We need to talk about Star Wars. I don’t want to say that “This is the best time to be a Star Wars fan” because the sequel trilogy has been nothing if not divisive. But in terms of the sheer amount of Star Wars we are getting, and the staggering financial investment being pumped into the franchise, this is undoubtedly the Golden Age of the franchise. Disney have already made back the $4 billion they spent to acquire the Star Wars license from George Lucas, and have decided that the popular science fantasy name will replace Marvel as the dominant blockbuster property for the foreseeable future. I think that Disney are starting to recognize the potential the Star Wars universe has for fresh stories that will bring in the megabucks. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi have all been a resounding success at the box office and maybe, just maybe, we are going to see a little more experimentation on their part.
The more I look at the sequel trilogy, the more I think it’s a hot mess. However I adored Rogue One. It felt different and edgy and interesting, and that’s why I’m cautiously optimistic about Solo: A Star Wars Story. The first anthology film was styled as a “war movie” set in the Star Wars universe, and in May we’re essentially getting a heist movie. I think the creative freedom afforded these new movies taking place outside the Skywalker saga could result in some really intriguing narratives- as was the case with Rogue One. There are supposedly two more anthology movies in the works, and by the looks of things they are going to be an Obi-Wan movie and a Boba Fett origin story. But even though these anthology movies represent a break from the Skywalker saga, they still feel close to the main films.
Over the last few months there have been several exciting announcements. Disney is now interested in telling stories completely separate from the characters, places and events we are used to. It’s like they’ve answered my prayers and finally realized the potential in the Star Wars universe. For the sake of coherence, I’m gonna break down the announcements in bullet points. These are the confirmed projects in the works:
- At least one more anthology movie to follow Rogue One and Solo.
- A new Star Wars trilogy directed by Rian Johnson, completely separate from the Skywalker saga.
- A live-action Star Wars TV series, developed for Disney’s upcoming streaming service.
- A new series of Star Wars movies written and produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, separate from the Skywalker saga and the Johnson trilogy.
Goodness Globb. That’s a lot of Star Wars. The news came in yesterday that the creators of the Game of Thrones TV show would be working on this new series of Star Wars films, and it’s encouraging to me that Disney would choose them for their experience with complex characters and darker, more nuanced narratives. The language used in the press release deserves close attention. The fact that they are producing a “series” suggests to me at least 3 films, but the fact that it’s a series and not a “trilogy” indicates that it may not be a singular narrative. It could mean that we’re about to get a new anthology series of standalone films, only this time more removed from the familiar Skywalker saga. I’d say we’re looking at about 7-8 Star Wars movies guaranteed to be coming our way all in all, which is a lot of Star Wars. And in addition to these films we’ve got a TV show in the works as well, which we probably won’t see until 2020. I’m interested to see what Benioff and Weiss come up with. They said in their statement that they will get to work on it as soon as Game of Thrones is finished, so I’d say the absolute earliest we could see the first film would be late 2020, and I think even that’s pushing it. With all the Star Wars we’re getting, Disney are going to think carefully about the timing of each release, and at the moment we don’t know what we’ll see first- the first of the Johnson films, the Obi-Wan film, or the first of the Benioff & Weiss films. Whatever one comes out first, the next surely won’t see theaters for at least 6 months after. I think we’re probably looking at 1-2 Star Wars movies a year, and the box office performance of the upcoming Solo film will probably be a good indicator of how Disney will want to space these movies out.
I think it’s good to be excited. However I’m not under any illusions that all of these projects will be just wonderful. One thing we know for absolute certain is that not a single one of these upcoming Star Wars projects will please all the fans. The Star Wars fanbase can be charitably described volatile, and each generation of fans will never be able to replicate the joy they experienced in their childhood. As I said earlier, I’m not overly thrilled with the sequel trilogy- though there are plenty of good moments I enjoyed in the films, such as the praetorian scene in The Last Jedi. And a lot of people like the films. It’s important to remember that Disney will be making these new movies for a new generation of fans, and they will be different to what we’re used to. This ain’t your nan’s Star Wars.
At this point it is pure speculation what these stories will be. I would love to see a Star Wars narrative that focuses on a padawan’s training- a sort of Harry Potter style, coming-of-age Jedi story. I’d also love to see more of the criminal underworld of the Star Wars galaxy. But what do you want? Let me know in the comments all your wishes for the new Star Wars narratives we are getting!