(Or, Why Disney should bring back Shadows of the Empire)
The second Death Star explodes in a shower of what would surely be massive chunks of radioactive molten metal crashing through Endor’s atmosphere in the same way as the asteroid which wiped out the dinosaurs…and the Empire is finished, or so it seemed back in 1983. What we didn’t know then was that it would be fourteen years until Star Wars was properly back on the big screen in the 1997 special editions.
One of the few treasures to appear prior to the Special Editions, was a strange project described by George Lucas as everything you would normally get with a Star Wars movie, without the actual movie itself – Shadows of the Empire. Shadows was in a way the pinnacle of Lucas’s film making efforts thus far, driven by a desire to produce the best work possible as cheaply as possible, and then merchandise the hell out of it.
A range of items appeared out of nowhere in a marketing blitz designed to appeal to every niche of Star Wars fandom from exciting new action figures to video games, comics and trading cards, a soundtrack and a novelisation of the movie that never was. A Never-lisation if you will.
Set between Empire and Jedi, the story features all the recognisable names the Lucasfilm marketing department could jam in there including Vader and Boba Fett, as well as a Buck Rogers type in a Millennium Falcon knock off – heroically named Dash Rendar! I use an exclamation mark because I always felt that’s how you were meant to say it
The story reads like a well-polished fan fic of the period following Han being carbo-tised and the subsequent race to deliver him to Jabba, or rescue him, depending who you are rooting for. New character Prince Xizor provides dramatic tension, seeking revenge on Darth Vader, and at the same time guiding his criminal empire ‘Black Sun’ to a more dominant position in the galactic underworld.
Black sun appear in recent novels, such as Ahsoka by E.K.Johnston and Star Wars Aftermath by Chuck Wendig, and it seems that if Disney isn’t already going for a re-canonisation of Shadows, they really should because…
- It’s easy money.
- The characters are mostly household names (see, easy money)
- Vader’s so hot right now after Rogue One (see, easy money)
- Hasbro already has the toy moulds, they can just reissue the existing toys to a whole new generation (see, easy money)
- A 3.75 scale Virago (Xizor’s ship) would be awesome.
- A Dash Rendar! movie makes almost as much sense as a Han Solo movie.
- Shadows is set in the galactic civil war era, which Lucasfilm seems keen to revisit.
- The Novelisation is already written, just a few tweaks to make it Canon friendly and we are good to go.
Re-casting characters is not a problem if you want a movie; we are on our second Han and Lando, seventh James Bond, and fifteenth Dr Who (counting John Hurt and Peter Cushing). Shadows will seem fresh and new to younger fans, and will also trigger that lucrative nostalgia for older fans, which as we know is…easy money. Disney, I’m ready when you are.