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If there's one thing that can be said about the Star Wars franchise right now, it's that it's not lacking for content, especially in the movie realm. Once we were thankful for each installment of a new Star Wars trilogy to arrive three years after the previous one, but now Disney and Lucasfilm are ensuring that we won't be without at least one Star Wars movies per year for the foreseeable future. The Last Jedi came out two months ago, Solo: A Star Wars Story is three months away, Episode IX has been pushed back to December 2019 and another standalone movie is scheduled for 2020. The fun doesn't stop there, though, as Lucasfilm has already announced two separate Star Wars movie series are on the way. So clearly there won't be any shortage of Star Wars movies anytime soon, but it's still worth asking the question of what type of theatrical Star Wars tales should be made as we enter this new era. In the eyes of this writer, ones that stand out from main saga entries that we've received over the last four decades.
At the moment, the Star Wars movie series follows a simple pattern. Release one of the "main" movies one year, release a standalone "story" the year after, rinse and repeat. That pattern might start to change once these new Star Wars series start coming out, the first of which was announced last November, a month before The Last Jedi hit theaters. Lucasfilm was so pleased with director/writer Rian Johnson's work that it gave him his own trilogy to oversee, one that will be separate from the Skywalker saga and take place in a corner of a galaxy far, far away that hasn't been explored before. Then last week came the surprise news that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will produce separate Star Wars movies that are also unconnected to the Skywalker saga. So now we find ourselves in a position where two separate series of movies could be running at the same time, a first for this franchise. Because we've spent so much time with the Skywalkers and those closest to them, it will be nice to branch off into new territory.
What these new movies mean for the standalone Star Wars movies after 2020 is unclear. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett, Yoda and Jabba the Hutt have been rumored or suggested for being the subjects for these self-contained cinematic stories, and while one of them may be selected to headline the 2020 Star Wars movie (Obi-Wan seems to be the likeliest candidate), it's possible that for the new decade, Lucasfilm might set aside these particular projects. Right now, our only frame for how these have performed is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which was critically and commercially successful. It's a good start, though Solo: A Star Wars Story will show us whether or that success can be maintained. But even if these Star Wars stories continue to perform well, with two "main" series on the way, perhaps it might be too much keeping the one-and-done movies going, and that's even if we ignore if Disney and Lucasfilm might decide to start releasing two Star Wars movies per year.
Arguably the most important thing that Lucasfilm needs to do with the new Star Wars movies is expand this unique galaxy as much as possible, and I don't just mean exploring new planets and introducing new alien species. All the movies so far have either been directly connected to either the rise and fall of the Empire or the conflict with The First Order. Solo: A Star Wars Story could be looked at as an exception, though there will be an Imperial presence in the movie. In any case, it's smart for Lucasfilm to start branching away from this approach through the Rian Johnson and David Benioff/D.B. Weiss movies. Meeting new characters engaged in different kinds of adventures will be most refreshing.
That being said, Star Wars should not be trying to craft a tight-knit cinematic universe akin to what Marvel has created. While many of the MCU movies of the last 10 years can be enjoyed on their own, there's no question that each has been a little piece of a puzzle that's been slowly assembling and will culminate in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. The world of Star Wars doesn't need to be so closely connected. Just because there are special events happening in one corner doesn't mean they have to be related in any way whatsoever to events happening in another corner. For all we know, Rian Johnson might be venturing into the Unknown Territories for his movies, while David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will travel to the Old Republic era for theirs. That's just an example, but the point is that the franchise is in no way obligated to maintain specific connective threads in a galaxy this large.
Which brings us back to the standalone Star Wars movies. On the one hand, keeping these types of movies around could be a good way to keep a foot in the door of Star Wars past by re-visiting fan favorite characters, providing different perspectives on events we've already seen, etc. On the other hand, with all the TV shows, books, comic books and video games that also comprise the Star Wars media empire, how necessary are these "stories" in the grand scheme of things. It's been an interesting experiment, to be sure, but if Lucasfilm wants to continue venturing down this path, there are other ways to do that for the more hardcore Star Wars fans. These newly-announced movies are a step in the right direction for helping the franchise evolve, so I can't help but suspect that when the 2020s come around, these standalone stories will become a thing of the past. We'll have to wait and see.
Solo: A Star Wars Story blasts its way into theaters on May 25. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for all the latest and greatest updates concerning the Star Wars franchise.