If all goes as planned, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill will reunite on the silver screen in 2015 for Star Wars: Episode VII, a movie set in the hours, days, years, decades or eons after Darth Vader’s torchlight funeral near the piney stomping grounds of the Ewoks. But when they reach the set next year, the actors will be 30 years removed from Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. A new generation of heroes and villains will clearly be needed to move the franchise on to Episode VIII and beyond, but how to accomplish that?
We’ve zeroed in on 10 movies that found themselves dealing with a similar generational predicament, and how their respective approaches could inform the future of the Star Wars saga.
The Color of Money: Who’s going to break first? That’s the question for any pool-hall showdown, especially the ones in this glossy sequel to The Hustler. Paul Newman reprises his role as “Fast” Eddie Felson, though he’s lost some quickness and confidence after some bad miscues — but he’s still got trick shots to teach a young turk played by new-generation Tom Cruise.
The Color of Jedi: Who’s going to get burned first? That’s the question in any lightsaber tournament, but especially in this sleek sequel to Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Mark Hamill reprises his role as Luke “Slow Hand” Skywalker and Harrison Ford is back as Han “Kessel Run” Solo, and they need to teach young turk Fizz Brightshine (Paul Dano) that winning with class is important. —Geoff Boucher
Star Trek: Generations: A century after the apparent death of the legendary Captain Kirk, his successor — Captain Picard — and the new Enterprise crew embark on a mission to stop a galactic madman. Twist: Kirk is still alive, trapped in a magical space nexus, and the two generations of Starfleet commanders must come together to defeat the bad guy.
Star Wars: Generations: A century after the apparent death of the legendary Luke Skywalker, his descendant — Ben Skywalker — and a new crew of daring starship pilots embark on a mission to stop a galactic madman. Twist: Luke is still alive, trapped in a magical force nexus, and the two generations of Jedi must come together to defeat the bad guy. —Darren Franich
Mission: Impossible: Jim Phelps — former Cold War hero and now an aging superspy — gets killed on a mission. The government blames Ethan Hunt, Phelps’ friend and pupil, who is basically like Phelps except younger, sexier, and more acrobatic. Hunt has to go on the run to avenge his mentor’s death, working alongside discredited agents and evil British people on a quest for justice.
Star Wars: Force Protocol: Lando Calrissian — former Rebel Alliance hero and now an aging superspy — gets killed on a mission. The Republic blames Smith Ellneel, Calrissian’s friend and pupil, who is basically like Calrissian except younger, sexier, and more acrobatic. Ellneel has to go on the run to avenge his mentor’s death, working alongside bounty hunters and Hutts on a quest for justice. —DF
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Admiral Kirk, dealing with his advancing age and feelings of uselessness, finds sudden new purpose when he runs afoul of Khan. The old, forgotten enemy, newly escaped from exile on Ceti Alpha V, is dead-set on possessing the Genesis device, the brainchild of Kirk’s grown son David. Together with his son and newbie recruit Saavik, Kirk outwits his powerful enemy, but only after lifelong compatriot Spock tragically sacrifices himself for the greater good.
Star Wars: Episode VII — The Wrath of Boba Fett: Admiral Solo, dealing with his advancing age and feelings of uselessness, finds sudden new purpose when he runs afoul of Boba Fett. The old, forgotten enemy, newly escaped from a grim end in the Sarlacc pit, is dead set on possessing the Life Star, the brainchild of Solo’s grown son Anakin. Together with his son and newbie recruit Adava Brbou, Solo outwits his powerful enemy, but only after lifelong compatriot Chewbacca tragically sacrifices himself for the greater good. —Adam B. Vary
Blues Brothers 2000: To save the orphanage (again), Elwood Blues (Dan Akyroyd) needs to get the band back together — but, sadly, Jake Blues (John Belushi in the first film) had gone on to the great roadhouse in the sky. Not a problem, just add John Goodman, Nia Peeples, Lou Rawls, and some kid in a black suit. That’s got to be just as good, right?
Cantina Cousins 2015: The Tatooine band from the cantina scene has a chance to save the Jawa community center, but first they need Han Solo to race against time to collect their instruments. With John Goodman, Miley Cyrus, Darius Rucker, and Miss Piggy. —GB
TRON: Legacy: Two decades after Kevin Flynn’s mysterious disappearance, his son Sam investigates the decaying remains of Flynn’s old arcade. He’s captured by totalitarian forces, who have been hiding inside the Grid planning world domination. An older Kevin Flynn shows up to offer lots of mystical advice before stepping aside to let Sam embark on his new adventures with an attractive new action heroine sidekick. Features a cameo by Daft Punk!
Star Wars: Legacy: Two decades after Princess Leia’s mysterious disappearance, her daughter Jaina investigates the decaying remains of Leia’s adopted planet Alderaan. She’s captured by the remains of the totalitarian force known as the Empire, who have been in hiding in the remains of Alderaan planning galactic domination. An older Princess Leia shows up to offer lots of mystical advice, before stepping aside to let Jaina embark on her new adventures with an attractive action hero sidekick. Features a cameo by the Max Rebo band! —DF
Live Free or Die Hard and next year’s A Good Day to Die Hard: Regular Joe cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) may be getting long in the tooth on paper, but as he battles bad guys in Washington, D.C., and Moscow alongside his daughter, son, and random
Apple Computer spokesman computer hacker (Justin Long), he makes quite clear that he’s actually part indestructible robot.
Live Droid, Never Die and A Good Day for Star Wars: Regular Joe X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles (Denis Lawson) may be getting long in the tooth on paper, but as he battles Empire holdouts on Coruscant and Kashyyyk alongside his daughter, son, and random
Progressive Insurance spokeswoman bounty hunter (Stephanie Courtney), he makes quite clear that he’s actually part indestructible droid. —ABV
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: A greaser named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) is looking for someone he cares about — instead he finds the opposite with his biological father, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), who knows plenty about mummies and zip abut fatherhood. Their quest leads to an ancient alien mystery…
Han Solo and the Citadel of the Shining Wookiee: A brawler named Owen (Tom Hardy) is looking for someone he cares about — instead he finds the exact opposite with his biological father, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who didn’t know Leia was pregnant when they split. Their quest leads to an ancient mystery on Chewbacca’s homeworld. —GB
Star Trek (2009): Restarting from the very beginning, our beloved Kirk, Spock, and Uhura are all recast with young, sexy up-and-coming stars, who are thrown together to defeat a vengeful Romulan from the future whose time-traveling shenanigans have altered the very fabric of the story we know so well. A wayward Kirk teams up with the older Spock (Leonard Nimoy), dragged back from the original timeline, and proves himself a worthy ship’s captain.
Star Wars Into Darkness: Restarting from the very beginning (of Episode IV), our beloved Luke, Han, and Leia have been recast with young, sexy up-and-coming stars (likely a Hemsworth, another Hemsworth, and Emma Stone), who are thrown together to defeat a vengeful Emperor Palpatine, whose time-traveling shenanigans have altered the very fabric of the story we know so well. A wayward Luke teams up with the older Han Solo (Harrison Ford), dragged back from the original timeline, and proves himself a worthy Jedi Knight. (Ed. note: This is a terrible, terrible idea, and we apologize for even putting it out into the universe.) —ABV