Who Could Star in STAR WARS: UNDERWORLD TV Series?

Who Could Star in STAR WARS: UNDERWORLD?

While doing press for the historical action picture Red Tails, LucasFilm producer Rick McCallum ‘let slip’ a few details about what might become the highly anticipated live-action Star Wars television series. Purported to take place in the interim between the Prequels and the Original Trilogy, it is currently in development under the title Star Wars: Underworld and will deal with the shady world of organized crime, bounty hunters and smugglers that have always existed in the Star Wars universe behind the saga of the Jedi.

Apparently it is only the ‘Hollywood-level’ budget of each episode (5 million each, due to the desire for full CG characters) that is at this point keeping the show from being made despite McCallum’s assurance that “fifty unbelievable scripts” have already been written.

The casual Star Wars fan, if there is such a thing, might think that if you take away the flashy, Force-using franchise headliners, there wouldn’t be anyone left to star in the show, however those with deeper understanding of the galaxy far, far away know that is far from the truth. The films, the Clone Wars animated series and the nearly endless amount of books and comics in the ‘expanded universe’ have created a significant population of ‘underworld’ characters alive at the time Luke Skywalker was growing up on Tatooine.

We’ve somehow managed to whittle a seemingly endless list down to the ten we’d like to see. 

 

Name:
Han Solo

First Appearance: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The consummate scoundrel with a heart of gold, Han Solo’s appeal is literally universal. With his partner Chewbacca and his ramshackle but capable ship the Millennium Falcon, he was roped into his role as Hero of the Rebellion in order to pay his debts to those who were obstinately his criminal allies. His struggles with his criminal past run parallel to all of the action in the Original Trilogy, from escaping Mos Eisley by killing Greedo, being tracked by Boba Fett to Cloud City and putting the other heroes of the rebellion in mortal danger to save him from Jabba the Hutt.

Some of the earliest Expanded Universe material deals with Han Solo’s activities before the events of Episode IV, dating as far back as the 1979 novel Han Solo at Stars’ End, so the further adventures of a young Han during the height of his swashbuckling smuggler days would no doubt be compelling and entertaining. The story of his dismissal from the Imperial Navy for saving the life of Chewbacca would make for an especially good pilot movie. 

 

Name:
Jabba the Hutt

First Appearance: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The adjective ‘vile’ has rarely been better applied then it was to Jabba the Hutt, not only was he basically a giant slug, but also an unrepentant criminal with a taste for killing, drug trafficking and slaving. His appetites bestowed upon him a self-centeredness and desire for revenge against Han Solo that not only almost changed the course of galactic history but ultimately cost him his life.

Fans of the Clone Wars TV series have seen how Jabba's (and the other Hutts) actions in his role as a major crime figure intersect with the events of the War, so much so that several episodes hinge on the fear by both sides of the influence that he could have on the outcome of the war. In Star Wars: Underworld, Jabba and his iconic lair could become the core set of a Deadwood-style series with various people with various sinister motives coming and going, all with Jabba in the Al Swearengen role. 

 

Name:
Boba Fett

First Appearance: The Star Wars Holiday Special

Born a clone of bounty hunter Jango Fett, Boba himself became a bounty hunter for some note, one worthy of assignments from figures as powerful as Darth Vader himself. Alone he accomplished what the entire Empire could not: finding and tracking the Millennium Falcon to Bespin and capturing its crew. Since then he's been the star of several novels and comics, made guest appearances in video games, and his Mandelorian armor has spawned an entire culture, both in the universe of the stories and in the real world.

Star Wars: Underworld could do worse than a character that has developed a large and fervent fan base to be its star. Star Wars fans would definitely tune in week after week as the anti-heroic Fett traveled the galaxy tracking down his prey. This could also open up guest appearances by other slightly less-famous bounty hunters like Bossk and IG-88, along with many of the other members of this list. 

 

Name:
Dash Rendar

First Appearance: Shadows of the Empire

While Han Solo was encased in carbonite, Dash Rendar swept in to fill the role of swaggering outlaw among the rebel heroes. With his own fast ship for smuggling and inhuman partner (this one is a robot), he joined Luke and Leia as they fought the Black Sun criminal organization before the start of Episode VI. Again, like Han, he is an ace pilot and gunfighter with a deeply buried streak of nobility.

His similarity to Han would both be a benefit and a determent to being the lead character in a Star Wars television series. Dash brings all of the assets of Han: the ship, the unusual partner, the adventuresome spirit and that famous heart of gold. But while clearly being a pale shadow of the iconic Solo, Dash remains more a cipher personality-wise, which would allow the series’ writers to take more risks with the character without stepping on Harrison Ford’s classic performance.  

 

Name:
Prince Xizor

First Appearance: Shadows of the Empire

A mirror of Jabba the Hutt, Prince Xizor is the Lex Luthor of the Star Wars universe: overtly conveying an air of class, influence and sophistication all the while commanding a vast criminal enterprise known as the Black Sun. During the events of Shadows of the Empire he attempted to usurp the position of Darth Vader as the Emperor’s right hand himself by killing Luke Skywalker and disgracing the Sith Lord.

If Jabba would be Deadwood’s Al Swearengen, Xizor would be Al Capone, an (a-hem) untouchable crime boss figure always staying one step ahead of not only the law, in this case corrupt Imperials, but deadly rivals looking to take his place. And instead of a dark den on a dusty planet, Xizor’s empire would be run from gleaming, decadent palaces befitting a ‘man’ of his stature. Also his top enforcer is a beautiful blond gynoid named Guri, an obvious draw for crossover viewers. 

 

Name:
Sebulba

First Appearance: Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

Ruthless podracing champion Sebulba would do anything to win, even sabotage the racing pod of an eight year old boy. His cruelty extended outside the race track: he was known to own several slaves and engaged in the slave trade himself. Despite his loss in the Boonta Eve Classic, Sebulba still went on to a long and successful racing career.

The world of high-stakes podracing could be an excellent framing device for a Star Wars series, allowing the action to move from planet to planet and always having an action set piece to fall back on. Sebulba would provide good continuity to the film series, but racers of all stripes could become regular characters, living and perhaps dying in pursuit of fortune and glory. 

 

Name:
Dexstar Jettster

First Appearance: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

The Besalisk cook and owner of Dex’s Diner on Coruscant was the unlikely source of information that Obi-Wan Kenobi used to track down the source of a dart weapon that somehow was missing from the vast databases on the Republic Capital world. Dexstar’s knowledge apparently come from a long life filled with colorful experiences on both sides of the law.

If Dexstar manages to survive the transformation of Coruscant to the seat of power for the xenophobic Empire, likely because of the quality of his food and information, it could be the setting for risky espionage or smuggling action right under the Emperor’s nose.  

 

Name:
Mara Jade

First Appearance: Star Wars: Heir to the Empire

In the interregnum period, Mara Jade was trained by the Emperor himself to act as his "hand," dishing out his brand of justice to both Rebels and rogue Imperials where the overt tactics of Darth Vader or the Imperial Military would be imprudent.

Another candidate for an anti-heroic series lead, Mara would have the advantage of having the Force as her ally, albeit one tainted heavily by the Dark Side. Smart and talented, she would also be comparatively young, giving her a hint of naiveté that recalls the early seasons of the espionage drama Alias starring Jennifer Gardiner, right down to her working for a sinister organization that she might not fully comprehend. The concept of the Emperor's Hands, Eyes, Reach, and Voice is one of the least-explored in the Star Wars world, and holds a lot of potential for exploration. 

 

Name:
Wedge Antilles

First Appearance: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The consummate professional solider Wedge Antilles was the Rebellion’s greatest fighter pilot, surviving countless campaigns including the destruction of both Death Stars and leading Rogue Squadron on missions to keep the peace after the death of the Emperor. A practical man in a universe of the fantastic, Wedge has no qualms about killing for a cause he believes in and leading his pilots into battle, but he also carries those deaths with him in the form of survivor’s guilt.

Wedge’s life changed forever when his parents were killed by pirates after they damaged his families’ orbital refueling depot on his eighteenth birthday. Wedge took justice in his own hands, hunted the pirates down and killed them in deep space. After that he tried to settle down into life in cargo transport, but continued witnessing of Imperial atrocities led him to join the Rebellion. As a cult favorite character, Wedge’s adventures as perhaps a mercenary space pilot would have the fans of the space battles in the recent Battlestar Galactica series tuned in week after week. Plus maybe we’ll see a young, svelte Porkins! 

 

Name:
C-3PO and R2-D2

First Appearance: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The iconic droid pair has been established as being inseparable, not only from each other, but from the canon Star Wars entries themselves. Appearing in all six movies and the Clone Wars animated series as well as countless games, comics, and novels, C-3PO and R2-D2 are there to provide (respectively) comic relief and ‘droid ex machina’ plot resolutions whenever they are needed.

That’s right, a darker and edgier version of the only broadcast material covering that era of Star Wars history: the 1985 Droids animated series. There is an entire generation of Star Wars fans who would watch that in a heartbeat. Fans would also learn perhaps more about Artoo’s past, about their previous owner Captain Antilles, how they came into the hand of Princess Leia, and circumstances around the formation of the Rebellion only lightly touched upon in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.

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