By now everyone within 2 million light years of a Death Star blast radius has heard the news. Disney has acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.
The byline that set the world on fire was the fact that the merger has set in motion plans for Star Wars Episode VII, already scheduled for a 2015 release. The plan is to release a sequel trilogy, with Epsiodes VIII & IX likely coming in 2018 & 2021.
George Lucas mercifully decided it was time “to pass ‘Star Wars’ on to a new generation of filmmakers”, which our own Googs likened to the same sigh of relief and new hope that Raiders fans felt on October 8, 2011 (too soon?). Tasteless jokes aside, Star Wars fans now place their hopes in a new regime, one they hope is capable of returning the best property in geek history to the top of the entertainment mountain.
So where do we go from here?
The sky is the limit for Disney Star Wars. Here are six great things that Disney can do with the Star Wars property:
6. More Star Wars Muppets Crossovers
The Muppets and Star Wars have always had a fun working relationship, from Star Wars character appearances on The Muppet Show to the Star Wars Muppets action figures available at Disney World. Now that Disney owns both properties, it makes sense to create more fun crossovers.
A one-hour Muppets Star Wars special on ABC would be great, and just like Big Bird once made a cameo in a Muppet movie, maybe Chewbacca can show up the next one.
5. Hire Ian McDiarmid
McDiarmid is the one solid link between the prequel and original trilogies, and could play a part in the sequels (see: Clone Emperor). Even if Disney wants to create original stories and a more kid-friendly feel for the next three movies, they would be well served to include elements from the originals that lifelong fans can gravitate to.
image courtesy guardian.co.uk
No matter what direction they go with the new movies, when Star Wars casting news and rumors start surfacing, we die hards will be comforted to see Ian McDiarmid’s name among them.
4. Make movies based on the video games
Some of the Star Wars video games have great stories to tell. Thing is, if you’re a Star Wars fan but not a gamer, you may have missed out on them. The Force Unleashed would make for a great film; and Starkiller, the main character, was visually modeled after and voiced by Sam Witwer, an easy choice to cast as the film’s star.
The massively multiplayer online role playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic introduced and cultivated a wealth of new and interesting characters that would also make for a great film, independent of the sequel trilogy. The events take place 3,500 years before Episode I.
3. Create programming for all Disney channels
So what of the long embattled Star Wars live action TV series we keep hearing about? Last we heard, it was being called Star Wars: Underworld, and it was ready to go, just in need of funding. Disney certainly has that covered, but whether this show comes to fruition or not remains to be seen. Regardless, Disney could use the Star Wars Universe to program other shows targeted at their various network demographics.
Perhaps an animated show for Disney XD (the likely landing spot for Seth Green’s Detours), and even a light-hearted learning-based show for Disney Junior. Disney has tailored the Peter Pan universe to toddlers with its Jake and the Neverland Pirates show, why not create new Star Wars fans early with something like Doc McStormtrooper?
2. Cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Han Solo’s son
Upon yesterday’s news, fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe began speculating on potential story arcs for Episode VII and beyond. A popular opinion was that Disney would use Timothy Zahn’s The Thrawn Trilogy as the basis for the sequels. Although Disney has somewhat snuffed this possibility by stating that the sequels would be original stories, there is a lot of Zahn’s Expanded Universe that would lend itself well to a new trilogy.
In The Thrawn Trilogy, Leia gives birth to twins (fathered by Han Solo, of course), Jacen and Jaina. Jacen Solo is a key character in the Star Wars Universe that exists after the events of Return of the Jedi, be it through books or comics. Jacen is ultimately seduced by the dark side, thus giving us the tried and true rise-fall-redemption storyline.
I can not picture a better actor to take on this role than Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If Jacen Solo is involved in these movies at all, he will be a central character. Gordon-Levitt has proven he has the ability to carry a big time sci-fi film (Looper) and has the chops to play the hero and the villain in one character.
1. Make movies based on individual characters
The main reason Star Wars fans have faith in this mega-matrimony is the success of the Disney-Marvel merger. The last few years of Marvel superhero movies have been wildly successful, by and large pleasing the die hard fans as well as bringing in new ones. While Star Wars has never struggled with bringing new fans into the fold, most of the prequel-based offerings have been panned by die hard fans.
The main reason for The Avengers success was the strength of the individual characters, built up in their own solid films. Outside of Episodes VII, VIII & IX, Disney could make Star Wars movies based on the adventures of individual characters.
In what era would these films be set? Doesn’t matter.
How about a Boba Fett movie following his rise to notoriety amongst the galaxy’s best bounty hunters?
A movie starring Ian McDiarmid & Ray Park chronicling the still-popular Darth Maul’s apprenticeship?
Hell, Liam Neeson is a big action star now- what about a Qui-Gon Jinn movie? Maybe that one is pushing it.
The obvious choice would be a Darth Vader standalone pic, following the Sith Lord between Episodes III & IV as he embarks on the Jedi purge. This movie wouldn’t be tied up with the sequel trilogy, so the writers and directors could be independent of those films. Cast Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor, bring back James Earl Jones, and this would have the potential to be one of the biggest draws of all time.