Iron out Binks in the armour

Galaxy quest ... will Mark Hamill, left, and Carrie Fisher return?
Galaxy quest ... will Mark Hamill, left, and Carrie Fisher return?

It's been 29 years since the death of the Emperor. Princess Solo-Organa, the daughter of Leia and Han (still played by Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford), is leading a pampered but dull life in the imperial palace. Suddenly, she is summoned on a quest by two comical droids, and seeks advice from her mentor, Uncle Luke (still played by Mark Hamill).

She starts a journey across the galaxy where she is destined to meet helpers and tricksters, fight increasingly difficult battles, enter a dark cave, confront The Ultimate Evil, go through a symbolic death and resurrection, grow as a person and bring the MacGuffin back to her people, who will stand and cheer at the end.

That's how I believe Star Wars: Episode VII will go, give or take a few characters and conversations, because it's the Disney formula. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It has been the structure of epics across millenniums of storytelling, as George Lucas well knew when he released the original Star Wars in 1977.

Two weeks ago, Lucas revealed he had sold the Star Wars franchise to the Disney company for $4 billion, promising to devote his bonanza to educational charities. Disney immediately announced it was starting work on a sequel to the film we used to know as Return of the Jedi (Episode VI). It behoves us to help them get it right.

Australians have an investment to protect. The original Star Wars is the fourth-biggest ticket seller ever in Australia, seen by 6 million of us when shown in 1977 and a further 1 million when the recut outraged nerds in 1997 (try putting ''Han shot first'' into Google and you'll get 24 million results).

We don't want another debacle like The Phantom Menace. We knew Lucas had lost it when he gave us ''the taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems''. Jar Jar Binks, fart jokes, and the midichlorians as a medical explanation of the Force.

Before Disney makes similar blunders with Star Wars: Episode VII, please offer your input on these questions:

Who should write it? Not Lucas, obviously. He may have a knack for adapting archetypal narratives, but his dialogue is dreadful. At this point, the first draft is being written by Michael Arndt, who won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine. So we know he has a sense of humour. Arndt was also Oscar-nominated for Toy Story 3, so he can handle fantasy (and merchandising). And he has written the screenplay for Catching Fire, part two of The Hunger Games, so he has a sense of the political. But an epic needs at least four screenwriters.

Tell us who else.

Who should direct? Not Lucas, obviously. He can juggle special effects, but he's hopeless with actors (Hayden Christensen as young Darth Vader? Please.) The shortlist is Steven Spielberg (too sentimental?), Christopher Nolan (too dark?), Joss Whedon (too hip?) and Peter Jackson (too long-winded?). Tell us your choice.

Who should star? Not Kristen Stewart, obviously. For the feisty princess, Disney will be tempted to go with a proven star, who showed determination in Snow White and the Huntsman, and a willingness to work nude in On the Road. But this character needs more than a sulky expression and a hot bod.

It's tempting to nominate Natalie Portman to play her own granddaughter, but she's too old. Mila Kunis sounds ideal, but has so much charisma she tends to dominate every film, and Star Wars: Episode VII should be be an ensemble piece. So who gets your nomination for an action woman with a range of emotions and a sense of humour?

For the villain, Disney will play it safe with Ralph Fiennes, but the universe must offer other interpretations of The Ultimate Evil. The Force is with you.

To help Star Wars regain its former glory, go to Or email David Dale at

This story Iron out Binks in the armour first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.