Episode 7 was secretly a reboot. (Spoilers follow)
Between Star Trek and Mission:Impossible, we know JJ Abrams’s schtick. Handed a mid-to-late 20th century franchise, what he does is reboot it. Imagine this conversation:
Disney Exec: We’d like you to produce the next Star Wars Movie.
Abrams: Okay, great. I’d love to reboot Star Wars.
Disney Exec: Nooo, it’s episode 7 Chronologically, not a reboot.
Abrams: (Pauses, thinks quickly): Okay, sure. Fine. It’ll be episode 7.
( … time passess … Disney exec watches first cut …)
Disney Exec: This is a reboot!
Abrams: What are you talking about?
Disney Exec: You’ve got an orphan child on a desert planet, looked after by afar by an old man. The orphan discovers a droid with a secret map. Stormtroopers appear looking for the droid, the orphan child escapes on the Millennium Falcon to be tutored by an old wizard. Bad guy in a dark suit chases after them, the wizard sacrifices himself in a confrontation with the bad guy so they can escape, and then they the blow up the death star. Which movie am I talking about?
Abrams: What a wacky theory. Clearly, I delivered exactly what you asked for, espisode 7 chronologically. I mean, Harrison Ford likes it.
Disney Exec: Well I’m not messing with Harrison Ford.
Why yes, I did watch the force awakens Saturday night. How can you tell?