Star Wars fans, admit it: you like scoundrels. And you’re about to get more of them in your life.
Yesterday, The Walt Disney Co. unveiled plans to make a number of spin-off movies set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away — in addition to the post-Return of the Jedi trilogy that had already been announced.
Entertainment Weekly has learned details on two of the spin-off projects: A young Han Solo saga, focusing on the wisecracking smuggler’s origin story, and a bounty hunter adventure with Boba Fett at the center of a rogue’s gallery of galactic scum.
Several sources close to the projects confirmed this was the direction the development was taking, although each cautioned it’s still very early in the process and, well, the deal could always be altered futher. Lucasfilm and Disney declined to comment on the information.
The Han Solo story would take place in the time period between Revenge of the Sith and the first Star Wars (now known as A New Hope), so although it’s possible Harrison Ford could appear as a framing device, the movie would require a new actor for the lead — one presumably much younger than even the 35-year-old Ford when he appeared in the 1977 original.
The Boba Fett film would take place either between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, or between Empire and Jedi, where the bounty hunter was last seen plunging unceremoniously into a sarlacc pit. Exactly who would play him isn’t much of a complication – in the original trilogy, he never took off his helmet. And in the prequels, we learned he was the son of the original stormtrooper clone, played by Temuera Morrison, who’s still the right age for the part if his services were required.
In addition to bringing back two fan-favorite characters as the leads of their own films, the Han Solo and Boba Fett projects would also allow Darth Vader, in full-on black death-metal gear, to return as a villain, since placing the spin-offs within the original trilogy would mean he is still alive and hissing. That timeline would also open the door for a return from visit with everyone’s favorite degenerate slug-like gangster, Jabba the Hutt.
Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced the existence of spin-off plans yesterday as part of the company’s quarterly earnings report. He said the screenwriters working of the stand-alone films are Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sherlock Holmes) and Lawrence Kasdan (screenwriter of The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the filmmaker behind The Big Chill.)
The pair are also involved in the drafting of the new trilogy, with Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3) penning the first of the series, which J. J. Abrams has agreed to direct. That film is scheduled to hit theaters in 2015.
There is no indication who might direct the Boba Fett and Han Solo films if they end up coming to fruition. Joe Johnston, director of Captain America and The Rocketeer, originally designed the armor for Boba Fett and told Screenrant he would like to make a film based around the character. Recently, Robert Rodriguez told MTV he would jump at the chance to make a Han Solo film if it were offered to him — although that seemed more like casual interest than a serious proposal.
The recent novel Scoundrels, by sci-fi author Timothy Zahn, focused on the exploits of Solo in the period between A New Hope and Empire as he set up an Ocean’s 11-type heist of a gangster’s fortune. But sources said it was not the basis for any film currently in the works.
As for other spin-offs, Ain’t It Cool reported Monday that a Yoda-centric film may be in the works, and earlier last month Vulture reported Zack Snyder may create a Seven Samurai-inspired Star Wars spin-off, although the filmmaker later said that was untrue.
Lucasfilm has ramped up its development in recent months under the new leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, who stepped in as co-chair of the company as Star Wars creator George Lucas stepped back and sold the company to the Walt Disney Co.
Kennedy, who has her eighth nomination for the Best Picture Oscar this year as producer of Lincoln, has a long track record of making films that strike a nerve with the original Star Wars generation, among them E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and everything from Gremlins to The Goonies and the Back to the Future movies.
The question now: If these films do happen, who would you cast as a young Han Solo – or should they cast someone as relatively unknown as Ford once was?
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