EDITORIALS

Do or Do Not: Is Yoda the Best Character for a 'Star Wars' Spin-Off?

by
February 6, 2013

Yoda

Recently, the internet buzzed when Harry Knowles at AICN posted a rumor that one of the standalone Star Wars spin-offs would center on none other than Yoda, the 900-year old Jedi Master who trained Luke Skywalker and countless others. This could very well turn out to be false, but if it ends up being true, it says a lot about the mindset of Kathleen Kennedy at Lucasfilm and the creative minds behind the scenes who are now running the Star Wars franchise. Some people have found the news of a possible Yoda movie to be exciting, but I'm skeptical: do fans really want more prequels when the series has just been resurrected?

Like most middle class American kids born in the 1980s, I first watched the original Star Wars films when I was very, very young. While the character design and voice work made Yoda a likeable enough character, I'll admit to being bored by a lot of the training sequences in The Empire Strikes Back. It wasn't until years later, after reading about Joseph Campbell and his theory about the hero's journey, that the true enormity of Luke's journey and Yoda's role as his mentor began to resonate. As a youngster, that didn't matter; all that mattered at the time were the action scenes and amazing special effects.

Fast forward to the year 2002. I was in high school then, and after the disappointing return of Episode I: The Phantom Menace lowered our expectations (and that's putting it nicely) for the franchise, Episode II: Attack of the Clones hit theaters. Looking back it seems kind of dumb, but at the time it was surprising and even pleasing to see a digitally rendered Yoda bust out a lightsaber, bounce around like a pinball, and battle Count Dooku. It was one of the biggest "oh shit!" moments in the prequels, and—back then—a highlight of Attack of the Clones for me personally.

As most fans came to realize after the excitement of new Star Wars movies being in theaters wore off, the prequels simply were not very good. A digital Yoda made about as much sense as a more advanced army existing before the events of A New Hope, and all of the heart and classicism of the original trilogy seemed to vanish in favor of a shiny new look and pedestrian storytelling. Thinking about it now, though, the prequel version of Yoda gave me exactly what I wanted - just at the wrong age. Yoda honestly bored me in the original trilogy when I was a kid, so Lucas tossed him a lightsaber and made him exciting for younger audiences in the prequels. The Dooku fight scene was cool in high school, but it might have been one of my favorite movie scenes in history if I saw Episode II at the same age as Empire.

Star Wars - Yoda and Darth Sidious

With Walt Disney now in control of Lucasfilm, one of the prevailing concerns from a lot of Star Wars fans is that future movies are going to lose any sense of "edge" in favor of the Mouse House's family-friendly philosophy. With J.J. Abrams hired as the director of Episode VII to start, he'll continue the main storyline presumably with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford involved in some capacity. While we're still not technically sure that Episodes VII, VIII, and IX will follow the adventures of the Skywalkers, it does mean that Abrams and writer Michael Ardnt will be working with one continuous story that lays the groundwork for two more sequels. Unburdened from the narrative responsibility of "fitting in" with those plans, other filmmakers could essentially use the Star Wars universe as a giant playground, exploring and creating separate adventures in films that run parallel to the new trilogy.

When Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Man of Steel) was rumored to direct a Seven Samurai-style Star Wars spin-off, it gave a lot of us hope that even if the main narrative gets a little watered down, perhaps side stories could be a place where darker or a little edgier content could be explored. Snyder's reps denied his involvement (naturally) and we haven't heard a peep about that particular project since then, but with a possible Yoda movie coming up instead, the theory that those side films might explore more dangerous territory seems to be as dead as Qui-Gon Jinn after a duel with Darth Maul.

The real question is, after all of the heartache the prequels gave fans of Star Wars, do we really want to go backwards on the timeline again to visit Yoda's past when there are so many exciting possibilities on the horizon? Since the 900-year-old Jedi Master (spoiler alert) dies in Return of the Jedi, we'd have to watch a young Yoda either go through training (which would be like the prequels all over again, but with a different main character) or watch him go on other adventures outside of what's already been chronicled in the Clone Wars on film and TV. The character is great in small doses, but do Star Wars fans need an entire movie devoted to him? Plus, the stakes and drama are instantly deflated when you know the final fate of the hero, so I sincerely hope that this rumor stays just that and doesn't prove to be true.

Boba Fett

Of course, the idea of a Yoda spin-off is all still an early rumor, and the only confirmation we have is that Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that there are standalone movies in the works from writers Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg that will be "derived from great Star Wars characters." Joe Johnston has been talking about making a standalone Boba Fett film since before Disney bought Lucasfilm, and in Knowles' report, he also mentions that Lucas has tossed around the idea of a singular Jabba the Hutt story.

Star Wars inspired an entire generation to use their imaginations, so how about the studio showing a little creativity of their own when it comes to these spin-off, standalone movies? Are we really going to trudge through backstories on all of these characters? Jabba the freakin' Hutt? Come on Disney, you can do better than that. Say what you will about him, but George Lucas created one of the most impressive and expansive universes in cinema history; let's look to the future instead of letting nostalgia influence us to keep glancing in the rear view mirror. Wouldn't crafting brand new narratives of characters we've never seen be more interesting? I'm not saying we should never see any familiar faces in these standalone films, but it'd be a lot more compelling for those characters to pop up sparingly instead of being the center of attention.

As an adult, I unquestionably prefer the original trilogy's portrayal of Yoda. But looking at it from a business and financial perspective, it's easy to see why Lucasfilm might be considering a spin-off that could lure in a new generation of kids and still have some tie-in with the "Clone Wars" TV series and all three movie trilogies. Time will tell whether Kathleen Kennedy decides to honor the old guard by devoting entire films to pre-established characters or if she'll see the endless possibilities open to her in the universe Lucas spent his whole life creating, but here's hoping we've seen the last of Master Yoda on the big screen. Thoughts?

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  • Steven
    Yoda isn't a bad choice if covering very early events in the Jedi history, maybe as a trilogy. Vader or Boba would be best though in the years between episodes 3-4, but you could also do a young Solo and Chewie story with a young Lando (who doesn't want to see Han with the Falcon in a game of chance!).
  • szkari
    I know it is impossible but... PLEASE MAKE YODA A PUPPET AGAIN! :D
    • Tester
      I couldnt agree more, I hated the last 3 CGI kid fest that were the last 3 movies.. Actually, I am getting sick of most new movies now that have no weight to them and rely %100 on cgi
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-White/1458067169 Brad White
      Never gonna happen, the verdict of the CGI yoda was solidly in favor after the PT, the puppet from Phantom Menace was horrible, so, not in a million years...
      • szkari
        Oh God no... not the puppet from TPM!;P I was rather reffering to the OT in which Yoda was jus brilliant!
  • Me Again
    Yoda : The Unexpected Journey to Dagobah Yoda : To Dagobah and Back Again The Yoda Diaries Yoda Begins Yoda : Year 100 Star Wars Origins : Yoda Yoda : The Extra-Terrestrial Jedi Master When Yoda Met Yaddle Yoda Unchained Yoda and Friends [synapsis : Yoda, Wicket and his Ewok pals embark on a journey beyond they're wildest dreams And finally .....drum roll please.... The untitled Yoda and Kermit buddy cop flick
  • http://twitter.com/stalkbrandon Brandon V. Fletcher
    Force Unleashed movie please
    • Steven
      Not going to be new if we already know the story though is it.
  • sawitin77
    As Mel Brooks said, "Merchandising...". Yoda makes perfect sense for a wide variety of toys and collectibles. Alternatively, moving the timeline forward with "Yoda reconstituted" is possible, a "Star Trek" alternate timeline is possible, or just floating a rumor to flush out ideas is possible.
    • Tester
      top shelf !!!
  • http://thesolarsentinel.blogspot.com/ Alan Trehern
    Booooooooo!!
  • Mdiddles
    Yoda would be the best choice being the fact je's over 800 years old there's a big part of his life we don't know about. He would have also been alive when the jedi really flourished so they could probably make a really good movie. Other than that i don't know what other characters story i would really want to know about other than maybe a younger obi-wan or qui-gon jin(sorry for spelling)
  • justin p
    Darth Bane!!
  • JediBilly
    Yoda, Han Solo, and Boba Fett will be good choices and money making!
  • Guest
    Milking the franchise, they are.
  • http://twitter.com/FidelReyes_ Fidel Reyes
    A Han Solo movie would be awesome, Harrison Ford still has it (Please ignore Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that doesn't count)
    • http://twitter.com/ATLGreg1 Schmendrick
      The only reason Harrison Ford would even agree to be in the upcoming trilogy is so that Han can be killed off. He's never going to do a standalone movie. In fact, my guess is Han is killed off in Episode VII.
      • Ricardo_PT
        Doesn't seem to make any sense to have him comeback just to be killed. If he doesn't want to be a part of it he better not show up at all
        • http://twitter.com/ATLGreg1 Schmendrick
          How does not having him at all make more sense than bringing him back to be killed off? People die. There's no reason why his living through the next three movies should be assured. In fact, I think having him killed off early, as in whenever the new antagonist is revealed in the first movie, makes a lot of sense. If indeed an Organa-Solo offspring is one of the central characters, having her (or his) father be killed off provides a nice entry for a struggle with the Dark Side story arc. To me, that makes perfect sense.
  • http://twitter.com/ATLGreg1 Schmendrick
    I could see Disney being interested in doing a Wedge Antilles story. First, we learn in A New Hope that "Captain Antilles" was the most recent owner of R2 and C3PO, and I don't think anyone can deny the appeal to Disney to bring in those recognizable characters for marketing purposes (though I would personally hate it and thought their inclusion in the prequels was awful). But also, the rise of the Rebels is a story that has gone untouched in the Star Wars movies. The opening ticker for A New Hope describes a first major victory, but that's about all we know. I think the idea of a movie that takes a break from The Force and is instead centered on a squadron of fighter pilots, with Wedge as the lead protagonist, could be done in a very fresh and entertaining way.
  • Steven
    A young Han Solo and Lando (late teens or mid-twenties), with Chewie, facing off against the Empire, and Boba Fett, who would be in his late twenties or early thirties I think. This would draw the Boba fans more than a Yoda film
  • Professor_Bedlam
    Darth Vader at his most evil and bad assness when he and Boba fett hunt down the remaining Jedi!!! Come on who doesn't want to see Vader in the suit kick real Ass and see it on screen!!! With Boba Fett (classic line from Vader "No disintegrations") To see amazing lightsaber fights and how the Rebellion grew! This is what most people I know want to see!!!
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chewie-A-Wookie/566460295 Chewie A. Wookie
      See "Starkiller".
    • David Darida
      Amazing lightsaber fights - u mean more choreographed ones? :D I really don't wanna see duels that appeared in SW prequels...such a fail...
  • Steven
    Porkins - from a young thin rebel fighter to the moment he coundn't eject from his X-Wing in A New Hope, covering his decline into the large side of the force and his addiction to illegal Wookie Burgers.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700846469 Monal Valia
    if they are going the Marvel stand alone route are they trying to weave these stand alone movies into the new sequels story wise?? If they are having Kasdan and company consult on the new sequels while writing the standalones it reasons they are going to find a way to get Fett, Yoda, Maul, Vader, etc to show up in the new movies even though they are dead....and I don't mean as Force ghosts.....
  • Ricardo_PT
    Yoda as the main character would be a terrible choice imo. Do people really like Yoda or is he just a pop reference? And I couldn't stand Cgi yoda, so an entire movie with him seema a bad idea. I still don't agree with the milking of the franchise, but just give fans a bobba fett movie and get it over with. Fana would rejoice and disney would have guaranteed money. A movie from the sith POV would be a nice experiment don't you think? Why not a Darth Maul prequel? The best character in the prequels by far
  • Jericho
    Jaina Fucking Solo!
  • LosZombies
    A Death Troopers adaptation would be really badass! Solo & Chewbacca vs Zombie Storm Troopers!
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brad-White/1458067169 Brad White
    Best Character List... Yoda Origin Story, Boba Fett between Episodes 4 & 5, Jabba the Hutt, pre epsiode 4, Dash Rendar-Shadows of the Empire would be Epic..., Sidious & Plaugeuis, Young Dooku & Qui-Gon adventure, 18 year Luke Skywalker adventure tale, Jango Fett for hire! So many more...
  • crystaltowers
    I can't stand CGI Yoda - bouncing around like a piece of Flubber. And I can't believe anyone is in favour of it. When I first saw that scene where he faces off against Christopher Lee's character at the climax of AOTC, the audience in my theatre erupted in laughter. I'll never forget it. It seemed like a joke. But no, it was really happening. I'm frankly amazed that it has become du jour to bash CGI Jar Jar Binks at every turn, yet some people are now open to the prospect of an ENTIRE PREQUEL devoted to Flubber-Yoda, bouncing around the galaxy like a gummi bear. Good luck with that.
  • Xerxexx
    I would love to see a Mace Windu film...perhaps a few films about a platoon of Troopers. Some Darth Bane films would be cool, a bunch of novels center on Sith Lords hopefully we get some films like that. I'm worried though...to much in the pipe for the SW universe...hopefully the films come out far and in between, don't think we need a film every year. Once every two to five maybe.
  • Skymazter
    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! I wanna see what the Universe was like 900 yrs before he died... you friggin nut basket!!! Weve only Seen what was happening in The Life Span Of Anakin Skywalker... he only lived 46 frigging Yrs. U wanna see the horizon, lets get in a time machine and see Yoda invent fuggin Lightsabers. I know some of the games showed past events but lets see a movie showing cultures that are dead and gone in the movies we have seen. God you irritate me
  • David Darida
    Just focus on the story please...no stupid lightsaber duels..
  • si1ver
    hate the prequels -----> suggest a million prequel ideas = Star Wars fans No I don't want to see a Yoda-Forest Gump-esque movie. It makes the SW universe look so stupid when 9-10 of the same characters influence the events of the entire galaxy.
  • http://www.facebook.com/gustavoescalera Gustavo Escalera
    Do
  • liood
    I think this could easily be the installment or the worst installment. Young Yoda swashbuckling is now associated with the prequels. Do people really want to live through this again? On the other hand, with rumors of Ewan Macgregor returning as Obi-Wan in Episode 7, its already impossible to ignore the influence of the prequels. If they set Yoda's story far enough in the past hundreds of years before Obi-Wan and Qui Gonn show up the only character we could run into is Jabba or his relatives from a timeline perspective. Palpatine/Sidious would be too young to be alive when Yoda is only a few years old.

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