As we approach May the 4th, Star Wars news has been nothing short of eventful. Not only do we know that the Expanded Universe as we knew it is no more, but the cast for Episode 7, the new, canon version of the story of what happened after Return of the Jedi, has also been announced. The cast is nothing short of fantastic, with film accolades to boot. And they’re all set to play brand-new characters in the series. These original characters should not be confused with their Expanded Universe counterparts, as the former will not be influenced by the latter.
But still, we ask what if? What if J.J. Abrams were taking a page out of the Thrawn Trilogy or The New Jedi Order series? Or maybe, if he were a fan of the video games, he’d give Kyle Katarn a chance. Well, in true geek tradition, we fantasize about who the new cast would play if the new film were following the rules of the Expanded Universe. Remember, this is a fictitious list, primarily for nerd purposes.
Adam Driver as Darth Caedus/Jacen Solo
It’s no secret that Driver looks like a villain. Sure, we know him as the weirdly cute boyfriend in HBO’s Girls, but don’t forget that when the show began, he was a little skeevy and menacing. The guy is always sort of a tense force on the screen. Oh, and he’s peculiar looking enough to play the villain. We’d love to see him play Jacen Solo, the eldest son of Han and Leia, on the verge of turning to the Dark Side and continuing the ancient tradition of the Sith. Jacen Solo has been forced to look down at wartorn planets his entire life, death shrouded the galaxy during his time with Uncle Luke’s New Jedi Order. Like a particular Jedi turned Sith before him, Jacen decides to take matters into his own hands. He will use the extent of his Force powers, accessing the darkness hiding behind the light to bring justice to the Republic! Sound familiar? If you haven’t read the Legacy of the Force book series, now is about that time.
Oscar Isaac as Grand Admiral Thrawn
Grand Admiral Thrawn needs no introduction. Not only is he a master strategist, the leader of the Imperial Remnant after the death of the Emperor, he’s also the first big bad to hit the pages of the Expanded Universe after Return of the Jedi. Thrawn led the Remnant in an effort to re-instate the Empire, using force as his greatest weapon. He battled it out with Luke Skywalker and the rest of heroes of the Rebellion in one final effort to retake the galaxy far, far away in Timothy Zahn’s famous Thrawn Trilogy. Of course, we know this wasn’t the end of the matter. The red-eyed Chiss Imperial grand admiral lived on for another two books after the initial trilogy, to terrorize Luke and friends once again.
After Darth Vader and the Emperor, Thrawn is probably the most popular villain in the EU. I can see no one better to play the Grand Admiral than the cunning Oscar Isaac, who can play suave and violent almost at the same time, as we’ve seen in films such as Robin Hood, Drive, and Inside LLewyn Davis. Plus, I’d love to watch the scene where Thrawn’s fleet has fallen, and he’s stuck on Hoth without a winter coat, carrying a space cat.
Max von Sydow as Joruus C’baoth
No, not the legendary Jedi Master that led Outbound Flight during the days of the Galactic Republic. We mean the crazed Dark Jedi clone C’baoth, who was created by Emperor Palpatine to guard the Imperial storehouse (a secret high-tech weapons cache) on Wayland. C’baoth was the first Force user introduced after the Return of the Jedi, famously represented on the cover of Heir to the Empire, the first book in the Thrawn Trilogy. Joruus C’baoth was mad with power, unable to control his Force abilities, driven mad by them. After the Emperor fell, Admiral Thrawn tried to tame the Dark Jedi and make him a part of his cause against Skywalker and friends, but it was too late.
C’baoth was a lunatic, leaking Force energy everywhere he went. He had to be put down. Now, if this isn’t a role von Sydow, frequent Ingmar Bergman star, was born to play, then we don’t know what. Just think about his performance in Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf, and then get back to us.
Daisy Ridley as Jaina Solo
By the end of this list, the original three Solo kids will represented. Why? Because the Solo kids have been so instrumental in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe that it’s hard to think of a storyline without them. Especially the Yuuzhan Vong War in The New Jedi Order series, where all of their lives irrevocably change, sent surging towards their fates in later books. That sounds cataclysmic, but that’s pretty much how it happened. None of the Solo kids really get happy endings (that’s not a spoiler anymore, is it?). Maybe it’s the nature of the galaxy they live in, where the dark has so often beat out the light. Jaina probably has the best ending, if that includes surviving a duel against his Sith brother, and outliving his baby brother. She’s a survivor, though. Not only is she a Jedi, but she’s also a pretty awesome fighter pilot. Time and time again, she’s been thrust into galactic conflict, into situations that will undoubtedly end in her doom.
Yet, the Expanded Universe looks kindly on young Jaina. She’s the Solo that lives. Not much to say about Daisy Ridley in this role except that she’s about the right age, and looks the part. Abrams would probably want an unknown actress to play the unspoken hero the Sequel Trilogy.
Domhnall Gleeson as Corran Horn
One of the best parts of the Expanded Universe is that there’s a New Jedi Order, led by Luke Skywalker. That means tons of adventures, lightsaber duels, superpowers, and, of course, the occasional fall to the dark side. Some of the big names that come to mind from Skywalker’s Jedi are Kyp Durron, Ganner Rhysode, Kyle Katarn, and Corran Horn. The latter was once a great X-Wing pilot, a vital part of Rogue Squadron, the legendary wing led by Wedge Antilles in name of the Rebellion, and later, the New Republic. Horn soon embraces his Force sensitivity, and learned the ways of the Jedi. Fighting through countless conflicts, Horn is one of those supporting characters (very rarely the protagonist) that the EU can’t let go of. Probably because he’s one of those overall good guys, never really succumbing to the dark side. Instead, he lives a virtuous life with his family (Luke Skywalker’s Jedi can have those) and on the Jedi Council.
Time and time again, the Jedi are challenged by a new, deadly enemy, but Corran Horn’s faith in the Force never really falters (unlike most Force users in the EU). Why Domhnall Gleeson? Probably because they kind of look alike. The main point is that we definitely want to see one guy that resembles Yoda as a strong force for good.
John Boyega as Anakin Solo
Before you point out the obvious, we’ll retort: the Star Wars universe is more clever than that. It can come up with a million ways to unspool an origin story, and so can J. J. Abrams. We’re not going to say this isn’t one of the most far-fetched castings on the list, but where there are two Solo kids, there should be the third. Anakin Solo is one of the best characters in the EU, perhaps due to the mystery surrounding him. Throughout the books, you get that sense that Anakin Solo is bigger than what’s happening on the page, the events in his life, and the people around him.
He’s often the most spiritual of the characters in the stories, on par with Simon from Lord of the Flies. While his siblings are busy fighting wars, adventuring, or being tortured, Anakin is questioning (maybe something he inherited from Grandpa?) the nature of the Force. In true martyr fashion (and we introduce the Simon comparison once again), a character as good as Anakin can’t live. For all his goodness, he has the one thing that made his grandfather a unique Jedi: a sense of duty on the verge of recklessness. And he pays for it, but all to save his comrades during the Yuuzhan Vong War. John Boyega is a young, charismatic actor that could absolutely play Anakin Solo. If you’ve seen Attack the Block, then you know Boyega has the presence to pull off the role.
Andy Serkis as Nom Anor/Droma/Desann
Serkis is going to play a motion capture role, right? That’s an assumption, but it’s a fairly good one. It’s a good opportunity to get some more aliens in the cast. There really weren’t any in past movies that played pivotal roles…I can only really think of Chewbacca, Yoda, and Jar Jar Binks. Oh, and there’s Ewoks, if you want it that way. Why not add another alien character that’s as meaningful to the series as Chewbacca and Yoda? Nom Anor and Droma are both from The New Jedi Order series, but fought on opposite sides of the conflict. Nom Anor is a scheming Yuuzhan Vong secret agent that turns his back on his own people by series’ end. Although the guy seems loyal to the cause, he’s really watching his own hide. And all those years of secret agent work have really paid off. Oh, and Nom Anor looks vicious as hell, so it would be cool to see Andy Serkis bring some life to this capable villain. Droma the Ryn, on the other hand, becomes Han Solo’s #2 during the Yuuzhan Vong War after the death of…Well, you get the picture.
Droma is observant, insightful, and loyal. He helps fill the giant space left behind by Solo’s lovable fury companion. It would be nice to see Serkis play a good guy every once in a while. Finally, the one-off villain Desann, the main antagonist from Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast, the beloved action-adventure game. Desann is a Chistori (which pretty much looks like a civilized dinosaur) Dark Jedi that was once Luke Skywalker’s apprentice before falling to the dark side and joining the Empire Reborn movement, a scheme to bring back the Empire with an army of Force users. Desann’s main quest is to hone the power of the Valley of the Jedi, a place full of immense Force energy, and destroy the New Jedi Order. He gets pretty damn close, too, until Kyle Katarn, mercenary turned Jedi, kicks his butt in the Jedi Temple on Yavin 4. Serkis as a Dark Jedi purple reptile? Yes.