Running Star Wars into the ground

Word comes from Walt Disney Co. that they’re planning to make a series of “stand alone” movies about major Star Wars characters, in addition to the forthcoming Episode VII sequel.  Yoda, Han Solo, and Boba Fett have been kicked around as possible subjects.  The idea would be somewhat like the stand-alone “Wolverine” movies, spun off from “X-men.”

There’s the obvious danger that Disney’s going to overdo it and run Star Wars into the ground, although the appetite for work set in that universe seems all but bottomless.  It’s rather astonishing to think that George Lucas managed to sit on the greatest cash cow in Hollywood history for 15 years… and then coughed up “The Phantom Menace.”  The pressure on him to over-produce Star Wars material must have been immense.  He said no for years, and then finally pumped out some surprisingly weak and uninspired films, although they had their moments.

What I dislike about these spinoffs is that hitting the same characters over and over again, dipping back in time to make prequel after prequel, makes this marvelous realm of fantasy seem so small.  The prequel films had that problem too; Tattooine went from being the backwater of the universe to the crossroads of galactic history.  It seems as if there would be so many rich possibilities for breaking away from the old core characters and telling a new grand saga, perhaps with a little cameo or two to pass the torch.  (There’s got to be some kind of new Jedi school and Luke must be the headmaster…)  Instead of exploring its universe, Star Wars has spent too long in a holding pattern.