Star Wars fans have had a lot to digest lately. Star Wars: Episode VII currently filming, we have a release date and director for our first Star Wars stand-alone film (coming in 2016), and this week came the announcement of Josh Trank helming another stand-alone movie. While rumors have persisted on what the upcoming stand-alone films would be about, nothing concrete has been laid out just yet. As such, they’re ripe for speculation and hopes, so I wanted to break down some story ideas I think would be well suited to Lucasfilm’s spin-off Star Wars films.
First of all, I have to say, I’m actually sort of more excited about what the stand-alone films will bring to the Star Wars universe than the Sequel Trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to see Episode VII, but it’s something of a known quantity. Disney is going to be playing it safe with those films because they have to be good and meet certain expectations with fans (at least in terms of story). The standalone films, however, can be experiments and offer up new story possibilities in the Star Wars universe that we haven’t seen on the big screen before. As such, I’m more interested in seeing what they come up with.
The popular rumor for a while now (and given more credence by a leaked Hasbro document...supposedly) is that the films will be “origin” stories focusing on Boba Fett, Han Solo, and something else (Yoda has also been mentioned). Those ideas aren't bad, but they're going to have to do more than "play it safe" in order to work, and I think incorporating some of these ideas below would make for some amazing stand-alone films.
Something Set in The Old Republic
Sure, plenty of things are no longer considered canon in the Star Wars universe (all of the Expanded Universe stuff), which likely includes anything from The Old Republic era. That’s fine, yet it doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a film set within that period of time. Both the original trilogy and the prequels make mention of the old Republic and how the Jedi were guardians of peace and justice for over a thousand years. Why not show it?
Even leaving behind all the awesome stories we got from that era, including the Knights of the Old Republic game (which I feel has a better story than most of the prequels), this time period is still ripe for exploration on the big screen. We’re talking about Jedi and Sith back in their prime, facing down each other in large scale wars. It would open up the chance for new characters to be created, and it’s setting would keep the filmmakers from having to constantly reference the previous films; giving a level of storytelling freedom but still within Star Wars.
Darth Vader’s Jedi Purge
It’s been mentioned in the films, and brought up a few times in the comics and books, but I think most fans would agree that it’d be pretty great to see Darth Vader during his great Jedi Purge, as he’s hunting across the galaxy to track down the remaining Jedi. It’d offer up plenty of opportunities for action as well as the chance to once again see the iconic villain in action (we only saw him in suit for a little bit in the Prequels).
The new cartoon show, Star Wars Rebels, has something of a concept like this, in that it takes place before A New Hope with a Jedi in hiding from Darth Vader’s Inquisitor. That makes this idea for a film even better, as then you could tie in Rebels more directly with a Star Wars movie and even provide the chance for some of those characters to end up on the big screen (possibly even some Clone Wars characters too). With their focus on a more interconnected universe, a Darth Vader Purge style film could make connections between the prequel fans, the Expanded Universe fans, TV show fans, and even fans of the original trilogy. Sounds perfect!
Star Wars is a space opera and covers conflicts that span on a galactic scale. It’s made for some awesome films, but one of the things I hope to see most out of the standalone movies, is a smaller kind of story. Not every interesting thing that’s happened in the Star Wars universe took place on a massive scale.
Think of it this way. Here on Earth there are several movies made every single year based on true stories, or small sections of the world. A galaxy contains millions of planets, so there’s no reason why a smaller kind of Star Wars story wouldn’t be feasible. One of my favorite rumors, that landed a couple years ago (when word of the spin-offs first started hitting) saying that Zack Snyder had pitched a movie to Lucasfilm back before Warner Bros. had tied him down for their new DC Universe films.
At the time, the supposed story he pitched would be a "Jedi epic loosely based on Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai". Basically it would focus on a small group of Jedi on a lone planet trying to deal with a specific problem. There wouldn’t be galaxy-spanning peril involved, but a more intimate story. I was really excited about this idea, thinking it could give far more options for emotional development between characters, while showing fans other areas of the galaxy far, far away.
While that rumor/storyline will probably not end up panning out in the long run, I like the idea of it, and think something on that scale should be explored in one of the spin-offs.
Leave the Jedi/Sith Behind
Let’s face it, we all love seeing people swinging lightsabers around and dueling it out in ultimate good vs. evil battles...but there’s so much more to Star Wars than just that. Some of the most popular stories ever created in the Expanded Universe (games, comics, and books) didn’t have anything to do with the Jedi or their mortal enemies, the Sith. Instead those stories focused on the ‘regular’ people who populated the galaxy, from Clone soldiers (Republic Commando series), rebel heroes (the Rogue Squadron books), and even some scoundrels.
A movie focused on them could be an awesome experiment, potentially giving way to a new crop of fans. Imagine a more serious “war” movie that focuses on the grunts caught up in this galactic civil war, or an Ocean’s 11 kind of film with a young Han Solo and his scoundrel crew (the subject of one of my favorite Star Wars books in recent memory). This ties-in to my previous idea of telling smaller stories, in that putting the focus on different characters could produce amazing stories.
Obi-Wan and Darth Maul Settle the Score
For the most part in this article, I’ve been trying to avoid specific characters or ideas, and instead provide a more general framework for how Disney should proceed with these stand-alone films. I can’t hold back on this one though, as the fanboy in me is dying to see this happen. Darth Maul’s time on the big screen is criminally short, and one of the biggest complaints about the Prequels deals with such an excellent antagonist being killed off so soon.
Fortunately The Clone Wars resurrected Darth Maul and he featured in some of the best arcs within the show...yet his plot line (and tale of vengeance against Obi-Wan Kenobi) was left unfinished. Since The Clone Wars is part of the new canon, that means the Darth Maul is still alive and no one is quite sure what happened to him (though supposedly it’s answered in a new comic series). This leaves the door wide open for a stand-alone movie to pick up the dangling plot and give fans what they want: the final showdown between Kenobi and Maul.
Last year, a rumor started that Lucasfilm was considering a spin-off movie about Kenobi and Darth Maul, set in a time between Episode III and IV. Prior to that, Ewan McGregor even said he’d love the chance to play the Kenobi role once again on the big screen and was even hoping to get his own spin-off. Frankly, a movie like this would practically be a license for Lucasfilm to print money. Fans would get the chance to see Maul once again on the big screen (hopes that have been going since 1999), and it’d be a great way to wrap-up loose ends and tie-in The Clone Wars to the new films.
I’m not saying the currently rumored ideas for the Star Wars spinoffs are bad, and in fact, some of them may very well incorporate these ideas into them. I just hope they try something different with these films than what we’ve seen before. They’re an opportunity to give fans what they want, while also being great cinema!
These are some of my ideas, but I’m sure you guys are filled with your own. Well let’s hear them! I want to know what you’d like to see out of the proposed Star Wars stand-alone films, so let us know in the comments below.