No sooner can I post one Star Wars story before boom, another one flies down the pipe. Welcome to the new normal now that Disney is trying to get all “Marvel Cinematic Universe” on their freshly canon-pruned Star Wars franchise. It turns out the gaps between new Star Wars Episodes starting in 2015 won’t be totally barren. Today Disney has officially confirmed the long-rumored standalone spin-off films — three of them, to be precise.
Details of the standalone spin-offs have been sparse so far, with scuttlebutt mostly suggesting that there were two on the docket, at least to start with, and rumors have suggested they could focus on characters ranging from Yoda to Boba Fett to a young Han Solo. Speaking during the Walt Disney Company quarterly earning stockholders call today, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that there are indeed three Star Wars spin-offs on the horizon, and that the current plan is to release them during the “off years” of the new trilogy. So, after Episode VII in 2015, we’d get the first spin-off in 2016; then Episode VIII in 2017, the next spin-off in 2018, and so on, all the way through the release of the last of the three spin-offs in 2020.
One thing we do know is that Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back) and Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past) are writing the spin-offs, and rumors have suggested that they might serve as “origin stories” for some of the franchise’s well-known characters. That would jibe with the Han/Boba/Yoda rumors, assuming you can find somebody to play young Han who’s charismatic enough to win reactionary fans over before they can tar and feather him.
That plan may sound crazy ambitious, but it jibes with early statements in the wake of the Disney/Lucasfilm buyout, and it’s essentially a scaled-down version of the Marvel scheme. If you’d told me 10 years ago that we’d be getting three Marvel superhero movies a year, I would have punched you right in your lying face. But Marvel and Disney have proven that sort of full-steam-ahead approach can lead to massive success, giving us an Avengers movie that made a billion and a half dollars and a Marvel Cinematic Universe that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. (And which is allegedly already planned out through 2028, so this Star Wars plan is actually conservative by comparison.)
And honestly, more power to them. Between Marvel and the Muppets and Pixar, Disney has earned the benefit of the doubt as far as I’m concerned. They’ve proven themselves to be very canny in how they approach beloved properties like and the Marvel books, hiring smart people who love the source material and letting them do their thing. Will the approach that’s worked so well with Marvel prove compatible with spinning new tales of Star Wars? Ask me again in 10 years, but I know how I’d be placing my bets.
Now, if we could just get confirmation about that alleged Episode VII title…