It’s one of the unofficial laws of popular culture: the longer any given media franchise goes, the greater the probability it will be rebooted. It’s inevitable – just look at any of the major franchises. DC Comics had Crisis on Infinite Earths, Marvel Comics has Ultimate Marvel. Eon Productions has to cast a new actor as James Bond every few movies. Even Paramount eventually bit the bullet and had Abrams and the Orci/Kurtzman team effectively reboot Star Trek with the new films series. The most common reason for a franchise getting the reboot treatment is because they were allowed to go on so long that eventually the story’s internal continuity became a confusing mess, alienating any potential new fans.1
And despite the vast scope of its fictional universe, Star Wars cannot prove an exception for long. Lucasfilm has already conducted a limited reboot in revoking the canon status of the various novels, comic books, video games and more that comprise the franchise’s “Expanded Universe” in order to pave the way for the upcoming Sequel Trilogy and its spin-offs. Yes, Disney seems confident enough in the viability of their newly-acquired franchise that they have already hired four directors to helm the first wave of movies (J.J. Abrams, Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson, Josh Trank) without so much as a teaser trailer to show for their effort as of yet. However, I’m betting that before long Disney’s strategy of releasing a new Star Wars movie every year is going to cause audiences to get really tired of the series. When that time comes, when the box office receipts begin growing more meager, a reboot will start being considered over at Disney.
So, how could a Star Wars reboot be pulled off without being completely terrible? I think I speak for a large majority of Star Wars fans when I say the idea of someone out-and-out remaking A New Hope sends shivers down my spine. The original movie is like Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane or The Godfather, one of those flawless cinematic classics that should be left as it is.2 That being said, I think I know of a way to subtly reboot the film series, should it ever come that, without making fans angry.
Before Lucas actually started filming the original Star Wars, he produced several drafts of the script, some that were pretty similar to the final movie… and some that were wildly different. But perhaps the most interesting iteration of the story was the 1974 rough draft. The best way to describe the story is that it is a lot like A New Hope, but bigger, longer, and more ambitious. The basic story elements are similar to the final movie (there’s an evil Galactic Empire with a space fortress, Jedi that have been hunted to near-extinction, Wookiees, droids, etc.), but in many ways it’s different from the Star Wars we know and love. The protagonist is the fledgling Annikin Starkiller, a character distinct from the aged General Luke Skywalker. Instead of just Darth Vader, there a multiple Sith active as agents of the Empire. Han Solo appears, but he’s not human – he’s a reptilian alien! Everyone wields a lightsaber, not just Force users, and there a multiple skirmishes with Imperial forces not present in the final film. There is no Rebel Alliance, and instead the main conflict of the story features the backwater planet Aquilae. And let’s just say, Chewbacca isn’t the only Wookiee who shows up…
I’d spoil the whole story right here in this post, but fortunately, I don’t have to. Last September, Dark Horse Comics actually began publishing a graphic novel adaptation of the rough draft – The Star Wars (note the “the”). It’s a limited-run series consisting of eight issues, plus a bonus issue. Personally, I loved reading the comics. They were well-written, beautifully drawn adaptations which really gave you a sense of what the Original Trilogy might have looked like had Lucas had the technology and budget to fully envision his concept for Star Wars. And that’s why I think it would make a great movies series.
Seriously. The original story comes straight from the mind of George Lucas himself, giving a potential movie adaptation a sense of legitimacy most reboots never attain. Furthermore, the fact that it was adapted into a series of graphic novels means it has already essentially been storyboarded. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the comics got pretty good reviews.3 Its obvious Lucas had to cut a lot of material from the rough draft, but adapting it today means you already have enough material to make a film trilogy without developing any new material. In short, should Star Wars ever start to seem worn out, I think the best option would be to go back the franchise’s very genesis in order to revitalize it. Heck, as long as Disney is in the business of making Star Wars spin-off movies4, I think someone should pitch these comics as potential movies in the near future. If nothing else, it’d be really interesting to see Lucas’ pure, unfiltered vision for Star Wars on the big screen.
1For a more in-depth analysis of this phenomenon, check out TV Trope’s article on “Continuity Lock-Out”. Now I actually have some problems with TV Tropes, but that article isn’t one of them.
2Cue fanboy outrage with George Lucas’ constant reediting of the Original Trilogy.
4The current rumors are that Gareth Edwards is directing a Boba Fett standalone film and Josh Trank is directing a Han Solo standalone film.