This is it: the hype machine for Star Wars: Episode VII officially kicked into gear today. It’ll be a wild ride for the next 20 months, so I thought I’d outline some of the known milestones coming up…
On Star Wars Day (i.e. this Sunday) we’ll get the first full trailer for Rebels at StarWars.com. Set five years before Star Wars: A New Hope, this new animated series will harken back to the look and feel of the original Star Wars trilogy.
Here’s the Rebels theme, for those who are curious:
On 14th May we’ll get to read the first issue of Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir, a four-issue comic miniseries that picks up where the Darth Maul episodes of The Clone Wars left off. Not only will it be the first piece of Star Wars canon to be released since the rebooting of the expanded universe, it’ll also possibly be the final piece of prequel-era material to be released for quite some time. When the final issue is released in August, it’ll mark the closing of a 15 year chapter in Star Wars media as the prequel era takes a hiatus.
On 2nd September, A New Dawn will be released. This is a canon novel acting as a prequel to Rebels, detailing the initial friendship of two of the main characters from the series: former Jedi Padawan Kanan Jarrus and Twi’lek pilot Hera Syndulla. (Note that Cham Syndulla was a Twi’lek freedom fighter in The Clone Wars.) A New Dawn will be written by John Jackson Miller in collaboration with Rebels executive producers Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg and Greg Weisman as well as the Lucasfilm Story Group.
Around the release of A New Dawn, Rebels will premiere on the Disney Channel in a one-hour debut, with the series proper moving to Disney XD. We’ll be getting weekly doses of TIE fighters, stormtroopers, Star Destroyers and Ralph McQuarrie-inspired animation for around six months… and that’s just the first season!
In addition to new episodes of Rebels, in November we’ll also get Tarkin, a novel in the new canon. Written by James Luceno, the novel provides backstory for the character Grand Moff Tarkin from Star Wars: A New Hope and The Clone Wars. Tarkin, like all novels in the new canon, will be written in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group.
In January 2015 we’ll get the novel Heir to the Jedi, an apparently lighthearted tale about Luke Skywalker, set between Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The novel is being written by Star Wars newcomer Kevin Hearne and was planned as part of the Empire and Rebellion trilogy (which was presumably conceived as a whole with the Story Group, though now two-thirds of the series will be apocryphal—if you want a preview of what the new canon will look like, read Razor’s Edge and Honor Among Thieves). Notably, Heir to the Jedi will be written in the first person.
In March 2015 we’ll get Lords of the Sith, a novel by Paul S. Kemp set between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope and featuring Darth Vader, the Emperor and an as-yet unidentified Clone Wars character.
Sometime in 2015, Marvel will start producing comics in the new canon. One can also assume as-yet unannounced novels will be released in May, July, September and November 2015. Will December be reserved for tie-in comics and novels centred on Episode VII? September or October should also see the second season of Rebels kicking off.
And then, on 18th December, 2015 in the U.S., Episode VII will be released. Set roughly 30 years after Return of the Jedi, Episode VII will see Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford returning to the big screen for the first time in 32 years to play Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo respectively, with Han apparently having a large role. Joining them will be classic cast members Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Kenny Baker as R2-D2 and Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca. John Williams will return to score the film and Lawrence Kasdan (co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) will be co-writing the screenplay with director J.J. Abrams, based on a story by George Lucas (and possibly Michael Arndt). Sound designer Ben Burtt, who designed the sounds of everything from the lightsaber hum to the wheeze of Darth Vader, will also be returning.
Episode VII will also feature the following actors:
- Male lead John Boyega, rumoured to be a young Jedi
- Female lead Daisy Ridley, rumoured to be the daughter of Han and Leia
- Lead villain Adam Driver
- Oscar Isaac, rumoured to be a Han Solo-type character
- Andy Serkis, who may or may not be playing a CGI character using performance capture
- Domnhall Gleeson
- Max von Sydow
So there you have it. We’ll be inundated with material set after Revenge of the Sith from September onwards, all culminating in the release of Episode VII in December 2015. Significantly, the new film will be a major “original trilogy” reunion of cast and crew, featuring many people who helped bring magic to the screen in 1977-1983.
I can’t think of a better time than now to be a fan of classic Star Wars.