Star Wars needs to look forward, not backward

Yoda Star Wars

Yesterday, AICN published a scoop that, in addition to Star Wars Episodes VII through IX, Disney was also planning a spinoff film centering on the series’ most famous swamp dweller, Yoda. At the time, I had a hard time believing it was true, though it seems more likely now that Disney CEO Bob Iger has told CNBC that stand-alone movies featuring “great Star Wars” characters are indeed coming.

Igor refused to name names, but if Yoda, or any of the characters who are no longer breathing by the end of Return of the Jedi, are involved, then this is a terribly discouraging development. For the past 14 years, the Star Wars universe has been mired in a stretch of prequels and spinoffs that had nowhere to go but directly into the original trilogy, which left them largely spinning their wheels. It’s hard to sustain dramatic momentum when we know who lives, who dies and who plays an important role in future events.

The “Disney buys Lucasfilm” news was exciting because it meant they could drop all the Clone Wars crap and finally move further up the timeline where anything can happen and the writers aren’t shoehorned in by the original trilogy and existing characters. Making Episodes VII through IX is a good start, and I assumed whatever spinoff films Disney would concoct would also be set post-Return of the Jedi. It just makes sense to focus on that new time frame, which could serve as a jumping off point for a new generation of fans while also offering relief to old-school, original-trilogy fans exhausted by prequel-born concepts and characters. (Admittedly, kids who grew up with the prequels would be caught in the middle, but shouldn’t they be old enough to enjoy a more refined approach to the franchise now anyway?)

For example, I was totally down with that Jedi-infused retelling of Seven Samurai that Zack Snyder was rumored to be developing. That’s exactly the type of thing that could exist outside of the direct sequels but still within the post-RotJ time frame (assuming Luke got the Jedi Order up and running again). Although, quite frankly, you could set that story during any Star Wars time period and it would probably work. The real problem is the constant reusing and rehashing of the same small group of characters. It’s a big galaxy, but it’s been contracting instead of expanding for a long time. I want Star Wars to feel new and inventive and exciting again.

But now it appears Disney is set on at least partially replicating Lucas’s mistakes by carrying on with the boring prequel/sidequel/oh-look-what-this-character-was-doing-between-this-movie-and-that-one shit. It’s a total buzzkill. Decisions like that will prove to be WAY more of a killer than getting only the third best candidate to direct Episode VII.

Or to say it another way: I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Follow Bob on Twitter | on Facebook