The wait is finally over, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters. Director J.J. Abrams’ film is the closing chapter in the sequel trilogy he began with 2015’s The Force Awakens, and with no idea of what future Star Wars movies will look like, fans can’t help wondering what’s next for the sci-fi saga.
Although there are plenty of options on the television side — including the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian — and some movie projects at unknown stages of development, there aren’t any episodic or anthology films with upcoming release dates or official production timelines right now. So where should Star Wars go from here? Well, we have some suggestions.
Across three trilogies and two stand-alone films, we’ve watched Jedi, Rebel soldiers, and all sorts of other heroes (reluctant or otherwise) battle sinister forces with the fate of the universe at stake. So how about some stories set on the ground level of the Star Wars universe?
We’ve already seen this type of setting work in The Mandalorian and episodes of the various animated series, and it’s made for some great storytelling in tie-in projects like the Star Wars: Aftermath novels. Star Wars is filled with fascinating worlds that the movies and TV shows have only touched on (just long enough to repair a ship’s engine, in some cases), and those worlds are populated by a wide array of colorful characters ripe with potential for more focused, character-driven stories.
An adventure need not have world-changing stakes to be interesting, and it would be nice to see some characters in the Star Wars universe tackling the trials and tribulations of everyday life amid all of the chaos in the stars. When it comes to Star Wars, a little story can go a long way.
Embrace new genres
With the exception of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, nearly every Star Wars movie to date has been a classic sci-fi adventure that follows the structure of the traditional hero’s journey. Rogue One was a war film set in the Star Wars universe, and this bold experiment ended up being one of the best films in the Star Wars franchise to date. So why not do more of that?
Imagine the notion of a true thriller set in the Star Wars universe. Maybe it’s a small group of Rebel soldiers pursued by an angry Wampa across a winter planet like Hoth or a case of mistaken identity that results in a deadly assassin droid pursuing an innocent person. Or maybe, just maybe, we get a murder mystery set amid the wonderful weirdness of Star Wars.
There are so many film genres to mine and the Star Wars universe is so rich, it’s a shame to limit all of that storytelling potential to the same genre and tropes over and over again. Getting creative with the themes of a Star Wars movie not only expands the boundaries of the franchise but also provides a great reminder of how strong the Star Wars universe can be as a storytelling vehicle.
Using the example of Rogue One again, which took the passing mention of a Rebel team that gave their lives to steal the Death Star plans and built an entire movie out of it, future Star Wars films would be wise to carve out a place among the nooks and crannies of the franchise’s mythology. There’s some disagreement over whether we actually needed to see Han Solo make his famous Kessel Run, but Solo had the right idea, at least: Find things that everyone knows about, but they still want to know more.
For example, what happened with the other bounty hunters Darth Vader tasked with tracking down the Millennium Falcon?
There’s plenty of narrative material between the major plot points in the Star Wars saga that could make for engrossing tales, from the supporting characters in all three trilogies to the experiences and touchstone moments they mention. All it takes is a clever spin on their stories to make them just as interesting as the war between Jedi and Sith — and maybe even more so, depending on the approach.
Prior to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, there were countless stories set within the “Expanded Universe” of Star Wars, and the number of canonical spinoff tales is growing once again with projects in TV, books, and games. There’s no reason some of that spinoff-story expansion can’t happen on the big screen, too.
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