As Lucas slips into retirement and hands Star Wars off to new filmmakers, Zahn hopes the movies will do the same.
“I’d like to see the original characters in perhaps smaller roles, handing the mantle of adventure to the next generation. Luke would be like Obi-Wan, but not quite the same because he will have raised his children and Obi-Wan was more standing off, watching and protecting,” Zahn says.
“I’d love to see a good father-son, or mother-son, or daughter story. I’d like to see family. We haven’t seen a lot of good family stuff in Star Wars. A lot of it has been dysfunctional, and driven by somebody else. Anakin was a slave and manipulated all his life. Luke and Leia never knew each other…”
Zahn says his favorite of the Indiana Jones movies was The Last Crusade, pairing Harrison Ford with Sean Connery as the archaeologist’s father. Even parents who aren’t monsters like Darth Vader have trouble with their kids, and the new Star Wars movies could explore than with Luke, Han and Leia.
“Some family interaction would be something different for the new movies to do – against the backdrop of excitement and adventure that forms the basis of Star Wars,” Zahn says. “There are a lot of directions you can go with the Skywalker families and really kick some serious butt.”
ADJUSTING THE TIMELINE
Whatever Disney decides to do with the Star Wars sequels, fans are going to insist on having the original characters appear in some capacity. It’s just a question of how – and when.
“Frankly, I’m interested to see what they’re going to do,” Zahn says. “Is Lucas going to skip a generation so that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher can do their roles at the proper age? Or would they try some CG ‘youthing,’ like the filmmakers did with [Jeff Bridges] in Tron: Legacy? Could they reboot and use different actors? That sounds like it would be a horrible sacrilege, but Star Trek got away with it.”
Setting the sequels after the Thrawn series, but following the direction it set out in its conclusion, would be Zahn’s preference. “It would also be a little less likely to run roughshod all over the books,” Zahn says. “On the other hand, it’s George Lucas’ property and if he wants to ignore the books and comics, that’s his perfect right.”
Fans might have other feelings about that, although Lucas has shown with the prequels that he doesn’t always consider their wishes.
NEED TO KNOW BASIS
When Marvel Studios announced at Comic-Con this year that its Captain America sequel would be subtitled The Winter Soldier, comic-book scribe Ed Brubaker, who created that particular character, found out about it via Twitter.
Despite playing in a company’s mythological sandbox, authors aren’t always told whether their creations are being adapted. The same is true of Zahn, whose books could very well be a major influence on whatever treatment Lucas has outlined — without any of the author’s knowledge.
“It certainly could be happening,” the author says. “They have no obligation to touch base. As with any other franchise, once we write something, it’s owned by Lucasfilm, as it should be. It’s their property. “
He has been surprised before. “I’ve had conversations with friends over the years and they’d say, ‘Oh, Thrawn is in a new video game,’ and that would be the first I heard about it. So they could film the whole Thrawn trilogy without me ever knowing until I sat down in the theater!”
HAN SOLO’S HEIST
Zahn has penned several other Star Wars books, including one debuting in January called Scoundrels, set just after the events in the original 1977 movie, now known as A New Hope. (You can find out more about his current work on his Facebook page.)
“It’s a couple of weeks after the first Death Star has been destroyed, and Han, Lando and Chewie are going to collect eight other scoundrels for a heist,” Zahn says. “They’re going up against a criminal who has a supposedly impregnable vault where they are going to try to steal 163 million credits.”
He says he took inspiration from a familiar kind of team caper. Think The Dirty Dozen, The Expendables or the Frank Sinatra and George Clooney heist films. “This is the Star Wars version of Ocean’s 11,” Zahn says. “In fact, my original title was Solo’s 11, but they decided that might be a little too close to the trademark.”
One thing Lucasfilm knows well is trademark violations.
So Zahn is still close with the company, obviously. And if they want his input on the movies, he’s eager to participate. “I will be on the first plane to California,” the author says. “As I said on Facebook, I will hire a charter if I have to!”
Fans would urge him to find one that can make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
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‘Star Wars: Scoundrels’: Timothy Zahn’s new novel gets a release date