Sunday, January 20, 2019

10 Cassian Andor-Style 'Star Wars' TV Pitches

When Lucasfilm announced The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars TV series, they promised an original story that would borrow from familiar concepts but ultimately focus on new characters in a new corner of the galaxy. However, the subsequent announcement of the Cassian Andor series hinted that Star Wars television could instead be a platform to tell stories about pre-established characters who are already well-liked by fans.
On its own, the Cassian series announcement doesn't tell us much about Lucasfilm's future plans for television, but let's put it in the context of the recent news about Marvel Studios developing series centered on characters like Loki, Scarlet Witch and Vision, and Falcon and Bucky, which will similarly be streaming on Disney+. Marvel is giving high-budget series to fan-favorite characters who don't quite warrant feature films of their own; with the Cassian series, it seems that Lucasfilm is doing the same.

This makes sense from the perspective of Disney, which, of course, owns Lucasfilm, Marvel, and the streaming platform. For characters like these, who have solid fanbases but not exactly A-list name recognition, giving them 6-10 episode series that audiences can watch from home (with budgets of about $10 million per episode) is less risky than spending $150 million or upwards on a theatrical film that could very well tank at the box office.
This doesn't mean that after The MandalorianStar Wars television will shift entirely towards stories centered on pre-introduced characters with the same actors returning. But at the very least there's a precedent for it now, and if the Cassian series is a massive hit, Lucasfilm will definitely be looking at other familiar faces who could launch their own series. 

I've come up with 10 pitches for more Star Wars TV series centering characters like Cassian who are unlikely to receive films of their own but still deserve to have their stories told in live-action:

Maz Kanata

With Maz, The Force Awakens gave us an instantly iconic character, but the franchise hasn't quite figured out how to use her. Aside from her cameo in The Last Jedi, her biggest role has been as the narrator (and occasional star) of the Forces of Destiny web series. Lupita Nyong'o is confirmed to reprise the role in Episode IX, but we don't know if she'll get the major role she deserves as a key ally of the Resistance in their final stand against the First Order.
As a creature more than 1000 years old with vast experience in the galactic underworld, Maz has tons of potential within the Star Wars universe. She deserves a series of her own that delves into the inner workings of her character. How did she build her reputation as a "pirate queen"? As a Force-sensitive being, did she come into contact with the Jedi or the Sith?

This could even be an anthology series that shows us a handful of different Maz stories from different eras. It could include any number of cameos from familiar faces who encounter her, including Han Solo, Maz's "boyfriend" Chewie, and even Yoda (because you know he and Maz would have an interesting conversation).

The Knights of Ren

A topic nearly as infamous among fans as Rey's parentage and Snoke's origins, the Knights of Ren are heavily rumored to finally appear in Episode IX, after being mentioned briefly in The Force Awakens and then entirely absent from The Last JediNo matter their presence in IX, this is undoubtedly a canonical concept that has lots of potential, particularly regarding the Knights' origin.
While a lot of this series would be developing the characters of the individual Knights as they train and carry out missions for Andy Serkis' Snoke, the main selling point would be the return of Adam Driver's Kylo Ren, especially since IX will conclude his arc in one way or another. Including Snoke would also entice viewers with the possibility (but by no means the obligation) of exploring his own origins.

Lando and L3-37

Lucasfilm struck gold when they cast Donald Glover as Lando, as proven by both the initial reactions to the casting and the reactions to his performance in Solo. They'll probably try to fit Glover's Lando into another story in the next few years; a series following his adventures with L3-37, another popular character with an unsatisfactory fate, is the best idea. It can even revolve around—and maybe take its name from—Lando's vlog-like "Calrissian Chronicles," which were glimpsed in Solo.
Like the Cassian series, this one would promise another hilarious human-droid dynamic as the duo navigate the stars and engage in some less-than-legal activity. As an added bonus, the series would be able to flaunt the Falcon as a key story element in its marketing, since it was Lando and L3's transport and home during this time.

Enfys Nest

Erin Kellyman's Enfys Nest and her Cloud-Riders could and should carry a movie (if not a whole trilogy) of their own. Enfys is beloved by fans after appearing in Solo, and her role as a young Rebel warrior leading the fight against colonialism and fascism makes her the perfect example of how Star Wars can create original, compelling characters that stay true to the core of the saga—not to mention the importance of her status as a young woman of color. 
However, if Lucasfilm's not interesting in an Enfys Nest film, a series is the next best thing. It would ideally take place after Solo and show the Cloud-Riders' continued efforts against Crimson Dawn and the Empire. Flashbacks to Enfys' childhood and her relationship with her mother, who wore the same armor and fought for the same cause, would be pretty neat too. The series could have guest appearances by Saw Gerrera and a young Jyn, who met Nest in the Solo novelization. 

Captain Phasma

Star Wars has never known quite what to do with Captain Phasma. Despite an immediate fanbase due to her unique armor and the popularity of actress Gwendoline Christie, The Force Awakens barely used her at all and The Last Jedi gave her only a few cool moments before seemingly killing her off. These days, you can spot her occasionally on Star Wars Resistance, voiced by Christie again. 
Phasma's self-titled novel and comic book have already proven that there's enough depth to her character that she can carry a story on her own. No matter whether it was a live-action adaptation of one of these stories or an entirely new chapter in her life, a Phasma series would explore her ridiculously strong survival instincts and include flashbacks to her past on Parnassos. 

Chirrut and Baze

While these two didn't get the same kind of characterization in Rogue One that Cassian did, they were still fan favorites. Between Chirrut's devout faith and Baze's gruff cynicism—and the interesting mesh of their fighting styles—many hours of entertaining content could be squeezed out of their dynamic in another Rogue One prequel series set on Jedha.
But why limit the series to just Chirrut and Baze when there's still so much to be known about the Guardians of the Whills, the group of warrior Force monks to which both of them belonged (and a perfect title for the series)? This show would do best to introduce other Guardians and dive deeper into their lore, especially their connections to the Force and to Kyber cystals. 

Han and Chewie

Unlike the rest of these characters, these two do have A-list name recognition, but with a Solo sequel unlikely, the better option is a series starring Alden Ehrenreich and Joonas Suotamo that takes place shortly after the events of Solo. Not only would a large audience be guaranteed due to the iconic nature of these characters, but it would also entice Solo fans who want to see more of Ehrenreich and where he takes the character next. 
This series would pick up where Solo left off and follow Han and Chewie as the join Jabba the Hutt's crew—which would most likely include Boba Fett and other familiar faces—on Tatooine. It could also delve into the duo's other adventures during the 10 or so years before A New Hope, perhaps including Lando, Enfys, and fan-favorite comics character Sana Starros. 

Beckett and Val

There's a lot to say about Val's early death in Solo (I wrote a whole post about in June), but at the very least, it was a huge waste of Thandie Newton's talent. Nothing can ever fully rectify that mistake, but giving her a series with Woody Harrelson's Beckett on various missions and heists together before the events of Solo would be a good start.
After all, Beckett and Val gave us one of the most mature and healthy romantic relationships we've seen in Star Wars. From their handful of scenes together, it was clear that their relationship was defined by commitment, a mutual respect of each other's skills, and equal contribution towards the shared goal of retiring together. The best way to sell this series would be as a Star Wars romantic thriller about this pair of outlaw lovers who flirt and bicker as they casually murder and steal. 

This series could also see the return of Rio Durant (voiced by Jon Favreau), Enfys Nest, and Paul Bettany's Dryden Vos. Other possible characters include the Xan sisters and Bossk (rumored to appear in The Mandalorian), who Val name-dropped in the film as fellow criminals who had worked with her and Beckett in the past. 

Jyn Erso

You know who's even more popular than Cassian? Jyn. And she had her own adventures pre-Rogue One, as detailed in the novel Rebel Rising and glimpsed in Forces of Destiny. Moreover, it would be a huge waste if Lucasfilm used Felicity Jones for only one film and then never again, especially since her contract already includes the possibility of more appearances. Jones even said just last month that she'd love to play Jyn again.
This series would generally center on Jyn committing crimes and kicking stormtrooper ass (as seen in Forces of Destiny), and could include guest appearances by Forest Whitaker's Saw Gerrera and possible flashbacks of Mads Mikkelsen and Valene Kane as Galen and Lyra Erso, respectively. As for a series title? "Stardust." 

Qi'ra and Maul

The biggest thread left hanging by Solo was Qi'ra's decision to take Dryden Vos' place and meet Maul, her new boss, on Dathomir. This story was most likely intended to be told in a sequel, and will inevitably be told at some point to explain the fate of Qi'ra and Crimson Dawn. A live-action series would be best way to tell this story in high quality and to a large audience. 
A series led by Emilia Clarke and focusing on Qi'ra would also rectify one of the flaws in the way Solo handled her; they kept her past and true ambitions so ambiguous that she had little agency for most of the movie and her final decision to join Maul was open to interpretation. This series would give us a much better look at Qi'ra as a character—whether she's a good person who had to sacrifice herself to save Han, or she really has become evil and seeks to usurp Maul and lead Crimson Dawn herself. 
Another idea is an amalgamation of a few of these pitches as a Solo direct sequel series that follows the general plan for the film's cinematic sequel and includes Han, Chewie, Qi'ra, Maul, Lando, and Enfys. This would hit several birds with one stone and satisfy the fans who want a sequel to Solo, although it wouldn't allow nearly as much focus on supporting characters like Qi'ra and Enfys (opposed to the idea of splitting it up into multiple series about different characters from Solo). 

What do you think of these pitches? Who do you want to see receive a Star Wars TV series of their own? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.

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