Star Wars is more fun when no new movies come out

It’s one of entertainment’s biggest ironies: Disney, the home of Marvel, Pixar, and a star princess football team, can’t seem to get a Star Wars movie off the ground just yet. Since The Rise of Skywalker concluded the sequel trilogy in 2019, the company shied away from committing to a new film, claiming in February 2020 that the Star Wars films are on break, and that the future of the franchise is in television.

The pivot seems to be over: in early November, Disney removed the Rogue Squadron film from the company’s release schedule due to scheduling conflicts from director Patty Jenkins, who has two independent films slated to begin production soon. Other film projects theoretically still on the table seem to have evaporated: a film by Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios, a trilogy of The Last Jediby Rian Johnson, as well as a film by Thor: RagnarokIt’s Taika Waititi. Like Jenkins, they are all very busy filmmakers with many other confirmed projects. Without any evidence that these Star Wars projects are progressing, it’s hard to believe any of them will actually land on release schedules anytime soon. Good, I say. Star Wars is at its best when the franchise isn’t producing new movies.

When it comes to the Star Wars franchise, the movies are considered sacred texts. Even though Star Wars spans all mediums, there is a level of scriptural respect for movie trilogies that extends to how they are marketed. A Star Wars “episode” isn’t just a movie, it’s a Event, in a way hardly anything else is these days. Being a Star Wars fan is by far the most common type of genre fan you can be, and movies – at least, movies as they exist now – are meant to cater to every one of those fans.

It’s an absurd expectation, but that is the current state of Star Wars, and Lucasfilm and Disney primarily achieve the illusion of selling all types of moviegoers a dream. Star Wars is an extremely valuable weapon for a hugely profitable business, and any movie in the series that does less than monster returns can be considered a failure, both by Disney standards and given Star Wars’ track record. when it comes to box office production and cultural clashes, no matter how loud critics or fans react to any given film. It is not insignificant that 2018 Solo was the first Star Wars movie to flop, and that it quickly marked the end of the anthology film project “Star Wars Story” which began in 2016 Thief one. There was plan more, but the feeling that these two films tarnished Star Wars’ global success record was enough to get Disney back on its ambitious launch plan. “a new Star Wars movie every year.”

Photo: Walt Disney Studios

From a certain point of view, it’s obvious that Star Wars is better at its vast, expansive derivative canon than it is in the movies. Big, broad cinematic stories are good for drawing people in, and specific stories elaborating on worlds and ideas beyond movies can keep them there. A fan might like the force awakens a lot, but it’s also possible that the adventures of the queer thug star archaeologist of the Doctor Aphra comics could talk more to that same fan. There is power in specificity. There’s also the math: A Star Wars book that people don’t like won’t be considered a failure just because it didn’t literally earn a billion dollars.

But when it comes to this larger universe, the Star Wars movies are not only beholden to expectations, they are also little oddities, taking all the oxygen out of the constellation of Star Wars releases, and making sure that a large majority of media inputs exist primarily to support the latest blockbuster. Comics like The Rise of Kylo Ren by Charles Soule and Will Sliney The Rise of Skywalker, books like Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson lead to The Last Jedi, Thief one I have a novel called Catalyst by James Luceno. The need to only produce related projects can cloud the work of creators and skew their goals – when every book promotes a movie, it’s hard not to see them as promotional material first, and stories. individual then.

Many of these books are popular and the links are normal for a media property of this size. The model predates Disney’s Star Wars stewardship – George Lucas’ media empire has often taken the same approach. And even in the film release years, no all is a link. There is Timothy Zahn’s Thrown renaissance, the Alphabet Squadron series by Alexander Freed and the novel from the previous era Master and apprentice by Claudia Gray, all released when the hype for the initial Star Wars series finale trilogy was at its peak.

Yet consider what is happening now. In the absence of a movie to lead a publishing initiative, Lucasfilm Books launched The High Republic line of books and comics for fans of The Jedi and their shenanigans. These stories attempt to go beyond the hackneyed Sith antagonists and establish a different kind of threat, the burgeoning pirate cult known as Nihil. In the comics, perhaps spurred by the popularity of The Mandalorian, a Bounty Hunter War The miniseries and crossover kicked off, leaning on the more seedy side of scum and villainy that has been a vital part of Star Wars since Mos Eisley. And Star Wars video games are finally regaining a sense of direction, thanks to the success of Jedi: Fallen Order.

Greef Karga delivers the Mandalorian to the client while Cara Dune watches.  From The Mandalorian Season 1 Episode 7.

Image: Lucasfilm

It’s just a little glimpse of what’s going on now. What is important is not that there are so many a lot The Star Wars material right now is the variety of new additions to the franchise. Aside from the fact that the entirety of Modern Star Wars is board-driven, the material outside of the film’s ties feels loose, exciting, and a little less like branding exercises for fans to go through at looking for quality stories.

Without a film to point, something like the anthology of animated short films Star Wars: Visions can steal the show and light up the imagination of fans. Visions can then turn into novels like Star Wars Visions: Ronin by Emma Mieko Candon, who is developing the Visions short “The Duel” – a mostly monochrome homage to samurai cinema – in a Star Wars novel quite unlike anything we’ve had before. Hopefully the same can be true for the many Star Wars TV series in development – all of which can be ways for viewers to find a version of Star Wars that surprises them and takes them somewhere they never expected. not to go.

Like most things, this has happened before. After the release in 1983 of Return of the Jedi, Star Wars slowly fell asleep until the 1991 publication of Timothy Zahn Heir to the Empire, which gave birth to the Expanded Universe of Star Wars novels and comics. For eight years, the EU has effectively was Star Wars, an expanse of varied, delightful, and infuriating stories that allow the characters in the film to father children, explore each supporting character, and imagine a crazy future for a galaxy far, far away.

Circumstances are different now – franchises are overpriced and Star Wars is too profitable to disappear like it was in the 1980s. But failure can breed innovation on any scale. It won’t last forever, but right now Star Wars is in a rare space, a space that could disappear at any moment, where no one seems to know where it’s going, and no manager who might know cares to say it. Creators try things out in spaces designed for experimentation, and new characters appear at a breakneck pace. Star Wars is as open as ever, with a slew of work that is both canon and not for anyone to strap on and hit, heading towards war or romance, crime and deceit, or secrets. depths of the Force. When no one really knows where Star Wars is going next, it just means you’re free to roam unsupervised, just another scruffy little nerfherder among many, putting their noses where they don’t belong.



Star Wars: The Rising Storm

Price taken at time of publication.

As the Jedi struggle to stem the carnage of the unleashed Nihil, they find themselves faced with the real fear their enemy plans to unleash across the galaxy – the kind of fear even the Force cannot protect them from.


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