The Star Wars Story films have been quite the experiment, but things have turned out less than optimal for these spinoffs. Problems behind the scenes have been going on for a while and some news from Collider points to even more shakeups going on over at Lucasfilm.
According to Collider, the Star Wars Story films that have been in development are in a holding pattern. This includes a proposed Obi-Wan prequel starring Ewan McGregor and a Boba Fett prequel from writer/director James Mangold. If this is true, it’s most likely due to the box office results from Solo: A Star Wars Story. Add to that a number of vocal fans that have dominated the conversation about these new films and you’ve got an issue that Disney/Lucasfilm might not have considered.
But, if the Star Wars Story films do end up being shelved, what could that mean for the future of the franchise?
What We Know
It’s worth noting that none of the above projects were ever officially announced by Lucasfilm. It’s very likely that they were in some stage of development, but there was never a press release that formally announced either the Obi-Wan film or the Boba Fett movie. So, while some fans might have gotten understandably excited for these projects, it’s important to remember that they never got to a point where they were definitely going to get made.
Per Collider’s report, there are still certain Star Wars theatrical projects that this change in strategy is not affecting. Rian Johnson still has a brand new trilogy that he will be putting together, and the showrunners of Game of Thrones are still on track to make a brand new series of Star Wars movies. And of course, the JJ Abrams directed Episode IX is still on its way. As of now, nothing on those fronts has changed.
So, if Collider’s report is true, where does that leave the rest of the Star Wars universe?
Do Fans Still Want Prequels?
The idea of the Star Wars Story films is awesome: standalone movies that dive into unexplored corners of the Star Wars universe. However, the two Star Wars Story movies we’ve gotten are too closely connected with narratives, characters, and elements from the original trilogy. In this way, they come off as prequels.
Now, some might say any story set before one of the Star Wars movies is considered a prequel. If you’re looking at things strictly from a timeline perspective, you’re right. But, when I say “prequel,” I’m using it as an indicator for a movie that feels connected to another film in the series. Rogue One ends with a direct lead-in to A New Hope and Solo pulls every possible reference to its titular character than it can from the original trilogy. These are movies that feel more like companion pieces than standalone stories.
And if that’s what you as a fan enjoy, that’s all good! It’s fun to learn more about these characters and events that shaped the universe you love. But, do those kinds of stories translate to movies that more casual fans and general audiences find compelling and worth their time?
Maybe these other prequel ideas will get reworked and come back in a new form. If they do, we’ll be the first ones in line. But, if Lucasfilm is taking a different direction, let’s explore some possibilities.
The Star Wars Cinematic Universe
When I theorized about what would happen after Episode IX, the big idea that some people agreed could be implemented was the idea of a serialized universe much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, the Star Wars universe is founded upon a well-told story, but the Star Wars Story movies haven’t captured the same urgency that audiences feel with the Marvel movies.
Marvel has done a stellar job at conditioning audiences to know that every movie they make is part of a larger story. Each film progresses the bigger narrative, even if it’s in very small ways. Along with a consistently fun tone and lovable characters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe provides an ongoing story with every movie they make.
The Star Wars franchise has a bigger hurdle to clear in this regard because they had a release structure that they inherited from the previous movies: the trilogy. That’s an almost sacred construct in storytelling and moviemaking, drawing upon a three-act structure that defines so much of modern fiction. Could Star Wars figure out a way to break from that and set up a slate of movies that feature an overarching story that’s told over the course of many films? It’d be ambitious. But if Marvel can do it, the Star Wars franchise might be the next major franchise to try it out.
Nothing but Trilogies
Speaking of trilogies, maybe Star Wars shouldn’t try to break from its established formula. Perhaps keeping Star Wars movies as trilogies is a good idea. Yes, that might limit the kinds of stories filmmakers want to tell, but let’s imagine what else this could mean.
As stated above, Rian Johnson is planning a brand new trilogy of films that won’t be a part of the Skywalker saga a.k.a. Episode I through Episode IX. That’s made this new trilogy feel like something special. Not only does it have Johnson’s singular vision behind it, but we know that it is going to tell a brand new story in a definitive fashion with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
It would be fascinating to see Star Wars become the one franchise that defines itself solely through trilogies. It would reinforce the kind of reverence our pop culture has towards Star Wars. Making nothing but trilogies would actually be kind of revolutionary in today’s cinematic landscape. Especially if each trilogy had a guiding storyteller at the helm like Episode I through Episode VI did with George Lucas and how this new trilogy will have with Rian Johnson.
Familiar Faces, Newer Stories
But, maybe there is a happy medium we can find when it comes to telling new stories but including characters fans want to see. Instead of making movies that use familiar characters and story elements as their foundations, what about movies that focus on new characters and stories but have appearances from fan favorites?
For example, instead of a Boba Fett movie, what about a story that centers around a new bounty hunter character who runs afoul of Boba Fett? We don’t need to learn anything new about Boba Fett in this hypothetical movie. However, it could be fun to see him show up as an antagonist or maybe as a supporting character instead of the protagonist.
Rogue One had a good idea when it decided to include Darth Vader in a reduced capacity. But, that film’s closeness to A New Hope only made his presence feel like a lead-in instead of a standout cameo. Making movies that feel new but have little bits of familiarity could be a way to appease old and new fans.
“Always in motion is the future.”
No matter what, Star Wars is going to be fine. The new films have found an audience and so will whatever comes next. We really don’t know for sure where Lucasfilm is going to take the Star Wars franchise. That’s exciting.
Don’t take this potential development as a bad sign. Look at it as a great opportunity. Star Wars will continue to grow and change. Those changes will probably be for the better. Wherever the series is headed, we’re never going to stop following it.
…Unless they make a Jar Jar movie. We have to draw the line somewhere.