At the moment, we’re pretty much in the dark when it comes to the stand-alone feature films. We’ve got two directors (Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank), two writers (Gary Whitta and Simon Kinberg) and three rumoured codenames (Boba Fett, Solo and Red Five).
However, a bigger picture is emerging. Three out of four of the upcoming tie-in novels from Del Rey are set between episodes III and IV, as is the animated series Rebels. It looks like this “Dark Times” era will be where Lucasfilm plan to tell the stories of their stand-alone features, and they’re slowly but surely generating interest in this era in the lead-up to the first stand-alone film, due for release in December 2016.
While we haven’t heard much about the work they’re doing on these films, they may be further along in pre-production than we realise. Why? Because they already have over 50 hours worth of stories and concept art unused from Star Wars: Underworld.
Star Wars: Underworld was a proposed live-action series set between episodes III and IV with writers such as Ron Moore working in the project. Budgetary considerations meant the series never got made, but material was written for at least two seasons, with the story focusing on the seamy underbelly of the Star Wars universe, particularly on the world of Coruscant.
If you want some visuals, have a look at the concept art at the end of this article, taken from the unreleased tie-in game to Underworld, 1313. Boba Fett was the protagonist of the game, which also featured settings as diverse as Tatooine shanty towns and Coruscant red light districts. At the very least, this gives us a feel for the series.
For more insght, here’s Stephen Scaia on writing for Underworld:
We told the story of how Han met Chewie, how Lando lost the Millennium Falcon. I even got to pitch a Boba Fett action scene with his rocket-pack.
In other words, both Boba Fett and Han Solo would have featured in the series—the same two characters rumoured to be getting stand-alone films. And then there’s Lando, who will make an appearance in Rebels. This all fits with my prior speculation on what the overall plan is for the stand-alone films.
And it makes sense, too. Underworld represents resources that could quickly and easily be mined to kickstart stand-alone films that would not need to be developed from scratch. George Lucas even said Underworld “looks like the Star Wars features”—these stories always had the potential to be feature films, and that no doubt increased the saleability of Lucasfilm to Disney. Imagine: outlines for episodes VII-IX and complete stories for various stand-alone films set between episodes III and IV. Who could resist?
Robert Pattinson may or may not play Han Solo (edit: there’s absolutely no reason to believe he will), but it now seems almost unthinkable that the first two stand-alone films won’t feature Fett and Solo respectively and be interlocking stories in the spirit of Underworld.
As for where the first of these films will be shot, we have this from Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, indicating that Edwards’ stand-alone film will also be made in the U.K.:
In any case, Underworld and 1313 will most likely see life yet. It’ll just be on the big screen.
1313 concept art: