A Few of our Hopes for Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars Trilogy
Disney and Lucasfilm announced that there are more Star Wars films on the way, and we have a few requests for Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars trilogy.
If you are a Star Wars fan and you missed yesterday’s bombshell announcement, Disney and Lucasfilm announced that they are planning a new Star Wars trilogy, with The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and his longtime collaborator Ram Bergman heading things up. While the news that Johnson is in charge may come as a surprise, the fact that Disney wants more Star Wars should surprise exactly none people.
The property is currently locked in for at least four more releases – Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi on December 15, 2017, the much-discussed Solo: A Star Wars Story on May 25, 2018, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX on December 20, 2019. A fourth film, an untitled anthology, is also set for 2020, although the plot hasn’t been revealed yet (a Boba Fett film is probably the most likely).
There are also unconfirmed reports that a Yoda film and an Obi-Wan Kenobi film starring Ewan McGregor are in the planning stages, and there are rumors of a Mace Windu film, a Jabba the Hutt film, a Captain Rex film, an Ahsoka Tano film, and several others. You’ll probably note an obvious theme developing here.
So far, every Disney controlled Star Wars film is directly tied to the Skywalker story arc. Along with the news of the new trilogy, Disney also announced a live-action TV series on the way, and although it didn’t give any plot specifics until we hear differently you can bet it will join Disney’s animated Star Wars Rebels and continue to expand the current – or past – storyline.
With Johnson’s new trilogy, Disney is looking to break away from that, and it is about time.
While details are, of course, scarce to the point of being non-existent, Disney did confirm that the new trilogy will be separate from the Skywalker storyline and introduce all new characters. That could mean a trilogy that runs concurrently with the other films, but hopefully not.
With that in mind, here are a few things we’d like to see from Johnson’s new Star Wars trilogy.
A Break Between Films
We’ve talked about this before, but Star Wars is not the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel can churn out several films a year, and they – arguably – each feel different enough that they don’t seem like they are overwhelming audiences. In 2017 alone, there were three Marvel films (counting Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming), each of which – even the recently released Thor: Ragnarok – crossed $500 million globally.
Star Wars is different though. It is a singular property. When you watch a Marvel film it often just feels like a big budget action movie with a few overarching elements that connect them all together. When watching a Star Wars film, it always feels like a Star Wars film. That can quickly lead to exhaustion.
There are, of course, people that argue the same thing about Marvel films, but part of the feeling of looming exhaustion is down to the way the Star Wars films have been presented so far. The original trilogy was a cultural milestone, and the eight confirmed films (so far) to come after it, have all been expansions of that original trilogy. Including the prequels, the upcoming films, and the unannounced 2020 film, there will be three times as many films building off the originals, as there are originals to begin with. Even the new trilogy that started with The Force Awakens feels like an extension of the originals, both thematically and narratively.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but the onslaught of Star Wars films all connected to the original trilogy is overwhelming. For the new trilogy, it might help fans build anticipation if there was a gap of a few years. With the roadmap currently set into the next decade that doesn’t seem likely, but it is a concern.
Give Us Something Completely New
If you read any of the Dark Horse Star Wars comics (which are not canon), you know that there are endless possibilities for Star Wars stories. The comics proved that you don’t need a Skywalker or a Solo to tell a good tale, and many of the stories were set thousands of years in the past. Anyone that has played any of the Star Wars games set in the Old Republic can probably attest to this as well.
The Star Wars universe has become so ingrained in our culture that the filmmakers can explain everything we need to know in the opening scrawl and then get on with it. The world is built, and audiences know all they need to know going in. Say “Jedi” and we’ll understand the rules of the universe, even if we don’t know the characters.
There is so much room to explore that world – or worlds, as the case may be. It would be a shame if the new trilogy is just another rehashing of the old stories.
Break Some Rules
There are plenty of rules in the Star Wars universe that have become accepted laws, but they don’t necessarily make sense. For instance, why are there only two Sith? The extended properties have found ways around this by tweaking the definition of Sith vs dark Jedi and creating vast narratives explaining this, but it almost seems like an unnecessary limitation to the storytelling potential – especially given that there were dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands, of Jedi at one point.
If Johnson jumps to another time period and a different corner of that galaxy, he can make his own rules and just assume that the audiences will accept that over time things will change and become the way they are in the current storyline.
Go Back to Basics and Avoid the Urge to go Gritty
This suggestion might sound a little simplistic, but the original Star Wars trilogy was essentially – in George Lucas’ own words – a fairy tale, with wise old wizards, princesses, rogues, young heroes, etc. That might seem simplistic for modern audiences that are so inundated with content that injecting some complexity is becoming a necessary component to make it stand out, but there’s a difference between making every character nuanced and making them so complicated that you need to spend an entire film dissecting their motivations to get beyond the initial impressions and root for them.
Rogue One had a very dark streak present throughout, and it worked because it led into the more optimistic Episode IV: A New Hope. That tone would wear extremely thin in a new trilogy though. Hopefully, Johnson’s trilogy will elect to go for adventure and excitement over angst and grit. That’s not what made Star Wars work.
Stick to December
Finally, this last idea isn’t as much about the movies themselves as it is about the marketing. Both The Force Awakens and Rogue One were December releases, and they became holiday spectacles. Families got together and made watching Star Wars and event, and the box office reflected that – and yet Disney is ignoring that with Solo in order to push it out in May (possibly to avoid conflict with Mary Poppins, but still).
Star Wars can own the holidays, and the merchandising sales probably won’t hurt either. If we are going to be inundated with Star Wars films year after year, at least make them special by holding onto the holiday crowds, as opposed to dumping them in the seas of summer blockbusters.
For Johnson’s part, he had this to say. It’s not particularly relevant, but it is funny.
Obviously I hope you like The Last Jedi. But man now I REALLY hope you like The Last Jedi.
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) November 9, 2017