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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Star Wars Going Commercial? Oh, Right, Normal... (Or, Look, It's Boba Fett and Han Solo!)

If you haven't already heard from io9, Entertainment Weekly, and Geeks of Doom, Lucasfilm is considering the possibility of two standalone Star Wars films -- one involving an origin story for Han Solo, set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (III and IV), and the other involving Boba Fett either between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back (IV and V) or Empire and The Return of the Jedi (VI).  That is, of course, if you accept the rumors (including this weird one about a Yoda movie).  Frankly, we don't have much reason to believe Disney won't make as many Star Wars movies as they possible can, especially when you consider just how lucrative the universe has been for Lucas and his various companies.  Any new movie would equal a new video game, new books, new merchandise, and on and on and on and on.  Basically, unless a Star Wars movie ends up flopping at the box office -- unlikely -- Disney will probably pump out as many movies as is reasonable.  Expect one of these years to become "the year of Star Wars," with t
hree different movies/series releasing all at the same time... (that's my rumor -- you can quote me).
What do I think about all this?  First, I'm not actually all that bothered by the prospect of a whole bunch of new Star Wars movies.  Honestly, I expect Disney to handle the franchise well enough; they might even do a better job of it than Lucas has in the last decade-ish.  I'm likely to see most of the movies, regardless of their setting, characters, and so on, if only because I have been a Star Wars nut since I was a kid (my mother gave me the VHS tapes of the Leonard Maltin editions, and I still have them -- in fact, I have two sets, because I wanted one that I could play without worrying about damaging the tapes...I was a weird teenager).
I see pride! I see power! I see a bad-ass mother who don't take
no crap off of nobody! 
My concern is that Disney will produce Star Wars films it shouldn't just because it can.  While an origin story for Han Solo or an expansion of Boba Fett's sparse plot in the originals might be interesting, it does make me wonder whether there aren't new and more interesting ways to inject freshness into a franchise that has, if we're being honest, been pretty stale (with some exceptions to a few of the extended universe products -- books and games in particular).  I love Star Wars and always will, but I'm also a bit bored of seeing the same old characters being trotted out over and over.  Now that we've followed through the origin of Darth Vader, I'd really like to see more new stuff.  New characters.  New stories.  And not just origins for characters living during the major events of the prequel and original trilogies.  I want to see stories set beyond the current film franchises.
I'm like a snake. I lure you into a false sense of security, and
then I shot your ass under a table, melting your green skin
like a mutated cake from a galaxy far, far away... Fool...
Think about it.  For those that follow the extended universe (I have some familiarity), imagine all the ways Disney could reinvigorate the franchise with new and exciting plots.  Take, for example, the post-Empire narratives, from the final death knell of the Empire to the various new invasions and terrors that befell the New Republic.  Even more fascinating might be to take us all the way outside of the immediate aftermath (an easier feat when you consider that most of the original cast is too damn old to reprise their roles) and film the Young Jedi stuff (the solo kids would make a great new set of heroes for new Star Wars fans) or even the incredible Yuuzhan Vong War, which would allow the original cast to return as secondary characters (or even as primaries, if one wanted to go that route -- I'm not sold either way) and allow us to see the New Republican and the New Jedi Order engage in one of the most important, violent conflicts of its new life.
The dreams of a Republic scattered like so much biology...
Basically, I'm saying that there is too much to show us in this world to let it go to waste re-hashing stuff we've already seen.  Sure, Han Solo is a great character, but he's an old character.  We more or less know his story; a prequel won't change that.  We even know Boba Fett, to some extent, and so imagining his pre-ROTJ past doesn't really add anything to the film franchise.  The only new material we're getting is in whatever film J. J. Abrams ends up making, but I'm not sure where he's going to set that story (or, rather, what Disney will let him and his writer do with the universe).  I can dream for a Mara Jade narrative, but I also have this absurd notion that Mark Hamill must reprise his role as Luke Skywalker at some point.  He can't do that in the Mara Jade plot because he's just too old (sorry, Mark), and I'm not sure I like the idea of casting a young blond guy to play the role...

I guess my biggest concern is that Disney will try so hard to keep the money coming in that they'll piss on the only opportunity I see that could make Star Wars more than just "that series we loved as kids, and which gave us enough merchandise to destroy a planet."  I want to go back into that movie theater and have the experience of a lifetime -- my first, actual Star Wars experience (the one older folks talk about all the time when they wax nostalgic about 1977).

But I don't expect that to happen...

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