STAR WARS Ruminations: Post-Postquels Confirmed, Top 10 Characters For Solo Movies
When asked back in December, Abrams was explicit that he wasn't going to work on the project. This doesn't seem to be some kind of ruse or subterfuge; according to The Hollywood Reporter, it took significant convincing by Kathleen Kennedy to turn him around and accept the reins.
As THR reported,
Kennedy, Abrams and the writers met secretly for about three hours Dec. 19, and "J.J. was just on the ceiling when I walked out the door," she recalls. But still, she says, Abrams had "very genuine concerns" about his obligations elsewhere and the impact on his wife and three kids, given the likelihood that the film would not be shot in Los Angeles. And then there was the unique nature of the franchise. "If there was any pause on J.J.'s part, it was the same pause everybody has -- including myself -- stepping into this," she says. "Which is, it's daunting."
What turned him around was her simple pitch: "Please do Star Wars." As THR mentions:
[Kennedy] had cards to play. Not only was Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) writing the script, but Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and 1983's Return of the Jedi, was on board to consult. Abrams "was flipping out when he found out that Michael and Larry were on the movie already," says Kennedy.While Kasdan's role was confirmed earlier on a consultancy basis, until now it was only rumoured about just what he'd be tackling. Stories about the focus for these "spinoff" films heated up a couple days ago when that charming rascal Harry Knowles from AICN dropped notice that his sources indicated that one of the standalone films was to focus on Yoda. Of course, it's not such a stretch to center a film around such a popular character, particularly one with 900 years of backstory to draw from, and there were few details in his report
Still, a day later, Disney Chairmen Bob Iger officially confirmed that, yes, the stories about "spinoff films" are true, and that the likes of Kasdan will be tasked with expanding the cinematic universe.
As per the official announcement,
One of the standalone films will be written by Lawrence Kasdan, screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and co-writer of Return of the Jedi while the other will be penned by Simon Kinberg, writer of Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The movies will be separate from the upcoming Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, on which Kasdan and Kinberg are also consulting, and are expected to be released sometime after Episode VII. Each standalone film will focus on a specific character, and two spinoff films are currently confirmed.
In a call to investors, Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, revealed that while the original focus was on the highly-anticipated sequel trilogy, the idea of spinoff films was bandied about early and the additional films are now becoming a reality. "We are in development of a few standalone films," he said, "that are not part of the Star Wars saga...there are now creative entities working on developing scripts for what would be those standalone films."
Naturally, people are throwing out the usual suspects: a young Han Solo, a Joe Johnston directed Boba Fett project (or even an unchained version of his dad Jango's backstory), the tales of R2-D2, Jabba as a kid, and so on. Like the idea of Miike Takashi directing one of these spinoffs, I'm aware that nothing I'd really like to see will probably happen, but it's fun to speculate.
Entertainment weekly is reporting that they have exclusive knowledge about the stories behind two of the films:
"The Han Solo story would take place in the time period between Revenge of the Sith and the first Star Wars (now known as A New Hope), so although it's possible Harrison Ford could appear as a framing device, the movie would require a new actor for the lead -- one presumably much younger than even the 35-year-old Ford when he appeared in the 1977 original.
The Boba Fett film would take place either between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, or between Empire and Jedi, where the bounty hunter was last seen plunging unceremoniously into a sarlacc pit. Exactly who would play him isn't much of a complication - in the original trilogy, he never took off his helmet. And in the prequels, we learned he was the son of the original stormtrooper clone, played by Temuera Morrison, who's still the right age for the part if his services were required."
Imperial Probe Droid, aka "Probot"
For no particularly good reason, this guy's my favourite character in the films. There's something about a gun-metal black jellyfish robot with spider eyes that really captivated me as a kid. Sure, he' just kind of warbles in some mystifying "imperial code" that even Mr. "Six Million Forms of Communication" can't parse, but Probie and his bretheren make for quite a splash in their short time on screen in Empire. Yes, he's got the defense mechanism of a Bombardier Beetle, but in some ways that volatility could make for some epic drama.
While Boba Fett certainly captured my childhood imagination as early as the Holiday Special, I also enjoyed the taciturn guys that stand beside him on the bridge of the Executor. Yeah, a full out Bounty Hunter film would be pretty fun complete with Dengar, Zuckuss, 4-LOM and friends, but some sort of dark, twisted film following IG-88 through the bowels of some city planet would be pretty hip from my standpoint.
There are lots of articles on the web mildly amused by the rampant backstories from the most minor of characters that have been well established outside the cinematic canon (Den of Geek has a particularly good one worth reading). For me, no character with a long backstory is more ridiculous (and thus deserving of more onscreen time!) than the thing that tries to lick C3-P0 in Jedi.
As it's already well established that any extant backstory outside the film's canon is up for re-write, I'd like to see some fine Hollywood screenwriters take a crack at the giant licking thing, just to see what they'd come up with.
Yes, I'm aware that so far all the things I've mentioned don't really speak per-se on screen, which might make for kind of a dreary film. Still, we don't know for sure that Dianoga can't speak, maybe his mouth was full trying to eat young Luke.
Even as a kid I wanted to know more about this tennis ball on a stick (yes, literally, the prop was a tennis ball on a stick). How does a creature sustain itself in a giant garbage compactor? This could be one of those social realism pseudo docs, telling a metaphoric tale of a poor sub-class creature that lives off refuse, just as they do in places all over the world.
Me, I'd just like to see some flipper arms on that guy trying to steer a space ship.
Here's a guy with actual dialogue! I think he'd make a fine center to a Rashomon-like twist on the tale, telling the story of Empire and Jedi from his perspective, as we see through his eyes the Empire battling a bunch of Rebel insurgent terrorists intent on blowing up shield generators and slaughtering a bunch of Senate-approved military troops. The good Admiral was able to survive for more than one film under the leadership of Vader, so that's got to count towards him getting a standalone piece.
Momaw Nadon, aka "Hammerhead"
Yes, we're back to creatures that don't really talk without the necessity for subtitles, but there's something about that lumbering guy sitting at the cantina table that's always amused. How about a buddy-cop movie with Ponda Baba for good measure?
There's something so stilted, almost drugged about Mothma's morose appearance in Jedi that it's clear that woman's been through some rough times. Really, should anyone be so forlorn about some damn Bothans? Maybe she's suffering from PTSD from some seriously bad-ass stuff that she did in her youth. Whatever it was, it might be worth seeing.
The Millennium Falcon
Sure, it's an inanimate object... but is it? Well, yes it is, but we already know there's a backstory tied to gambling and Kessel runs, why not use the ship as a device to show how its various owners (pre-Han/Lando) used the ship in various ways. It would play kind of like the tattoo in Cloud Atlas, but more swooshy.
This is the guy who paved the way for Luke to want to join the academy. For that mustache alone, it's be worth seeing him actually do things the way Skywalker never got to do -- go to school, do the work, find it wasn't for him, and go join the rebel band to fight the very people he used to sit in class with.
The Clan Antilles
We know that the droids were once owned by a "Captain Antilles," and we also know that Wedge is the luckiest pilot in the galaxy at repeatedly being able to avoid being shot down. Maybe there's some family saga here, the rebellious clan at the heart of the counter-Imperial movement. Or, perhaps some Godfather-style epic following them as they become disillusioned with the Emperor's tightening grip and start to have meetings about what to do to make things less Palpatinian.
OK, these are all unlikely to ever happen, and pretty much terrible suggestions from a commercial point of view. Still, what's great about the myriad of characters introduced in the classic films is that each seems to have some vital role that can be expanded upon. Yeah, the obvious candidates are likely to be the ones that get their moment in the sun, but by delving into the more esoteric details the filmmakers can find, like those that crafted the games, comics, or other auxiliary properties that have run with many of these side characters, there will be more freedom to craft something not constrained by previous backstory.
I'm all for a fresh start on all things, treating only the films and maybe the Clone Wars show as some sort of historical canon. I'm also all for these spinoffs to have less baggage, with wider range of tonality fueled by a genuine sense of experimentation. Time will tell, of course, but as always it remains fun to speculate.
Meanwhile, if you have any characters from the original Trilogy that you think should get their own spinoff (Dack? General Madine? Nien Nunb?), make your case in the comment section below. Heck, we can even open it up to the Prequels: Me, I'd love to see full features starring Sebulba, Dexter Jettster, Wat Tambor, or my fav character from I-III, the delightfully bitey, Harryhausenean monster thingy called "Acklay". But that's a discussion for another time...