By Tom Holste
Nov. 10, 2017
Yesterday was an unexpectedly busy news day for Star Wars fans.
First up was the announcement that Rian Johnson, writer-director of the upcoming film The Last Jedi, has been given the greenlight to develop an entirely new Star Wars trilogy after the current one. The trilogy will be the first to go in a new direction in this universe and not be tied to the Skywalker-Solo family saga.
As I said back in September, I’m really surprised that Lucasfilm is putting so much faith in Johnson without yet seeing how the fans react to Last Jedi. I don’t doubt that he’s talented, but is it wise to give so much power and creative control over such an important franchise to one person before we see one Star Wars film completed by the guy? If the movie is well-received, I could see this announcement being made in January. But this seems a bit premature.
I am grateful that the new trilogy won’t just rehash what’s been done before. The poor Skywalkers and Solos have been through enough misery already. (Weirdly, many people are speculating that the new trilogy will be an adaptation of the Knights of the Old Republic games. Seeing as how the press release went out of its way to say that Johnson is being given a “blank canvas,” and that he would “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored,” I don’t see how anyone could think that this is going to be an adaptation of any previous material.)
As if that all wasn’t enough for us, an hour or so later brought the announcement that Lucasfilm is finally moving forward with a live-action Star Wars TV series for Disney’s upcoming streaming service. Fans have waited a long time for such a series, since George Lucas announced in 2005 that he was developing a live-action series called Underworld. That long-gestating project never got off the ground, and it’s unlikely that this new series is in any way related to it.
I’m intrigued by the idea, and having waited so long to see new Star Wars, I certainly don’t want to complain. However, considering all the behind-the-scenes difficulties that Lucasfilm has been dealing with over the last few years, with multiple directors getting replaced, I would almost think it would be smarter for the company to step back and get their bearings for a minute before rushing into other projects.
This all feels very much like the post-Avengers effect. I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe; the powers that be at the studio continue to turn out great movies and shows. Unfortunately, as with any success in Hollywood, everyone rushes to imitate them, usually to significantly lesser effect. (This is no different than the rush of lesser outer-space movies released after the success of the first Star Wars.) In this case, Marvel has been able to keep so many plates spinning at once, everyone else thinks they need to do the same thing with their franchises. And so Lucasfilm keeps greenlighting one movie after another, and multiple TV shows (counting their animated output).
I’m keeping an open mind. I don’t have a problem with a lot of Star Wars. I just really, really want it to be good more than I want it fast and plentiful.