Monday, February 18, 2013

Let the Wookie Win

"Pew! Pew! Pew!"
Everyone's very excited about the new Disney Star Wars movies that have been rumored to include three sequels and standalone Han Solo and Boba Fett movies. The most recent rumor is that Harrison Ford will reprise his role as everyone's favorite Corellian-smuggler-turned-rebel-hero: Han Solo.
I am, well, not quite as excited about all of this as everyone else, I'm afraid. The reason for this is that I -that we - have been disappointed before by our unbounded enthusiasm for additional chapters in our beloved Star Wars universe. I will, at this point, turn things over to Patton Oswalt for elaboration (NSFW):
Thank you, Patton.
Now, I can already hear you saying, "But Lucas won't be able to mess with the stories! Disney bought him out! And these are sequels, so it's not messing with the histories!"
Okay, fine, but let's take a look at our beloved Han Solo's story in the expanded universe (as in books, comics, and more that do not appear on film):
(Hereafter, there be spoilers aplenty.)
Okay, this is cute. Now we've seen it. Let's move on.
After the events of Return of the Jedi, Solo resigns his commission, marries Leia, and they have three kids. It is a wonderful happy ending for our hero, but it isn't the most riveting of stuff, cinematically. Even if it were, that was shortly after the ROTJ. Harrison Ford is 40 years older now, so - even allowing for the "arrested Hollywood aging" (I just made that phrase up) - Ford will not be  playing Han changing the diapers of his Jedi children. So what, then? Well, things get pretty tragic: Chewbacca gets killed, one of Han's sons is killed, and the other son turns to the Dark Side. Han spends a good portion of the rest of his life being awfully depressed. I really hope that's not what they're aiming for with the Han Solo movie, because that sounds boring. . . and depressing. . . and very much not the Star Wars that I love. Maybe Harrison Ford will be showing up in the sequels as Han Solo - which one supposes will be focused more on Jacen Solo (the bad seed) and Luke Skywalker and his son, Ben, as they attempt to save the universe from Han's bad son - now calling himself Darth Caedus.
However, some of the folks at Disney have said that the sequels will not be following the expanded universe.
Really? So, 40 years of storytelling meant to fill the void left among fans wondering about the fates of their favorite characters is just going to be cast aside? Nice.

Okay, so maybe the Han Solo standalone film will take place earlier and have another actor playing Han. Do we really want that? Really? Someone else playing Han Solo? Okay, they re-cast Star Trek with younger actors, and we eventually got used to that idea, but - I'm sorry - I just can't get excited about that idea with Han Solo.
Boba Fett, whom we've only seen unmasked as a little kid, is a different story. No offense to Jeremy Bulloch, the actor who primarily portrayed the adult Boba Fett, but if your distinction in the role is that you were the one in the costume most of the time, that leaves replacement casting pretty wide open. The difficulty here is that what most people love about Boba Fett is the costume. Fett is an enigma - or he was until Lucas turned him into a morose eight-year-old. He is cool because he mostly says nothing. Bulloch says he based the portrayal on Eastwood's "Man with no name" from A Fistful of Dollars. So, what is the Boba Fett movie going to be? Yojimbo in space? Okay, that actually sounds kind of cool, but something tells me that's not what we're going to get.
I love Star Wars. It is the very first movie I remember seeing. My parents took me to see it at the drive-in. I was pretty young, so I didn't understand everything that was happening, but I remember being upset when Ben Kenobi died. I remember liking Han Solo and Chewbacca. I made myself hoarse the next day imitating Chewbacca's yell. I was very upset after the Empire Strikes Back. What would happen to Han Solo? Vader is Luke's father? How is Luke going to save everybody now that he only has one hand? Then came Return of the Jedi, which - to me - was perfect. Ewoks and all.
I wondered what would happen to the characters, and I read some of the novels and comic books that detailed their further adventures, but then I stopped. I realized that I was happy with the story as it had ended. The galaxy was saved. Han got the princess. It was good.
I, too got a little excited about the prequels, but I was also very concerned that they might recast Luke, Leia, and Han. Fortunately, they were far enough before the other stories that it wasn't necessary. Unfortunately, they were, well, the prequels.
So, this is why I am not really all that excited about more Star Wars movies. Yes, Disney, you paid big bucks to buy these characters, so, legally, they are yours, and - if you want to have Chewbacca arm wrestle Sully from Monsters, Inc. - that's your prerogative. Just remember that these characters also absolutely belong to a bunch of wide-eyed kids who met them sitting at a drive-in movie in a way that has no calculable dollar value.
My Han Solo. My Boba Fett. My Chewbacca. Please be careful with them. Please.

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