Maybe if they had allowed Han to mature for three decades on the trajectory that had already been established by ROTJ, then he could’ve been a mentor to somebody. I would’ve expected to see Episode 7 start out with a grand “New Republic” city to mirror the Imperial city of Coruscant. Leia would’ve been the queen, Han a “secretary of defense” type and Luke the spiritual leader. I think that’s what most real fans really wanted and none of them would’ve been disappointed to see it.
It’s always baffling to me and a sign of a dearth of imagination when sequel writers try to tear down the previous movie’s victories off-screen before the sequel starts. It’s like they can think of nothing to do but repeat the original movie’s story, hence they have to wipe away the last movie’s resolution in order to start the same story over again. The Force Awakens had that same sinking feeling that Ghostbusters 2 did, which started out telling us that the Ghostbusters were now hated by the public again, had gone broke and gone out of business, etc. It was as if the third act of the first movie had never happened. Who wants to start out a sequel by having their trust in the previous movie’s happy ending painfully undermined like that?
Episode 7 could have started out with that victory lap and then told a story about a ragtag Sith-led terrorist group attempting to overthrow the Republic finally gaining a foothold when they tempt someone inside the Skywalker family over to the dark side. I have no idea why they wouldn’t want to tell that story in real time instead of just using thin strands of it as filler to reset the stasis and repeat ANH, now with extra girl power. The story of a family losing their young one to the dark side could have been a very compelling one. Instead it all happens off-screen and we get almost no interaction on camera between those major principals in this background plot. How is it more dramatic to see this unknown girl with no connection to anyone interjected in this story than to have seen this all play out between and among the actual family members? TFA was a terrible marriage between Abrams’ obsessively compulsive plagiarism and Kasdan’s desire to redo the original trilogy with his old, rejected ideas, seasoned with an unhealthy dose of Kennedy’s politically correct desire to de-white-male-ize the series.
The current lack of coherent planning with the Star Wars series is appalling. The obvious long-term plan for sheer marketing purposes would’ve been to focus heavily on the original cast in this trilogy, while introducing younger characters to “pass the torch” to later. Then, have another trilogy that would focus on those younger characters. A proper “hero’s death” for Han would’ve made sense in Episode 9. Throwing away one of your biggest assets that early just doesn’t make sense. And that’s one reason I don’t think Disney the corporation is directly responsible for the direction the series has taken. I think they have given Kathleen Kennedy a wide berth and she is the one who is out of her league and has dropped the ball over and over again.