Even before Disney and Lucasfilm officially announced the cast of the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII, most of us expected that the big three from the original trilogy—Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford)—would be back for more adventures in a galaxy far, far away. We heard rumblings and rumors to that effect, and just days before the studios confirmed the return, all three were reported to be in London, where the bulk of the filming is scheduled to go down. None of us were terribly shocked with that part of the casting announcement, but what we were curious about was how big a role that they will play, and now we may have at least a partial answer.
Entertainment Weekly reports that while all three will play “significant” parts in the continuing action, Han Solo will have a big enough role that he is being considered a co-lead. When J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan took over the writing duties from Michael Arndt—this is one of the reasons why production was delayed—reports were that one of the things they changed was to beef up the role of the original stars, which has also now been confirmed. With Han’s natural leadership skills and charisma, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the thick of whatever drama is going on 30 years after Return of the Jedi.
It’s good to know that Han, Luke, and Leia will be an important part in Episode VII. There are a lot of things wrong with the prequels, but one of them is that they lack much connection to Episodes IV, V, and VI. There are links to be sure—R2-D2, C-3P0, and Obi-Wan all appear—but this move will go a long way towards sucking in the existing fans and keeping them on board. I still hold the theory that Han, Leia, and Luke will play a bigger role in this film at the same time it introduces us to the next generation, and then move forward with new additions in the later films. If they intend the original stars to be significant pieces of the puzzle beyond this movie, you’d think they would line up more than one movie at a time. After all, they’re getting up there in age—Ford is 72—and they may not be up for such intergalactic adventures for that much longer. Then again, I could be completely and totally wrong, it wouldn’t be the first time.
And perhaps Episode VII even has a title, or at least a working title. Recent reports state that the production is currently referring to the film as The Ancient Fear. Reaction to that moniker hasn’t been particularly positive, but considering it is probably going to change, there’s no use getting our collective panties in a bunch.
Star Wars: Episode VII, whatever it is subtitled, opens everywhere December 18, 2015.