One of the most closely-guarded secrets of the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII is, of course, is its story – and, most especially, its villains.
With Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One, having fulfilled his destiny of destroying the Dark Lords of the Sith in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, what direction could director J.J. Abrams and his screenwriting partner, Lawrence Kasdan, take things in? If there’s no Sith for the Jedi to fight, where’s the underlying drama of the story? It’s like taking cowboys away from the Indians or the Mafia out of The Sopranos.
Well, thanks to Making Star Wars, we may just know.
(Needless to say, possible spoilers follow. Read at your own discretion!)
Always two, there are
Before we get there, though, it’s worth looking into the role that Star Wars’s villains have played in the film series. Much more than the overarching Sith Lords, each individual movie has had its own dedicated duality: an action-oriented, typically scarily-clad baddy that serves as that installment’s primary antagonist and his secretive, mystical overseer who is busy pulling all the strings behind the scenes.
While it may sound rather formulaic – though, to be fair, Star Wars certainly can be that – it’s proven to be a remarkably dynamic concept, producing many different dramatic outcomes across all six films:
- Episode I – Darth Maul/Darth Sidious
- Episode II – Jango Fett/Darth Tyranus
- Episode III – General Grievous/Darth Sidious
- Episode IV – Darth Vader/Grand Moff Tarkin
- Episode V – Boba Fett/Darth Vader
- Episode VI – Darth Vader/Darth Sidious
If early rumors are to be believed, it seems that Episodes VII through IX will certainly continue this tried-and-tested trend.
Up to bat: “Jedi Hunters”
According to Making Star Wars’s sources, Episode VII’s crew is referring to the new baddies as “Jedi Hunters.” Described as “scary individuals, dressed in black, some helmeted, that hunt Jedi for the Empire,” they seem – at least, on the surface – to pick up where Darth Maul and the Fetts have left off.
The fact that these Hunters are expected to use lightsabers certainly helps fill out their action credentials, though it does present something of a narrative challenge: how can anyone but a Jedi Knight or a Sith Lord use such a weapon?
Yes, General Grievous managed to wield a saber (or four), but the explanation crafted by Revenge of the Sith’s filmmakers made that something of an extended circumstance. Will Abrams et al be heading down the path of half-alien/half-cybernetic being once again? (The fact that Making Star Wars compares the Hunters’ legions of troops to Grievous’s MagnaGuards would seem to say so.)
Of course, the site is careful to point out that its sources haven’t actually read the script – apparently, only a select few have at this point – so all this information should be taken with a huge grain of salt.
The still-untitled Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters on December 18, 2015. It stars returning cast members Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker and newcomers John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, Max von Sydow, Adam Driver, and Andy Serkis.