In 1991 Timothy Zahn published "Heir to the Empire" the first Star Wars work to further the adventures of Luke, Han, and Leia in the era after Episode VI. It was met with enthusiasm and excitement and quickly became a fan favorite, and New York Times Best Seller, not only for renewing interest in our galaxy far, far away but for introducing the fanbase to a new character named "Mara Jade." So will Mara make her big screen debut in Episode VII? Jump aboard to find out . . .
Back on April 25th, 2014 StarWars.com released an Official Announcement about Star Wars canon moving forward:
In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will NOT tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. (Emphasis mine.)
With this one release, what everyone suspected became officially official -- the Expanded Universe will be over-written. A collective gasp rang out as many die-hard EU fans "felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced." Yes, the EU as we knew it has died. This article is not the place to debate the pros or cons of such a decision as that war rages-on across the internets as I type. I will say this -- Chewbacca LIVES!!! And for that I am most thankful!
So we know Chewie lives, but what about some of the other fan favorites that have emerged from the EU? What about "Jacen" and "Jaina Solo?" What about their little brother "Anakin?" What about "Ben Skywalker?" Or "Grand Admiral Thrawn?" What will become of Mara Jade? And therein lies the crux of this article -- Will Mara Jade be in Star Wars: Episode VII?
Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, as the saying goes. Thus, before we look ahead let us look back at some Star Wars history to see if it sheds light on our present and future . . .
A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away a young filmmaker named George Lucas made a little film called THX-1138. Oh, wait, wrong film. He, obviously, made Star Wars. Perhaps you heard of it? Anyway, Star Wars started out as one film, but George had so much material that he eventually broke it into 3 films. Many websites chronicle the history of this, but none are more thorough than The Secret History of Star Wars:
Prevue: How many pages, do you recall?
Lucas: A little over 200 pages. It was like a worm. I cut it in half and both halves got to be as long as the original.
Prevue: That's about twice as long as most ordinary screenplays.
Lucas: Yes it is. Most screenplays run about 100 or 110 pages. That was my second screenplay. I decided it was too long. It covered too much material, and what was in the script wasn't really filled out enough. It was too episodic and too fragmented. So I took the screenplay and divided it into three stories, and rewrote the first one.
As Star Wars became insanely successful George began talking about as many as twelve films!
There is an element of some mystery surrounding the fourth "trilogy" that was once attached to the Star Wars. Lucas today denies that he had any plans or story for the third trilogy (Episodes VII-IX), which isn't the case, but we can do one better: what was the story for Episodes X, XI, and XII?
Am I crazy? If you've read Secret History of Star Wars you will know what I am referring to--in early 1978, it was announced in Time that there were twelve Star Wars films in the franchise. This isn't a typo; Lucasfilm referenced them frequently in publications such as Bantha Tracks from 1978 to 1980, and Lucas himself even addresses them in the May 1980 issue, stating he had limited the series to nine films instead.
The twelve episode saga was backed-up by Dale Pollock who, while researching Lucas for his biography, was shown the outlines for the infamous twelve episodes.
This is what Pollock had to say about the outlines:
“It was originally a 12-part saga,” Pollock told TheWrap. “The three most exciting stories were 7, 8 and 9. They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters. I remember thinking, ‘I want to see these 3 movies.’”
And, all things being equal, Pollock and the rest of the world will see those films! Whether or not there will be nine or twelve is a matter for another time and perhaps article. For now, we want to know -- What did George intend for Episodes VII, VIII & IX, after all the scripts are based on his treatments?
In 1983 George described the thematic structure of the Sequel Trilogy like this:
"The sequel focuses mainly on Luke, and Lucas says Mark Hamill will have first crack at the part if he is old enough. "If the first trilogy is social and political and talks about how society evolves," Lucas says, "Star Wars is more about personal growth and self-realisation, and the third deal with moral and philosophical problems. In Star Wars, there is a very clear line drawn between good and evil. Eventually you have to face the fact that good and evil aren't that clear-cut and the real issue is trying to understand the difference. The sequel is about Jedi knighthood, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned." [Denise Worrell, Icons:Intimate Portraits p. 186]
In Starlog magazine, Issue 127, February 1988, George is interviewed and asked the following question:
Starlog: Why didn't you give Luke a girl?
Lucas: You haven't seen the last three yet.
Clearly this is a reference to his intention to give Luke Skywalker a female companion. I say "companion" because even George wasn't sure anyone would be "married" in Star Wars. Again, from Worrell's Icons:
"In the sequel Luke would be a sixty-year-old Jedi knight. Han Solo and Leia would be together, although Lucas says, "They might be married, or not. We have never actually discussed marriage in this galaxy. I don't even know if it exists yet. Who knows what relationship they will have? I mean, they're together, let's put it that way."
In the same issue of Starlog we read:
Luke would have a romantic relationship with a female love interest. Bill Warren. "George Lucas: Father of the Force". Starlog #127, February 1988.
We know from the Prequels that Jedi were forbidden from love and marriage and kids. But we all saw how that turned out for the "fighting monks." And of course Luke is pretty much free to re-build the Jedi Order in his image, begging many questions like: Can Jedi be married (if such a thing exists)? Can they have children? How many Padawans can they train? When does training begin? And so on and so forth.
Let us focus on the concept of marriage here for a second. When George gave that interview to Starlog magazine he was still pretty fresh off his devastating divorce in 1983. It is understandable that he would be pretty ambivalent at best and bitter at worst toward the institution of marriage, not even to mention the fact that it's mired in Earthly traditions that Lucas' humans probably don't adhere to. At the time, his hero, his avatar, Luke Skywalker perhaps never found love in his mind. But now George is happily married, one would presume, and it seems logical that Luke, too, could find love. We all know that as Jedi Master his "passing on what he has learned" has nothing to do with familial ties and everything to do with those potential Jedi strong in the Force, but wouldn't it make sense for Luke to pro-create as a way to re-build the Jedi Order and pass on what he has learned? So does Luke Skywalker have a mate?
In answer to that question I'll simply present some facts and RUMORS, and let you decide.
The first, and perhaps most telling piece of evidence is an article that Viral Hide posted back on April 11th, 2014 -- Karen Gillan cut her RED HAIR for Guardians of the Galaxy and this is what she had to say about it:
Was it just very liberating to shave your head, or did you have any moments of tears while they were doing it?
No, I was laughing hysterically. It really hit me when I woke up the next morning. That’s when I was like, “Oh, my god, where’s my hair?!” But also, everyone kept me in good spirit. Everyone was laughing and telling jokes. Marvel are the best company to work for, they really are. They treat you really well. They made my hair into the most incredible well-made wig and they gave it to the Star Wars people. It’s just so funny to think that my hair is made into a wig, next to all these Star Wars monster heads in a warehouse. I thought that was really funny.
I posted this bit in the Darth Plagueis article, but it also applies here as well since the entertainment industry is all about synergy:
"Hasbro has been directed by Lucasfilm, Ltd. to avoid the Expanded Universe like the plague. Not only is it next to impossible that we'll see a brand new Expanded Universe figure in the near future, older and hard to find figures will NEVER see re-release either.
Hasbro said, and I quote, to "not expect to ever see Jaina Solo or Jacen Solo or any other older Comic Packs figure re-released in any way to get out to collectors."
However, the one figure from the EU -- Plagueis is CANON -- that was released as part of the current "Black Series" is Mara Jade as seen here:
According to a source, who may or may not be legit, this was done because she WILL be in Episode VII and all other EU figures were pulled because of two reasons -- they're either obsolete as the EU is over-written or they will be incorporated into the saga and Disney attempts to keep it a surprise. It seems to us, quite obvious, that if they continue to authorize the release of certain figures then it is because Disney/LFL intends them to become canon. However, note that the figure released is a young version of Jade, the reason for which will become apparent later.
A while ago there were some rumblings that Disney could incorporate characters from the EU as "templates," for lack of a better description, but give them different names. We've also received contradictory tips that some of the EU characters that Disney incorporates WILL KEEP their names. This is welcome news as several of the important EU characters like Mara Jade, the Solo twins and Ben Skywalker are endeared favourites. While I agree that changing a lot of EU characters will be necessary if only to divorce the movies from the EU and not have to stick to the characters that were created therein, in the case of Mara Jade it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense that they would keep her red hair for instance. Why not change it? It also doesn't make sense to make a figure for her if you're going to change her name. In my opinion I think Mara Jade will be one of the only EU characters Disney keeps as an almost perfect 1 to 1 translation. In this case Mara has too much history and too many devoted fans for them to just change-her-up for the sake of changing-her-up. By keeping her intact they don't really have to "introduce" her.
And speaking of "introductions" we've received contradictory rumors from a couple different sources. Of course, these rumors should be taken with a hearty dose of salt at this stage and we're all just trying to get the facts straight. With that in mind, the original report was that Mara Jade would be appearing in Rebels and then Episode VII, but lately we've been hearing that she will be introduced in Episode VII before Rebels. According to this source the actress who will be playing Mara Jade is supposed to be a BIG surprise and in fact has to cover up when coming and going from the sets so as NOT to be identified or recognized. Along this same theme the actress in question cannot and will not discuss being involved with Episode VII at all until its release in December 2015. Thus, it is very likely Disney will make no mention of her or Jade until they are absolutely forced to via a TMZ leak or something.
As if all these rumblings, these little disturbances in the Force weren't enough to pique your interest, I offer you this little tid-bit. As always take with more than a few grains of salt and a glass of your beverage of choice. Making Star Wars posted an article back in May about James Luceno's CANON book -- remember everything going forward, games, apps, comics, and books is canon now -- called "Tarkin." You'll remember James Luceno's name as he was tasked with writing the all-important "Darth Plagueis" novel. Anyway, here is the interesting part from the article:
Now to the most intriguing (and most irritatingly mysterious) thought of the day on this subject: a Mara Jade appearance in Tarkin. Tweeter Alex Rybak (AKA, @Chewbacca89) posted the opinion, “I think we will see Mara Jade in this book…” When I asked him what made him think that, he replied, “A mixture of gut feelings and the whisperings of someone involved in it.” (now if that doesn’t rile of Star Wars fan up, I don’t know what will). He went on to say, “Yea the person I talked to won’t confirm either, but the fact that it’s possible is exciting!”
That will be very interesting to watch as November 4th, the "Tarkin" release date, approaches. IF Jade is in the book, Jade is in the galaxy, meaning likely to appear in Star Wars: Episode VII as well as Star Wars: Rebels, although I can't see Disney/LFL letting the cat out of the bag in a book versus their HUGE tentpole. Very, very unlikely . . .
BUT, if all this isn't enough to convince you, then I have to ask, Who is Domhnall Gleeson playing??? While everyone was talking about the rumors regarding Alex Pettyfer and Ryan Gosling, NO ONE saw ol' Domhnall coming.
People were on the lookout for blondes while a ginger snuck in. Does it not make sense that IF his mother has RED HAIR a certain [Ben] Skywalker would also?
And speaking of ol' red herself, who will wear the wig? The fan, as in fantasy, casting has centered around actresses like Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, and Amy Yasbeck solely for their red locks, but a tip from February suggested that Sigourney Weaver had met with JJ about a possible role. This makes sense for two reasons, the wig and her age -- she's 64, which also happen to be her height -- 6' 4". Just kidding, she's only 6. Yet, Sigourney may just be too busy to do Star Wars since she has already signed on for Avatar 2-4, which is filming all at once.
In summation, I believe that Mara Jade will be in Episode VII mainly because it makes sense for the "family saga" and gives legitimacy to [Ben] Skywalker as Luke's son. I don't know who's playing Jade, but apparently someone who isn't a "normal" redhead as the actress in question requires a wig. But the biggest factor for me is quite simple -- Mara Jade has EXISTED longer in the Star Wars universe than she hasn't. Confusing, I know, let me explain. Mara Jade has been a fan-favorite for about 24 years!!! Star Wars only existed for a mere 14 years without her and Disney/LFL knows this. What do you believe?