I remember it like it was yesterday. After suffering through what seemed like an hour of bad romance, and a side plot that didn’t advance much character (and maybe a little plot), we saw Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi go toe to toe with Count Dooku. Yeah, maybe the fights were a little CGI enhanced, but it was still a lightsaber battle. Then Yoda showed up and turned into a whirling dervish. The puppet who taught us that the force was a living thing, that gave the Star Wars franchise its mystical heart and ethos was transformed into a weightless fighting machine. That was the moment I checked out of Star Wars. And with the recent news, whatever stirrings I felt are fading.
But until 2002, I was a die hard fan. I grew up with the original movies, and couldn’t have been happier when it was announced that George Lucas was returning to filmmaking when Episode 1 was announced in the late 90′s. I went to watch movies solely so I could see the trailer for the new film. I went to the ’97 reissues repeatedly. Star Wars was (and to some extent still is) a bonding thing between friends, because we all had stories about playing as Jedi as children.
Sadly, the prequels weren’t good, and though many turned on the films after seeing The Phantom Menace, and many still think that Revenge of the Sith is okay to pretty good, those films ultimately proved unnecessary cash-grabs.
But from 2005 until recently, those six films were all there was (television stuff didn’t count). Lucas was done as a filmmaker, he expressed no interest in making more of these films, and it looked like Star Wars‘s fanbase was dwindling into the hardcore. Sure, there might be animated shows, or whatever, but cinematically it looked done. All that was hoped for was a release of the original cuts of the OT.
And then Lucas sold the company to Disney, and now we’re looking at least seven new Star Wars films on the horizon. Yep, seven. There’s the new trilogy, and then all of the spin-off movies rumored, from the one directed by Zack Snyder, to the Yoda, Han Solo and Boba Fett movies that have been talked up over the last couple of days. We heard rumors they were talking about three Star Wars movies a year, and that appears to be the way of the land.
On the positive side, so far the new production company has been going after talented people. J.J. Abrams, Simon Kinberg, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt, and Zack Snyder are some of the most successful working artists in Hollywood, and though all have their drawbacks, it’s fair to say they’re throwing quality at this.
But today is the day that felt like that moment when the messages of Yoda and his wisdom was pushed aside because CGI could turn him into an expert lightsaber wielder and the whole enterprise pooped the bed. And that’s the announcement of a young Han Solo movie.
When it was revealed they were moving the movies forward, that was okay. Sure, everything was pretty well wrapped up with Return of the Jedi, but a new generation, a new challenge, whatever, it could work. Doing a young Han Solo film would show they learned no lessons from the PT or from Mr. Plinkett.
We’ve been down this road before, and it almost never works. Other than about a third of The Godfather Part II‘s running time and maybe X-Men: First Class, telling a prologue that’s meant to fit neatly into the existing work is a fool’s errand. Patton Oswalt said it best:
Doing stand-alone stories is okay, though over-saturation may ruin a good thing quickly (Marvel has done an excellent job at having a movie or two a year – franchises are the new movie stars it seems), but this announcement poisons the well. That said, Deadline just reported that these ideas are being kicked around, so there’s hope – a new hope – that maybe they won’t go this way. Maybe.
So, people involved, if you’re reading this: Don’t do that. Don’t make The Young Han Solo Chronicles.
The reason these movies are being made, quite obviously, is that they think/know there is an audience that will show up regardless of quality or how stupid the movies are (something sadly proved by the success of the prequel trilogy). And so far they seem interested in having talented people behind the films, and at least getting a pretty good couple movies out of this. But already there’s been so much news and speculation that reminds of those heady days of the late 90′s, when anticipation was peaked because everyone loved the original trilogy. They were blockbuster phenomenons.
At this point, it seems smarter for them to keep the lid on these spin-offs, and try to curb these rumors because they want us excited, and not annoyed. And the best way to keep us excited is to explore things that we haven’t seen before, because the Star Wars universe is already pretty claustrophobic. What made the originals work so well was the sense of wonder and the unexplored. That we could build backstories for characters like Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian in our heads. There’s no need to show us that. Please.
What spin-offs would excite you?