If there’s one thing we geeks love to do, it’s wax theoretical on all the things that could have been or should yet be involving our favorite characters or properties. Whether an unseen final season or a never-produced line of action figures, we want them. Now. Make it so!
The original Star Wars trilogy holds a special place in my heart and in the hearts of many nerds of my generation. The characters introduced by those movies have endured throughout the decades and have become pop culture icons, and yet they are sadly misrepresented by the myriad Star Wars projects that are currently offered to fans. Starting in the early nineties, long before George Lucas’ prequel trilogy was even rumored to happen, a series of novels were released that chronicled the further adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrission, Wedge Antilles, and the rest of the gang that survived Episodes IV-VI, and they were huge hits with fans who were hungry for new Star Wars stories. Nowadays fans can enjoy a wealth of Star Wars - related stories on television and in prose and comic form, but the majority of them focus primarily on the pre-A New Hope era, which alienates a great number of older Star Wars fans, myself included. The time has come for Lucasfilm to appease those older fans, and one of the best ways to do this would be to offer direct-to-DVD animated features based on the huge library of novels set during or after the events of the original trilogy.
The series of post-Jedi novels began with Hugo award winning author Timothy Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy,” which was set five years after Episode VI and chronicled the Rebel Alliance’s continuing battle against the last remnants of the Empire, which is now led by a power-hungry warlord named Grand Admiral Thrawn. Soon after that storyline was completed in 1993, more highly enjoyable stories followed, such as Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy trilogy, in which Luke attempts to recruit others who can access the Force in order to rebuild the ranks of the Jedi. All of these novels featured the characters that we all came to know and love in the movies and introduced new characters such as Han and Leia’s Force-prone twins Jaicen and Jaina as well as Mara Jade, a former apprentice to Emperor Palpatine who eventually marries Luke in the pages of a later novel. Nearly all of these stories featured thrilling plots and wonderful character moments that captured the essence of the original film trilogy in a way that some feel that the prequel movie trilogy failed to do. While these stories and new characters proved very popular with die-hard fans, they remain relatively unknown to the general public aside from a few comic adaptations from Dark Horse, but if Lucasfilm ever saw fit to bring these stories to life in animated form, they would have yet another hit on their hands.
One of the arguments against adapting these novels is that they don’t adhere to official Star Wars canon, especially after the release of the prequel trilogy. While there are things in the novels that don’t jive with what Lucas eventually had planned for the overall Star Wars universe, many of these stories could potentially be rewritten so that they could fit better with the status quo established by the movies. For instance, the prequel’s establishment of Jedi celibacy and the fact that love helped turn Anakin into Darth Vader may put the kibosh on Luke and Mara getting together. Fans of the books could potentially be upset by any changes to the books, but those changes may be necessary in order to make the stories “official,” and frankly, any attempts to bring these characters introduced in the novels to the screen would be welcome, regardless of how faithfully they are translated.
With 3D animation all the range nowadays, the animated versions of these tales may more than likely be presented in the style of the current Clone Wars TV show, but I would prefer that they be presented in the 2D style used in Genndy Tartakovsky’s excellent Clone Wars cartoon that ran from 2003 to 2005. They may even have a shot at getting at least some of the original cast to provide the voices of their animated counterparts. Mark Hamill is already a well-established voice actor, and Anthony Daniels has reprised his role as C-3PO in both animated Clone Wars shows, so they would more than likely jump at the chance to be involved in these.
If these animated features sell (and why the hell wouldn’t they?), perhaps Lucasfilm would also release animated adaptations of Star Wars novels like Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Shadows of the Empire which are set in between the events of the original trilogy. They could also release direct-to-DVD animated adaptations of the Han Solo and Lando Calrissian stories that were set before A New Hope, as well as the short story collections centered on the Bounty Hunters and the patrons of the Mos Eisley Cantina. The possibilities for these features are seemingly endless, and if Lucasfilm is smart, they should start planning these adaptations soon. The world of Star Wars is a large and expansive place, and just about every attempt to bring more Star Wars to the big or small screen is a license to print money, and bringing more projects to the screen involving the characters from the films that started it all would be a surefire hit and extend Lucasfilm’s license to print money. Why they haven’t yet announced this is a mystery on par with where midichlorians come from, but it’s certainly an idea whose time has come.