The big news that rolled in overnight was that Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is working on a new trilogy of movies from a galaxy far, far away that will diverge from the core "Skywalker saga".
Now, we're big fans of Rian Johnson, and we're excited to see The Last Jedi, but we can't help but feel that this new trilogy (plus a live-action TV show) might be... a terrible idea.
We totally understand why Lucasfilm and Disney want to invest in characters outside of the Skywalker/Solo dynasty. With Han Solo patricided into oblivion and the sad news of Carrie Fisher's death in December 2016, the first family of the Star Wars universe is down to two members – Luke Skywalker (played by the 66-year-old Mark Hamill) and Adam Driver's petulant bad boy Rylo Ken (and, potentially Daisy Ridley's Rey, of course).
Despite his boundless patience, Hamill may want to retire from his iconic role at some point (after all, he wasn't keen to return in the first place). Barring the revelation of an army of secret Skywalker children, the franchise will sooner or later have to commit itself to new stories.
The question we really have to ask now is whether Star Wars is the story of the Skywalker family. What is it without them?
The now-defunct Star Wars Extended Universe – for all its wild storytelling – never really took that leap. It spun out a bushel of Skywalker and Solo children – all incredibly gifted in the Force, naturally – and even when it told stories from far into the future, the name Skywalker was always there at the centre of the story.
There have been great non-Skywalker stories, notably Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the animated series Star Wars Rebels (and even they couldn't resist including cameos from Darth Vader, Leia and so on). But for all their excellent quality, there's little doubt they have taken on a secondary quality to the 'Episodes' in the public consciousness. And honestly, although hardcore fans love Rebels, your average cinemagoer likely hasn't even heard of the show.
While lovable new characters like Rey and Finn have helped the Star Wars revival become the success it is, there's no doubt that fan service and nostalgia have been the cornerstone of the project. That's why The Force Awakens so closely followed the structure of A New Hope, why there are so many nods to the previous films, and why the appearances of Vader and young Leia have been inevitable. What will the franchise be when those foundations have been removed?
Regarding the Marvel franchise, nine years and 17 films down the line, we've got to admit we're developing MCU fatigue, and we dread the same thing happening with Star Wars as the loosely related spin-offs come year after year.
They had better hope that the Jedi aren't really going to "end" in Episode 8, because without the Skywalkers, the lightsaber-wielding warriors will be about the only thing that people are likely to show up for.
At a time when Disney is making a bid for world domination, are they putting too many eggs in the Star Wars basket? May the Force be with you, Lucasfilm. You're going to need it.
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