Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Let's Talk About the Confirmed Standalone Star Wars Films and What We Can Expect!

Disney’s Bob Iger has confirmed that standalone Star Wars films will be produced concurrently with the new sequel trilogy. These separate films will focus on existing characters from the saga and further develop their stories. According to Bob, this is what screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back) and Simon Kinsberg are currently working on. Rumour is that the first character to be tackled is Yoda, which is inline with rumours from over a year ago. I recall reading an old report that Lucasfilm were looking at making prequels to the prequels, centered around the history of a certain tiny green Jedi. I assume that these stirrings were in fact the initial inklings of what we’re seeing come to fruition now.

So that’s the news part, which you can read anywhere. Now for the rampant speculation and opinion as to what all this could mean... after the jump!

The Star Wars universe is bigger than any one story, so I feel like it makes a lot of sense to branch off and explore characters that aren’t especially burdened by all that Skywalker baggage. If anything, a feels incredibly rushed, often failing to tie up its many accumulated plot threads in a satisfying manner. With that in mind, I’d embrace the chance to see a more focused film that has sufficient space to develop a single character and is able to tell a complete story on its own. Yoda is an interesting one, and also a good conduit for revealing more about the way the Jedi Council has operated in the past. They are cold and distanced characters that are frequently brushed over in the prequels and I’d love to see someone turn that upside down.

However, there are two ungainly elephants in the room concerning Yoda’s backstory that a movie is going to have to either directly address or gingerly skip around...

1) Yaddle. Do you remember Yaddle? Forget Jar Jar Binks - I’m telling you that Yaddle is easily the most accursed character in the Star Wars universe. She’s the Episode One Jedi council member who looks like this...

Here’s where it all gets hairy.

Yoda’s species has never been revealed. For some reason it’s a secret/unknown and I imagine that any backstory film is going to have to address to some degree just where he originates from. It’s an anomaly in the Star Wars universe where every single other species, race, droid, ship etc gets a unique name. Now this would be all fine and easier to digest if Yoda was the last of his species - or at least believed that he was - but that theory all falls apart because of the wretched Yaddle.

I imagine that Yaddle exists purely for budgetary/behind-the-scenes reasons as opposed to anything to do with storytelling. The original goal for Yoda in the Phantom Menace was to make him look younger than he did Empire Strikes Back, and there’s concept art that explores this. The issue, of course, is that an 850-year-old shouldn’t really look significantly younger than a 900-year-old so a lot of these concepts were appropriately ditched. What we ended up instead was that weird hybrid puppet version which has since been replaced with the CGI model.

Now, I will bet the house and farm (I own neither) that Yaddle is an early pass at the young Yoda puppet. I imagine they put a reasonable enough time and money into creating it that Lucas conceded, “Whack more hair on it and it put it in the Jedi council. It can be... um... Yaddle... Better give it boobs”. They filled a chair without having to invent something new, and thus we have Yaddle, the monkey wrench in the Star Wars works.

Because how can both of them not know what species they are? They must talk about it which means they must have a reasonably close relationship, right? Surely some form of kinship. So does that mean that you can’t tell a Yoda backstory without evoking/exploring his relationship with shittiest Star Wars character ever, Yaddle? The mind boggles!

2) Why the hell does he persist in talking like that? Would it kill him to learn the language?

Look, when he’s exiled on Dagobah then I’ll happily accept that he’s a crazy hermit. He’s been talking to himself for years and slowly going nuts and by that stage he honestly doesn’t give a damn what you think. He’s beyond eccentric and it that context it is pretty cool.

But when you lead the Jedi Council and are spending most of your time in the capital city dealing with thousands of people who talk normally it is just plain obstinate to keep doing your backwards talking bullshit. Surely, at some stage, somebody pulled him up on it. “Look, I don’t want to appear racist or anything... and I... uh... respect your culture that you apparently know zero about... but would it kill you to stop saying everything backwards? It’s making the minutes to all our meetings almost illegible.” Fix it.

All that said, the future for Star Wars looks bright, and there’s plenty of speculation as to which directors might eventually step up to share their vision of the galaxy far, far away. We know, for example, that Joe Johnston has been vocal about his desire to direct a standalone Boba Fett film. Which in itself would have its own share of room-elephants. I’d personally love to see a story about a post Return of the Jedi Boba Fett who has to crawl, partially digested out of the Sarlacc and confront the fact that he is now a laughing stock for being taken out like a punk by a blind Han Solo. And if that’s not enough to give him a raging revenge-boner for Solo then I don’t know what is. So many stories to be told!

I’d personally like to see Wes Anderson sensitively tackle the pathos of craggy Ackbar so that we can finally learn how a marginalised space lobster managed to climb the ranks to Admiral. It could be called Admirable Ackbar.

How about you?

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