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When considering the idea of just what to expect from a potential Star Wars spinoff, two different paths immediately suggest themselves as having the kind of mass appeal that a History of the Wookie Planet project just can’t match (Sorry, Chewbacca fandom).
On the one hand, you could tell a story about the Jedi Order, which is definitely one of the unique selling points of the Star Wars universe (and, thanks to the lightsabers, a visual that’s uniquely “Star Wars,” as well); the movies to date have shown them in decline and in absentia, but movie audiences have never really seen the Jedis at their best. Even The Phantom Menace, which arguably saw the best of the Order, focused more on minutiae of the Order — meetings, training, midi-chlorians — than the swordplay and kicking alien butt that fans really wanted to see.
Despite that, the six Star Wars movies to date — as well as The Clone Wars spinoff animated series, the only other piece of canon officially recognized by Lucasfilm to date — have all featured Jedi leads, and the argument could be made that the central Star Wars saga is really a story about the Jedi Order, or at least a bunch of guys who use lightsabers and “the force” a lot. Surely, a spinoff from that should do something else.
That’s where the other most obvious direction for a Star Wars spinoff comes in. It’s a world that the series has visited multiple times, but made a point to never stay in for too long. I’m talking, of course, about the “wretched hive of scum and villainy” that is the Star Wars underworld.
Given the level of appeal of the various rogues and scoundrels in the Star Wars series (consider the fact that more of the series’ breakout characters hail from the wrong side of the intergalactic law than from the right: Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett … ), it’s surprising that more hasn’t been made of the exploits of the shadier characters in the Star Wars universe.
Much like the Jedis, the existence of a faded, grimy underworld in the movies gave the series something that so many other science-fiction properties of the time lacked, and also tempered the potential saccharine qualities of Luke Skywalker’s story in the original movies. Why not take that further?
Of the three characters rumored to be given the spinoff treatment — Yoda, Boba Fett and Han Solo — the latter two seem the most exciting and most filled with potential, with Solo in particular a relatively blank slate prior to his debut in A New Hope. Turning the focus fully towards the underworld, whether it be smuggling, gambling or bounty hunting, also gives the spinoff an identity aside from the core series and is therefore more of a draw for fans and nonfans of the franchise alike.
Of course, that same argument works to support my personal dream of a Lando solo movie, explaining just how he ended up in charge of Cloud City in the first place, but until we discover the technology required to clone Billy Dee Williams to take on the role, I’m willing to wait. For now, here’s to Gareth Edwards and Gary Whitta bringing on the bad guys in 2016. It’s long overdue.
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