Patton Oswalt's pitch to Disney for Star Wars Episode VII on last night's Parks & Recreation, released earlier this week in its full, unedited form, is a hallucinatory explosion of geek imagery. It imagines a red lightsaber-wielding Luke, an adulterous Leia, a chump Han Solo, a Sarlaac-regurgitated Boba Fett, and a disembodied Chewbacca tangling with the omnipotent alien warlord Thanos from Marvel, along with Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and the Greek gods from Clash and Wrath of the Titans. Because Sam Worthington will not rest until he's in every franchise. Some of it makes perfectly geeky sense, like bringing back Brian De Palma to write the opening crawl. (Seriously, I've suggested that myself.) It also strikes fear that Star Wars, like the Marvel films also produced by Disney, probably will have post-credit scenes from now on.
Our good friends at EW.com took Oswalt's pitch and ran with it, producing this fantastic fake poster below that imagines Disney's multiple franchises existing in one continuous multiverse.
Click over to EW.com to see the full-size image, designed by photo editor extraordinaire Jef Castro. A few questions, though. Is Luke so determined to pay tribute to his father that he doesn't just wield his red lightsaber, he also dons daddy Anakin's Darth Vader armor? Is Leia cut out of the poster — only her hand, being kissed by her lover Lando Calrissian, is visible — because that is how underwritten the female roles really are in Oswalt's vision? And will Samuel L. Jackson really still be playing Nick Fury in Episode VII, even though he played Mace Windu in the prequels?
This is all we can say, EW: "Impressive...most impressive."
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
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When hearing about today's gigantic Facebook IPO, in which the public could buy shares of the company for $38 a pop and Mark Zuckerberg and a host of others were turned into billionaires, I started thinking about what would happen if The Social Network, the Oscar-nominated 2010 movie, had a sequel. We'd have Zuckerberg raking in all that cash and Eduardo Saverin, the hero of the initial movie, renouncing his American citizenship so that he could save on the tax bill that comes from becoming a kazillionaire over night.
Then I started thinking about movie sequels and Internet empires and then it came to me: Facebook's IPO is totally like The Empire Strikes Back, the second chapter in the Star Wars trilogy. (My hand to Jar Jar Binks, I won't acknowledge that those other three prequels exist.) Sounds crazy, right?
Just bear with me. Zuckerberg, of course, is Darth Vader, the evil mastermind who doesn't care much about privacy and wants to become the most powerful force in the universe (next to the Emperor, who in this case is like the several venture capital firms that made even more money today than Zuckerberg did). He tracks all the other characters down to Cloud City, a dream-like Mecca of a place that might be something like Palo Alto, Calif.
Our protagonists are Saverin as Luke Skywalker, the lost compatriot of Vader's (a son in the movie, a former friend in our little simulation) who is trying to stay true to his cause even while facing defeat. Then there's Sean Parker playing Han Solo, a flashy renegade who initially helped steward his friends, but is now on the outs. Solo is captured by Boba Fett and returned to Jabba the Hutt in carbonite whereas Parker was removed from his post following a cocaine bust. There was no carbonite involved that we know of.
I racked my brain trying to think of a Princess Leia and the best I could come up with was Randi Zuckerberg, Mark's sister (just like Leia was related by blood to Vader). She's the former marketing manager of Facebook and was a correspondent for ABC News, filming segments about celebrities, politics, and other things young people just love. It's just like Leia's little "Obi Wan, you're our only hope," video. Anyway, she left the company last year and may have a bone to pick with her big brother, like Leia does with Vader. Randi, however, is not attracted to either Parker or Saverin, but that sure would make our sequel a lot more interesting.
As for the secondary characters, there is C3PO, the ancillary droid who is at turns entertaining and dreadfully annoying. Sounds much like Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga, who became a billionaire today thanks to Farmville and other addictive/repulsive Facebook distractions. There's Peter Thiel, venture capitalist and Facebook's initial investor and old friend who's there to lend muscle when needed but doesn't say much. He's our Chewbacca. There's also Bono, who is profiting on the whole mess (to the tune of $1.5 billion) for doing not much of anything except lending the evil leader a hand when he needed it. Sounds like Lando Calrissian.
As for all of us, who are we? Well, we're the nameless, faceless stormtroopers out there battling the forces of good so that Darth can walk away a billionaire. We're just shooting our blasters armed with photo shares, event postings, and status updates, the silent but deadly force that drives the whole damn movie. Yup, Empire Strikes Back totally sounds like Facebook to me.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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Last week, we scoured a galaxy far far away for a missing star: Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill. We found that he had been living comfortably in a universe of fantastic voice acting jobs.
But even with the Star Wars franchise’s legendary status, more than a few actors discovered that the series was a black hole from whence their careers had difficulty escaping. Today we turn our attention to another Star Wars veteran whose appearances on the silver screen have been woefully infrequent since the curtain closed on cinema’s greatest trilogy. Today, we search high and low for Billy Dee Williams.
Why We Love Him:
Before Billy Dee Williams realized international superstardom in the Star Wars series, he was paying his dues in small film roles and a massive repertoire of television work in the late 60s. In 1971, Williams took on the role of real life football star Gale Sayers in Brian’s Song. Like many members of my lesser sex, the gridiron subject matter of Brian’s Song is what enticed me to see it. And like most guys (even if they refuse to admit it) I wept like an infant by the time we got to William’s speech about his teammate and friend Brian Piccolo. It wasn’t merely that the film was inherently sad, Williams’ performance was incredibly powerful.
After kicking scores of ass during a run of blaxploitation films in the 70s, Billy Dee landed the role of Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back. The Star Wars franchise itself was a mammoth success, but Williams’ was not content merely riding its coattails. Lando was, much like Han when we first met him, one of the few characters that began his story completely unaffiliated in and dispassionate about the intergalactic civil war. He was a businessman and a natural leader, and Williams brought an effortless level of cool to the role. In fact, much of what we love about Billy Dee Williams is his unflappable coolness. Lando’s subsequent troubled conscience makes him one of the more interesting and layered characters in the series and Williams inhabits each layer with master skill.
What Happened To Him?
Like Hamill, Billy Dee Williams had trouble matching the success of Star Wars later in his career. I will say that 1981’s Nighthawks is not only one of my favorites of his performances, but also one of the best buddy cop movies I have ever seen. Williams and Stallone play two tough-as-nails beat cops who join a task force aiming to take down an international terrorist. The film is suspenseful, gritty, and Williams and Stallone play off one another beautifully. The film is currently streaming on Netflix so if you have a chance, it’s definitely worth checking out.
But beyond that, there just aren’t many notable titles on his post-Star Wars resume—with one exception. In 1989, Tim Burton cast Williams as Gotham district attorney Harvey Dent in the first Batman film. Harvey Dent in the comic books was always portrayed as a Caucasian character so the choice to cast Williams was interesting. True to form, Williams made Dent a cool-as-ice politician much like Lando Calrissian. He did this so well that, though his screen time was brief, he made our introduction to Harvey Dent a memorable one.
Where’s He Been?
So logically the question becomes, why didn’t Williams return to the Batman franchise in Batman Forever? Well, I guess I should say that it would make logical sense to ask this question if you were aware of the fact that Harvey Dent would eventually become the villainous Two-Face. Even though the script for 1989’s Batman made it very clear that this transformation would not occur right away, Williams only accepted the role because he was assured that when the Two-Face story was explored, he would be the actor to play him. He actually had a clause in his contract that stated as much. But when Joel Schumacher took over the series, he decided he wanted Tommy Lee Jones to play the part and so Warner Brothers bought Williams out of his contract. Since then, he’s been in very few theatrically released films. His most recent widely released film was 2002’s Undercover Brother.
The saddest part of this whole story is that Billy Dee Williams currently has no projects in development. I wholeheartedly feel he is among the most talented and cinematically captivating actors of all time. He’s made appearances on animated series here and there over the last few years, often reprising the role of Lando for nostalgic sake. But frankly, I would love to see him land another role like that of Fox in Nighthawks; something gritty and heavy that he can sink his teeth in to.
That man is simply too cool to remain inactive.