So yesterday, on Boxing Day, I made the daring trip to the local cinema to watch the new Star Wars effort- The Force Awakens. My opinion on it will be in another entry at some point, but suffice to say that whilst I enjoyed seeing the Millenium Falcon in all its glory, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the whole experience. It seemed to spend too much time paying homage to the older movies and not enough time forging out a storyline of its own. However, this isn’t a review article- this is an article that focusses on a second point I took from the movie. The spin off. Because every year for the next six years or so, there is going to be a Star Wars movie, including a few spin off storylines. However, instead of wasting time on new characters that we as fans haven’t fallen in love with yet, they could just give us more in depth stories about some of the other side-characters we see in the Star Wars universe. So if you’re reading this, big Hollywood executive, then here are a few ideas about where to go next with your precious Star Wars saga.
Give us Sebulba’s back-story
Even though the majority of Episode I was a bit of a mess, there were some amazingly awesome parts- none moreso than the frankly awesome Pod Racer event. It was cinematic on every level, and there was sound, action and tense moments throughout. Of course, Anakin (who is adorable at this point and isn’t the hate-filled Vader we will later come to know) wins the day, because he has to in order for the story to progress, but he has nearly every pod-racing scene stolen by Sebulba.
This guy is a pretty awesome character. Sure, he’s a blatant cheat, and the reason he’s the reigning champion in the tournament is as much down to his corruption as it is his racing ability, but he’s got a lot going on under that funky leather cap of his. After all, as we see in the cinematic pod-race, he’s a very talented racer. He could win most races simply by being a better competitor than the others. He has the talent to back it up. But, instead, he decides to cheat, resorting to sabotaging opponents ships and using his own ship’s flame-throwers and other weaponry to get ahead. So why is this? Why is a talented racer resorting to cheating when he already has what it takes to win fairly? That’s certainly a character trait that could be looked into.
There are other things to explore, too. For example, as we see in Episode I, Sebulba is the only character who seemingly can bribe his way to victory.It is glaringly obvious to absolutely anyone that his ship has weaponry, which is technically banned for pod racing, and yet the race officials overlook this fact. They also, of course, overlook the fact that Anakin- a freaking child- has been allowed to enter a race that we already know can (and often does) result in death, so maybe this isn’t the most civilised of planets. But why is Sebulba the only racer who has a blind eye turned to his cheating ways? And why does he hate Anakin, a human, so much? Perhaps something bad happened when he was younger involving a human and he has carried a grudge against them ever since. It’s all something that could be looked into. And, also, who hates Pod Racing? It’s by far the only reason for the entire movie to exist, so we’re hardly going to say no to getting to see some more on screen.
Tell us how IG-88 became a Bounty Hunter
When Darth Vader calls a group of bounty hunters and assassins to aid his search for Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon, we ended up getting to see the IG-88 droid for all of a few seconds, because out of a whole group of bizarre characters, Vader picks Boba Fett to carry out the deed.
In the end, that turns out to be the correct move, because Fett is ultimately successful in his aim. However, when we look at the expanded universe and read about IG-88, we realise that we’ve got a pretty wicked story right there and then. IG-88, a droid, became a bounty hunter because, during his construction, his creator left him incomplete. Something went dramatically wrong and he is left with programming that gives him an unstoppable, undeniable urge to kill, which ultimately leads him into the career path of being a bounty hunter- it allows him (It? Do droids have genders?) to kill without any fear of justice.
Of course, it order to get the best emotional impact out of the character, you have to go further than that, to his very moment of creation. IG-88 and his little droid buddies, upon creation, immediately turn on their master and slay him. That’s a sure sign that the destiny of this robot is going to be slightly more dramatic than the character arc of that stupid droid we see in Watto’s junk shop that resembles an oven with legs. Plus, you know, he’s made of metal, so he’s a little bit tougher than the average bounty hunter. We could essentially be given the Star Wars equivalent of the T-800.
Tell us more about Yoda’s early years
In the current Star Wars universe, it is accepted that Yoda is a legend- a Jedi master who is approximately forever years old and, despite his diminutive stature, can hold his own with the best of them. If you needed any proof, then just look at his fights with Count Dooku and Darth Sidious in Episode II and III, where he flips around like it’s going out of fashion and uses his ‘fun size’ lightsaber to devastating effect.
And, sure, we buy that because he’s a Jedi master, and these movies are set quite a few years before he becomes the frail, ancient creature Luke Skywalker encounters in the Dagobah system. But how does somebody like Yoda become a Jedi master? He must have started as a Padawan learner, which is essentially a Jedi apprentice, which means he had a master: by all accounts a master who must’ve been pretty awesome to have trained such an awesome understudy.
Furthermore, I think we need to know about where Yoda came from. What is his home planet? Is it in the Dagobah system? Does he return home in his old age? Or is his home planet destroyed by the Death Star? Oh, and I want to know if he had a family, and if he’s the last of his kind. Sure, we see Yaddle, a younger family member, sitting on the Jedi council, but she’s the only other Yoda-like character we see. So are there others? And are they destined to be great Jedis, too? Lots of questions, there, and I think it’d be fun to have some answered. Yoda is certainly a lot more interesting than some of the other ‘new characters’.
Show us how General Grievous came to be
General Grievous was one of the few awesome characters in Episodes I-III, and it is abundantly obvious as to why- he’s part robot, part organic creature, and he has multiple limbs and a hacking cough that would probably suggest tuberculosis in any universe other than Star Wars.
Oh, and he can wield multiple lightsabers, despite the fact that he is technically neither Sith nor Jedi. Now, we know that Count Dooku trained him in the art of lightsaber duelling, but Count Dooku already had an apprentice in the form of Liam Neeson…sorry, I mean Qui Gonn Jinn. Dooku had absolutely no reason to train anybody else in the art of this elaborate, force-based fighting, even when he betrayed the light side and went to dark side (who I’ve heard have really nice cookies). So why did he choose a half robot, half animal?
And Grievous, who helps the Sith cause but isn’t a Sith, is probably just another pawn in the game, and he’ll be thrown away by those in higher power when he isn’t useful to them any longer. So what, exactly, does he get out of it? Is he actually naive enough to think he is going to benefit from helping the bad guys for years to come?
And using a lightsaber requires years of focus, and that’s just with one…but we see GG use four at one point, in his fatal battle with Obi Wan EwanMcGregorKenobi. That’s a really high level of focus that shouldn’t be possible by anybody other than the most skill Sith/Jedi…neither of which he is. Finding out how he managed to be so adept would be a pretty fun montage in itself.
R2-D2’s long lost brothers/sisters
R2-D2 is the bin-shaped, chirping and highly adorably droid of the Star Wars universe who, alongside being a more well rounded character than those who actually speak lines of dialogue, is the unsung hero of the entire saga. Time and time again he saves the characters with a deft little bit of tweaking and with a seemingly endless use of gadgets. He’s the swiss army knife of the resistance.
Now, as we see in Episode I, R2-D2 is an anomaly in his batch of droids- he’s a bit smarter and a little bit luckier than the rest of them. But, surely, there are others, too. If R2 was a glitch in the system, there must be others. We learn that droids are used for everyday tasks, and that the R2/R3/R4 units are regular co-pilots in aircraft, so the law of averages suggests that there must be others who are especially gifted above the others. So whilst the movies follow R2-D2, there’s every chance that somewhere else in the galaxy, another little ‘R’ droid is having an adventure of its own. So show us that droid. Go on, do it.
After all, we have seen from R2-D2 and BB-8 that you can make a little droid into a character, even though it doesn’t actually speak any lines of dialogue. And, like a dog or a cat, the audience becomes invested in their welfare- we actually fear for them when they end up in peril. We want them to survive and make it through to the end of the story. They’re actually more emotionally engaging then some of the human characters in the movie. Sure, you’d need some human characters to appear throughout the story, perhaps as both enemies and allies to the little machine, but you could even invent a droid as the main villain. Perhaps IG-88 could make an appearance. See, I’m full of great ideas!
Kylo Ren: The childhood years
Now, I’m sure this might be something that will be touched upon more in episode VIII and VIIII, but even so, I think Kylo Ren is deserving of an origin story. If it’s good enough for Darth Vader , then the offspring of Han Solo and Leia Organa is surely deserving of it. He was by far the most interesting new character of the latest effort and it was interesting to wonder how a child of two such characters could end up turning to the dark side.
We know that Luke Skywalker was trying to train a new generation of Jedi, and we know that Kylo Ren was one of them. We also know that he turned to the dark side after he was spoken to by Supreme Leader Snoke, betraying the Jedis, killing his former friends and forcing Luke Skywalker to go into hiding. Now, considering that he was the son of Leia and Han Solo, you’d think he was have the purest of hearts and that, out of all of the Jedi padawans, he would be the least likely to go rogue. However, somehow he did, and its interesting to note that his power is incredibly strong. Perhaps that’s why the dark side targeted him- because the advantage of gaining his power would outweigh the extra effort of recruiting him for their cause.
In The Force Awakens, Leia and Han Solo talk about how, somewhere along the line, they ‘lost’ their son. That suggests that he was slipping for some time and they failed to reach him in time, eventually getting to the point where he was impossible to be redeemed. The Star Wars universe is a lot of fun, but watching a character-based movie that shows the break up of a family could be something a little different, especially if it had the obligatory lightsaber duel spliced into the story. However, out of all of my ideas, I think this one has some legs…and they’ve probably already decided to go ahead and do this already.
Still…if you’re a Hollywood producer and you read this, feel free to use my ideas- although I will of course be expecting a percentage of the royalties. 100% of them.