Why ‘Red Five’ Could Be the Best New ‘Star Wars’ Film

Yavin, Star Wars20th Century Fox Film

The Star Wars franchise has tons of fantastic moments, but none spike our adrenaline quite like the attack on the Death Star right at the climax of the original Star Wars. It was all so perfect: the perilous dogfights in the backdrop of a giant red planet Yavin, X-wings bursting into flames as the pilots thread their ships through the crowded ridges of the Death Star, looking for that tiny exhaust port to blow the Empire a new one. It’s one clear example of why the original trilogy works where the prequel trilogy doesn’t. The scenes felt weighty, both in a physical sense (those ships really did look like big metal chunks hurtling through space) and a dramatic one. The rebel squadron was fighting the battle of their lives, and this mission was a last ditch suicide run to take out the Empire’s doomsday device. The space combat in the prequels never reached the same dizzying high points as the ones in the Original Trilogy did, since the franchise traded practical effects, character, and drama for a CGI light show. Nearly 40 years and five movies later, the Battle of Yavin and the other fights involving the Red Squadron remain some of the action highlights of the franchise. Now, It looks like the X-Wing team may fly once again.

According to Geek Tyrant, a German website named Star Wars Union attended a Hasbro event where the next six Star Wars films were mapped out to coincide with the company’s toy releases. The schedule was reported as follows:

2014 – Star Wars: Rebels
2015 – Star Wars: Episode VII
2016 – Boba Fett
2017 – Star Wars: Episode VIII
2018 – Han Solo
2019 – Star Wars: Episode IX
2020 – Star Wars: Red Five

The schedule is mostly filled with the expected sequels and stand alone films — rumors about Boba Fett and Han Solo features have been rumbling around the web for ages at this point — but the one surprise on the list is the last project: Star Wars: Red Five. Since an annual deluge of Star Wars films has become an inevitable evil, one about the famous squadron of fighter pilots could be a nice way to break up the monotony once 2020 rolls around. We’re already getting three proper “Episodes” in the mainline Star Wars series, plus two stand-alone films about roguish anti-heroes. A character-based film about rebel pilots using the classic call signs from the orginal movie could be an exciting move for the franchise. There are already a multitude of possibilities.

The call sign “Red Five” already has some famous forebears. Both Anakin and Luke Skywalker used it in previous instalments of the franchise. If this new story coincides with the upcoming J.J. Abrams trilogy, then we could be getting a new group of fighters with an all-new protagonist taking up the mantle of “Red Five,” and what the Star Wars franchise desperately needs is new characters. If this new generation of movies really wants to flourish on its own merits, it needs to create its own stories within the universe. As fun as it will be to see prequel adventures for characters like Han and Boba Fett, it would be more fruitful for the series to create new characters and conflicts. Seeing a Star Wars feature that takes a step away from series standbys like The Force, the Jedi, midi-chlorians, and even, (gasp) lightsabers would be a refreshing change of pace. There’s a wide and diverse galaxy out there, full of different planets, cultures, and outlooks on life. The old Star Wars  canon should be used as a template; a foundation to expand and construct a richer universe in its wake. Creating a new class of pilots to take on the famous “Red” call signs would be a great way to do so. It would be recognizing and revering the franchise’s roots while allowing it to leap into the future. 

Also, when was the last time we were treated to a really good fighter pilot movie? Red Tails? Flyboys? Stealth? Pearl Harbor? No, those are all terrible, and it’s a testament to how anemic the sub-genre of pilot movies is when the best offering in perhaps the last 25 years is Top Gun. Get to it, J.J., our culture’s lasting image of fighter pilots can’t be Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer playing shirtless volleyball. It just can’t.