In honor of George Lucas’ 70th birthday today, we sat down and took a look at Lucasfilm’s upcoming schedule. Disney purchased the company for over $4 billion in 2012 and has made known its plans to exploit the characters originally created by Lucas and friends, announcing plans for episodes VII, VIII and IX, and a stand-alone movie about Boba Fett. There’s other stuff in development, but what is it exactly? The Mouse House isn’t saying, but we have some thoughts on the matter that we will now impart.
Happy birthday, George! Here are five ideas for movies we think could expand the universe you’ve created, and might attract millions of new fans as well.
Dream Talent: Ang Lee, director. Michael Arndt, writer.
General Plot: The original Jedi Master is first seen 800 years before the events of the original trilogy, when he was a spry 100 years old. Where did he come from and how did he become so versed in the ways of the Force? Did he grow up in the Dagobah system, or did he head there in exile after the rise of the Empire? This story answers all questions.
Why it’s a Good Idea: One of the few characters from the original trilogy who’s something of a blank slate, Yoda is one of the most popular players in the Lucasfilm universe; people love his look, the way he talks, and what a badass he is. The possibilities are rich and, since he was killed off in Return of the Jedi, there’s not much they can do with him in the new trilogy. This way, the character stays front and center, while the merchandising possibilities remain tantalizingly rich.
Dream Talent: Shane Black, writer-director. Jesse Plemons, Chadwick Boseman, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, actors.
General Plot: Outlaws terrorize a small planet on the outer edges of the Empire and seven samurai, er Jedi are called in to help sort things out, old west style.
Why it’s a Good Idea: How is it not? There was scuttlebutt last year that Zack Snyder was developing something along these lines, and while we’re not fans of his work, this idea is pretty great. It’s perfect for a stand-alone, having nothing to do with the rest of canon, and could conceivably exist during a different timeline. There are many directions to go with this, but the central conceit is great. A Star Wars-themed western with a young Mace Windu leading the charge? That would be incredibly awesome on an enormous scale. (Seriously, if you don’t agree, we really want to know, because we see not a single downside.)
Dream Talent: Chris Miller and Phil Lord, writer-directors. Nicholas Hoult as Han. Anthony Mackie as Lando.
General Plot: Han Solo is a juvenile delinquent tweaking the nose of the Empire as he learns the smuggling trade from his more experienced buddy, Lando Calrissian. In the days following the fall of the Republic, the two young men embark on an action-packed adventure that establishes the pair of rogues and shows the wedge that comes between them and leads to their reunion in Empire Strikes Back.
Why it’s a Good Idea: Let’s start with the fact that a couple of movies could easily be made out of this relationship. And can you imagine the casting possibilities? Every young actor in Hollywood would be vying for a one of the two lead rolls. Harrison Ford might not love Han Solo so much (he recently said he prefers Indiana Jones, though that didn’t stop him from joining the cast of Episode VII), but just about everyone else does. There is also fascination with Lando, and the pair’s backstory would be absolute catnip for fans. Of all our potential candidates, this seems like the most fun.
Dream Talent: Martin Scorsese, Director. William Monahan, Writer.
General Plot: Can you say Star Wars gangster flick? In a storyline parallel to the prequels, the seedy underworld of the Galactic Empire is explored in an epic tale in the city of Mos Eisley, described by Obi-Wan thusly: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Amidst all that, the Vito Corleone-esque rise of Jabba, the most wretched and villainous of them all.
Why it’s a Good Idea: As hinted above, it’s essentially The Godfather meets Star Wars. Or maybe Goodfellas, since it should be grittier and less romantic than the Coppola film. Everyone loves a good gangster flick, and the idea of following a group of anti-heroes as they fight for leadership of the galactic underworld is tremendously appealing. Imagine the fun filmmakers could have with alien drive-bys, back room plottings, and even appearances from minor but legendary characters like Greedo as the little green man (who did not shoot first, darn it!) rides Jabba’s coattails to the top. From a storytelling perspective, it works knowing Jabba’s ultimate fate, that his time at the top has an expiration date.
Dream Talent: Matthew Vaughn, director. Drew Pearce, writer. Mark Hamill, Michael B. Jordan, cast.
General Plot: Following the fall of the Empire, and after Leia marries Han Solo and gives birth to twins, Luke Skywalker searches the galaxy for the next batch of Jedi warriors, assembling them at a central academy much like Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men universe. It’s X-Men: First Class meets Top Gun.
Why it’s a Good Idea: Dennis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles in the first trilogy, passed on the opportunity to reprise his role in Episode VII, which means you couldn’t use him as a wise instructor figure, but that’s the tiniest of hurdles. What a great way to launch a whole new set of characters without having to cram them into Episode VII, right? This concept could be a part of what J.J. Abrams has in store for us, but unlike some of our ideas, this one has some real legs. In fact, it could work as a companion series to the main episodes as a way of introducing new characters before incorporating them to the main storyline. Even if it’s just a one-off, the rollicking fun of seeing Luke train these kids would be something to behold. There’s fertile ground here, and it’d be a shame to waste it.