The Current State of a Galaxy Far, Far Away

June 18, 2018

 

Up until October 30th, 2012, the Star Wars franchise was in a bit of a funk. It had been five years since George Lucas wrapped up his critically-not-so-acclaimed prequel trilogy with Revenge of the Sith, and ol’ George had gone on the record saying there would be no more feature films in his "Skywalker saga," by him or anyone else. In this period of time things were quiet on the galactic front. Ancillary Star Wars media was still being pumped out, via comic books, novels and video games, filling in the narrative gaps of an ever-growing expanded universe. It wouldn’t be until 2008 that we would get Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a digitally animated Cartoon Network joint that after its first season, started delivering some A+ Star Wars material from Dave Filoni and his team. In the interim, we didn’t have much to look forward to. Sure, there were exciting rumblings of a live action Star Wars show in development, as well as the premiere of the accompanying video game, Star Wars 1313. Its debut trailer during E3 2012 had people thirsty for more, but it seemed fans were never going to see the franchise strive to hit cinematic highs anytime soon. Then a major shift in the Force occurred. On October 30th, 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion dollars, and announced the development of three new mainline Star Wars films taking place after the original trilogy. The news was palpably exciting: Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe was about to head into its second phase, and with the company’s very successful superhero team-up movie, The Avengers, behind them, it seemed that the House of Mouse had very capable nerdy hands to usher in this new generation of Star Wars.

 

Fast-forward six years to the late spring of 2018; audiences around the globe have received many yarns from long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Disney shook up the canon of Star Wars fairly quickly after its acquisition, announcing that all expanded universe material taking place before The Phantom Menace and after Revenge of the Sith was no longer canon. Properties like Clone Wars and most additional stories taking place during the prequel trilogy’s timeline remained canon. This basically trimmed the fat of the side stories around the original trilogy, leaving Disney space to now fill in those gaps. Fans had a hard time saying goodbye to Mara Jade and the Knights of the Old Republic, but this decision was necessary for Disney to start making room for their new trilogy of Star Wars films. The aforementioned Star Wars live action television series, the announced video game, Star Wars 1313, and potentially other unannounced Star Wars projects were all cancelled by Disney, as they began to take control of the franchise. The Clone Wars had wrapped up early, and Dave Filoni released his next animated series, Star Wars: Rebels, in late 2014. It wasn’t until 2015, that this new generation of Star Wars really began.

 

 

JJ Abram’s Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, released in December 2015, paid homage to the original trilogy (some would say too much so) while also setting up new heroes and plot threads that would make up the DNA of these next three films. A year later, in December 2016, we got the first of our Star Wars anthology films: movies designed to explore other stories outside of the main saga. Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, felt very different from Star Wars proper; it was a gritty war story of how the rebels got Leia the Death Star’s plans. It was met with positive fan and critical reactions, and showed us the potential range of Disney’s new stories.

 

 

In December 2017, Rian Johnson released Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, causing a giant disturbance in the Force. The film was released to high critical praise, still maintaining the third highest score of all the Star Wars films on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s also worth noting that it made it onto almost all of the managing team’s top films of 2017 lists for Story Screen (don’t @ us). Regardless, the film was met with a loud fan backlash. It’s hard to say if this loud group of people who claimed their “childhood was ruined by Rian 'Ruin' Johnson” is in the majority or a silent minority, but this writer is inclined to think the latter. This being said, no matter what side you’ve been fighting on these past few months, it seems a Star Wars fatigue is already settling in. Finally, in May of 2018, we got Ron Howard’s (formerly Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s) Solo: A Star Wars Story. The reaction to this film is still ongoing; personally I’m on my second viewing and I consider it the weakest of this new generation of Star Wars movies. For context, it is ranked seven out of all ten Star Wars movies on Rotten Tomatoes. But no one said this ruined his or her childhood so I don’t know. I’m not bitter; I digress.

 

 

At the time of writing, there are now six active Star Wars productions in various stages of development that we (the general public) know of. In 2019, we’ll be getting the hopefully epic conclusion to this new trilogy of Star Wars movies with Episode IX, directed by returning Jedi Master, JJ Abrams (formally Colin Trevorrow). Leading up to The Last Jedi’s release, it was announced that Trevorrow would no longer be directing the flick, and that Abrams would be taking over. This was met with some fans relieved, happy with the decision to bring back Abrams, but also an anxiety that he may choose to “play it safe” with this installment, much like he did with The Force Awakens. During the time of the release of The Last Jedi, it was also announced that Rian Johnson was beginning development of an entirely new trilogy. Not much is known about this new series of flicks other than that it will take place in unexplored areas of the already well-established Star Wars universe, separate from the Skywalker saga. We also know that the creators of the Game of Thrones television series, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, will also be developing a series of Star Wars films. We don’t know much about these films either, but some fans have theorized that the two writers might be ushering in a “darker more adult” take on Star Wars, much in line with their Game of Thrones series. John Favreau, director of Iron Man, the new Jungle Book, and the upcoming Lion King movie, is writing and executive producing a live action Star Wars television series that will air on Disney’s upcoming streaming platform. Considering his pedigree, I’d imagine this show will be good. Probably really good. Dave Filoni recently wrapped Rebels and has announced his new animated series, Star Wars: Resistance. We know that this series is going to take place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, having a more traditional anime art style, and that it will also air on Disney’s new streaming platform. If I had to guess, we’ll probably find out if Snoke is Mace Windu and everyone can stop complaining, (for the record, that theory is stupid, and you should feel dumb for liking it). Finally, we very recently received an announcement that James Mangold, director of superhero masterpiece Logan, is going to write and direct a Boba Fett anthology film. It’s too good to be true considering Disney’s track record for switching/firing directors mid-shoot/development of these anthology films, but WHO KNOWS WHAT COULD HAPPEN??

 

 

So where are we with Star Wars in 2018? Well it’s kind of a rollercoaster, but the thing is… this has always been the curse of Star Wars. Between all of the films, television shows, one-off holiday specials, toys, comic books and video games, there’s one thing Star Wars has never been, and that’s consistent. I love Star Wars, for better or for worse, and I think, much like droids, this is the franchise’s lot in life. Hopefully this newfound saturation won’t spoil the broth for all Star Wars fans. I can only speak for myself, but I still want more Star Wars, and I do not necessarily want this stream of galactic content to slow down. I want that Boba Fett movie; I want more Rian Johnson Star Wars. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss can keep their potentially R-rated film to themselves but hey… maybe I’ll dig that too. The truth is, we’re stuck with Star Wars for a while, and if your love for the franchise is as big as the Death Star, than it’s good to be outspoken with what you want out of the future of franchise. Before a galaxy far, far away was Disney’s, it was ours. And without us, Star Wars will fade away like a satisfied Luke Skywalker.

 

 

Robert Anderson

Co-Head of Podcasting

 

Robert has a degree in Screenwriting and Playwriting and works in multiple genres. He's just your typical man-child who enjoys most things nerd culture. You can follow him on Twitter @RoBaeBae

 

 

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