One thing that can’t be said about J.J. Abrams’s is that he is loyal to his source material. Take a look at his Star Trek re-boot. This reverence to original source material could be the downfall of his next foray into a larger scifi cannon.
The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported that Tatooine, the home planet of the Skywalker clan, is being re-created for the new movie, and Peter Mayhew will return for the new movie as Chewbacca, the Wookiee, joining Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher appearances and an R2-D2 role (What of the other supporting cast, Lando and C3PO?).
Episode VII will shoot at Pinewood Studios, reportedly eschew CGI for practical effects and bring John Williams in for the score. That’s in addition to bringing in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi veteran Lawrence Kasdan to co-write the screenplay with Abrams and including Ben Burtt (Star Wars: Episodes I - VI) to oversee sound design. The only surprise casting choice so far for Episode VII may be Girls actor Adam Driver (from Mishawaka IN.), who is in talks to play a villain, sources confirmed to THR in late February.
So with all of these many parallels between projects helps in keeping a continuity that helps in creating a window of comfort for fans and critics alike.
But Abrams might not be able to keep his inner fanboy enough in check to deliver a movie that stands on its own. Abrams himself has on frequent occasions spoke how Lucas has influenced him as a filmmaker. (Disney chief Alan Horn, in an interview with THR's Stephen Galloway on April 2, admitted problems with getting the script right and revealed that the film is already shooting.)
The original trilogy (as timeless as it is) is more than 30 years old and fans are still recovering from the newest additions to the Star Wars Galaxy, I.E Episodes 1-3. We could see Abrams go in one or two directions with the film. The Heir to the Empire books, by Timothy Zahn, hold up as a sequel on their own. Or perhaps a whole new direction creating new cannon might be his intent.
Hopefully time travel will not be a factor....