OPINION: Why We Should Be Excited for the Future of Star Wars
Forty-one years after the original films release, we are living in the greatest era of George Lucas’s epic sci-fi franchise: Star Wars. When the original film released, it took the world by storm, becoming the highest grossing film at the time and a global phenomenon. The film spawned two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. These films constitute the “Original Trilogy”, largely considered a gold mine of popular culture and one of the greatest trilogies ever created. In 1999, sixteen years after Return of the Jedi’s release, George Lucas returned to writing and directing for the first time since 1977 with the The Phantom Menace, the first film in the critically lambasted “Prequel Trilogy”. The film was followed by the equally criticized Attack of the Clones and the slightly better final installment, Revenge of the Sith. Many fans around the world despised this new trilogy and after their release, they thought this was the end of Star Wars. Fast forward fourteen years later to 2018 and Star Wars is only just getting started. Under new leadership with new, fresh talent lending their voice to the most iconic film franchise in history, there is much to look forward to. Looking past the upcoming ninth and final installment of the main saga due out next year, I’m going to discuss and speculate about three of the most intriguing upcoming things in development in the Star Wars universe.
Television is a medium that can often be more narratively satisfying than film, as the stories can be stretched out farther, giving more time for character development and a larger story to tell. Star Wars is no stranger to television, producing the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels, two of the best structured and received stories in the Star Wars universe. Star Wars is; however, a stranger to the live action television format, but that is soon to change. Earlier this year it was announced that Jon Favreau, who kick-started the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s Iron Man and directed the critically acclaimed live-action remake of Disney’s The Jungle Book, would be writing and executive producing the first live action Star Wars show due to premiere in 2019 on the Disney+ streaming service. In October, the series was given the title The Mandalorian and was given an official synopsis and a list of talented directors including Star Wars animation aficionado Dave Filoni, Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi, Rick Famuyiwa, Bryce Dallas Howard and Deborah Chow . The synopsis stated that the show would follow a lone Mandalorian gunslinger shortly after the events of Return of the Jedi.
This show has many people, especially me, steeped in anticipation, particularly due to the fact that Mandalorian culture is barely explored in canon, almost not at all in live action, and this show will finally change that. Everything from the concept, the talent involved, the era in which it takes place being largely unexplored in canon has all fans greatly intrigued. A story about a Mandalorian gunslinger operating in the outer rim away from the New Republic is an incredible idea and the possibilities for the show really are endless. Due to The Mandalorian being a television series with a gigantic budget split into ten episodes, it is basically a ten hour movie, which is something that has never been seen before in Star Wars. No leading characters in Star Wars have ever been given ten hours of development like the lead in The Mandalorian is getting, and this is something to be very excited about. The Mandalorian is going to completely redefine what Star Wars can be from a storytelling and narrative standpoint, pushing the boundaries of how Star Wars can be told in different mediums, and I cannot wait to see what Favreau, Filoni and company have in store for us.
Rian Johnson is one of my favorite filmmakers working today. His grasp of complex characters and layered narratives never fails to amaze me. Whether its a low-budget noir murder mystery like Brick, or a white-knuckle sci-fi action thriller, like Looper, or a deep, epic Star Wars film like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, if it has Rian Johnson’s name on it, you’re in for something special. Rian is no stranger to Star Wars, he wrote and directed the eighth episode of the main saga, The Last Jedi, my personal second favorite Star Wars film. To get into everything I love about The Last Jedi would be for a different article entirely. So when it was announced last Fall that Rian would be creating a brand new Star Wars trilogy set outside of the main saga that would take us to areas completely unexplored in Star Wars canon with all new characters, it is safe to say I was VERY excited. The possibilities for what it could be are endless, and that’s what is so exciting. Could it be about the Old Republic? Could it be about Luke’s academy? Could it be about Jar Jar’s escapades as a street clown on the streets of Naboo? The possibilities really were endless.
A trilogy of films outside of the main saga is something that no one ever could have predicted, which is another reason it’s so exciting. A lot of people have been speculating about what it could be and I have a pretty good theory. Obviously, this is just speculation. I think Rian could do a sort of new crime saga set during the period in between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, or during the period in between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, two largely unexplored eras in canon that really could be explored in a different type of way. With a crime story Rian has the opportunity to showcase a really diverse group of humans, droids and aliens, which everyone loves. A crime saga would be perfect for Rian as most of his work has been set in the crime genre, including his television work on Breaking Bad. An overarching original crime saga set within the Star Wars universe is something I would absolutely love. Of course, Rian could go in a completely different direction so feel free to speculate! Rian is hard at work writing the trilogy while also directing his upcoming star-studded murder mystery Knives Out, so we got a while before we can expect the first film to arrive. We know Rian is definitely writing all three and directing the first film, and his producer, Ram Bergman, says they hope to get production on the first one in around 2020, so all we can do right now is wait and speculate.
I think it’s safe to say that about 95% of the Earth’s population either watches or has heard of HBO’s epic fantasy series Game of Thrones. It is one of the greatest and most popular shows of this generation, spawning a pop culture phenomenon on a scale similar to Star Wars, with an equally devoted fanbase. The show was created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, based off of George R.R. Martin’s series of books. Benioff and Weiss have had the enormous task of balancing dozens of interconnected plotlines within one show, with incredible action and drama to top it off. No one could have ever predicted that on February 6th, 2018, it would be announced that the duo behind Game of Thrones would be writing and producing a new “series” of Star Wars films. The announcement came as a huge shock to not only the Star Wars fandom but most fans of pop culture. It raised even more speculation and questions than the Johnson trilogy for two reasons in particular. The first one being the word “series”. What the hell does series mean? Two films? Five Films? Four films? No one knows for sure other than that it is more than one film but not a specified trilogy, also being disconnected from the main saga, and the Johnson trilogy.
The second being the involvement of Benioff and Weiss, who are largely unfamiliar to Star Wars. What eras and stories would they tackle? Could it include characters we know and love, or all new characters and locations similar to the Johnson trilogy. Again, the possibilities. Obviously I’m not without my theories, and this one is even more defined. I think Benioff and Weiss should make a five film anthology of sorts detailing the origins and rise of the Jedi Order, showcasing the inception of the order on Ahch-To and Coruscant, to their conflicts with the Sith and Mandalorians. Each film could follow a different cast of characters displaying the most important events or conflicts in Jedi culture, taking place tens or hundreds or even thousands of years apart from each other. This offers an amazing chance to bring back in Revan, the Knights of the Old Republic and many other things back into canon in spectacular fashion. I personally think this is right up their alley as Game of Thrones deals with dozens of main and supporting characters being set deeply in an ancient world with a ton of mythology. Again, this is all speculation, they could. And most likely will, go in a completely different direction. I do believe, however, that whatever they deliver upon will change Star Wars forever.
If this doesn’t go to show how epic the future of Star Wars will be, I don’t know what will. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that next year we get the final installment of the Skywalker Saga, The Clone Wars returning, as well as Resistance continuing, but we all know mostly what to expect from those, I wanted to shed light on the things in development that we know little to nothing about. As of right now, I am most excited for Episode IX, because it will be the end of the greatest saga ever told, but it will not be the end of Star Wars by any means. If you ask me, Star Wars is just getting started.