7 ideas for the next A Star Wars Story

It was a golden moment when Lucasfilm and Disney announced their intention to make a series of standalone Star Wars movies in addition to the sequel trilogy. For the first time in history, the Star Wars franchise wasn’t penned in by its own history. They could make any kind of movie they wanted. Any character, any period, any genre they liked. So what did they do with this much creative freedom? They made Rogue One, a heist movie set in between Episodes III and IV, and Solo, a heist movie… set in between Episodes III and IV. Well then.

For now, I’m reserving judgment on Solo; it could be really good. But I think they need to branch out a little bit if they’re going to justify all these standalone entries. They’ve got a massive fictional universe to play around in, and pretty much anything they make is going to be a hit, so there’s no excuse not to swing for the fences, and give at least some consideration to the seven entries below.

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1. Lando: A Star Wars Story

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. For many fans, the main takeaway from the Solo trailer was how much better of an idea it would have been to make a Lando Calrissian movie instead. While Alden Ehrenreich forces himself into the Han Solo character like a piece of clunky old machinery, Donald Glover slides into his role with cool ease and sexually ambiguous panache. Moreover, in plot terms, a Lando movie would’ve been more satisfying than an origin story of a character who I’m pretty sure we already know everything about. It would also be a big step in bringing more minority representation into the famously undiverse Star Wars franchise. (And yes, I know that’s what Finn was intended to accomplish. Counterpoint: Finn suuucks.)

But just because Lucasfilm dropped the ball on this particular decision doesn’t mean we can’t still have a Lando movie. This is the twenty-teens, where no movie franchise ever ends and you’re allowed as many sequels, reboots, and reimaginings as you need to get it right. So let’s do a Lando movie, and let’s get bonkers with it. Make it as colorful, stylish, and flamboyant as the man himself.

2. Sifo-Dyas: A Star Wars Story

One thing that the prequels don’t get enough credit for is faithfully upholding the Star Wars tradition of drawing influence from mid-century pulp and genre film. Attack of the Clones in particular had some real cool noir shit going on that no one ever talks about. The first two acts were a circuitous, hard-boiled mystery, filled with detective work, intrigue, hired guns, and ambiguous loyalties, which started in a grimy big-city diner and ended up on a planet where it was literally dark and rainy all the time.

Stills from Star Wars II: Black-Hearted Killers

The noir-est touch of all was the character of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas, who never appears, and is probably dead, but whose name keeps cropping up as a plot lynchpin, much like Sean Regan in The Big Sleep or Floyd Thursby in The Maltese Falcon. Supposedly, Sifo-Dyas was singlehandedly responsible for organizing the clone army which eventually destroyed the Republic and killed all the Jedi. You never find out what his deal really was. Was he a naive, idealistic Jedi lied to by Count Dooku? A disaffected Jedi, reacting against the Jedi’s hidebound conservatism? A straight-up Sith? Count Dooku himself under an alias? Is he really dead? Did he ever exist?

There’s plenty of room here for a super-cool story which should be noir’ed up as much as possible. Imagine a labyrinthine plot with lots of obscure players. Double-crossings. Spies. Double agents. A central conspiracy that careens out of control. And of course, plenty of cinematographic and directorial touches hearkening back to Golden Age crime films. It could work.

3. Snoke: A Star Wars Story

As many people have noted, Snoke, the Big Bad of the sequel trilogy, really came out of nowhere. We don’t know much about him. How did he come to power? How did he learn the ways of the Force? What’s his personality like, aside from generically evil? How did he find/corrupt Kylo Ren? How did his face get so fucked up? It doesn’t look like we’ll learn much more about him, now that he’s (spoilers!) dead.

“*gasp* Oh no you di-int!”

I’m not saying we need an exhaustive backstory for Snoke. He got about as much backstory as the Emperor did in the original trilogy, and no one ever complained they didn’t know enough about that guy. Also, it should be noted that Rian Johnson, writer and director of The Last Jedi, cut his teeth on Breaking Bad, and one of that show’s biggest narrative strengths was its insistence on keeping some of its characters’ backstories a total mystery.

But this is less about Snoke himself than about the much less forgivable narrative gaps in between the original and sequel trilogy. In its yen to recreate all the story beats of the original trilogy, Abrams did what amounts to a full narrative reset without any good reason given for it. How did the First Order, a ragtag junta operating at the fringe of Republic space, get the resources to build a bigger military and a bigger super-weapon than the Empire at its height? Why was the New Republic so complacent about this threat? How did the whole galaxy forget that Jedi used to exist? In short, why is everything just like it was before?

Since there’s no putting that poorly-written genie back in its unambitious bottle, a story about Snoke’s rise to power is the most graceful way I can think of to weave in those particular narrative threads.

4. Droids: A Star Wars Story

Interwoven with the tale of Darth Vader’s rise to power and eventual downfall are two unassuming characters: R2-D2 and C-3PO. These two humble droids have witnessed more pivotal moments of galactic history than any other beings who ever existed. They’re so intertwined with the Star Wars series that they appeared in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi even though they had absolutely nothing to do. And there’s a 19-year gap during which the two just tooled around the galaxy, programming binary load lifters and living through a battle or two.

There’s a reason some of their adventures were kept secret.

Am I the only one who thinks it would be interesting to see some of the things they were up to in those forgotten years? The duo has always been a reliable source of comic relief, and the increasingly grimdark direction the series has taken would benefit from a breezy entry full of screwball comedy and farcical misadventures. The plot needn’t be entirely frivolous, however; there’s got to be some reason Bail Organa wiped Threepio’s memory but not Artoo’s, and it has to tie in with the fact that they somehow ended up serving the Organa family’s purposes through all their wanderings.

A droid movie could also shed some light on the place of droids in the Star Wars universe. Legally, they seem to be closer to appliances than slaves, though they’re shown to be sentient, have their own personalities, develop strong emotional bonds with organic lifeforms, and even occasionally get commended for valor. These attributes aren’t lost on the “good” characters, who treat the droids kindly, while the evil characters callously throw droids away or even torture them with impunity. The Star Wars series has never encouraged us to think too deeply about this situation before, but a droid-centric movie could be a great way for the series to sneak in overtly political themes about social stratification. Crazier things have happened.

5. Bounty Hunters: A Star Wars Story

When I was a little geekling, among the wealth of Star Wars ancillary literature available in its ‘90s heyday was a series of “Tales” books that left an impression on me. These were anthologies in which a bunch of veteran Star Wars authors wrote short stories around a certain setting or theme: Tales of the New Republic, Tales from Jabba’s Palace, Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, that kind of thing. Objectively, the best of the whole bunch was Tales of the Bounty Hunters, which contained one story about each of the bounty hunters seen briefly on the bridge of the Executor in The Empire Strikes Back.

It shouldn’t have surprised anyone that Boba Fett attained popularity far out of proportion to his tiny role in the Star Wars trilogy. Bounty hunters are cool. They conjure up impressions of lawlessness, violence, and danger, and they fit the Star Wars aesthetic very well indeed.

A Boba Fett movie would be too obvious, though (and also, to hell with that chump; he got killed by a blind man). Why focus on just one bounty hunter, when you could follow the example of Tales from the Bounty Hunters and make an anthology out of several of them? Pick out a few up-and-coming filmmakers, and have them each write and direct a short movie about one particular bounty hunter. Get a bunch of characters, a bunch of styles, and a bunch of different looks at the bounty hunting profession. It’s not as wild an idea as it sounds; think of how many action figures they could sell.

6. Rise of the Sith: A Star Wars Story

I’ve never been much of a comics reader, but I’ve always made an exception for Star Wars licensed comics. As a young’un, I snapped up all the Star Wars comics I could get my hands on. There was so much good stuff out there: Dark Empire, Droids, Republic, Clone Wars Adventures, Crimson Empire; But my favorite ones of all were the Tales of the Jedi series, which had two main installments that took place 4,000 and 5,000 years before the events of the Star Wars trilogy (respectively), and chronicled the first couple of full-scale conflicts between the Sith and the Jedi.

What I loved about this series was its sense of historicity. Everything looks convincingly antiquated, with characters in classical- and medieval- inspired outfits, urban areas dominated by stone towers and pyramids, and the weapons and technology sporting a decidedly steampunk look.

Many fans know this period in the Star Wars universe’s history only from the Knights of the Old Republic video games, which are excellent games to be sure, but in terms of art direction and worldbuilding are functionally identical to “present” Star Wars. They even sprinkle in surnames like Fett and Calrissian as fanservice, destroying the illusion of authenticity in the process.

It’d be really cool to see a big-screen take on the Republic of antiquity; the ancient Jedi and Sith duking it out in olden tymes, bedecked with cool armor and big greatsword-style lightsabers. And they wouldn’t have to follow the Tales of the Jedi storyline, either; none of that stuff’s canon anymore. All I’d want is a world that looks and feels like Tales of the Jedi did, and really digs into the series’ fantasy roots.

7. Lobot: A Star Wars Story

“This track is blowing my mind!”

This guy whips ass and I would see this movie eight hundred times.

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  • I, too, would like to learn about Lobot’s childhood, how he didn’t fit in with the other kids on Mongo, escaped the service of Emperor Ming, and fled to a distant galaxy.

  • True story: Today at the coolest coffee stop in my neighborhood, I’m listening to the barista talking to a customer/friend about Solo and how lame it is watching some nobody doing his Harrison Ford impression, and how what they really should do was a stand-alone Obi-Wan story with a graying Ewan McGregor who would be the perfect age to play Obi, the middle years.

    • Tyler Peterson

      I would watch such a movie if only for the obligatory scene where Obi-Wan wonders if he could have done better than hiding Anakin’s supposedly-dead kid on Anakin’s home planet, with Anakin’s actual relatives, under Anakin’s actual last name.

  • Kenneth Morgan

    For a Lando movie, they don’t even have to make up a story; just adapt one of the Lando novels from circa 1983. And if they do another Solo movie, they could use one of the Solo books written before TESB was released.
    Personally, I’m waiting for a Valance movie. Or, even better, Jaxxon!

  • trustno173 .

    The Sifo-Dyias question has already been mostly answered in The Clone Wars animated series in the episode The Lost One. It leaves some things up that it could be expanded on, but for the most part that question is answered. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

    Also, as for your Snoke argument: Just because mysterious characters with lack of elaborated back stories worked well in a realistic crime drama series like Breaking Bad doesn’t mean it would work in a space fantasy like Star Wars, and it totally didn’t given the story.

    I understand that not everyone needs a backstory, I’m not asking for that, but when you set up such a mysterious character who is the sole reason your main villain turned to the dark side, you NEED to do something, like with Palpatine we figure out everything we need to know quite brilliantly in the Opera House scene without being told directly that he was Plagueis’ apprentice, and since RotJ was always Episode VI, we knew there’d be prequels to flesh Palpatine out, but we have no such guarantees with Snoke. Besides, back then there were only 3 movies, the comic series, and a small handful of novels. Before TLJ, there were 8 movies, two animated series, a ton of novels and comics, and a game. The universe has become too well established not to give some kind of explanation for Snoke.

    Now Abrams will either have to clumsily insert an explanation for him into IX or ignore it, and we all know that Abrams and coherent, well-thought out stories go together about as well as water and oil. So they did the worst possible thing with Snoke; just some uber darksider out of nowhere who is just as (if not more) powerful than Palpatine, who doesn’t even matter and could be removed from the ST without changing anything. And at this point the universe is so well established that it’s idiotic to just pull some uber darksider out of nowhere and not explain what’s his deal. That’s why this was a bad move, it’s such wasted potential, why try to make sense or be interesting when you can show you just don’t give a shit?

    • Tyler Peterson

      Yeah, I kinda forgot that the Clone Wars TV series survived the big canon reset. I never gave it a shot because the Clone Wars movie was so bad, but perhaps I should. That cowboy-hat bounty hunter guy looks cool.

      • trustno173 .

        Cad Bane, you mean. Yes, he is. He’s pretty much everything people think Boba Fett is.

        But due to the Disney buyout and their cheapness, the whole series wasn’t finished, and because of that one would have to watch 8 unfinished episodes (and I must say despite the awkwardness of that, they’re far more entertaining than TLJ), a novel, and a comic series that, while good, was abridged meaning we miss out on the full glory of Maul vs. Grievous and Maul vs. Mace Windu and Aayla Secura.

        It’s a bit surprising that you left out the Siege of Mandalore story that so many people want to see, but they won’t since Disney is too cheap to just buy the rights from Warner Bros.

        I’d suggest finding a chronological order guide to follow, as watching it in a specific order makes the show flow better and can be odd at first, but easier than trying to follow something like, say, the original TMNT cartoon’s chronology.

  • Greenhornet

    What I think they should have done instead of the new trilogy, was to set the new movies in ANOTHER part of that galaxy far, far, away. That way, the whole argument by fans would have been avoided and the movies would even be praised for introducing a new group in new situations. It worked for Rogue One, after all.
    It should go something like this: After Return Of The Jedi, the New Republic was occupied with rebuilding, adjusting society and smoothing over old grievances. Meanwhile, remnants of the empire are reorganizing and rearming until they can attack a distant area of the NR. Unprepared, the sector governments ask the head honchos for help, but new problems arising from reorganizing and military cut-backs as well as distance means they are on their own for awhile.
    It would still be the Star Wars universe, but we’d get new situations, heroes and villains. As Douglas Adams once pointed out, the universe is a really, really big place.

  • cat-egorical

    Some geek on the internet giving his advice on what Star Wars movie someone should make?!?!?!! TRULY TEH FIRST!!!!!11 Way to go AB!