Making The Force Awakens even better than it turned out actually might have been pretty doable. Here’s our top 5 suggestions for what to change and how.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was pretty darn good. Some might even say great, but at a minimum we can definitely say it went a long way towards wiping the prequel mess from our minds.
That doesn’t mean The Force Awakens was a perfect movie (is any movie ever?), so with that in mind we offer these humble suggestions for simple fixes that could have made The Force Awakens even better.
#5 – Hide or Remove Starkiller Base
In A New Hope, the Empire has just finished construction of the Death Star, an enormously expensive project that took years to build. They did a good job keeping it secret, but Alliance spies still found out about it and stole a complete technical readout of the station before the galaxy at large became aware of it.
In The Force Awakens, a resurgent but still much smaller First Order builds a bigger, more powerful Death Star through the core of an entire planet. Somehow it goes either undetected or ignored by both the New Republic and the Resistance until after it’s been used to destroy several Republic worlds (the import of which is yet to be seen).
Something’s gotta give.
The simplest answer would be to hide Starkiller Base from the viewer as well as the main characters, making it feel as though it’s a massive secret instead of telling us that it is. Imagine we still get the scene with Hux, tired of a Jedi hunt he cares little about, suggesting to Snoke that their “weapon” is ready, but you don’t know what he’s talking about and never see the weapon fired. Then suddenly our main characters see a mysterious red streak in the sky, and reports start coming in at Maz’s castle that several worlds have been destroyed. Han freaks out because maybe Leia was on one of those worlds, and suddenly Finn is all the more important because he’s one of the few people outside the control of the First Order who might know what happened. Han’s got to stop him from running away. And into that chaos, we add the attack on Maz’s castle by the First Order.
But another answer would be just to remove the superweapon from Starkiller Base entirely. The Starkiller Base superweapon plot is too reminiscent of the Death Star, and not as well developed. Most of the rest of the movie focuses on finding Luke anyways, not the ongoing civil war between the Republic and the First Order, which seems to be at something of a stalemate for the time being. Obviously there are people – namely General Hux – who don’t care so much about the eradication of the Jedi and just want to see the Empire returned to glory, but from the opening crawl The Force Awakens purports to be about the search for Luke.
What if, instead of a superweapon, Hux disobeys Supreme Leader Snoke and makes a sneak attack against the Republic, destroying much of its fleet (kind of like General Grievous does/tries to do at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith). This leaves Starkiller Base largely undefended, though, so the Resistance seizes the opportunity to attack, which provides cover for the commando mission to break out Rey and prevent Kylo Ren from learning Luke’s whereabouts from her.
This would allow for all of the personal intrigue between Rey, Finn, Han, and Kylo Ren, still set up a diminished Republic for Episode VIII, but also emphasize the competing goals of the First Order, goals that might one day cause a fracture in their ranks.