Managing editor Jess Cagle discusses our 'Star Wars' issue's cover art and the future of the franchise

By Jess Cagle
November 16, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST

For this week’s cover about the reboot of Star Wars, EW’s design director, Kory Kennedy, asked illustrator Jesse Lenz (whose work usually graces the Must List) to create a collage featuring the most beloved characters from the Star Wars universe. And yes, I apologize to anyone who believes that Chewbacca deserves a spot over Boba Fett, but we had to make some tough choices. Late one night before going to press, Kory and I got a little punchy and dreamed up another image for the Star Wars cover — one with a solo Princess Leia in her slave outfit from Return of the Jedi. We were amused by it (and Slave Leia does hold a special place in the hearts of a generation of fanboys who spent a lot of time with her photo), but we ultimately decided to go with Lenz’s illustration to both celebrate the most important franchise in movie history and show our excitement about the upcoming films. In our cover story Geoff Boucher examines the $4 billion deal between Disney and Lucasfilm, and Dalton Ross spells out our hopes and fears about the future of the franchise. The best news so far is this: Screenwriter Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine and made grown men weep with Toy Story 3, is on the case. Arndt, who’s also working on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is a formidable storyteller and a master at creating and developing characters. He populates his films with dreamers down to their last bottle of hope — like a cowboy doll abandoned by the boy who outgrew him or a little girl competing in a beauty pageant against all odds — and loving, oddball families who face crippling disappointment with beautiful, unassuming courage. I can’t wait to see what he does with Luke, Leia, et al. We won’t see another Star Wars film for at least three years. In the meantime, you can watch the first six films to catch up. And take another look at Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3 — they’ll give you new hope.