We now know who will write and who will helm the first of the stand alone Star Wars movies. And thanks to CNet we have a release date. The movie is scheduled for release on December 16th 2016, making the May release dates a thing of the past. The film will be directed by British born Garreth Edwards. Mr. Edwards' first movie Monsters was one of my favourite films the year it was released and he went on to direct this years Godzilla showing just how capable a director he really is. /Film ran a piece about the announcement and quoted Mr. Edwards as having said the following:
Ever since I saw Star Wars I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – join the Rebel Alliance! I could not be more excited & honoured to go on this mission with Lucasfilm.
As for the writer on the as yet untitled movie; we get Gary Whittas. Mr. Whittas was responsible for The Book Of Eli, which was another enjoyable and very original movie. One has to wonder about what tone the producers are aiming for for the first standalone Star Wars movie. When you compare the DNA of Monsters and The Book Of Eli there are some interesting parallels.
So what will the first non saga film in the history of Star Wars focus on? There has been a lot of chatter on the interwebs about more prequels. Yep, prequels. It doesn't matter how you cut it, a Boba Fett or a Han Solo movie would be a prequel. In fact, mining anything from the canon would constitute a prequel, but to we really want to see early years stories of characters like Yoda? I'd have to come out and say no thank you! Remembering that the above announcements are the only official word on the projects so far, let's take a look at the rumoured release schedule:
Firstly here is the predicted line up-
2015: Episode VII
2016: Boba Fett
2017: Episode VIII
2018: Han Solo
2019: Episode IX
2020: Red Five
From the top then: Rebels airs on TV later this year. There has been talk that there will be some familiar faces in the cast. Obi Wan Kenobi has been all but confirmed, Lando Calrissian is being strongly rumoured. And why not? Vader, the Emperor even teenagers Luke and Leia are available to draw on in this time period and I'm sure after a couple of seasons the creators will start looking in those directions.
Then we have [Star Wars: Episode VII](movie:711158). As yet untitled but currently shooting with an exciting cast, I think we all have quite positive feelings about this movie. J.J. seems to fully respect the franchise and understand what made the original films great so we can relax a little bit there. We've had a couple of video messages from the director including the one below which featured an interesting practical effect.
Here we reach our first bump in the road. The next prediction is for the movie Mr. Edwards is due to helm. This movie, according to rumour, will be about Boba Fett! I really hate this idea. Here's why: we have gone back and studied a mysterious character from the original trilogy before. That character was Anakin Skywalker. Now, I was perfectly fine with Darth Vader having been Anakin. I was happy with the nods toward his past with Obi Wan, his appearance beneath the mask in Jedi and his old man force ghost in the trilogy's closing moments, then we get the prequels. Now I don't bash on the prequels like many people, I enjoy much of what's there, but I'm certain I didn't need so much Anakin back story. The attempts to make Anakin and by extension Vader more sympathetic harmed the character of Vader. In fact I wonder just how much power that character would have for an audience familiar with the new running order. The "I am your father" moment is lost forever right? So do we really want to be looking into these character's pasts again? Perhaps in some cases, and we will get to that in a moment, but certainly not in others. Boba Fett was arguably one of the coolest things about the original films, helped largely by the fact that he was a mystery. He came out of nowhere, had two or three lines, did his evil deeds and disappeared. He was incredibly popular as a result and I think its fair to say throwing the character under the spotlight in Attack Of The Clones was a mistake. Knowing where he came from undermined his character. Making his 'father' the clone template and placing them both in the Battle of Geonosis made the universe of Star Wars seem smaller. Why does everybody have to cross paths with everybody else? Chewy in Revenge Of The Sith, and The Clone Wars TV series for that matter, did the same thing. It shrinks the world, why wouldn't their big screen entrance into this world have been the first involvement with it? Leave their origins alone.
Let's skip ahead to 2018's offering. It's rumoured to be a Han Solo movie. What could that possibly be I wonder! The character is reportedly taking centre stage in a Episode VII, so it won't be a sequel, we're getting that already! It won't be set between episodes either and I'm pretty sure it won't be an art house piece focusing on his time in carbonite as told through his nightmarish fever dreams! No this would be another bloody prequel! Another origin story for a character I'm happy to have met the moment he slid behind that table in A New Hope! I don't want to see him as a kid! Even Uncle George dodged that bullet in Revenge Of The Sith when he abandoned a story that had a young Han Solo on the Wookiee home world. Leave him as a figure of mystery. We know enough, he was a smuggler, he was a gambler, he won the Falcon and cheated Jabba. And he shot first! Why do we need more that that? He served his purpose in the trilogy he was in, he served the story, he was never the focus, Luke was. We don't need a Han Solo movie.
This brings us to another problem. Casting. Who would play the characters? Boba Fett could be anyone really that doesn't matter. Prequel actor Daniel Logan lacks the chops so we might want to pass him over, but you can stick anyone else under that helmet and let them have a go at it (Karl Urban please), but Han is different. You only have a limited time frame to play with. Han was about 35 in Star Wars so you need to go younger than that. Too young and you make the Anakin mistake from Episode I and it becomes something other than a Han movie. Han will have to be in his late 20s early 30s and perhaps be played by an unknown with a passing resemblance to Harrison Ford. Good luck with that! Or, Zack Effron has been long rumoured as a potential Star Wars actor, is that what you want? No, leave the Solo character alone, we don't need more detail on his origin thanks. But there is one character that we could see work. The time frame is clear, at least until the Rebels TV show time frame, about 4 years prior to a Episode IV A New Hope. We'd be picking up after the prequels, before the original 1977 film, and you could cast the same actor. Step forward Obi Wan!
An Obi Wan movie could be perfect! He spent years in the wastes of a Tatooine as far as we know! Nothing else is eluded too in the original films. Maybe he had off world adventures? Maybe he worked with Clone Wars characters like Ahsoka Tano in those years. We'd get to see those characters in live action. Perhaps he has to fight off those hunting down the Jedi. Maybe it'd be a small self contained western style story set in a dusty little alien town. Perhaps Obi Wan and a female character, potentially Ahsoka, would find themselves on the road, against great odds travelling to safety in a wild and desolate landscape filled with deadly creatures and dangerous marauders. Perhaps Obi Wan would be tasked by someone to return something precious to them, maybe a Jedi Holocron, that he will need to protect! If any of those elements seem familiar to you it suggests that you may have seen Garreth Edwards' Monsters and the Gary Whittas penned The Book Of Eli.
This has to have crossed the collective minds of producers! Ewan McGregor has indicated that he'd like to return, and I'd love to see him in the role again. Tell a simple, stand alone story, and get it right, and you'll be able to do another one in a few years! There are stories that exist to be drawn on too. Like the novel Star Wars Kenobi and the graphic novel that sees the return of Darth Maul. Now I know that's been covered in the, now canon, Clone Wars, but it's an example of the freedom the Obi Wan character gives creators. He is an established character with a solid back story, we know what happens to him so he'll need others to interact with so the story has something at stake. We also don't know the fate of Ahsoka Tano. When last we saw her she left the Jedi. What's her fate, do you think the creators will leave her out of the expanded stories?
Finally, 2020 will supposedly bring us Red Five. Red Five was Luke's call sign in A New Hope, but by Empire he was Red Leader and never returned to Rogue Squadron, so what's the plan here? Recast Luke? Tell Rogue Squadron stories set between A New Hope and Empire? No thanks to the recasting, I can live without that! An animated film perhaps? Maybe an animated TV show like Rebels? I could deal with that. They'd have a short window within which to work, even if there was two years between episodes IV and V that'd only give you two seasons of TV wouldn't it? I guess each season could focus on a six month period and then you'd get four or five seasons so that could work. So if there is any truth to the Red Five rumour I'm betting on an animated, Luke focused TV show that takes over from Rebels.
So what about the future of big screen Star Wars? Another trilogy? There could be an argument to be made here. Disney have a huge cash cow with this franchise, one they paid top dollar for, you don't expect them to call it a day at Episode IX do you? There could be Obi Wan sequels that see Ewan McGregor reprise the role well into his later years, as he catches up to Alec Guinness' age. How about original characters? The new cast could spin off into stand alone movies? Prequels! We could have Darth Plagueis or Darth Sidious origins, maybe we see young Darth Maul. I'm not saying I'd like to see those, but they're options.
The bottom line is; I think we are just getting started in the Star Wars universe. It seems to me as though these films may well continue long after you and I are gone. Let's just hope the level of care being taken now extends well into the franchise's future. You never know, the current crop of new actors like Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Domhnall Gleeson may be playing these roles way into their twilight years. And perhaps with future technologies, beyond that...
By Marc Godsiff