In 1996, Lucasfilm ventured on bold step for the then-fledgling world of the Star Wars Expanded Universe: Shadows of the Empire, a transmedia crossover event that covered games, comics, books, merchandise... basically everything but a movie. But what if they’d gone all the way? Artist Brandon Bird tried to imagine it, and then also added Nic Cage.
Bird, whose incredible pop culture art we’ve featured many, many times before, whipped up a Drew-Struzan-esque poster that imagines what a 1996 Shadows of the Empire movie could’ve looked like. Alongside the heroes we all know and love like Luke, Leia, Lando and Chewie—who is seen wearing an eye patch because a) at the time he was in disguise as a bounty hunter named Snoova and because b) it was the ‘90—there are some familiar faces in Shadows’ new characters.
Edward Norton as Black Sun mob leader Prince Xizor? Excellent. Helen Hunt as Guri the human-replica droid assassin? Delightful.
But nothing—nothing—is as goddamn inspired as Nicolas Cage as Shadows’ daring Han Solo knockoff, Dash Rendar, with his gloriously long locks right out of his 1997 hit Con Air. I’m so mad that this wasn’t actually a thing. The Shadows of the Empire video game for the N64 might have actually been good (well, beyond that first Hoth level) if Dash had had the voice and likeness of Nic Cage.
Alas, we’re left to dream what could’ve—and should’ve been. I guess Cage himself would deem that the better outcome, so we’d be left to imagine ourselves the best Shadows of the Empire movie possible in our minds. If you want to do more than that, you can purchase prints of Bird’s excellent poster at the link below. And then check out all his other work as well.