Rian Johnson is developing a new trilogy of Star Wars movies. We don’t know anything about them yet – not the era, characters, focus, nothing. All we know is they are “separate from the Skywalker saga,” and will “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.” With practically nothing to go on, Star Wars fans are having a field day with this news, and have expressed their hopes and fears to great length. I’m about to do the same thing.
The response I’ve seen from fans the most is “Steer clear of Episodes I-IX – we don’t need any more stories set in this time period.” I completely agree. The prequels and origin stories do a nice job of filling in gaps, but rarely expand the size of the Star Wars universe. George Lucas created a science-fiction story that could go anywhere, yet he decided to keep the focus mostly on one family. Given how big this universe is and how many different types of life it contains, it’s a little weird that everyone knows everyone (and Anakin created C-3PO), but from a storytelling perspective, the intimacy worked well.
Lucas’ interconnected story sounds like it ends in Episode IX. Let’s explore this quote a little more: “Introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.” I think it’s pretty clear that we’re moving beyond the Tatooines, Hoths, and Coruscants that are frequented in most Star Wars stories. I also think it may imply we’re moving away from the Republic, Empire, and all known establishments. That’s me reading way too much into it, but while “new characters” could mean anything, “never before explored” corner of the galaxy is a much bigger deal. That should mean it goes outside of the reach of the Empire and Republic.
With that in mind, I cannot agree with fans saying they want Johnson to set the films in The Old Republic era. I love Knights of the Old Republic, Tales of the Jedi, and the stories from this era as much as most of you, but, well, that’s the point. We already know and love this era. Yes, it would look amazing on the silver screen, and the story could be seen through the eyes of new characters, but isn’t that a little hypocritical to say “Avoid Episode I-IX because it’s been done to death, yet we should turn our focus to something else that’s been thoroughly explored?”
If Johnson does turn back the clock to 25,053 BBY (the creation of the Republic), I will be beaming with excitement. Again, I would love to see these films. Not as much, however, as Johnson looking to the future and exploring a blank canvas in the Star Wars universe, far removed from the Skywalker legacy and everything we know about the Republic, Empire, and Jedi. What else is out there to be discovered in the far reaches of space? That’s what I want him to explore.
We will always have The Old Republic and familiar Star Wars territory to fall back on. This is a chance for Johnson and Disney to create something new, far removed from everything George Lucas established. I’m not saying I don’t want to see droids, blasters, or lightsabers – the stories Johnson dreams up need to continue being Star Wars. This is, however, a rare opportunity for the Star Wars universe to expand, and bring back that feeling of stepping into the unknown.