So I’m as excited about the “Star Wars Episode VII“ trailer as the next huge dork. The story of this year’s “Star Wars” hype has been one thing we didn’t know we’d always wanted until we saw it after another. We still have absolutely no idea what the BB-8 droid is, what it does or what role it plays in the story but people are already incorporating it into Halloween costumes. Characters we’ve never met who have no known connection to the Skywalker/Solo clan have already inspired fans and shippers, much like fans in the 1970s fell in love with the bounty hunter Boba Fett on the strength of a cartoon short and an action figure. (They ended up cruelly disappointed, but that’s neither here nor there.)
This is all enough to make me cautiously optimistic that the “magic” of “Star Wars” might be coming back. The key to the magic coming back is, of course, not getting the sinking feeling that we’re just rehashing the former magic over and over, that we’re not going to get the disastrous Anakin Skywalker backstory obsession of the prequels or the endless Mary Sueing/Gary Stuing of the Skywalker–Solo kids from the old tie-in books.
What gives me hope is the sense that — even if fan theories that Rey or Finn or Jason Isaacs’ Poe Dameron have secret Skywalker blood bear out — these characters are being presented to us as unfamiliar and new. We’re not doing what unimaginative fanfic writers do and filling in perceived blanks in George Lucas’ original story or doing riffs on it, spinning our wheels in the rut that Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars” tie-in properties spent so much time in.