Maybe Those Star Wars Standalone Films Aren’t What We Thought They Were

By  · Published on March 13th, 2015


When Disney and Lucasfilm announced that they were planning a series of “spinoff” or “standalone” Star Wars films to go along with their shiny new trilogy, general wisdom (and lots of rumors) held that these films would focus on single characters we already know and love, from Yoda to Boba Fett to Princess Leia to even a young Han Solo. Over time, that perception steadily changed, partially thanks to some persistent rumors that the Gareth Edwards-directed standalone – the first to hit theaters, with Josh Trank’s film reportedly to follow later – would be a heist film about the group that snatched the Death Star plans, allowing the Rebellion to blow the goddamn thing up in Star Wars.

This is an awesome idea for a Star Wars standalone film, but it’s also an idea for a film that doesn’t rely on a single known character, but instead a possible group of characters we’re somewhat familiar with, carrying out an event we’ve only heard about. Yesterday’s news that Edwards film will star Felicity Jones (as has long been rumored) and will be called Rogue One might have potentially dashed that heist idea, but it reinforced something else: we might have been thinking about these standalone films incorrectly for awhile now.

As of now, we don’t have too much to go on when it comes to Rogue One other than the fact that, well, it’s called Rogue One and that it features a female lead. That is certainly not to say that the film won’t be our heist picture, but using “Rogue One” implies a relationship to the Rebellion’s Rogue Squadron, which was formed after the Death Star was blown up. So, you know, no need to steal those plans now! Still, it seems to be an intentionally vague title that can be interpreted in many ways (want to check out some of those ways? read this piece from Mike Ryan over at Uproxx).

In short, it doesn’t sound like the character-focused origin story feature most people expected from these standalone pictures and, given that this is the first spinoff film we’re getting, that sets a bit of a precedent. Are we not getting a Boba Fett film or a Han Solo film? Gosh, no, that’s not it at all, and there have been far too many rumors about such films to throw them out wholesale (including an early report from Entertainment Weekly back in 2013), but the idea here is that the standalones might now be looking for something more wide-ranging.

Basically, yes, some of these films could center on beloved characters, but they’re not only going to function as origin stories (or related such stories) for people we already know. They might be focused on larger adventures. This might sound like a basic enough idea, but for many months now, these spinoffs sounded like uninspired cash grabs (who needs a Yoda origin story?, and I say that as someone who, of course, like anyone with a brain and a heart, loves Yoda), instead of true expansion of the Star Wars world. Rogue One might already be changing that.

In refashioning the Star Wars universe to make room for a new trilogy and a slew of standalone films, Disney and Lucasfilm made it clear that they were wiping most of the canon clean, erasing years of non-movie offerings (books, comic books, etc.) and resetting large swathes of a rich universe. It was a necessary evil, but at least Disney and Lucasfilm have gone out of their way to make the true canon clear: it’s the films, and then also these comic books and novels.

Over at /Film, Germain Lussier has got a closer look at some of the upcoming novels fans can look forward to buying (the new comic book series are already rolling out, including that Leia book referenced in Ryan’s Uproxx piece, which I already love a lot), complete with some big hints as to what might works its way into not just the trilogy, but also the standalones. It’s juicy stuff, and it drives home the point that there is plenty to explore in the universe that doesn’t involve examining Han Solo’s childhood or similar.

It’s a big universe out there. Let’s go a little further.

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