Yoda! Disney seeks Yoda! At least according to Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News, who cites an unnamed source in suggesting that Lucasfilm and its parent company are planning a movie about everyone's favorite little green warrior as their first standalone Star Wars film beyond the already-planned sequel trilogy. Lucasfilm obviously isn't commenting, and Knowles' sourcing seems sketchy at best, so chock this up to the galactic rumor mill. Honestly, that Zack Snyder remake of Seven Samurai set in the Star Wars galaxy seems every bit as likely.
But the possibility of a Yoda movie has gotten us thinking abut what we would like to see if the Jedi Order's Grand Master should get the spotlight. Not to mention that it would pose some massive challenges for the screenwriter and director to be hired, considering that Yoda is a character we've always gotten in small doses...and, quite frankly, may be best that way. First, the script would be made up entirely of backwards-speak, which could become about as annoying as when your Star Wars fanatic friend decides to show off his Yoda voice at a party for longer than 90 seconds. Second, Frank Oz has all but retired from voice acting at this point, and he lent so much more to the character than was ever in the script. Maybe Tom Kane who voices Yoda on the Clone Wars TV series could step in, but Oz had the extra benefit of being a puppeteer. He even controlled puppet Yoda's movements!
Third, for a Yoda movie to have any expansiveness, he'd probably have to be an all-CGI character. How else can he perform hummingbird-fast flips, twists, and lightsaber parries? And yet, who really liked CGI Yoda in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith? So much of the tactility that came with him being a puppet was lost. Fourth, the fact that most Star Wars fans prefer practical Yoda to CGI Yoda suggests that we don't really care to see Yoda as a great warrior. I mean, one of the first things he himself ever says onscreen is, "Wars not make one great." We like him as a sage who stands on the sidelines, whose mastery is so great, that he almost never has to draw his lightsaber. The biggest complaint I had about his fight with Christopher Lee's Count Dooku in Episode II is that he had to call upon major acrobatics and work up a big sweat to fight a guy...who he himself had trained. Like Zorro on the classic Walt Disney TV series from the 1950s, Yoda's mastery should have been so great that he'd barely have to move while fighting Dooku. Now sparring with the Emperor in Revenge of the Sith? That's another matter. That was a true match of equals.
Five, if they want to go the Warrior Yoda approach, this movie will likely be a prequel. I'll even go on record as saying that the Star Wars prequels get an unfair rap, but, still, a prequel is in no way something Disney/Lucasfilm should be attempting, at all, unless it's an Old Republic movie. Six, part of Yoda's appeal is that he's a cipher, a nexus of the Light Side about whom we ultimately know little. And we like it that way. George Lucas himself has purposefully kept Yoda's backstory shrouded in mystery — he's never even revealed the name of his frog-like race — to the degree that we know nothing about him aside that he likes gross food, is fascinated by electric lamps, and like Obi-Wan Kenobi, can be kind of a lying d**k.
Still, if this movie were to actually happen, and almost nothing aside from Knowles suggests that it will, here's what its makers would be wise to consider. Little is known about Yoda's eight-century career with the Jedi, except that it was a relatively placid one. He spent of that time training Padawans rather than fighting wars or going on daring missions. That's why his involvement in the Clone Wars was such a misguided step, not for himself, but the Order as a whole. He was a peacekeeper, not a warrior, and wars by default don't make one great. The most we've ever seen of him in the timeline prior to the movies is in Dave Wolverton's 1994 classic Expanded Universe novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia. Luke Skywalker happens upon a five-hundred year-old recording of a young and sprightly Yoda dealing with the aftermath of a Jedi training ship crashing on the planet Dathomir, home to a race of Force-using witches. And that's about it. Also, the Clone Wars TV series recently suggested there was a thrilling adventure behind the story of how young Padawan Yoda found the crystal he'd use to power his lightsaber. But the only exclusively Yoda-centric EU novel ever produced, Sean Stewart's Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, set during the final days of the Clone Wars, reveals a little bit more about Yoda's backstory. It even suggests he may have had a brush with the Dark Side at one point.
Dark Rendezvous also provides a template for how a screenwriter could approach Yoda as the star of a movie. That's because that book remembered one key aspect of the character that seemed lost in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith: his playfulness. Yoda's really a little imp in The Empire Strikes Back, messing with Luke, and getting into a little game of tug-of-war with R2-D2. If this movie ever happens, I really hope we see that side of the character.
Oh, and there's one other thing that's a must for any Yoda movie: Yaddle. Phantom Menace aficionados, you know who I'm talking about. There was actually a female of Yoda's species who was also a member of the Jedi Council during the events of the Naboo Invasion Crisis in Episode I. Now, I'm not saying that we need to learn everything about Yoda's backstory. But I do really want to learn more about his relationship with Yaddle. Was there some forbidden love that they could never explore because of their respective Jedi vows of chastity? Is there a history of hot and heavy Yoda sex we never knew about? Were Yaddle's parents able to pirate broadcasts of Seinfeld from our galaxy and that inspired the name of their daughter? Those are the questions I want answered when the Yoda movie Star Wars: Do or Do Not directed by Jon Turtletaub is someday released in an alternate universe far more awesome than ours.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Lucasfilm]
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