EXCLUSIVE: Future Star Wars movies won’t rely on legacy characters, says Gary Whitta
Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm will release Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on March 24, along with the Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand release on April 4. To coincide with the release, ComingSoon.net had an exclusive 1-on-1 chat with Gary Whitta, the screenwriter who co-wrote the story of Rogue One! We’ll publish our full interview soon, but we had one interesting bit of business about future Star Wars movies no longer mining nostalgia with legacy characters like Darth Vader or Han Solo.
ComingSoon.net: Something I grappled with after “The Force Awakens” is the question, “What is a Star Wars movie?” Right now Lucasfilm seems very focused on mining the Original Trilogy characters and iconography while also introducing new characters and ideas. Do you think there will ever come a day where there will be a Star Wars movie with no Vaders or Yodas or Boba Fetts or Stormtroopers? A story that is a wholly new thing divorced from all the stuff George originated but still very much in the spirit of that universe?
Gary Whitta: I think you’ve already seen us get 90% of the way there with “Rogue One.” Yes you see Leia, yes you see the Death Star and Vader, because those are elements of that story and they belong there, you can’t tell that story without those characters. But for the most part, 90% of that story is completely new characters. Completely new planets and places you’ve never seen before. It’s a Star Wars movie with no Jedi! You don’t see a lightsaber once until Vader pops it out at the end. It doesn’t have any spirituality or mysticism… a little bit through Donnie’s character, but it’s very different DNA to the Star Wars films that have come before it. I really like the fact that we tried to do something different. The next spin-off is ‘Han Solo,’ that’s another familiar character, but I think increasingly you’re going to see… One of the thing things we really want to do at Lucasfilm is create a universe and not keep relying on old legacy characters. We’ve got Rey and Finn and Kylo Ren, they’ve already introduced a new generation of characters. Whatever kind of Star Wars films they’re making 10 or 20 years from now, I don’t think they’re going to be relying on the same legacy story elements as we have in the past.
CS: It would be cool to see something totally new, without the baggage of, “Should Vader do this or should Vader do that?”
Whitta: Yeah, I quite agree. I’m speaking purely as a fan. I obviously have no idea what their plans are for the franchise. I did my small piece of it, but it makes sense to me that you don’t want to keep telling the same story over and over again. You want to tell new stories.
Whatever your thoughts were on 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens or last year’s Rogue One, it’s hard to deny that they relied an awful lot on OT characters both crucial (Han Solo, Princess Leia, etc) and periphery (Ponda Baba, Mon Mothma), and even a few Prequel characters (Bail Organa, Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan). It is totally possible that 10 years from now many of the new characters being introduced (Knights of Ren, Guardians of the Whills, Saw Gerrera, Maz Kanata, et al) will be popular enough to warrant their own spin-off films, or possibly a movie with exclusively new characters, vehicles and planets could spring from the mind of a gifted filmmaker looking to reshape the brand. With the exception of a few occasional cameos, the show Star Wars Rebels has made a good case for how expansive the Star Wars Universe can be, and there are eras in the timeline totally unexplored in the movies, from the Old Republic to the post-Return of the Jedi/pre-Force Awakens period and even the post-Episode IX galaxy and beyond. It makes sense to use familiar characters to transition into a bolder vision, but eventually the filmmakers will have to shift the paradigm in order to keep audiences excited.
Would you want to see a future Star Wars movie with no recognizable characters? How many movies from now should they try this? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!