Star Wars Standalone Movies: Keeping The Mystery

With rumours that Disney/Lucasfilm is planning on making Star Wars movies based on characters such as Han Solo, Boba Fett and Yoda, the internet is positively busting at the thought of these new movies. While my first reaction upon hearing about more Star Wars movies was “More Star Wars? Yes, please” I’ve now had time to think about what these new movies could mean to the Saga.

The original Star Wars relied heavily on archetypal characters in order to convey to the audience the heroes’ journey that Luke Skywalker takes. He’s an innocent farmboy. Ben Kenobi, the Merlin-like teacher. Darth Vader, the black garbed villain. Han Solo’s character is there to be a cynical foil to Luke’s naivety. In the sequels we meet Yoda, the wise old sage and Boba Fett, gunslinger for hire. Each character serves a purpose based on the archetype they represent.

We are to assume based on our introduction to Han in Star Wars that since he’s just shot Greedo (first!) he’s a no-nonsense, possibly dangerous character. When he meets Luke and Ben we also find out he’s a mercenary, only looking out for himself. Rescuing Princess Leia from the Death Star was, if you could have asked Han at the time, a means to an end:" I’m not getting off of this battle station and therefore saving my own skin, unless I help these people out." Once on Yavin 4, he collects his reward and leaves. Nothing very heroic there, is there? It’s not until after he returns at the climax of the movie and takes out Darth Vader in the Death Star trench do we see a transformation in his character, now instead of looking out for himself, he’s become a hero by thinking of others.

So, what does this have to do with new Star Wars movies? Well, if these movies do in fact feature Han in a stand alone story, are we going to see him post Episode IV or before? It’s an important distinction because if we see him in a time frame before the original Star Wars, he should be a callous, selfish character thinking of no one but himself. A far less interesting story than the one we follow beginning with Episode IV and ending with Return of the Jedi where we see Han develop into a hero. There have been Expanded Universe stories that have dealt with Han’s past that show him as a hero. This is a mistake because we are to assume that until that fateful moment in the Mos Eisley cantina, Han Solo was nothing more than a rogue. There have been Expanded Universe stories that have dealt with Han before Episode IV and to me these stories ring hollow because they are showing a character who for the most part has already become the hero he is supposed to become later on.

If we do see a Han Solo movie in the coming years, I would hope that it takes place after the events of Episode IV, preferably between IV and V when Han would still be wrestling with his decision to join the Rebel Alliance.

The idea of a Yoda stand alone movie is also, in my opinion, not a good idea. A huge part of what makes up Yoda’s character is the fact that he is 900 years old and therefore carries 900 years of history--and mystery. This is basically what makes Yoda so interesting. We have no idea of where he's from and what he's experienced. The "Darkside Cave" in Empire Strikes Back obviously has a story behind it. I like to think it perhaps represents Yoda's own struggle with the darkside, maybe through an unknown darkside user but I like to think that Yoda is from Dagobah and over the course of 900 years he returns to it numerous times and that the cave is a physical representation of his dark side battles. Again, not knowing is what makes this interesting. Did Yoda actually cross over to the darkside? Possibly but all I need to see is this ancient, wrinkled little alien and the wisdom and sadness in his eyes over 5 different movies. I don't need it spelled out for me.

Better to have a stage with dark spaces that allows the audience to fill in the details for themselves.

While I welcome new Star Wars films, my hope is that the creators look at new characters and situations. The Original Trilogy provided my generation with the stories of Han, Luke and Leia. The Prequels provided another generation with a new set-Anakin and Obi-Wan. It would be great to see the next generation of Star Wars fans have their own heroes.

Mike Macdonald
Looking Away To The Horizon