The past, present and future of star wars was on full display Friday at the Star Wars Celebration fan convention, as lucasfilm unveiled the most robust look yet at the company’s plans for the hallowed franchise. As studio manager Kathleen Kennedy revealed three new feature films and look first four upcoming tv seriesLucasfilm has made it clear that it aims to test how far it can expand the Star Wars galaxy: creatively, logistically, and even historically.
Beginning with “The Phantom Menace” and ending with “The Rise of Skywalker”, the previous nine “Star Wars” films have all been set within a time frame of approximately 70 years, overlapping with the climactic battle of Yavin in “A New Hope” which served as the franchise’s official fulcrum for six decades. All live-action TV and spin-off anime series ran within this timeframe, including shows launched on disney+: “The Mandalorian”, “The Book of Boba Fett”, “Andor”, “The Bad Batch” and the upcoming shows “Ahsoka” and “Skeleton Crew”. (“Visions,” an animated anthology series launching in 2021, exists outside of Star Wars canon.)
Between the hordes of Star Wars-related novels, comics, and video games, however, die-hard fans know that the franchise’s entire history spans tens of thousands of years, and Lucasfilm intends to start tapping into this larger live narrative landscape. action, starting with “The Acolyte”. First announced in 2020, the Disney+ series breaks new ground on two fronts: it’s set roughly 100 years before the events of “The Phantom Menace,” and it will follow the rise of the Sith during the final days of the High Republic.
“I really wanted to dive into the Star Wars universe and tell the story of this whole world that I love so much from a villain’s perspective,” said creator and showrunner Leslye Headland. said during Friday’s presentation. “The first thing that became apparent was that we’re going to have to settle this between the High Republic and the start of the prequels. Not only because it’s such an exciting part of the timeline, but also because that’s when the bad guys are more. They are the underdogs. »
Later, Kennedy revealed that director James Mangold (“Logan,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Fate”) would be make a feature film is set 25,000 years before the Battle of Yavin, in what amounts to an origin story for the Force, the singular metaphysical thread that ties the entire franchise together. Talk with Variety after the presentation, Mangold discussed the genre of biblical epics that dominated Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s.
“When I first told Kathy Kennedy about it, I said, ‘I just see this opening to do kind of a ‘Ben-Hur’ or ‘Ten Commandments’ about the birth of the Force”, Mangold said, “The Force has become a sort of religious legend that runs through all of these movies. But where did it come from? How was it found? Who found it? Who was the first Jedi? C is what I’m writing right now.”
Both of these projects go far beyond what audiences have come to think of as Star Wars, not just in terms of when they take place, but also what they’re about: No Skywalkers, No Empire, focusing on characters who live in darkness. and mess. For the core fandom, it’s hugely exciting, filled with the promise of bringing to life periods that only existed on the franchise’s dark periphery. But Star Wars has become a pop culture phenomenon that spans decades, not because of the dense sprawl of its mythology, but because of the imaginative spark of its storytelling and the adorable verve of its characters.
Already, the tension between these impulses – delighting the core fan base while engaging a much larger casual audience – has revealed telltale cracks in how far Star Wars can stretch. For its first two seasons, “The Mandalorian” was a mid-table adventure show, charting the growing bond between its taciturn titular character and her lovable ward Grogu as they explored the galaxy together. Season 3 of “The Mandalorian,” however, put that relationship on the back burner in favor of a deep dive into the cultural and religious traditions of Mandalore and the diaspora of warriors struggling to survive after the planet’s fall.
Audience response shifted to downright hostile: casual fans lamented having to follow increasingly arcane mythology (Mythosaurs! Darksabers!), while hardcore fans lambasted more populist storytelling choices, like the casting Lizzo, Jack Black and Christopher Lloyd in guest roles that to some felt absently out of place in the larger story.
These types of reactions are only going to get louder and messier as Lucasfilm continues to expand the definition of what a Star Wars project can be. ‘Skeleton Crew’ will be the first Star Wars title with a cast composed almost entirely of children (alongside Jude Law), while “Ahsoka” will shoot abundantly from the “Clone Wars” animated series which first introduced its main character (played by Rosario Dawson). These two shows, along with “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett,” will then culminate in an upcoming feature film. directed by Lucasfilm veteran Dave Filoni – a clear attempt to take the Marvel Studios model of multi-threaded franchise building to a galaxy far, far away.
This means that each of these shows has to seed intrigue into the others, which is how “The Book of Boba Fett” ended up spending two episodes. focused on solving the huge cliffhanger of season 2 from “The Mandalorian”. On Friday, Lucasfilm hinted that seaweed pirate Gorian Shard from the third season of ‘Mandalorian’ will appear on ‘Skeleton Crew,’ and it looks like ‘The Mandalorian’ season 3 finale will set up the major conflict on “Ahsoka. ” Even “Andor” – the show which has, with great success, stands out from all other Star Wars seriesnarratively and creatively — isn’t exempt: Rebel leader Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) will appear on “Ahsoka,” roughly a decade after her run on “Andor.”
All of these intertwining storylines leave the overall feeling that these aren’t so much individual shows as one big “Star Wars” series with various logos attached. It’s music to the ears of Disney executives who need a steady stream of content to keep Disney+ subscribers on board, but it’s an increasingly daunting prospect for anyone dedicated to keeping up with everything.
Meanwhile, Lucasfilm is also focusing on the literal future of the franchise by bringing Daisy Ridley back to resume her performance as Rey from the sequel film trilogy, as she rebuilds the Jedi while facing a new threat. The studio calculates that, despite widespread antipathy for “The Rise of Skywalker,” audiences want to follow Rey’s story into uncharted narrative territory.
In director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Lucasfilm also believes the Oscar-winning documentarian – who has never directed a live-action narrative feature – is the right filmmaker to forge Star Wars into a new horizon.
“I have spent most of my life meeting real heroes who overcome oppressive regimes and fight against impossible odds,” Obaid-Chinoy said Friday. “I think that’s the heart of Star Wars. And that’s why I’m drawn to the promise of a new Jedi order and I’m drawn to the idea of immersing myself in a Jedi Academy with a powerful Master Jedi.
The director then brought Ridley onto the stage, to thunderous cheers.
Visibly upset, Ridley had only a few words to say: “I am delighted to continue this adventure.
Lucasfilm hopes audiences follow suit.
Amon Warmann contributed to this story.