Over a year ago, we learned that we would be getting Star Wars spin-off (also referred to as "standalone") films in addition to a sequel trilogy. While the Star Wars films to date have a certain format that will probably be honored in Episode VII, the spin-off films have infinite possibilities. You don't have to conform to the exact formula of the original six Star Wars films. In a sense, the spin-off films have the same opportunities that George Lucas and Dave Filoni used in The Clone Wars. They can go to any corner of the Star Wars universe and tell a story. It doesn't necessarily have to have anything to do with what we know. That's the beauty of it; it's completely open.
There are certain things that I would describe as a Star Wars "formula." These are elements about the Star Wars films that make them what they are. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Lightsaber fights
- Space battles.
- Human myth (influences from Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, psychological archetypes, etc.)
- Casting unknowns as the leads
- John Williams
- A long time ago.../the opening crawl
- The same closing credits (space background with the blue text)
- A combination of personal and epic scale (ex. Luke's relationship with his father, which also involves saving the galaxy)
With the spin-off films, there is no obligation to keep all of these things. In fact, they should probably make some changes. Let the sequel trilogy follow the formula (from what we've heard that is exactly what they're doing), and let the spin-offs explore untested possibilities. I've put together a few ideas of changes I think the spin-offs might take advantage of. I don't necessarily think we'll see all of these things, but perhaps some of them.
More Personable, Less Scale
One thing that Lucasfilm can now do is focus on very specific stories in the Star Wars universe. Up till now, all of the films focus on big events, happening on a galactic scale. Well, now they have the opportunity to go smaller in scale. I would love to see a film that focuses on a single character in a single event. It doesn't even have to be someone we already know. Give me character and give me drama, and it's still Star Wars. I think many of the spin-offs will be smaller in scale.
The only major exception I could see to going smaller in scale is if we get any stories relating to the origin of the Force and/or Jedi. We recently got the Yoda episodes of The Clone Wars that answered some of these questions and raised others. I think it would be awesome if we get to see something like this, or maybe something based in the Old Republic era. These are the only cases where I could see them making something even bigger than Episodes I-VI.
The spin-off films allow us to enter areas of the Star Wars universe that we have only briefly touched on, if at all. We can now get deeper into that galaxy far, far away. I think we have all imagined a bigger universe than the one we have been presented. Star Wars always had that feeling of being part of something greater. We can now explore that even more.
I love the opening crawl, but I think it should be reserved for the number episodes of Star Wars. I would like to see a Star Wars movie that starts off a little differently. The spin-offs don't have to keep the crawl, or the "A long time ago," line. It can even start more traditionally. I think this would be a great way to set the spin-offs apart from the numbered episodes.
I highly doubt we will see any of the Skywalkers in the spin-off films. The Skywalkers are the protagonists of the numbered episodes. That is their story. The spin-offs should be the story of someone else. Perhaps we'll get a Skywalker cameo, but I'd prefer to leave them completely out of the spin-off films.
No John Williams
As sad as it sounds, John Williams will not be with us for much longer. I'm sure Star Wars will outlast him, and they will be making many films after his passing. This makes me extremely sad just thinking about it, but it is a cold reality we will eventually have to face. The spin-offs might be a good way to get us used to the idea of someone else doing the score. Williams is already going to be busy with Episodes VII-IX, so it might be best to bring someone else on board. Personally, my vote is for Michael Giacchino.
Possible After-credit Scenes
Marvel has already conditioned us to stay for all of the credits, waiting for one (sometimes two) after-credit scenes. Although it's not a requirement, I'd certainly say it's a possibility that we have after-credit scenes in the spin-offs. They shouldn't appear in the numbered episodes, however. Let's stick to the established formula with those.