Last Thursday, as soon as the news broke that Rian Johnson had been tasked with creating a brand-new trilogy of Star Wars films, I ran a Twitter poll of a few of the more popular spinoff ideas that have been floating around the last few years. To no one’s great surprise, the winner was “Ancient Republic”, with more than three-fifths of voters opting for that (admittedly broad) premise over any other choice, even literally “other”. I followed that up with a more specific poll, and a strong plurality voted for a trilogy revealing the origins of the Jedi Order.
That certainly looks like a plausible option as well, with The Last Jedi seemingly about to shed some light on how the Jedi came into being (and what made Luke all mopey about it). So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that, when I asked the staff to pitch me their ideas for a spinoff trilogy, I got three stories roughly involving, well, the origins of the Jedi. Here’s what they came up with.
Mark: Star Wars: Pioneers
The early days of hyperspace travel. Before a galactic senate has been established, corporations are sending out ships to discover new planets and exploit their resources. But one region of the galaxy is shrouded in mystery, and both expeditions have failed to return. Strong energy readings have been detected, indicating a highly valuable power source.
Explorer Captain Jessica Henwick (finally getting her starring role) leads a crew of specialists on a dangerous mission to investigate. Among them is the state-of-the-art droid Huyang (David Tennant), and a mysterious man played by Ben Daniels. The first movie is space horror in the vain of Event Horizon or Sunshine – they find one of the missing ships, where the crew have been killed by a race of aliens who appear to have magical powers. The big revelation – Daniels is part of a mysterious new start-up religion that began on Ahch-To, called the Jedi, and was sent by his fellow believers to investigate dark powers flowing from this region of space. His own powers – similar to those of the creatures – lead to a lot of distrust within the crew. » Read more..
A few months ago, we ran a group piece on something I had been thinking about since Marvel started publishing Star Wars comics again—had the medium actually gotten stronger since the original Star Wars series, or would we look back on this era as being just as silly and dated as those early days of Jaxxon and Cody Sunn-Childe? What I noticed then that I hadn’t really considered before was that a good chunk of the regular staff here actually doesn’t read the comics and has little in the way of opinions on them.
Then last week, when I started thinking about what Marvel might come up with to replace the soon-to-conclude Darth Vader series, I decided to bring the question to the staff, and this time I wouldn’t accept “I don’t read comics” as an answer. It’s hard to argue that Marvel haven’t done a great job maximizing Star Wars sales among the existing comics audience, but I was especially curious what they might do to bring in all these superfans I knew who nevertheless barely touched the things. I got some interesting ideas back, to say the least—here they are.
Ben C: As Marvel takes the bold move of ending Gillen’s Darth Vader title, what’s next is a logical question, as is what they should do. The cynical response is to say Marvel will simply re-launch the book with a new creative team in a few months, pocketing the ker-ching generated by it. Here’s the non-cynical response: What if they don’t? What then? Well, over the last two years, Marvel have proved to be competent custodians of the Star Wars license. Due to some very smart creative combinations of writer and artist, with a mix of ongoing and limited series and a restrained use of events, the only question left to ask is what does Marvel have left to prove? » Read more..
Alongside the now-confirmed Han Solo movie and the still-theoretical Boba Fett movie, one of the most perennially-rumored spinoff films is one (or three!) centering on Obi-Wan Kenobi. While such a movie could conceivably be set during the Clone Wars thanks to Ewan McGregor’s annoying eternal youthfulness, speculation generally assumes the movie would be set during his exile on Tatooine (for the record, Ewan is currently 44, which in Obi years puts him at about six years after Revenge of the Sith). Speculation also tends to assume, at least when I’ve seen it, that the story would involve some sort of dire mission pulling him away from Tatooine for a brief time.
Leaving aside the conceit that anything could be important enough to pull him away from Luke, and leaving aside the fact that rather than twiddling his thumbs, the one thing we know for sure is that Obi-Wan spent that time communing with Qui-Gon and Yoda and learning how to transcend death (which was still a distant second on his list of priorities after safeguarding Luke), it bugs me when people take for granted the idea that an Obi-Wan movie would automatically require him to leave Tatooine, because for all its ostensible overuse in the film saga, Tatooine is really interesting.
Look no further than John Jackson Miller’s Kenobi, a book dealing with that selfsame period that manages to restrict its action not just to the one planet, but to an area small enough to fit on a handy-dandy map. Kenobi, the first novel whose release Eleven-ThirtyEight had the privilege of covering, was a rousing and heartrending adventure story with more shades of the traditional western than A New Hope could’ve, ah, hoped to squeeze into its running time—and not for one second does the reader find themselves wondering “yeah, but what’s going on on Coruscant right now?” » Read more..
Approximately eleven months from now, the holiday season will be back in full swing again. Halls will be decked, mangers will be awayed, bells will be caroled, all that good stuff. But one thing will be different: there will be a new Star Wars movie about to come out. Exactly one week before Christmas, in fact. A holiday release is unprecedented for Star Wars “episodes”, but not for the franchise as a whole: until this year, the terms “Star Wars” and “holiday” have only ever been uttered in the same breath in reference to, well, you know what.
But this is a new era—and if ever there were a time to go there, to revisit the idea of a Holiday Special, now would be it. So let’s join Chewbacca’s family once again as they prepare for their Life Day festivities… » Read more..
While I’ve long taken up the banner of diversity in Star Wars as one of my pet causes, I have to confess that while I’ve gone to great lengths to quantify its in-universe demographics, I’ve never really spoken up about perhaps an even more important aspect—the demographics of the people making Star Wars.
Part of it is that my sci-fi/fantasy interests have never extended much beyond SW and I’m just not familiar with a lot of female creators, and I think the other part is that—like with the lack of gay characters—the white guys have such an enormous lead that it’s hard to even know where to start.
Luckily, Star Wars’ real-world component has made some decent strides on its own in the last several years; the departures of Karen Traviss and Sue Rostoni from the publishing program were followed by the arrivals of Karen Miller and Christie Golden and Jennifer Heddle, Lucasfilm’s public face is increasingly that of women like Kiri Hart, Amy Beth Christenson, Andi Gutierrez, and Vanessa Marshall, and of course, the whole damned thing was bequeathed by George Lucas in 2012 to Lucasfilm veteran Kathleen Kennedy.
There’s still lots of room for improvement, however—notably, not a single female writer or director has yet been linked to any future SW film—and this awesome piece on women in comics over at that other “ThirtyEight” website inspired me to ask the gang for their recommendations on new female faces to join the Star Wars ranks. Here are their thoughts. » Read more..