Why Rian Johnson’s New Star Wars Trilogy Is Moving Away From Iconic Characters

Star Wars The Last Jedi Mark Hamill Luke Skywalker

Few franchises have reached a level of iconography enjoyed by Star Wars, but moving into his new trilogy in the galaxy far, far away, Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson wants explicitly to tell stories that have nothing to do with those icons. In fact, CinemaBlend attended the An Evening With... Rian Johnson screening of George Lucas' American Graffiti last night at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and during a post-movie Q&A session, Johnson explained that his goal with his new trilogy was to tell a story completely removed from the legends of Star Wars lore. Johnson said:

As we got to the end of Episode VIII, we had a great time working with Kathy and with Disney and we kind of said 'How can we keep this party going? How can we keep working together?' And I kind of threw out there, like the most interesting thing to me would be to tell a new story told over three movies where we go someplace else. And we go, kind of the potential of like a wide-open blue sky of, let's go to a different part of the galaxy. Maybe a different time. I don't know. Let's meet some new characters and let's figure out what Star Wars means separated from some of the inconography that we've associated it with. Let's take it someplace else and see what that would be like. That just seemed like a really interesting question to ask.

This idea has already reared its head in Rian Johnson's work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, albeit on a much smaller scale. His aim with the middle entry in the current trilogy appears to be the deconstruction of mythology around icons (notably Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker) while setting up a far more egalitarian view of The Force that shifts explicitly away from focusing on the legacy of the franchise's most famous heroes and villains. Now, with a brand new corner of the galaxy to focus on, Johnson wants to go one step further by telling a story in which the known characters cannot even appear.

We have already started to see examples of why keeping things in the known timeline arguably can shrink the Star Wars universe. The main saga has naturally focused heavily on the legends cultivated around the beloved original trilogy heroes, and the announced spinoffs are mainly focusing on the known timeline with Solo: A Star Wars Story and the Obi-Wan Kenobi movie. Even Rogue One: A Star Wars Story -- a film anchored by never-before-seen heroes -- leaned heavily on nostalgia and the presence of Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and the Death Star. With a new setting and possibly a new period, Rian Johnson can completely start from scratch with a clean slate.

Having said that, we still don't have much information to work with on the nature of this new trilogy. Rian Johnson continued during his appearance at the LACMA screening of American Graffiti and confirmed that he's still working on story details, which means that we likely won't hear much about the overarching narrative for quite some time. The only other information that we have to work with is that Johnson also doesn't seem interested in diving into the Expanded Universe mythology, which rules out a direct adaptation of the Knights of the Old Republic story arcs. He's going utterly new with his new films, and that means anything is possible.

Only time will tell exactly where Rian Johnson plans to take the Star Wars franchise with his new trilogy, but if Star Wars: The Last Jedi is any indication, then he will likely break some very new ground with his story. For now, you can still catch The Last Jedi -- which is making enough money to fill an Imperial cruiser -- in theaters.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.