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Why Star Wars Origin Films Might Be Bantha Fodder
Information about the Star Wars franchise has been a topic of immense interest among the public since news of its purchase by Disney last year. Of course, alongside the buyout was news that the ridiculously long-awaited (and presumed nonexistent) Episodes VII, VIII, and IX were finally coming to fruition. Then there was another announcement: a new film in the franchise would be released annually, beginning with Episode VII in 2015 and a spinoff film the following year. Regular series films and spinoffs will alternate each year. The obvious question: what will be the subject of the spinoffs?
The most highly rumored and now all-but-confirmed possibility are character origin films; Han Solo and Boba Fett have been cited as likely candidates. For many fans, even the prospect of continuing the story with further Episodes is lamentable, and even more, such as myself, question the need or potential quality of spinoff films, especially centering around characters’ origins.
For starters, the entire thing sounds like a cheap money-grab. This one’s obvious, but is worth mention. Of course, Disney would never have sought out the rights to the franchise if it couldn’t produce new films, so in the end it really is all about the numbers. Still, Disney is a company that holds quality in a higher regard than most, and I can only expect they will honor the rich lore of the Star Wars universe and pay respect to its rabid following—perhaps more than even George Lucas did with the prequel trilogy and his superfluous, infuriating modifications to the original trilogy three decades after its original release.
Having acknowledged that fact, the prospect of spinoff films seems a bit overboard and, like the changes to the original trilogy for DVD and Blu-ray release, unnecessary. Many fans will argue the Star Wars universe was ruined by the prequel trilogy, and still others will say the changes made to the originals ruined it. For those still on board, spinoff films could be the grain of sand that breaks the bantha’s back.
The idea grows even bleaker when you consider these films could center around characters’ origins. I’ll admit my knowledge of the Expanded Universe is quite limited beyond Shadows of the Empire and the Thrawn trilogy, but I’m sure most of the characters have already received origin treatment in some sort of media. I know the Fetts and General Grevious have, and so have fan-favorites Han Solo and Lando Calrissian…and it’s not like Harrison Ford or Billy Dee Williams would be able to portray these characters in their youth. That goes for many other characters in the saga.
Even if they could, another question must be posed: what relevance would these films have on the story? Now, you could argue it’s entertainment, pure and simple, but that, to me, doesn’t really warrant feature films. I love exploring the Expanded Universe through the books or video games, but for a full-blown film to be produced, it seems the plot should at least serve to advance the trilogies in some way. Granted, they are spinoffs for a reason, but things that are unnecessary are seldom enjoyable, and entire films dedicated to side stories or origins definitely don’t seem worth the screen time.
Alas, spinoff films are already a planned thing, and the prospect of origin films is likely. Given that, which characters would be the best to hone in on and how should Disney go about the films? Each person has his or her own opinion on the matter, but I think there are some general guidelines everyone would mostly agree on. For one, recasting major players such as Han Solo would tread the line of sacrilege and so should be avoided. Another obvious no-no would be characters too minor to really have any relevance. I recently heard an opinion that Mace Windu would be a great choice, and while I thought Windu was one of the cooler members of the Jedi Council, let’s face it, his character does not have the relevance to warrant a film, and even if he did, Samuel L. Jackson certainly wouldn’t be portraying him and that would ruin the character.
Characters that could—and arguably should—be focused on are limited. To me, Yoda seems like the prime candidate. While some may protest that until the day they die, he would be much easier to do, as he’s a computer-generated character and is important enough to the saga to warrant a film of his own. His history has largely been unexplored (his species has yet to be named) and there is plenty that could be explained, such as his superior Jedi abilities and his training. It’s impossible to know what kind of relevance this could play in the sequel trilogy, but given Jedi spirits can communicate with living Jedi, it’s conceivable his presence will play a role in the films.
Of course, everything at this point is either wishful thinking or speculation, and the odds that Disney is seeking fan approval before moving ahead with its projects are infinitesimal. For now, we’ll just have to keep on dreaming of the endless possibilities and praying for the best outcome. And, of course, continue discussing. Feel free to do so in the comments below!
While I hope that Star Wars doesn't have to go down this road, if it must be done, then I do agree with the idea of Yoda being a good choice. Another interesting character would be Obi-Wan. Since we've never seen him younger than a padawan, it would be much easier to cast someone to portray a youthful incarnation. Perhaps they could even get ahold of Ewan McGregor to make a small reappearance as the older version of the Jedi.