. Imagine that, banned over defending the original damned Star Wars. Well, all right, I had been there for years being negative about the prequels (hence the term "basher" for me and the likeminded) so they were probably pretty fed up, but still.

On my main blog Stormsongs I have described how this exact same thing happened to the A Song of Ice and Fire fandom when people turned a critical eye on A Feast for Crows in 2005. That saga's main forums also began banning people for being negative, but they did not even allow for a "Basher's Sanctuary" type thread at all. Now, both theforce.net and westeros.org are sites where, I suppose, only gushing is welcomed; what if new fans should happen upon someone being critical? Not good for business. That is why other forums have sprung up, where freedom of speech is freedom of speech; for talking freely about Ice & Fire you can go to Is Winter Coming?, and for Star Wars, there is Outer Rim Sieges, although it has been deathly quiet there for a while. Hope it picks up now that there's is new stuff to be wary of.

Now I am going to clear my mind of all things Star Wars (it doesn't help that I a) fought with toy lightsabers with my son today and b) played with my vintage collection with my son today) and watch the seventh episode of Game of Thrones Season Four. Look for a review at Stormsongs tomorrow.


søndag 18. mai 2014

Kenobme in the face

So, Star Wars Episode 7 News speculate about Obi-Wan Kenobi having a grand daughter or some such who plays a pivotal role in the next Star Wars - and it seems they think it's just as bad an idea as I think it is. It makes no sense at all, so I am dismissing this as a rumor. But then I think of all the stuff in the prequels that didn't make sense at all and yet it was incorporated into the mythology, and wonder, are they really going to have a Kenobi character in there?
I can't think of one good reason to have a Kenobi in Episode VII that isn't the ghost of Obi-Wan (not that I want Obi-Wan in it, not at all thank you very much - the ghosts is the weakest part of the saga in many ways). Really. It would only be confounding, whether the character is Obi-Wan's granddaughter, niece, sister or aunt or what-have-you. No, I'm not buying it. No Kenobis in VII.

No matter the angle, it will shrink the galaxy even further. It would change Obi-Wan Kenobi's character. And it would muddy the plot because they would have to do some explaining and all that.

Kenobi is a no no!


Expect no less than the unexpected

I think it's safe to say that "everyone" has a vision of what Star Wars VII might be like. While Return of the Jedi definitely closed a lot (most) doors, we've had decades worth of Expanded Universe material shaping people's minds.
With this in mind I believe most people have the following vague understanding of where we'll be in the next episode:
Luke Skywalker is a Jedi Master, essentially taking the Obi-Wan Kenobi mentor role; Princess Leia is the boss of the New Republic and married to Han Solo; and Han Solo, then, is married to Princess Leia and is most likely some sort of military officer of high rank, or admiral perhaps (he's not a bad pilot). Chewie still follows Han, and the droids still follow Luke (or maybe See-Threepio's with Leia, though I doubt she would stand having him around for thirty years).

It's all terribly predictable, safe and boring.
I think J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, as the seeming masters of the new tale, need to come up with something more interesting than this. There are no dynamics in the "safe" route described above. Everything's settled. Can't have that in a movie about wars among the stars, right?

Shaking things up right from the get-go, I believe, is a very important matter. Episode VII needs to pull us in right away, go "What?! Cool!" and enjoy the ride. If the film opens with a starship approaching a planet, a hooded guy exits and light a saber, I will be like...Meh. This again.

So what can they do to make things more interesting? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Leia and Han weren't able to make their relationship work after all. They were too different (although Han was radically changed as a character in Return of the Jedi, I think we all agree it's the Han Solo of episodes IV and V we love). Immediately, there is a dynamic back in place, although I suppose its basically just returning to the dynamic of The Empire Strikes Back: Sparks might fly, they might be attracted to each other, but in Episode VII what if they are forced to work together again and they are bickering all the time (and maybe they end up together in IX at last, I don't know). Thing is, it would create a more interesting relationship again and people would be like, awww they didn't make it work, and there would be more interest naturally (I suppose).
  • Luke Skywalker basically dropped the whole Jedi schtick after Return of the Jedi. He'd taken a pretty big dose of lightning from the Emperor, he had to see his father sacrifice himself for the greater good, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda had been lying to him, and he was almost lured into the Dark Side of the Force when he did try to decapitate the Emperor with his lightsaber. What if Luke, instead of going on to build a new Jedi Academy (as the Expanded Universe suggests and which has become imbedded as "true" in many minds), leaves the spotlight to seek solitude, meditating on his life, not daring to train any Jedi (possibly including Leia) for fear of the Dark Side? What if, when Episode VII starts, he doesn't want to have anything to do with galactic politics, knowing how the Jedi failed as the Guardians of the Old Republic? Again, a more interesting dynamic. Someone has to turn him around on this. If the cantina is indeed part of the next episode, I imagine him sitting in a dark corner with a glass of blue...beer...I guess...wasting away his life in fear of doing something wrong (Mark Hamill losing weight and looking better these days is a sign they won't go with this plot line though). Anyway, a morose Luke Skywalker, dealing with his inner demons ("What if I become like my dad? What if I fail any apprentice of mine, like Obi-Wan failed my father?") would be a nice change from the standard idea of him being the übermaster of a new academy full of potential Jedi learners.
  • There never came a restoration of the Republic after Return of the Jedi: The Republic and the Jedi failed in the prequels, and the Empire wasn't a much better alternative for most people; why would people want to go back to yet another galaxy-spanning single government? What if, when Episode VII starts, we've had thirty years of star systems declaring their independence, warlords taking over certain systems, wars raging everywhere between planetary governments ruling as they see fit? The Alliance never managed to reunite the galaxy into one peaceful entity; instead, Princess Leia faces a galaxy torn apart after the fall of the Jedi and the rise and fall of the Emperor. An argument against it could be that after thirty years Leia would most likely have given up trying to rebuild the Republic (and maybe she has). An argument for this development is that it allows for a type story where the galaxy is under threat and only uniting against this threat will leave the heroes a chance to overcome evil (this would give urgency to the plot; "we must unite and stand against this, or we will fail").
  • What if Episode VII opens and Leia is a full-fledged Jedi Knight, having been trained by Luke? That would be a surprise. In this case, Leia and Han not being able to hold on to their relationship would fit as well. However, the more "realistic" you make Luke and Leia and the more Jedi stuff is in there, the less chances are we get a good old fashioned fun space adventure. Luke pondering all the people he killed aboard the first Death Star, or Leia struggling with the trauma of seeing her planet eradicated would be epic stuff in a sense, but it's not really what Star Wars is about. Its larger than life in all respects, and there's no time for deep character introspection in this sense. 
  • What if the new generation of actors aren't children of Han and Leia, or Luke, or Lando, or whoever at all? They're just a new bunch of characters. I played with this idea as a game master for West End Games' Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition when the player characters were all part of a "speeder bike gang", not related to any of the main characters of Star Wars but getting involved anyway. The EU had Han and Leia producing children, but the sequel trilogy certainly doesn't have to do the same, right?
  • Everyone and their personal gonk droid seem to think that the Sith will return. This speculation only ramped up when Max von Sydow was announced as playing a part in VII. What if the Sith are truly gone, as the six existing movies certainly suggest? Abrams would need some other kind of opposition, and I am sure that with a little creativity that could be done. I'm fond of the "warlord" concept myself, that is, planets ruled by individual warlords with no interest in the greater good of the galaxy. You could have a variety of such characters and none of them would have to be Sith, and it would still feel like Star Wars. The main threat could be Luke's struggle with the Dark Side and the legacy of his father, thus keeping the throughline of the Force vs the Dark Side of the Force, without the need for more Sith characters, stretching the story's credibility. 
  • Have Andy Serkis play an actual character looking like himself, no motion capture. That would surprise a lot of people who expect Gollum to rampage about the Millenium Falcon next year.
  • Taking cues from Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Abrams and Kasdan could finish the remaining points of the Hero's Journey for Luke Skywalker to keep the story's mythological underpinnings, then twist one of the tropes around to have us all go WTF!!! Awesomety high five!!!1
  • I feel they definitely should look for more, different influences from other types of stories. I mean, if you look through the six films you'll find a lot of elements from other genres done in Star Wars style: you have stuff like smugglers and pirates (Han Solo), wild west themes (bounty hunters, desert frontier towns), romance (Han/Leia), mysticism (The Force, Jedi/Sith), mafia/crime (Obi-Wan's investigations in EpII that most horrid of movies, Jabba the Hutt); old-fashioned swashbuckling; mythology (King Arthur), fantasy (lots of Lord of the Rings-influences, really); Star Wars is a blend of so many things. Find elements not used before to expand the canvas and surprise us. 
  • And so on, and so forth...