We've already seen Disney's relationship with Marvel bear fruit for ABC's TV programming with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and while it's conceivable to theorize that further exploration into the world of Marvel superheroes could happen if that show succeeds, it seems like ABC is also interested in plucking a few riches from a galaxy far, far away as well.
Yes, apparently Star Wars may be on the table for ABC, but it seems as though the development process could take quite some time, due to the lengthy film franchise reboot that is in presently underway.
Here's ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee at the TCAs, delivering his thoughts on mining more from Marvel and the beginning flickers of relationship between his network and the voluminous Star Wars universe.
We are loving this relationship. We have lots of little schemes, in the back of our mind. We haven’t quite got one ready that we can announce yet. But the relationship with Marvel, and actually with other Disney IP, across the company, is something that we’re ambitious to build, absolutely. [...]
I certainly have a glint in my eye. Look, they have a lot on their plate with the features that they’re planning and rolling out for the next few years. But, we’ve started conversations with them, and it would be nice to see, over the next few years, that we could use other strong Disney IP, besides the ones lying behind S.H.I.E.L.D. I would love to go there. I’m a particular fan of LucasFilm. It’s an amazing world.
Obviously, as is the case with S.H.I.E.L.D., any Star Wars project would be made in addition to the movieverse, so it's not like we're primed for a project that would focus on Han Solo or Boba Fett. Like Marvel, though, the Star Wars bench is deep, especially when you take into account the plethora of characters created in the expanded universe.
There's also the Star Wars: Underworld live-action TV concept that had 50 scripts written and filed away already. Prior to his $4 billion dollar mega-deal with Disney, Underworld had been pursued by George Lucas and producer Rick McCallum for a time before being benched due to the high estimated cost of each episode. Obviously now, though, things have changed. For one thing, McCallum is no longer with LucasFilm, and George Lucas is no longer in charge.
Could ABC press ahead with something like that project, cutting some corners to achieve more reasonable production costs? Anything is possible, and we know that Paul Lee previously name checked the Underworld project in January when he previously spoke on an alliance between LucasFilm and ABC, but it seems logical to assume that breaths are being held until S.H.I.E.L.D. hits or misses.
Let's face it: everyone wants the next Walking Dead and all the trappings that comes with being the latest genre hit. S.H.I.E.L.D. could be it, but ABC is striding on uneven ground.
Sure, superhero shows have worked on network TV before (Lois & Clark, Smallville, Arrow), but none have had the expectations that S.H.I.E.L.D. has on its shoulders. This needs to be a massive hit to justify future similar endeavors, and it is probably fair to say that a live action Star Wars series falls into that same realm because of the similar audience, the scope and cost of such a project, and the very loud thud that a failure would make.
In the same way that ABC needs to see Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. shine and demonstrate sustained success to justify a true exploration into the world of Star Wars when the time is right, taking on the challenge of pleasing that set of rabid fans, LucasFilm needs to know that they're not taking on too much risk as well.
In this world of connected projects that Marvel helped establish, everything flows back to the mother ship, with successes breading confidence and confidence breading ambition. As of now, no Marvel-owned live-action project has tasted failure, allowing them to ride that ambition to some pretty cool places like a connected television show and an ever expanding movieverse.
What happens if someone makes Marvel bleed, though? Perhaps they become a little more cautious with where they step and perhaps they lose some of that confidence, or worse, perhaps the fandom loses some confidence in them, weighing down fiscal returns. That's not something LucasFilm can risk as they and Disney try to delicately re-build a franchise that has shed enough blood and lost enough fans over the years.
Like Lee said, LucasFilm has a lot on their plate right now, but one imagines that the Star Wars team is likely keeping an eye on ABC and Marvel's plate as well.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for all of your Star Wars TV show news.