The first stand-alone Star Wars films will feature Han Solo and Boba Fett
Earlier this week we learned that Disney, the new owners of LucasFilm, and thus the Star Wars franchise, are working on some films set in the Star Wars universe which will not directly tie into the two existing trilogies. Meaning, the protagonists will not be Skywalkers.
Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney confirmed the news on Tuesday, telling CNBC, "I can confirm to you today that in fact we are working on a few standalone films, Larry Kasdan and Simon Kinberg are both working on film derived from great Star Wars characters that are not part of the overall saga. We still plan to make Star Wars 7, 8, and 9 roughly over a six-year period of time, starting in 2015. But there are going to be a few other films released in that period too."
This fits the successful franchise formula developed by Marvel studios, also owned by Disney, for their super hero films. A central line (The Avengers) and a bunch of side-cannon films which allow each major character in the key films to shine on their own, while maintaining a story-world that connects each film into a single universe. I’m perpetually surprised that Marvel can pull this off so well while every film is led by a different director who might have his own ideas about where the film, and story-world should go.
This seemingly impossible job is accomplished by having a franchise manager who oversees the directors, and makes small adjustments to each film to get them to fit together, changing small plot details, and inserting foreshadowing to other films in the franchise. In the case of Marvel, this job is handled by Joss Whedon. For Star Wars, the man behind the ‘galaxy far far away’ will likely be J. J. Abrams, who has already been announced as the director for the upcoming trilogy.
After the announcement, Geek culture magazines and discussion boards all over the web exploded with speculation about who the focus characters would be for these spin-off films. The character who received the most attention as a possibility was Yoda, the short-statured non-human Jedi master featured as a chief character in five of the six films, usually playing the role of the moral guidance for the protagonist. This idea received as much derision as it did excitement, but ultimately, it was just conjecture, and while there may be a Yoda film in the distant future, it seems he’s not one of the characters Disney plans to focus a film on in the immediate future.
Entertainment Weekly seeks to dispel the conjecture with news that films focusing on Han Solo, the loveable rogue and secondary protagonist from the original trilogy, and Boba Fett, the misunderstood bounty hunter with a particular hatred for the Jedi, are in the works. Without divulging their sources, and warning that plans could always change, EW claims the info comes from "close to the projects." No one official has made any public confirmation, but EW is usually pretty good about their source vetting, so I’d treat these as a bit better than just rumors.
According to their sources, the two films would be origin stories, and would take place previous to the original trilogy timeline, which opens the opportunity for Darth Vader and/or Jabba to play villainous roles in the stories of either. We know from Iger’s announcement that Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan are writing these films, but we don’t know who’s working on what yet, and no other names have been tied to either project.
Star Wars Episode VII is planned to hit theaters during the 2015 blockbuster season, with the next two films in the main series coming before 2021. The spin-off films have only been announced to be planned for release sometime within that six year window.