Walking the Razor’s Edge – The Staff Revisits Infinities

The Infinities series of comics, recently highlighted here by Alexander Gaultier, was basically Star Wars’ version of Marvel’s infamous series What If? Each of the miniseries started with one of the Original Trilogy films, then changed one key moment to see what would happen. The end results were…varied, in this writer’s opinion, but the mere concept of deliberately altering movie continuity was unheard of before then, and it’s a premise that still holds, as Alexander said, unlimited possibilities.

Unfortunately, a few months back, writer Peter David revealed what I’d long suspected—that the series weren’t really as “unlimited” as it seemed. David was originally approached to write Infinities: A New Hope, but his idea was rejected for being “too dark” The story, according to Lucasfilm, still had to end with the good guys winning.

This makes a tiny bit of sense when viewed through Star Wars’ mythological lens; it was foretold that the Force would return to balance somehow, so to go against that would contradict somewhat the very premise of the overall film saga. Nevertheless, why bother with Infinities at all if you’re not willing to screw with things? On its face, the original trilogy is a nonstop razor’s edge, where the slightest tweak at almost any time could have brought ruin to the main characters and the galaxy at large. Giving too many alternate paths to ultimate victory, I believe, does a disservice to Luke, Han and Leia’s struggles—and even the role of the Force itself in the proceedings unfolding as they did. Read More

The Pitch – We Fancast Episode VII For You—Deal With it

downeyHeath Ledger as the Joker.

Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark.

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.

Marrying a beloved character with a living, breathing actor is always going to be a controversial process—especially if you’re trying to reinvent them to a degree. Your movie won’t be out for a year or more, and now irate fans have all the time in the world to mock even the idea that this person could become their favorite character. This guy, as the Joker?? Are you serious??

Part of the problem is that characters in print media, especially comics, can look vastly different depending on who’s illustrating them—my ideal Tony Stark may be nothing like your ideal Tony Stark, and we could both have valid points because all there really is to go on is “white, black hair, goatee”. That’s why taking a slightly askew angle with your casting can be such a powerful move—in Downey’s case, launching an entire filmic universe on the back on one man’s likeability—because it imbues a distinct human element to what is often, honestly, a very bland sketch of a person. People freaked out about Jesse Eisenberg being cast as Lex Luthor in the Batman/Superman movie, and hey, that movie may yet be a train wreck, but Eisenberg screams “rich asshole” to the moviegoing public already (much like Downey screamed “hard living”), and that’s far more important to producing a resonant Lex Luthor on the big screen than whether he’s old and/or bald enough. Admittedly, it’s hard for me to say what Christopher Nolan saw in Heath Ledger that screamed “Joker”, but hell if he wasn’t proven right.
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The Pitch – Darth Vader TV Specials

A couple months back, a Disney licensing brochure hit the interwebs outlining several upcoming Star Wars merchandising opportunities over the next two years—Rebels, for example, Lego Star Wars, and of course, Episode VII. But included on the list was the tantalizingly vague “Darth Vader Themed TV Specials”. While the news item included a photo of the brochure and it appears to be a legitimate thing, no official information on these “specials” has been released since. Could they be one-shot episodes from the Rebels team? Tiny interstitial animations like the original Clone Wars Animated Series? Or even fully-produced live action material? No one has any freaking idea.

Could the staff of Eleven-ThirtyEight ask for a better opening? I submit that we could not. Here’s what we’d like to see.
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The Pitch – Novels Humbly Requested by Eleven-ThirtyEight

Whatever one thinks of the Star Wars novels that have come out since Fate of the Jedi ended, one has to admit that their primary distinguishing feature is experimentation—in a little over a year we’ve gotten a western, an Ocean’s Eleven riff, a female-led Dawn of the Jedi story, and the first X-Wing book in thirteen years, among others. Now that no one—not even, it seems, LucasBooks’ Jennifer Heddle—is quite sure what’s going to become of the Expanded Universe in a couple years. It seems there’s never been a better time for the EU to just go for broke and see what works. To that end, the staff of Eleven-ThirtyEight humbly submits the following for your consideration.

Mike: X-Wing: Red Squadron

Seriously, now—how has this not happened already? In addition to being the perfect mix of fan-bait and movie tie-in, a book telling the origins of Red Squadron would be the perfect opportunity to sort out the myriad gaps and inconsistencies of this era and deliver a coherent history of the pilots who destroyed the Death Star.

If they were really into the idea, the concept could even spawn two different books—one pre-Yavin, detailing the initial formation of Red Squadron from pieces of several other units of the early Rebellion (and incorporating the proto-Red Squadron from the X-Wing game that gave us Keyan Farlander, one of the few Yavin survivors), and one post-Yavin that tells of the “Rogue Flight” era, when Luke and Wedge, alongside Commander Narra (an important character who dates all the way back to the Empire radio drama yet has had few moments in the spotlight) rebuilt Red Squadron almost from the ground up and eventually evolved it into the Rogue Squadron seen on Hoth.
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