Stand-up comic and self-professed geek Patton Oswalt has a remarkably funny and insightful routine on one of the reasons why the Star Wars prequels fail – because they tell the backstory of characters that don’t necessarily need their backstory told. (You can hear the routine in the embedded video below, but there is some NSFW language.)
While I am not certain that I 100% agree with Oswalt’s underlying point, it is definitely something that comes to mind with the news that broke today that the Star Wars spinoff films – the ones announced for release in the years between the next three trilogy installments starting in 2016 – will be “origin story film[s].”
This really isn’t exactly news, but Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo who made the announcement in an interview with Variety did confirm the stories that had been swirling about the off Trilogy-years films since they were first announced last fall. At the time, speculation was that the first batch of these films would center on a young Han Solo, Boba Fett and Yoda.
What’s interesting is that news comes just a few paragraphs after Rasulo exclaimed that for the Star Wars franchise “the sky’s the limit. There’s incredible flexibility. It’s an unbelievable palette to create from.” Granted he was chiefly talking about the financial possibilities of the franchise for the studio in terms of theme park attractions, toys, video games and more, he could also be referring to story-telling possibilities as well. There is literary a whole galaxy of stories that they could tell and I think that the universe that George Lucas created is strong enough to support the telling of a myriad of stories – from taut political thrillers to rousing adventures to heart-stirring romances to laugh-out-loud comedies.
But the idea of just revisiting the past of popular characters just comes off as sounding as a mixture of creative bankruptcy and a cynical attempt to pick fans’ wallets.