Wednesday 29 January 2014

Top 5: Star Wars Spin-off Movies

The Internet has been abuzz in recent weeks with rumour that Star Wars fan favourite monosyllabic bounty hunter, Boba Fett, is currently being tooled for a solo spin-off movie. 

And whilst nothing as been confirmed, the mere concept alone is simply mouth-watering. Boba is arguably the most bad-ass character in the franchise and a character-driven spin-off focusing on either his story prior to Empire Strikes Back or post-Sarlaac pit swallowing would be a real treat for die-hard fans of the Star Wars Universe.

However, Boba isn't the only character or story with depths to be plumbed and back story to be explored. In this edition of Top 5, I take a look at other characters or Star Wars stories that should get their own spin-off movie. And no, Jar Jar is not one of them. As if that even needed saying...

Honorary Mention: Star Wars 1313

An Uncharted-style video game that was in development by LucasArts up until Disney disbanded the company, 1313 would make an excellent movie that exists within the Star Wars Universe.

Set on the bustling central planet Coruscant, 1313 was not pitched as an intergalactic adventure, more a character-driven story set on the one planet. It would have shown a very grimy and real-world side to the Star Wars Universe and worked more like a sci-fi crime story, along the lines of Dredd, than an actual Star Wars project.

That the game will never come to fruition (we think), makes an potential movie even more interesting. We practically got a taster of the story, the aesthetic from the game-play trailers and teaser images released. Please Disney, reconsider ditching 1313 and give it the full-blown movie works.

5) Jedi Apprentice (Qui-Gon/Obi Wan)

The character that started it all by discovering a young tyke on Tatoonie, a Qui-Gon Jinn movie would provide the fairly short-lived character with a lot more depth.

In Attack of the Clones, we learn that Qui-Gon was taught by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), a Jedi Master who later abandons the Order and joins the Separatist movement.

Any origin story that focuses on Qui-Gon could not only draw on the potential friction between these two characters, but could also focus on the relationship that Qui-Gon has with his own apprentice Obi Wan prior to The Phantom Menace.

There have been numerous novels that explore their partnership and Qui-Gon's training of his apprentice; in the popular 'Jedi Apprentice' series, Obi-Wan even leaves the order at one point to restore peace during a civil war, much to the disappointment of Qui-Gon.

With over a dozen books in the series, there is certainly plenty of material to mine when it comes to crafting an prelude story for Qui-Gon. It could still work out, even if it is a stretch to again cast Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon fifteen years after he originally played him.

4) The Force Unleashed (Starkiller)

The Force Unleashed was a video game released by the now defunct LucasArts in 2008; the game bridges the gap between the two Star Wars trilogies and introduces a new protagonist - Starkiller as Darth Vader's secret apprentice. 

Vader and Starkiller plot to destroy the Emperor and take his place at the head of the Empire but Starkiller encounters General Kota and Juno Eclipse, two Rebels who teach him about the way of the Jedi and the light side of the Force.

From here, the game gives players the option to make decisions and alter the outcome of the story - obviously a stumbling block for any adaptation but nevertheless, a worthy story of a full-length movie in my mind. 

It'd give fans the chance to get to know an interesting, layered protagonist as well as fleshing out existing characters like Vader, Leia and Bail Organa. The game also has some pretty bad-ass action set-pieces that would translate well onto the big screen. 

3) Shadows of the Empire (Dash Rendar)

Shadows of the Empire was a multi-media project developed by Lucasfilm in 1996. The idea was to create an interquel set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back that filled in the space between the two. 

The most popular of this endeavour was the video game of the same name that introduced Han Solo-esque character Dash Rendar. 

Whilst it would mean recasting both Han, Luke and Leia (All three feature in the story, with Dash teaming up with Luke and Han to infiltrate a palace on Coruscant and rescue Leia), I think this would be a really interesting project for Disney to develop. Tricky, hugely risky, but a project that refocused Star Wars on the most popular period in the canon. 

Either that, or the script could borrow elements from the story and make a less literal adaptation - still include Rendar, his ship The Outrider and Leebo (his droid) but do away with the complicated casting decisions. Either way, I'd love to see this story adapted for the big screen. The title alone is kick-ass.

2) Darth Maul

Yes, I know. Producing a Darth Maul spin-off would be trickier than herding a bunch of blind, three-legged cows that are in heat. 

Given the amount of 'filling in' done with Darth Maul's character in the Clone Wars TV-show (something which is actually canon), there can't be much more to be done.

Or is there? Rather than try and solve that tricky element of him being, well, cut in half, why not provide an origins story?

What's up with those tattoos? How did he learn such a distinct fighting style? Is he wearing contact lenses or are those his real eyes?

Sure, he doesn't say much but is that because of some repressed teenage trauma? Maybe his mum didn't like that he dropped out of high school to become a Sith and kicked him out the house. Hmm, maybe angsty-teenage Goth Maul isn't such a great idea after all. Back to the drawing board...

1) Han Solo 

Young Han Solo - let's face it, this would be ace from start to finish. Preferably with someone like Michael Fassbender playing Han, we'd see the young Imperial officer start out his career aboard a Star Destroyer, all the while, showing that inner disregard for authority.

Then, during a routine mission on Kashyyyk, we see young Lieutenant Solo risk his life to save a young Wookie, disobeying an execution order and making a life-long friend in the process. From here, the two are chased across the galaxy, fugitives from the Empire's forces. On the way, they meet a suave young smuggler named Lando Calrissian and win a hunk of junk ship from him in a game of sabacc. The thing writes itself!

The pieces of the Han Solo back-story have already been hinted at in the movies, then explored in-depth in the Expanded Universe. A full-length movie that showed the numerous different scrapes and shenanigans young Solo got himself into prior to A New Hope would be a riot. Bar brawls, smuggling spice, shooting first; what's not to love?

There's also the tragic love-story Han shares with Bria Tharen; needless to say, her non-appearance in Star Wars gives away how that turned out...

As a fan-favourite since he first waltzed onto screens in 1979, Han Solo deserves a spin-off movie charting his past more than anyone else in the Star Wars Universe. To exclude him and deprive fans of a such a mouth-watering prospect would be criminal.

Which Star Wars character/story do you think deserves its own spin-off movie? Maybe you long to see the origin story of Jabba the Hutt or discover why Admrial Ackbar is so astute when it comes to announcing traps? Let me know in the comments below!

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