The first film in the new Star Wars trilogy, The Force Awakens, won't be about for another year, but you can see the trailer today. It's got rolling droids, Storm Troopers, X-Wings, and a nifty new lightsaber. It's great. Really, really great.
Watch it below:
Low-flying X-Wings on a misty river. Yes.
I've been somewhat skeptical about this project. Another trilogy? By J.J. Abrams? The same guy whose last film was an awful Star Trek reboot sequel? But I'm slowly being won over.
I suspect part of the reason is that, in contrast to the last Star Wars trilogy, the filmmakers and producers are actually paying attention to the audience this time around. They're aware that the prequels were poorly received, and that fans are skeptical. Part of that is the transition in creative leadership. The prequels were made by George Lucas, the creator of the original trilogy, who, with a few exceptions, often seemed uncomfortable with, if not outright dismissive of, the incredibly intense fanbase that grew up around his creation. And the prequels reflected that; watching them, you often got the sense that Lucas didn't really want to make the movies, but that if he was going to make them, he was going to make them his way, giving the fans what he was interested in.
Since then, the Star Wars universe has been sold to Disney, which isn't bound up in the same sort of decades-old creator/fan relationship as Lucas. So you get a more straightforward, confident attempt to give fans something they might actually want to see, rather than, as with the prequels, something that the creator thought they should see. In some sense, the Star Wars franchise, which helped create both modern fandom and the contemporary Hollywood blockbuster, has been handed off to the fans. Yes, it's been bought by a giant corporate entertainment behemoth, determined to make as much money off the brand as possible, but the people involved in the film all grew up in a fan and film universe shaped by Star Wars, and the key creators on the new trilogy are all Star Wars geeks. They've all seen Star Wars invaded and shaped pop culture, and at this point they probably have a better sense of why it works and why people love it than Lucas does.
As with The Avengers franchise, what you're seeing here is a sort of pop-culture transfer of power to fans—or at the very least, a recognition that as these series and franchises have grown up and expanded and become part of the pop culture firmament, fans have become part of the story too.