By RYAN NAKASHIMA
Darth Vader is dead. The evil Emperor exploded after being thrown down a shaft. And Luke Skywalker and his allies destroyed both Death Stars, restoring balance to the Force. For The Walt Disney Co., the prospective new owner of the “Star Wars” franchise, what’s left to tell?
A lot, apparently.
There are more than 110 novels and 80-plus comic books set after the events of “Return of the Jedi,” the sixth episode in the film series and the third to be made. All of these additions to the so-called “expanded universe” were sanctioned by Lucasfilm Ltd., founded by series creator George Lucas.
That has left a lot of room for speculation ever since Disney announced last month that it would buy Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and resume making “Star Wars” movies, starting with Episode 7 in 2015.
For fans, some big questions remain.
Will Luke take on a Jedi apprentice? Will Han Solo and Princess Leia have kids? And who will be the movies’ villain? (A) A revived Emperor; (B) the hard-to-kill bounty hunter Boba Fett; (C) some new corrupt leader of the remnants of the Empire, or (D), all of the above?
Each of these scenarios has been explored in some fashion away from the big screen. Whether they will be incorporated into the next trilogy of films is anyone’s guess.
“Right now, everyone is literally just reading tea leaves,” said Bryan Young, a “Star Wars” watcher and editor of the blog, Big Shiny Robot.
The facts so far about the announced Episodes 7, 8 and 9 are scant: Lucas will be a creative consultant but won’t direct the films. Kathleen Kennedy will produce them as president of Lucasfilm. And Oscar-winning writer Michael Arndt, who wrote “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Toy Story 3,” will pen the screenplay for Episode 7.
One of the most telling clues as to the next trilogy’s direction is the fact that Lucas invited Luke actor Mark Hamill and Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher to lunch some time ago. That suggests that Luke and on-screen sister Leia, will be involved in some way in the sequel.