Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Solo: A Star Wars Story
Lucasfilm has found a way to avoid over-saturating the established canon of episodic films, but continuing to tell Star Wars stories through spin-offs, and they need to do more. The idea of a Star Wars spin-off started with George Lucas before he sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. Originally planning a young Han Solo movie with long-time Star Wars writer, Lawrence Kasdan (alongside secretly developing a new trilogy), the project carried over to Kathleen Kennedy's plans to reinvigorate the franchise under the House of Mouse, and thus, resulting in Solo: A Star Wars Story. However, it was Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that started the trend in 2016, following the first sequel trilogy film in J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens which rolled out the year prior.
Rogue One made big bucks at the box office, racking more than $1 billion worldwide. Solo, looks like a disappointment so far, but it's still been met with mostly positive reviews and has piqued audience's interest with it's look at the criminal underbelly of the Star Wars universe. But aside from Anthology films' doing good business for the company, they are significant to the franchise's long-term sustainability. The standalone films offer Lucasfilm new ways to continue producing content for the franchise without the risk of saturating the market with too much of the same thing. Considering that they're not directly connected with the main saga, the movies are malleable to different styles, tones, and genre.
- This Page: The Spin-Offs Allow For Variation in Tone and Story
- Page 2: Expanded Lore and Star Wars' Future
The Spin-Offs Allow For Variation in Tone and Story
If Lucasfilm wants to continue doing Star Wars films in the foreseeable future (which seems like the plan), Anthology movies are the key to keep the fans interested. For instance, both Rogue One and Solo have a very grounded feel to it, while the main saga focuses on exclusivity and the notion of a "chosen one." The spin-offs feature normal people trying to live under the thumb oppressing governing body like the Galactic Empire, and the heroes that usually emerge from the dire situation are civilians who are put in extraordinary scenarios where they're offered a choice: to either step-up or bow down. Sure, Solo may feature the man who would become one of the most well-known Generals in the Rebellion, but the Ron Howard-directed flick started off with him nothing more than a Corellia slum rat, relentlessly trying to find a way out of the predicament that he's in.
The saga is focused on specific lineages, all boiling down to the age-old conflict between the Jedi and the Sith, but there are countless other interesting stories indirectly connected to the issue that can be explored. So far Lucasfilm has chosen to tackle boots-on-the-ground type of films, and people seem to like it. But in the long run, they can change things up and tackle other genres. For example, the rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi flick can be like a classic Western or Samurai film, while an Empire-focused project can be a Political film (Rogue One briefly tackled this with the complicated dynamic between Orson Krennic and Grand Moff Tarkin).
Good doesn't always have to be associated with the Rebellion/Resistance and bad doesn't always have to be the Empire/First Order. If anything, it's more complicated than that. Dissecting both organizations, and seeing how they really operate, rather than only focusing on the people that represent them would be great in making a more multi-dimensional franchise. Just like Solo, not all Star Wars movies need to always be about saving the galaxy, and the one-off films could be great vessels for smaller stories like this.
Finally, coming out with standalones in between the main films is also a great way give fans a breather from the episodic movies which can be very heavy, especially given its current status. Similar to the format used by Marvel Studios in the MCU, the spin-offs can be Lucasfilm's regular yearly offerings, while the saga installments - which comes out every few years - can be their event films. This allows Lucasfilm to come up with a big screen project every year without risking the possibility of Star Wars fatigue.
Spin-Offs Can Greatly Expand The Lore
While the Skywalkers and Solos are interesting movie subjects, there's not much else you can do about their storylines other than stick to the established good vs. bad dichotomy. Star Wars: The Last Jedi attempted to break the mold by throwing a "nobody" like Rey into the mix, but some Star Wars purists didn't necessarily like the idea. It's a great way to open up the lore to other possibilities, but for such a fan-driven franchise, Lucasfilm would need to find the balance between creating their own stories and also doing fan-service.
Some may argue that standalones don't add anything significant to the lore, and if anything, they're used to cover up plot holes - how Rogue One explained the first Death Star's flaw or give unnecessary backstory to characters such as Han in Solo. But if Lucasfilm does it right, off-shoots could actually be the key to expanding the Star Wars mythos.
Similar to what Dave Filoni accomplished in Star Wars Rebels where he introduced new characters that fans have come to love, the Anthology projects will give Lucasfilm creatives more wiggle room to operate without being weighed down by what's happening in the main saga. The Disney XD series had everything fans love about the space opera without being limited by the established canon. It was allowed to grow on its own and even birthed new fan-favorite characters such as Sabine and Ezra, who could potentially headline their own stories moving forward. Solo has already followed suit with the debut of Enfys Nest - a new interesting character who can be the focus of a future film, alongside the Cloud-Riders.
So far, the renaissance of Star Wars has been boosted by nostalgia. All stories are somehow linked to the original trilogy - be it the main saga (which saw the return of legacy characters) or the Anthology movies (Rogue One has the first Death Star as its McGuffin and Solo is about Han Solo). But while the episodic movies will always be connected to the core narrative, the standalones can deviate from it - tackle different timelines and create an entirely new pocket of the franchise that has the potential to expand on its own.
So, What's Next?
No movies beyond Star Wars: Episode IX have been officially confirmed with titles and release dates by Lucasfilm, although, there are few projects on the docket, including a few standalones - not to mention the possibility of other films set-up by Solo.
First, The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, is currently working on his own trilogy which won't be connected with the main saga. Latest update from the filmmaker last month revealed that he was still mapping out the threequel's story. With the project still very on in the development process, it might take a while before we hear anything official about it.
Game of Thrones creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have also snagged a Star Wars movie series deal with Lucasfilm. Like Johnson's, the project is still very early on in the process and chances are that it won't come until at least a few more years. The duo is still busy working on the final season of the HBO juggernaut series, but with their supposed new TV series, Confederate, in limbo after getting massive backlash, safe to say that their trilogy will be their next line of business.
Latest reports, meanwhile, reveal that a Boba Fett film is moving forward with James Mangold set to direct (although no acknowledgment from Lucasfilm yet). That leads us to perhaps the most clamored Star Wars spin-off, the Obi-Wan Kenobi-centric film. Lucasfilm continues to hold off the official announcement of the project, but between the project locking director Stephen Daldry and a rumored production start date sometime in 2019, it's the most feasible film to follow Solo and Rogue One in terms of Anthology movies. It also helps that Ewan McGregor has expressed his desire to return to the franchise as the legendary Jedi Master.