Editorial: Need STAR WARS Spinoffs Featuring Old Characters, We Don’t

     February 6, 2013


We knew that Disney was developing Star Wars movies outside of the sequel trilogy, and a couple days ago, it was rumored that one of those spinoffs would focus on Yoda.  Today, we’ve received the news that we’ll be getting a spinoff focusing on a young Han Solo, and a new adventure featuring Boba Fett.  Even though George Lucas has removed himself from the new movies, it seems like Disney and LucasFilm are continuing one of the key mistakes of the prequel trilogy.  They’re taking the gigantic, rich world of Star Wars and making it smaller by clinging on to old characters as if audiences would stay away unless there were familiar faces.  Holding on to Yoda, Han Solo, and Boba Fett could weaken the Star Wars legacy as the mystery and allure of the characters is washed away.

I planned to write this editorial when there was only the rumor about Yoda, but now that Han Solo and Boba Fett are in the mix, I’m going to break down why those movies aren’t good ideas either.  But start with Yoda, we should.


Yoda-movie-Star-WarsYoda is 500-years-old [correction: he’s 900-years-old] by the time he dies in Return of the Jedi, but no matter where you go in his life, it’s nowhere worth visiting.  If the movie takes place before the prequel trilogy, you deprive Yoda of his gravitas.  He comes to us old and wise, and I don’t need to see a reckless, freewheeling Yoda who plays by his own rules unless someone is making a Star Wars spoof.  He’s the voice of wisdom, and we already know the guy he becomes.  Yoda isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, defined by a singular experience that makes him who he is by the time we meet him.  If anything, we could be in for a retread of how a do-gooder Jedi Master once again sucks as being a teacher since, like Obi-wan, Yoda screwed up and let his apprentice, Count Dooku, go to the Dark Side.  Maybe we could learn how Yoda’s lightsaber fighting style was influenced by heavy cocaine use and the juice from Gummi Bears.

If the spinoff takes place during the prequel trilogy, then it’s basically The Clone Wars, and even if the movie were to take place between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, it would still be pointless.  Yoda’s purpose throughout the prequel trilogy is to do almost nothing, and tell us that he has a vague premonition that something bad is going to happen.  Great work there, Cassandra.  Some could argue that this would be a tragedy as Yoda struggles to stop some sense of impending doom, but this film would probably only highlight the character’s incompetence.

If the movie takes place during the original trilogy, matters become even worse.  We always assumed that Yoda spends all of his time on Dagobah.  If you want to find a way to ruin the original trilogy even more, give Yoda a secret spaceship and have him go on missions to either secretly help out the main characters (“So that’s why the stormtroopers were terrible shots!  Yoda was behind the corner using the force!”), or going off on his own adventures.

If the movie takes place after the original trilogy, it’s Ghost Yoda.  No movie should have the ghosts do anything.  They’re dead.  Let them stay dead.  This would be particularly bad for Yoda since he has a moving death scene, and then we’re all left to wonder why he didn’t do more after he died.

Young Han Solo

According to EW, the Han Solo movie would take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.  Problem #1: Find an actor who could play a younger version of an iconic role.  It’s possible since Chris Pine isn’t bad as a young Captain Kirk in Star Trek, but this is Han-freaking-Solo.  Go nuts with dream casting, but I can’t fathom who can possibly fill those boots.  Even if you go with an unknown, you’re still mimicking a performance.  It’s not an insurmountable problem, but it will create immediate skepticism until audiences see the finished product.

I like who Han Solo is when we meet him in the Mos Eisley Cantina. It’s a great example of immediately establishing a character.  You know who this guy is within five minutes of meeting him.  People get pissed at Han not shooting first because that little change completely alters the character’s personality.  He goes from badass to guy-with-Jedi-reflexes.

Rewind back to Lil’ Solo, and now we’re bothering to see how he became the Han Solo we know and love.  Did you always wonder that?  Did you watch the original trilogy and couldn’t stop thinking, “I wonder if he had a happy childhood?”  Han Solo comes to us fully formed and then develops from there.  What blanks are we really trying to fill in?  If it’s just some smuggler going on adventures, why not simply come up with a new character?  Keep Han Solo intact as we know him, and then use a new character to show us the world we were going to see with Young Han Solo.

Boba Fett

I don’t get the love for Boba Fett.  I really don’t.  Fanboys isn’t an amazing movie, but I can’t agree more with this quote:

“You guys both got to stop perpetuating this myth that Boba Fett is some kind of bad-ass. All right? He has a jet pack. So did the Rocketeer. Really cool. When it comes time for battle, the man’s Michael Bay – all style, no substance.”

Preying off the character’s cult popularity, the prequel trilogy attempted to add “substance” and ended up smothering all interest in the character.  Who is Boba Fett?  Well, his dad was the model for the stormtroopers, and Boba Fett was just some angry little kid.  He became sad when his papa got decapitated.

Wouldn’t it have been far more interesting if young Boba Fett had been this happy, innocent kid?  Now there’s a story worth telling.  How do you take someone with that attitude and turn them into a bounty hunter?  Oh, wait.  Never mind.  That’s the story of Anakin Skywalker.  With the exception of Luke Skywalker, if people get sad after experiencing a tragic loss, they will inevitably become assholes.  It’s the rarely talked about sixth stage of grief: Murder.

As we discussed on the latest episode of The Collision, what we want to see is the world of bounty hunters.  We know it’s there, just like we know there’s a world of smugglers, and a world of soldiers, and a world of rebels, and so many other places to go without dragging back old characters.  If Disney and LucasFilm are so bent on dragging people out of the original trilogy, then dig deep and tell me how Porkins got so fat.  Show me Star Wars: Attack of the Diabetes.

Final Thoughts

star-wars-episode-v-the-empire-strikes-back-posterIt all comes back to keeping the mystery alive.  On some level, I can understand the prequel trilogy telling the story of Anakin Skywalker because it ties back into a generation conflict.  It’s a big story.  By comparison, the original trilogy is over six hours long, and Boba Fett has approximately less than a half-hour of total screen time.  Fans don’t really care about Boba Fett; they care about the idea of Boba Fett.  They like the idea of the taciturn, bounty hunting side character.  Describing his origins only diminishes what fans built up in their imagination.  And when it comes to Yoda and Han Solo, you’re messing with perfection.

But mess with it they will.  It’s the move of studios that underestimate their own product.  Even worse, these kinds of spinoffs reek of a lack of creativity.  A Seven Samurai-inspired spinoff sounds like a fountain of imagination compared to recycling beloved characters.  At least with a Seven Jedi movie, you have to invent new characters (although I suppose the writers could copy-paste the character descriptions from Kurosawa’s film).  The characters of the original trilogy matter, but part of their charm is how much we know about them.

After the prequel trilogy, this franchise needs a fresh start more than ever.  Spinoffs based on beloved characters aren’t a look back at Yoda, Han Solo, and Boba Fett.  They’re another step back for Star Wars.

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