What JJ Abrams’ storytelling style tells us about the next chapter in Star Wars.
We haven’t been getting into this too much because we figure it’s already well-worn territory and we didn’t know if we could bring anything fresh to the table.
But because it’s now confirmed that the new trailer will be coming out in a couple of days, we figured we better get this out there so that, in the event that we’re right about a thing or two, we’ll have someone to turn to and say “hey we got one!” as opposed to saying it to the dog, which is normally the case.
We decided to attack our speculation through the lens of how JJ Abrams likes to approach storytelling.
And so, the following “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” speculation is based only on the teasers that everyone’s seen, the toys currently lining shelves, and what we know about JJ Abrams the storyteller.
Okay! So JJ Abrams’ storytelling tends to involve any combination of three things: MacGuffins, the color red, and nostalgia. Let’s take them in that order.
JJ created (or co-created) Alias, Fringe, and Lost. He also directed Mission: Impossible 3, Super 8 and both Star Treks.
In all of those things, the story has always revolved around a MacGuffin (a term popularized by Alfred Hitchcock referring to an object around which the plot of a story evolves – e.g. The Ark from Raiders, the Allspark from Transformers, the One Ring from LOTR, the briefcase from Pulp Fiction, the Maltese Falcon from…meh, I can’t remember).
It’s a popular and effective device that usually ends up being something that everyone in the story is either trying to obtain, retain, hide or destroy.
In Star Wars: A New Hope, it was R2-D2. (Remember, Obi Wan was never out to rescue Princess Leia, he was only supposed return the Death Star plans inside R2 to the rebels. Crossing paths with Leia was a bit of a coincidence). But out of the six Star Wars movies, this is the only one with a true MacGuffin – something I’m sure is very attractive to Abrams.
The color RED:
The next thing to notice about JJ’s MacGuffins is that they’re almost invariably RED.
In Alias it was the Mueller Device:
In Mission: Impossible III, it was the Rabbit’s Foot:
In Star Trek it was Red Matter:
As we’ve seen in the newly released toy line, the First Order vehicles and characters are all accented in RED. If we were to speculate (and we most definitely are), we would say that the First Order is a faction that is in some way dedicated to the new MacGuffin (either obtaining, retaining, hiding, or destroying it – my money is on obtaining). And we’d go so far as to say that whatever that MacGuffin is, it will be RED, or at least associated with red.
The last thing about JJ Abrams is that he is nothing if not nostalgic. You needn’t look further than Super 8 to confirm this. But let’s talk about his Star Trek efforts. There is literally NO Star Trek meme that wasn’t featured in his movies – from red shirts, to tribbles, to screaming out KHAAAANNN – it was all there. So we think we’d be foolhardy to not expect Star Wars to get the same treatment – certainly in terms of plot.
So whatever the plot is, it’s a good bet that it will revolve around something that fans already know and/or love, rather than something entirely new. And, in the same way that no attention was paid to any Star Trek lore that was introduced past 1982, the same will most likely apply to Star Wars, whose original trilogy ended in 1983.
So, to sum up: because of these factors –MacGuffin-driven stories, the use of red, and nostalgia – we think the story of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will revolve around the First Order – a group formed in pursuit of some red MacGuffin – and their efforts to obtain this object from (or perhaps engage in a race to find it against) the good guys, who are most likely echoes of the archetypes introduced in the original trilogy, if not those actual characters themselves. These efforts will require all involved to revisit locations and characters introduced in the original trilogy, while little or no attention will be paid to ideas, characters, or locations introduced in the prequels.
And for the big money, we’d guess that a third act reveal might be that one of those characters actually IS the REAL MacGuffin, and that the original MacGuffin was a red herring – pun intended. If the color red is a clue, then we’d say Finn because he’s the most visually ambiguous of the known characters: He’s wearing the black associated with the Jedi, the earth tones associated with most Star Wars good guys AND the red most associated with the bad guys.
Some of this may already have been touched on, but we thought there might be some new insights to be had when trying to guess the story by applying what we know about the storyteller.
Or these might just be the ravings of lone fans who’ve had way too many geeky conversations with the dog.