Most of us have at least one Star Wars movie that ranks lower than the others. Even if you still enjoy it as a Star Wars movie, there are nagging problems with it that you wish weren't there. This thread is your chance to remake that movie the way you would make it.
Surprising no one, that movie for me would be The Force Awakens.
I thought about this while I was at work today, so here goes. Now I could go crazy with this - let's face it, my ideal Episode VII would be the first in a six-film loose adaptation of the New Jedi Order - but I want to just tweak the existing film, so that I end up with a film that is significantly improved (in my humble opinion), but is still recognizably TFA.
The most important changes will be to my three biggest gripes about TFA. I could handle a derivative movie, but TFA doing away with all the achievements fought for and won in the OT is what continues to grind my gears and is the reason why I still haven't bought TFA on DVD. They are: 1) The Jedi's slaughter by Kylo Ren, 2) The apparent destruction of the Republic via Starkiller Base, and 3) Han and Leia being separated.
In this version, Kylo Ren would have still been a student of Luke's and would have still turned to the dark side. In fact I would keep Kylo pretty much as is because he has become my favourite part of TFA. However, he wouldn't have entirely wiped out Luke's new Jedi. He would have killed at least one, maybe a bunch, but there would be other Jedi still alive besides just Luke. I was thinking having three Jedi Knights, all former students of Luke. I was thinking that two of them would be lovers or married to show that romantic partners aren't forbidden in Luke's new Jedi and then there'd also be a third.
As a side note, this would be a good setup for a post-RotJ animated series. We could see these new characters when they were younger and still being trained, along with a younger Kylo and the Jedi he killed. That way we could avoid the trap of "Something needs to happen to so-and-so before this series is over because where were they during the events of TFA?" As it stands, if we did get an animated show about Luke's Jedi Academy, we would know that all of the characters should get slaughtered at the end of the show and we already had that with TCW.
The hidden former academy would be on the same island Luke was at at the end of TFA - he just wouldn't be alone. I'd also give these characters costumes similar to the Jedi Academy Trilogy-era Jedi. Recognizably warrior monks, but more individualized. Just a good visual way of letting the audience know that this isn't the institutionalized Jedi Order of the PT, that this is a story that is moving forward.
Luke would still feel guilt for training Kylo and the resulting death of his student(s) because I think that is a good way to give his character a place to develop, but his entire academy didn't need to be wiped out for him to have that guilt. Luke would still be a shadow of his former self and he would have ceased training Jedi, but the Jedi he has trained would still be with him and still go on missions from time to time. Maybe the two Jedi lovers would also be training their child against Luke's better judgement. Again, progress may have stalled, but progress has been made. We aren't starting back at square one.
The search for Luke would still be the main impetus of the film. Leia still wants to find Luke for help against the First Order, but the map to Luke was an old transmission Rey and Finn stumble across. The transmission was originally meant for Luke's academy before Kylo Ren turned to the dark side. It's a probe Luke sent into the galaxy for potential Jedi to find. If they find the map, they will be sent on a journey that only Force sensitives can complete. After Kylo turned to the dark side, Luke shut off the transmissions and didn't send any more out, but one managed to remain active and that's the one Rey and Finn find (and the one that Kylo and Poe Dameron are attempting to find). That means that the movie would be about actually following the map (and maybe receiving further clues along the way?) rather than bringing the missing piece to the Resistance base, shelving the plot in favour of the Starkiller Base plot, and then going back to it for the tail end of the movie. The second act would probably have to be largely re-written.
The second part is that the Hosnian system was not blown up by Starkiller Base. The Republic may still be around albeit weakened, but TFA certainly gave the impression that the Republic and its navy had been destroyed by the destruction of Starkiller Base. So what would Star Killer Base be doing in this version? Nothing. There would be no Starkiller Base. The climax would still be infiltrating/destroying the First Order's base, but it would just be a regular base not Death Star III. There would also be some *gasp* exposition when the heroes arrive at the Resistance base (and the Resistance would be re-named to something more fitting) briefly explaining the state of the galaxy. The Republic and the First Order would either be equal in strength or the Republic would be the dominant government and the First Order would be a ragtag neo-Nazi-like movement. If the latter, then the stormtroopers would wear cobbled together, hand-me-down armour rather than the gleaming armour that we got. The Republic forces would be noticeably newer and cleaner.
And finally, Han Solo would not have returned to his smuggling ways and undoing all the character development he underwent in the OT. He can still be shaken by his son's turn and spend a lot of his time off with Chewie, but doing missions for the "Resistance". Leia might not like it, but also understands his need to be alone sometimes. When they are together, they clearly still love each other.
Well, I managed to fit most of my ideas into those three points, but here are some final things I would change:
Rey would either not be able to do all of those crazy Force and lightsaber tricks or she would, but there would be some acknowledgement that her rapid abilities are unusual. It really depends on what happens in the next two movies, but if Rey is going to rapidly learn those powers for story reasons, the audience needs some reassurance that this actually is a strange occurrence and, no the philosophy in ESB is not being thrown in the trashbin.
Also, Finn has been raised as a killing machine, has a crisis of conscience, and leaves that life behind. Run with this! Don't just make him a normal guy under the helmet. Show his failure to adapt to normal life. It would make him more interesting as a character.
Keep Poe and Kylo as is.
Change up the planets. Takodana isn't bad, but Jakku needs to go. Maybe have Rey grow up on Raxus Prime as a scavenger? Anything, really, as long as it isn't Tatooine 2.0.
There might be some more and I haven't come up with how exactly the plot would fit together based on these changes, but that's what I came up with today.
Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.