This week Disney confirmed they have plans afoot to initiate aesthetic strip-mining and merchandise-driven IP expansion for their latest acquisition, the world-renowned Star Wars universe. We already knew director J.J. Abrams had signed on to captain the ostensible Star Wars Episode VII for release in 2015, but Disney has no moral imperative to stop there. At the very least, we’ve been duly notified of two proposed film spinoffs in the works: one based on Boba Fett, because chicks dig guys who act tough and die quickly; and one based on young Han Solo, which will hopefully be more action-packed and less educational than The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
Expect many more theoretical projects to be announced in the days ahead as assorted Hollywood professionals shelve their own original ideas and instead spend all their waking hours competing for a turn at being a cog inside Disney’s newest money-making machine. Odds are the following proposed spinoffs will not be a part of any future PR announcements:
* Star Wars Origins: Ice Cream Maker Guy — If you blinked at the wrong moment during the Bespin sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, you missed the fleeting seconds of screen time that comprised the complete career of Willrow Hood, more affectionately known to sarcastic fans as Ice Cream Maker Guy. Last seen (and only seen) carrying a large white cylinder through the crumbling halls of Cloud City, Hood’s meaningless presence has taken on a life of its own in recent years, with enough apocryphal trivia accumulated to support a Wookieepedia entry several hundred words too long. Every single sentence of that entry will be tossed out in favor of an origin story written from scratch. The ideal actor for this role, in my flexible mind: Community‘s Danny Pudi. (It does not have to be Donald Glover. Don’t be racist.)
* The Legend of Mara Jade — Many longtime fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe (i.e., any and all SW stories outside the six movies or Clone Wars) have their favorite non-Lucas characters, but one of the most popular is Mara Jade, a tough-as-nails lady with a shady past who would later become Mrs. Luke Skywalker. I know a lot of people who’d love to see Mara Jade transition to the big screen, but all indications thus far point to Disney’s hired guns not caring one whit about the last thirty-five years’ worth of Star Wars books, comics, or video games. The average profit-sharing deal would dictate that screenwriters stand to benefit more from creating their own characters, no matter how derivative and been-there-done-that, than they would from validating the creations of their comparatively powerless predecessors. Much as I’d love to see other faces such as Quinlan Vos, Zayne Carrick, Kettch, or even Tag and Bink headlining marquees, I’m not holding my breath.
* The Force — A TV series structured like a complex literary novel, this looks like a standard Jedi-vs.-Sith tale on the surface, but is in fact a scathing manifesto condemning the greed, corruption, immorality, and incompetence that pervade every stratum of Galactic City, Coruscant, where citizens are disposable, conscience is optional, and juking the stats is standard protocol for every conceivable institution. Dozens of subplots weave tightly into an unflinching indictment of how everything went horribly awry in the lives of eight hundred different characters, every single one of whom will become an action figure. The series will be canceled due to low ratings after five episodes, but all eight hundred figures will litter store shelves for the next thirteen years and four months.
* Fast and Furious: Podracer Havoc — Paul Walker! Sebulba! Dennis Rodman! Women who let perverts dress them! Racing! Crashing! Shooting! EXPLOSIONS!
* Slapstick on Dagobah — A ninety-minute art film that’s just one long scene of Yoda having dinner with Fozzie Bear. Basically, it’s an excuse for Frank Oz to show today’s young voice actors how it’s done.
* Republic Commandos — Based on the novels by Karen Traviss about clone soldiers during wartime. My wife was an enthusiastic fan who was disappointed to see not only Traviss walk away from the series, but also the Clone Wars animated series ignoring or overriding Traviss’ more interesting contributions to the milieu. What Lucasfilm now insists is “canon” in the cartoon tends to underwhelm me when compared to my wife’s enthusiastic descriptions of some of the developments in those books. A faithful movie adaptation that makes her happy while ignoring and overriding Clone Wars wouldn’t upset me in the least.
* Jek Porkins, Mall Cop — The Rebel Alliance’s heftiest X-Wing pilot didn’t die ignobly on the Death Star after all; magically he survived, lived until well after the fall of the Empire, and became a potential star vehicle for Kevin James.
* Everybody Kills Boba Fett — Twenty-two short films about Boba Fett dying pathetically at the hands of twenty-two different characters, from Lando to Dengar to R2D2 to Salacious Crumb. The ultimate moral: in every single timeline ever diverged, Boba Fett is a straight-up chump.
* Han Solo, Space Grandfather — Harrison Ford turned 70 in 2012. Would it be okay if we declined to indulge this one? Pretty please?