Thursday, February 27, 2014

#691. Box Office 2013

2013 was another wild year at the movies, deep into the new franchise era, although a couple of high concept original ideas broke into the top ten as well...

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($423 mil)
The second installment of this adaptation from the Suzanne Collins books marks the first time in the over thirty year span I've covered in this series where a movie featuring a female lead (Jennifer Lawrence) captures the top of the yearly box office.

2. Iron Man 3 ($409 mil)
The Avengers cycle rolls along with this first follow-up to The Avengers itself, Tony Stark attempting to figure out how to move on.

3. Frozen ($384 mil) 
Animated movies have become reliably big business (Toy Story 3 and Shrek 2 are two recent examples of ones that reached all the way to the top).  This is Disney rediscovering its own groove.

4. Despicable Me 2 ($368 mil)
The prevailing trend in these animated flicks is trying to learn how far you can push the canvas.  This is one of the success stories, featuring a quasi-unlikable lead.  Although apparently quite likable.

5. Man of Steel ($291 mil)
A movie that is fast becoming known as much for its upcoming sequel as for the controversy about its ending, which apparently solidifies this as a darker interpretation of Superman.

6. Gravity ($269 mil)
The Sandra Bullock love machine remains intact!

7. Monsters University ($268 mil)
This sequel to Monsters, Inc. changes pretty much everything about the concept except the central stars.

8. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ($256 mil)
The high point of this Peter Jackson franchise was Return of the King winning the crown in 2003.  Although I argue this is the best effort so far.

9. Fast & Furious 6 ($238 mil)
One of the unlikeliest successes stories in recent Hollywood lore was the increasing and continuing success of this series.

10. Oz the Great and Powerful ($234 mil)
May have broken the idea that only Judy Garland can sell the L. Frank Baum concept to broad audiences.

11. Star Trek Into Darkness ($228 mil)
Anytime Star Trek is a huge success is still pretty surprising to fans who remember when it became mainstream poison (ever more so) only a decade earlier.

12. Thor: The Dark World ($205 mil) 
The fact that Thor can have not one but two successful movies is the true strength of the Avengers allure.

13. World War Z ($202 mil)
A lot of people worried a great deal that this movie wouldn't do well.  It did.

15. The Heat ($159 mil)
Bullock strikes again, and Melissa McCarthy proves she's a box office draw.

17. The Great Gatsby ($144 mil)
Leonardo DiCaprio is a reliable draw now.  This wasn't always the case.  After Titanic he struggled a great deal. 

18. American Hustle ($144 mil)
The success of this movie is a great testament to the continuing appeal of movies that don't feature blockbuster effects or animated characters.

20. Identity Thief ($134 mil)
Melissa McCarthy again, in a movie released prior to The Heat.  She's most definitely a star.

22. The Wolverine ($132 mil)
Hugh Jackman became an instant star when he debuted this role in X-Men, but has always struggled to translate that into mass appeal when he stars on his own.

23. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues ($125 mil)
Honestly, it seemed at one point that Will Ferrell would have been far happier with all the promotional appearances as Ron Burgundy.

24. G.I. Joe: Retaliation ($122 mil)
Dwayne Johnson is in the same boat as Jackman, really.  But he's found a reliable career folding into existing franchises.

25. Lone Survivor ($121 mil)
The mass success of this one was surprising, but there always seems to be a market for war movies actually about war.

26. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 ($119 mil)
The filmmakers behind these quirky movies got a much bigger hit on their hands with The Lego Movie this year.

27. Now You See Me ($117 mil)
One of the bigger surprises of the year.  

28. Lee Daniels' The Butler ($116 mil)
A word-of-mouth smash.

29. The Wolf of Wall Street ($112 mil)
DiCaprio and Scorsese strike gold again.

30. The Hangover Part III ($112 mil)
Probably won't be another one, and I bet everyone's fine with that.

31. Epic ($107 mil)
Even though this is an animated movie more than a Colin Farrell movie, I still count this as a Farrell success.  He gets so few of them.

32. Captain Phillips ($106 mil)
Tom Hanks is so reliable it's easy to take him for granted, but every so often he can still have a hit on his hands.

36. Olympus Has Fallen ($98 mil)
Of the improbable battle of White House movies, this Gerard Butler movie was the winner.  And a rare winner for Butler as well!

37. 42 ($95 mil)
Baseball movies are an underappreciated genre.  Maybe this one was more relevant as one of the many success stories of 2013 for movies featuring black leads.

39. Planes ($90 mil)
A surprise success for a Cars variant that wasn't supposed to be released in theaters.

40. Lone Ranger ($89 mil)
This seems like a fine opportunity to remind people Johnny Depp is not usually a huge draw outside the guise of Jack Sparrow.

44. Saving Mr. Banks ($82 mil)
Tom Hanks again, in a movie that I find vastly underappreciated.  But it still made a good amount of money.  And counts as another success for Colin Farrell, the mostly uncredited third lead.

46. White House Down ($73 mil)
The competition for Olympus Has Fallen.

47. Mama ($71 mil)
A number of horror success stories in 2013, including this one starring Jessica Chastain.

50. The Best Man Holiday ($70 mil)
The unlikely follow-up to a movie released in 1999.

52. A Good Day to Die Hard ($67 mil)
The biggest success of movies featuring action stars of the '80s.

58. Prisoners ($61 mil)
Another success story for the traditional adult drama.

59. After Earth ($60 mil)
M. Night Shyamalan learned along with the rest of us that Will Smith's hot streak is officially over.

62. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters ($55 mil)
These movies are rarely huge successes.

69. Pain and Gain ($49 mil)
Probably the only time Dwayne Johnson will flaunt his muscles outside of an action role.

70. 12 Years a Slave ($49 mil)
Not a huge success, but a good amount for a movie with such difficult subject matter.

76. Riddick ($42 mil)
The problem of trying to create a blockbuster out of a movie (Pitch Black) that wasn't itself a blockbuster is that you have to try hard to make it a blockbuster.  Keep trying, Vin Diesel.

82. Carrie ($45 mil)
First starring role for frequent scene stealer Chloe Moretz.

85. Blue Jasmine ($33 mil)
For anyone else this is not a huge success.  For Woody Allen, this is a huge success.

87. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain ($32 mil)
Probably helps explain his 2014 success.

92. Grudge Match ($29 mil)
Rocky vs. Raging Bull.

94. Kick-Ass 2 ($28 mil)
Jim Carrey's biggest success of the year.  In his defense, he didn't actually star in any movies this year.

97. The World's End ($26 mil)
The conclusion to the Wright/Pegg/Frost trilogy.

100. Dallas Buyers Club ($24 mil) 
People Critics finally take Matthew McConaughey seriously.

101. Don Jon ($24 mil)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's plan for world domination has taken into account that it will take a little time.

102. Her ($23 mil)
Remarkably, Joaquin Phoenix was able to survive I'm Not Here.

107. The Way, Way Back ($21 mil)
Jim Rash is trying to steal Joseph Gordon-Levitt's plan.  Don't tell him.

120. The Counselor ($16 mil)
Cormac McCarthy is too old for his plan.  He will bequeath it to the car Cameron Diaz humps in this movie.

121. Nebraska ($16 mil)
MacGruber goes straight.  (Does not find a Stargate.)

123. Fruitvale Station ($16 mil)
Michael B. Jordan's calling card for Johnny Storm.

124. About Time ($15 mil)
Rachel McAdams will be traveling through time to find a massive hit in time travel movies.

126. Spring Breakers ($14 mil)
Became notorious.  Still working on becoming a cult classic.  

129. Out of the Furnace ($11 mil)
Casey Affleck is not Batman.

130. Dead Man Down ($10 mil)
Colin Farrell is not a huge box office draw.

137. Before Midnight ($8 mil)
The great indy love trilogy.  But they should keep making these.

139. Machete Kills ($8 mil)
Not the box office, however.

146. The Bling Ring ($5 mil)
The latest from Sofia Coppola.

153. Much Ado About Nothing ($4 mil)
After all the chatter about Whedon's Shakespeare and to have only gotten this much in return...

160. The Fifth Estate ($3 mil)
This was a Benedict Cumberbatch movie, damn it.  It should have made millions!  Oh wait, it did.  Just not a lot of them.

176. Oldboy ($2 mil)
Josh Brolin is awesome.  But people don't like Spike Lee anymore.  So Spike Lee is hardly about to make Josh Brolin a box office star.

178. Blue is the Warmest Color ($2 mil)
It is also a lesbian color, apparently.

179. Austenland ($2 mil)
It may be an Austenland, but it's an Avengers world.

184. The Iceman ($1 mil)
Michael Shannon is awesome!  That's why everyone was so upset to see Superman kill him.  Because otherwise he's not blockbuster material, alas...

197. Girl Most Likely ($1 mil)
Who would've thought that the biggest winner from Bridesmaids wouldn't be Kristen Wiig?

222. 56 Up ($700 thou)
This is the model the Before... movies should follow.  Keep them going!

227. To the Wonder ($500 thou)
Terrence Malick apparently used up his box office clout with Tree of Life.

231. The Reluctant Fundamentalist ($500 thou)
The book was awesome.  Glad there's a movie now, too.

243. Ain't Them Bodies Saints ($300 thou)
Casey Affleck only stars in movies with incredibly elaborate titles.  Might I recommend Ain't Them Bodies Avengers?

283. Arthur Newman ($200 thou)
Emily Blunt.  Why wasn't this movie a bigger success???

290. Midnight's Children ($100 thou)
Based on a book by Salman Rushdie.  Can we get the Satanic Verses movie already???

313. John Dies at the End ($100 thou)
Spoiler alert!!!

359. Byzantium ($80 thou)
Neil Jordan is pretty awesome.  Here he has Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan to work with.

361. Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon ($80 thou)
Didn't even know there was a second one.  Still haven't seen the first one, though.

476. Dear Mr. Watterson ($20 thou)
A companion of sorts to the book Looking for Calvin & Hobbes.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

#689. Not Ready for the Burden

While Yoda is dying in Return of the Jedi and basically undoing everything he said in The Empire Strikes Back, he tells Luke Skywalker that he didn't tell him the truth about Darth Vader because he wasn't "ready for the burden."

Now, I have to wonder, what exactly is the burden Yoda was talking about?  The burden of knowing Vader was his father?  That Luke would subsequently rush to fight him, unprepared?  I'm thinking it goes a little deeper than that.  This is all about the prophecy of bringing balance to the Force.  It was never Anakin Skywalker who was meant to fulfill the prophecy, but rather his son.

It's Anakin who buys into the concept of the Dark Side.  Trained in the ways of the Jedi, but only at the objections of key members from the Council, including both Yoda and Mace Windu, Anakin becomes a Sith Lord and wipes out most of the Jedi.  This is fine for the Sith, because the ancient schism that led to the diverging orders had limited the presence of the Sith to only a handful of practitioners, usually a master and apprentice.  I've speculated before that there were probably routinely more of them hanging around, even if they were only in reserve, or proxies, or pawns.  Count Dooku, for instance, or Sifo Dyas, both of whom would have had to overlap the career of Darth Maul under Darth Sidious (that is to say, Palpatine, the Emperor).  The Jedi always had far more practitioners, including a training academy with rigorous standards for admittance.  The thing is, it didn't really matter, then, if Vader killed every existing Jedi.  He would have to affect the Force itself, how it was perceived.

To a certain extent, he succeeded in that goal all too well.  In a span of a few decades, knowledge of the Force had been almost completely forgotten or marginalized.  The Jedi are dismissed as an "ancient religion" by one of Vader's Imperial colleagues, even though Vader himself actively practices a variation on it.  Han Solo calls it a "hokey religion."  In fact, the common description of the Force as a religion is a telling one, too.  It apparently requires belief to sustain its existence, at least in the popular imagination.

That's what the Sith always wanted, likely, to keep knowledge of the Force hidden and suppressed.  It wasn't Darth Sidious who created the Sith sect, but no greater adherent was ever likely to be found, someone who used it brilliantly, who rarely used his skills even though they remained great.  When Vader destroys the Jedi Order and its remaining Knights go into hiding, the Sith have effectively turned the Jedi into a mirror of itself.  This itself would not create a balance, but a staging ground.  Both sects still remain.  It has become a stalemate.

Vader seems fine to be in a relatively passive position.  Star Wars fans tend to distort the record a great deal, and Vader is a prime example of that, along with Boba Fett.  Both became instant icons even though all evidence in the material itself suggests no one around them really thought they were so special.  Vader is really no different than Darth Maul.  In The Phantom Menace, the Trade Federation only becomes aware of his existence after Darth Sidious dispatches him to work in the field.  Perhaps a fitting role for an apprentice, but Vader is hardly hiding away the way Darth Maul was, waiting to do something.  He's a key member of the Imperial hierarchy, Governor Tarkin's right hand man.  He leads troops and commands every situation unquestionably on missions.  No one is surprised when he uses the Force, but he doesn't appear to use it often.  He hides in plain sight.

Luke, on the other hand, approaches the Force not as a matter of course but as a tool.  He uses it like a trick, a get-out-of-jail-free card at every opportunity, whether it's reaching his lightsaber on Hoth or leaping out of the carbon freeze apparatus in Cloud City.  He's reckless and never really considers it an art, and certainly not a religion.  He sees no difference between his father and Yoda, and only rejects the Emperor's request to join him when he considers what he can lose rather than what he might gain.  Anakin was the complete opposite.  All his talk of loss only leads him to want more.  Anakin fears, but it's Luke's fear that dominates events.  Loss was a matter of course for him.  He never knew his birth parents.

He brings balance to the Force because he rejects everything that he's told about it.  For him, a Jedi is no different from a Sith.  That's the key difference.  It's not even that he never knew the system that caused all the problems to begin with, the one Anakin had to break.  Luke doesn't repair it.  He transcends it.  He ends the schism.  Once more, it's just the Force.  But the Force is no longer a religion, worshiped by its practitioners.  It's a means to an end.

The burden Yoda spoke of?  Yes, it was a matter of confronting the truth about his father, about Luke's own past.  But it was a past that extended far past the Skywalkers, something Yoda could never talk about with him, either of them, really.  Yoda and Mace Windu wanted to reject Anakin, but they were the ones who most keenly understood what was happening to the Jedi, even if they didn't know why.  It was the Sith growing stronger.  It was the Sith threatening to do from the other end what the prophecy needed to accomplish.  Had Luke known any of this, had he decided to side with the Emperor, the Force would remain a mystery.  It would become what the Emperor wanted, what even the Jedi wanted, some sacred tradition that needed to be protected.  Yoda and Mace knew Anakin had selfish motives.  Yoda knew Luke had them too.  That's what he wanted to avoid.  But Luke's yearning came from a different place, one that was only possible after his father lost his own inner struggles.  Luke understood all too well what needed to be done.

The burden he never needed Yoda to explain was one that didn't consider the Force at all, but a need he had to repair something that had nothing to do with it, to allow someone to fix a mistake on their own.  To no longer rely on the Force.  To remove it from the idea of a religion.  To free it.  To bring balance, not between competing sects, but within its practitioners.

Was Luke ready?  More ready than Yoda thought, perhaps.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Eponymous Monk #22

(click image to mighty morph!)

To be clear, this does not mean Ribsy is a Communist.  He's a consummate gentleman, yes, but not a Communist.  But calling people "comrade" is fun all the same!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Eponymous Monk #18

(click image to iToast)

For those who think I'm testing your patience, this strip is the start of a fun little sequence that will hopefully prove more interesting.  The last panel, like the one from two strips ago, also is a reference to one of the original plot points, from the original introduction of Oswald and yes, his footstool-shaped robot, the concept of probability, or rather improbability.  Because as in the happiest fiction, improbable developments are a matter of course.  Soon there will even be an oblique reference to Vladimir Putin!  And the New England Patriots!  If you ask real nice, I'll explain that when it comes up...

Sunday, February 16, 2014

#684. Next Generation Rewind: A Most Redeemable Man

When you think of Star Trek: The Next Generation, you probably consider Jean-Luc Picard to be a pretty sober individual who was about as in control of himself as someone can get.  And you'd be pretty accurate in that assessment, except the thing is, he wasn't always that way.  By the time of "Encounter at Farpoint," he had indeed become that man, but before that, and possibly leading up to that very moment, Picard was in fact in desperate need of redemption.  Simply put, if you think James T. Kirk was a pretty wild guy, the Picard prior to when we got to know him would have put Kirk to shame.

And the thing is, even when he was at his best, Picard still needed the challenge to his worst impulses to keep him there.

As any fan of the series knows, Picard lost his original heart not long after graduating from Starfleet Academy after picking a fight with a Nausicaan, a surly brute of an alien he tried to hustle in a game of futuristic pool.  If that weren't bad enough, Picard actually welcomed a fight not just with one Nausicaan, but several of his friends as well.  He ended up stabbed through the chest.  Luckily for him, the doctors of his time didn't consider that a fatal condition.

Yet even after that, he was hardly the model of the perfect officer.  The first starship he ever commanded was the Stargazer, a ship Picard lost in a encounter with an unknown enemy (later revealed to be the Ferengi), which he abandoned as derelict.  More damning, however, is the unhealthy relationship he fostered with the wife of an officer serving under him, who was even a good friend of Picard's.

All this, presumably, because he was always he told he shouldn't pursue his dreams.  Picard's brother Robert considered it a betrayal to the family when the young Jean-Luc decided to enter Starfleet Academy.  Picard didn't even successfully pass the entrance exam the first time.  Not only did this create a man with something to prove, but someone desperate to strike out and rebel.

Surely this attitude made him stand out among his peers.  Starfleet would have been willing to overlook Picard's more self-destructive behaviors, after all having already experienced the career of Jim Kirk he might have seemed like exactly what the captain of the flagship needed to be.

And yet, somehow, by the time he assumed command of the Enterprise, Picard became an entirely changed man, a redeemed man.  He no longer resembled the man he once was in the slightest degree.  He now appeared to be the polar opposite of that man, in fact.  Age doesn't have anything to do with it.  Kirk proved decades into his own career that growing older didn't temper his wilder instincts.

So what happened to Jean-Luc Picard?

Well, for one thing, he picked the only first officer who could from the start promise to keep him in check.  William T. Riker wasn't even graded a commander yet when Picard selected him, but he'd already developed a reputation of questioning his commanding officers even if it meant jeopardizing his career.  With a man like that under him, what else was Picard to do?  Surely an older and more experienced man at this point in his career, Picard would at least know exactly what he was doing.  Knowing there is someone watching your every move can sometimes be enough to curb your worse instincts.

There was also Beverly Crusher, the widow of Picard's best friend, serving as chief medical officer.  This was a tempting affair that had long haunted Picard.  They'd never acted upon it, and the presence of Crusher's young son Wesley was itself reason to reconsider whatever Picard had once thought of the relationship.  Picard hated kids.  And yet, there was something about this boy that reminded him of himself, looking for challenges that were more self-imposed than real, a need to prove he was good enough and not just that but better than those around him, not out of arrogance but a yearning to fill a void.  Wesley's void was his father, Picard's best friend.  What else was Picard to do but recalibrate in that way, too?

The bartender Guinan first appproached him years earlier, as if she'd known him all her life, and Picard felt the same from the moment they met.  In another lifetime they would have been lovers, but this mutual understanding was more an unspoken bond of survivors.  What had Guinan survived?  Without ever asking her, he always knew she understood him, and it was this quiet compassion that helped give him the strength to improve himself, too.

In fact, Picard surrounded himself with a host of such figures.  He wouldn't learn the extent of Data's journey until later, but there was something about the android's humble service in Starfleet that intrigued Picard.  He was the only one of his kind, and was capable of great things, but chose to serve as just another officer, and until the Enterprise, that was exactly what Data was.  It was Picard who elevated him to a level of importance, and Picard alone who continually championed him.

Worf was a similar figure, the only Klingon officer, and a survivor as well, who had been raised by humans but never lost his love for a people he never knew, him too searching for someone who would accept him for who and what he was.

Geordi La Forge, the blind officer whose ambition was to become chief engineer, but perhaps had never been taken seriously due to his handicap, artificially corrected or otherwise.  What else would Picard see in him but a reflection of the family who told him he should stay at home and conform to more common dreams?

Deanna Troi, who perhaps for Picard was Riker's answer to his own Beverly Crusher dilemma.  Perhaps it was a way to test his first officer, see if he could still perform to the best of his abilities if confronted with a past relationship he'd never found resolution with, in the form of a woman who also knew what it was to stand between worlds, from her human father to her Betazoid mother.  As ship's counselor, Troi's empathic abilities would negate the ability to lie of nearly everyone Picard would encounter.  It would also force Picard himself to be truthful.

Tasha Yar, the final member of his senior staff, knew what it was to be a survivor as well.  Had she lived long enough, her attraction to Picard might have led to a relationship he could tolerate.  Her absence in later years created a void first recognized by Data, as powerful an acknowledgment as any coming from an android more commonly known to operate without the benefit of emotion.

The last and truest test came from Q.  Who else but Q challenged Picard so thoroughly, not physically but intellectually?  Who else but Q constantly forced him to think of some other way around a problem but the wild impulses Q himself so outlandishly embodied?  Who else but Q could manifest the kind of individual Picard had once been?  Who else but Q to ensure Picard finally did become the best version of himself?

All these figures forcing Jean-Luc Picard to complete his redemption.  Starfleet gave him the chance.  It was Picard who completed it.

The movies have a funny way of reflecting this journey.  In Generations, Picard's bond with Data is solidified when they're both forced to handle the culmination of their life's journeys.  Picard loses his family and his sense of rebellion, Data finally obtains emotions.  Yet neither of these developments come happily to them.  Their journeys mutually conclude in First Contact, when they're confronted with the easy way out, the perfect oblivion of the Borg, and opt for something greater, the noble ideal that they have come to recognize in each other.  Insurrection reveals how Picard always had the strength within himself if only he'd trusted his instincts instead of rebelling against them.  On an idyllic world where time can literally stand still, he meets a woman who challenges all his preconceptions, at a time in his life when even Picard believes he's matured because he's aged rather than for any qualities he's possessed all along.  Nemesis is the mirror he never wanted to confront, the inner turmoil he outgrew rather than confronted.  And what are the results?  They're ugly, in fact.  Perhaps that's another reason fans never liked this one.  Yet the movie also affirms how he overcame his demons, by trusting those around him. Ironically if Picard had ever trusted himself, he might have trusted Shinzon, too, and the resulting crisis averted.  Shinzon's suicidal fury, his need to challenge the entire universe in order to feel vindicated in his righteous rejection, is an exact copy of Picard's earlier years.  The Reman caretaker Shinzon trusts so implicitly is the opposite of the groundskeeper Boothby who befriended Picard at Starfleet Academy.  Picard himself might have still corrected Shinzon's errors, if he had become the troubled youth's Riker, or Guinan.

Picard was at his best when challenged to be the best.  At the height of Next Generation's popularity, he came to overshadow Kirk in the imaginations of the fans.  He wasn't just Kirk's opposite, but the very ideal of the Star Trek vision that humanity might one day perfect itself.  Yet Picard himself didn't reach that point easily.  He was by no means a perfect man, but certainly a most redeemable man.  And perhaps that's the best that could be said of him, that even if the best version of himself came late in his life, Picard still managed to project an image that suggested he'd always been that way.  So what if he wasn't?  But thanks goodness he wasn't.

Because as role models go, he's better that way.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Eponymous Monk #16

(click image to embiggen)

Fun fact!  The last panel in today's strip features what may be the only reference to the original arc from this story's first incarnation.  Spotty and (for those keeping score) the duo of Gerry and Oswald (who later become intergalactic talk shows hosts, before Gerry becomes locked up in an asylum, which even more fun fact! is also the immediate fate for Dorothy Gale in the little-seen Return to Oz, which is otherwise a lot of fun and far more faithful to the original L. Frank Baum material than the Judy Garland movie everyone loves) are the only survivors of this shameless ripoff of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which famously features Earth being destroyed to make way for a new highway (the title was in fact Dictator's Pride of the Galaxy; and this is why it was a very good thing that the story remained a work in progress for nearly two decades); in the story Spotty has deemed Earth unworthy of continuing to exist in his realm, and so he has had it weeded.  And now you know more than you wanted to know.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

#677. My idea for Star Wars Episode VII...

I know J.J. Abrams is already hammering out the script and everything, and so this is an exercise in futility, but the idea struck me last night and I'm in love with it.

Basically, Tom Hardy is Han Solo's son.  It's so perfect.  I've been a huge fan of Hardy's for years.  As a bonus, he seems to be a go-to guy for franchises already (Batman, Mad Max).  And a lot of other people are already acknowledging how awesome he is based on his recent work, starting with the breakthrough Inception performance.

But seriously, do I need to sell you anymore on the concept?  Here goes...

The title of this Episode VII is The Rogue's Son.  We begin our adventure with a surly Kane Skywalker (that's our boy Hardy) living at the farthest reaches of the galaxy.  It's thirty years after the defeat of the Empire, but the most famous names are Solo and Organa, the power couple who ended up becoming the face of the New Republic.  Even though he technically did most of the work, Luke Skywalker's legacy has been lost, and so using that surname helps Kane hide better.

Wanting nothing to do with his parents after a rough childhood where he felt like he meant nothing to them while the New Republic meant everything, Kane has ended up a lot like his father.  He has no idea, of course.  The biggest irony is that he even has his own hand-me-down patchwork ship he's worked on for years, making it his own, so that it's far more impressive than it has any right to be.  He drag-races it every chance he gets.  But he's not happy.

Word has reached Kane that the remnant of the Imperial fleet is staging a comeback.  In his desperation he actually thinks it's a good thing to side with these guys.  As a ode to the classic Timothy Zahn novels, we've even got Thrawn in the mix, only instead of being the leading figure he's another outcast like Kane, just looking for a way in.  Kane and Thrawn team up to offer their services to the cause.

Standing in Kane's way.  An old hermit he knows as Bail.  Except Bail is really Luke Skywalker, Kane's uncle and still the last of the Jedi.  He's never had success in rebuilding the Order.  This also has a way of tying in with all those books about Han and Leia's kids who were among the first of the new Jedi.  Because Kane knows he does have access to the Force.  But he has no idea how to control it.

In fact, he has a lightsaber, and when Luke reveals his true identity they engage in a wild duel.  Until Luke convinces Kane to give his father one last shot.

And so they head home.  The reunion is a painful one.  Kane and Han engage in another fight.  (Come on.  You will never grow tired of Harrison Ford in a fight.)  But they agree to give it another shot.  It's only then that Kane remembers the impending threat of the Imperial fleet.

The thing is, in the rebuilding process the New Republic kind of overlooked matters of security.  There hadn't been a real threat in three decades.  So it's entirely unprepared to face this fleet.  Kane realizes he and his ship are the New Republic's best shot.

And perhaps to set up room for a sequel, Thrawn betrays Kane at the end in order to give the Imperial fleet something to use next time.

To my mind, this is a fantastic idea.  Tom Hardy in movies like Warrior and Bronson portrays all the necessary elements, to an almost scary degree, to sell this role.  Warrior is a movie about a father and son(s) who find reconciliation difficult.  Bronson is about a crass and unrefined brute who can sometimes fake his way into a more civilized mode (that's where Kane's mother Leia would show her influence!).

And it's Tom Hardy.  And Harrison Ford.  I know they tried it with Shia LaBeouf in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but, and no offense to Shia LaBeouf, Shia LaBeouf is no Tom Hardy.  Hardy and Ford are a match made in heaven.  And they're meant to be father and son, in Star Wars.

This idea has zero chance of happening, and I'm sure I will be more than happy with whatever Abrams cooks up...but I would love to see this happen...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...