In our discussion on how the Hollywood marketplace would be able to sustain the sheer amount of Marvel/DC superhero films coming out in the next handful of years, one aspect we detailed is that the various projects would be able to be viable propositions due to "comic book movies" being chameleon-like in their ability to showcase multiple genres.
Marvel Studios, for example, has illustrated this concept this year with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy both blending different types of stories to supplement the super-powered action (political thriller and space opera, respectively).
As it turns out, Marvel won't be the only studio using this filmmaking strategy. Their Disney brethren Lucasfilm is also interested in seeing how the galaxy far, far away can be used to span multiple genres, as the Mouse House looks to bring the franchise back into the spotlight next December with Star Wars: Episode VII.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lucasfilm's VP of Development Kiri Hart addressed the directions the studio may go as they look to release a new Star Wars film annually:
“I think there are boundaries [to what defines Star Wars], but we don't want to rigidly define them. It's obviously not slapstick comedy, but there's room for many different stories and genres that still feel like Star Wars.”
The six films of the Star Wars saga so far have all arguably been a variation on the classic space adventure trope. While they all differed in tone, they still stayed within the confines of that genre. Based on the box office receipts and the legions of supporters that still love the brand, there obviously was nothing wrong with this decision, but one can see why the filmmakers would want to try something new.
If rumored plot details are true, then J.J. Abrams' Episode VII is going to be a faithful continuation of the movies that came before it, meaning that like the previous six episodes, it will most likely be another tale of good versus evil - supposedly with the New Republic squaring off against the remnants of the old Empire.
This would all be fine and well if Disney was only planning on releasing the three installments of the sequel trilogy, but they're not. As most know, Mickey Mouse is going to milk Star Wars for all it's worth by putting out standalone spinoffs in between the core episodes. Directors Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank have already been signed on to helm the first two of these projects, with Edwards' film being prepped for release in December 2016.
It's with these spinoffs that Lucasfilm can get creative and start to incorporate other genres to provide a fresh spin on the franchise. The rumored films right now would feature Boba Fett and Han Solo in the main roles, and given those two characters' backstories, the narratives could conceivably rely less on the "heroes vs. villains" structure and instead provide an intriguing portrayal of the universe's underbelly (like a Martin Scorsese crime film) - while using the sci-fi elements as a backdrop.
When we addressed possible concerns fans might have about the spin-offs, one of the tips we offered for doing them "right" was for Disney to take advantage of their independence from the main storyline. There is a "story group" in place at Lucasfilm to help manage the multi-platform nature of the franchise, but since the standalone films aren't going to have any obligations to tie into the events of the sequels, Disney would be wise to let loose and have fun with these films - allowing them to be used for new takes on Star Wars while the sequel episodes took care of the space opera work.
If what Hart says is true, it sounds as if that is the direction Lucasfilm is headed in as they lay out a game plan for the series moving forward. It's certainly an exciting gesture for fans, since it will allow Edwards, Trank, and whoever follows their footsteps in the director's chair to open up and get creative in this sandbox that has thousands of possibilities for entertaining stories.
We'll have to wait and see what comes of the "multiple genre" plan, but we'd have to say they're on the right track.
Star Wars: Episode VII will be in theaters December 18, 2015.
The first Star Wars spin-off will hit theaters December 16, 2016.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.
Source: Wall Street Journal