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Why Star Wars Spinoffs Are A Perfect And Bold Move For Disney

I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be the young actor attempting to fill Harrison Ford’s shoes.

Outside of that, though, today’s revelation that Han Solo will be one of the characters carrying a spinoff Star Wars movie is about the best news fans could hope for. Today's announcements simultaneously solidify the franchise's future without ignoring its past. And these are the latest in what I now consider a long line of exhilarating decisions that suddenly have me very excited about the potential of Star Wars on the silver screen.

You know all about J.J. Abrams getting hired for Episode VII. Buried in the EW story revealing plans for standalone Han Solo and Boba Fett movies, though, are some extremely interesting details that are suggestions right now, but seem to come from sources in the know. For instance, the Han Solo “origin” films likely will take place within the confines of the original trilogy. Specifically, it’s believed the story will take place “in the time period between Revenge of the Sith and the first Star Wars” movie.

And, as the site points out, that means Darth Vader is fair game as a villain.

That kind of confident, outside-the-box thinking in terms of the existence of a pre-established franchise reminds me of the way Abrams figured out how to glide back into the world of Star Trek without wrecking everything that had been established in earlier films. I’m not saying that the Star Wars standalone movies need to dabble in time travel the way Abrams’ Trek reboot did. But having faceless and/or CGI villains like Vader, Jabba the Hut, Greedo and more means you don’t have to account for aging actors. You can find the right Han Solo and have him move around the spaces of the original trilogy without taking a blowtorch to Star Wars history. Chewbacca could come back. Yoda could factor in. There’s such potential.

Also, centering on Solo helps an audience invest right away in a familiar hero, instead of asking them to ramp up interest in a new character fighting to survive a new threat in a new world. The learning curve on a Han Solo movie is half complete. Some fans are griping about these films being “prequels” or “origin stories.” But there is no origin for Han Solo, unless you are showing his birth. He has always been Han Solo. It’s just more adventures with the character, and a screenwriter like Simon Kinberg or Lawrence Kasdan – the names attached to the spinoff movies at the moment – could have a lot of fun filling in the necessary gaps.

Before we go any further, let’s stop and celebrate the idea of another Kasdan Star Wars film. The dude wrote Empire, Jedi and Raiders of the Lost Ark, not to mention the Oscar-nominated screenplays for The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist and Grand Canyon. He knows this world, and is a brilliant hire for the next steps in the evolution of the Star Wars series.

The inspired hiring should continue. Kasdan shouldn’t be the only Star Wars veteran recruited to revitalize the on-screen universe. Joe Johnston NEEDS to be hired to direct this Boba Fett movie. The visual effects artist worked on all three films in the original trilogy. Boba Fett was his baby, and he has expressed interest in doing a standalone bounty hunter film for years. Under George Lucas, the idea was ludicrous. Now? The impossible is happening. Hiring Johnston to direct a Boba Fett movie would send an already crazed Star Wars fan base off the deep end into an uncontrollable chasm of geeky glee.

I think a number of Star Wars fans continue to sit back and view this whole Disney endeavor with a dose of skepticism or, at the very least, cautious optimism. There has been a lot of, “Show me, Disney. Let’s see where this goes, and then I’ll decide if I’m going to get excited.” Now? Now I’m officially excited. The decisions Disney has made up to this point have shown an appreciation for the saga’s history. They are respecting the roots of the original trilogy by hiring folks like Lawrence Kasdan. They’re thinking toward the future, and handing the reigns over to proven whiz kids like J.J. Abrams. So far, Kathleen Kennedy has taken several bold, courageous and exciting steps with the Star Wars property, and today’s news finally convinced me that the next generation of Star Wars movies absolutely are heading in the right direction.

Sean O'Connell

Managing Director at CinemaBlend. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.