Why Star Wars Movies Should Keep Moving Away From Trilogies
This isn't a bad thing.
The Star Wars franchise might be stalled when it comes to the film side of things, but projects are rolling out of Lucasfilm at a clip that’s unprecedented from the past decades. The arrival of Obi-Wan Kenobi will further deepen the library of Star Wars TV shows, so then what's happening with movies set in a galaxy far, far away. Sure, there are projects in development, but one might wonder when the next great Star Wars trilogy will arrive?
That answer to that is unclear right now, but with little news on when to expect the next Star Wars trilogy, I can’t help but think that it's not a bad thing to continue holding off. Star Wars seems to be moving away from the planned trilogy format it leaned on for The Skywalker Saga, and I absolutely believe that’s something the franchise should keep doing.
Star Wars’ Live-Action Television Feels Like The Definitive Format For Longer Stories
I’ve held the opinion for years that Star Wars television is the preferred medium for telling big stories in this franchise, but not everyone is willing to jump in and watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels or even Star Wars: The Bad Batch (all available to binge with a Disney+ subscription). As acclaimed and well-loved as those projects are, not everyone may want to hunker down and watch an animated series, especially one that’s several seasons long. It’s nothing for any fan to be ashamed of, though I would heavily implore anyone who feels that way to reconsider.
It seems that Star Wars’ live-action shows scratch an itch for everyone though. The Mandalorian had a dynamite two seasons (with a third one on the way), and while reception to The Book of Boba Fett was mixed, I think the point here still stands. Star Wars stories are packed with lore, lots of questions and references to other works. These are the kind of things that naturally lend themselves to storytelling on television, which can allow for a lot of content to be spaced out over the course of a season.
It’s something that is presumably more difficult in Star Wars movies. Just to use the newest trilogy, as an example, The Rise of Skywalker had so much to conclude in its final chapter that one of the biggest plot points, the Emperor’s resurrection, happened entirely off-screen. What’s more, even the bigger questions that fans expected to be answered arrived in interviews outside of the movie, or even in the Rise of Skywalker novelizations. There isn’t enough time in a movie to answer every question the audience may have, and that can be a problem for many Star Wars fans. That’s not to say films should burden themselves to answer every single question, but when the final film in the Sequel Trilogy couldn’t answer some of the biggest questions in its allotted runtime, it’s hard to argue it’s the preferred medium over television for long-term storytelling.
Self-Contained Star Wars Movies Are Lower Risk Than Trilogies
It’s hard to deny the prospect of a Star Wars trilogy, or any trilogy for that matter, isn’t exciting. In fact, some of my fondest memories of pop culture revolve around the hype during the Prequel Trilogy, and how Star Wars dominated just about every advertising space there was. A Star Wars trilogy, in many ways, feels like a long-term holiday in which every little update is cause for celebration.
Trilogies generate a lot of hype, but when a film comes out and doesn’t live up to expectations, it makes the response that much more intense. I’m not even joking when I say I refuse to mention Star Wars: The Last Jedi in conversation just because of how heated the conversation can still get years after the film came out. I think it’s silly for folks to off-handedly claim “It’s just a movie,” mainly because of what we discussed above. Trilogies create insane hype, to the point it feels like Christmas when a new movie is approaching. If you have a great or disappointing Christmas, people are going to hear about it.
Standalone Star Wars movies like Rogue One and Solo still generated a fair amount of hype, but I think it’s fair to say the pressure wasn’t quite as great for those movies as it was for the Sequel Trilogy. I can’t say the lowered pressure of building a successful series of three films played entirely into that, but it does feel like it played a factor.
I know there are people out there who want a sequel to Solo: A Star Wars Story, but there were others who felt like we didn’t need more adventures with Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo. A sequel still hasn’t happened, and whether that eventually changes or not, it feels like the better option compared to an already promised sequel that came amidst polarizing discourse or one that was canceled because of response. Standalone movies are great in that way, which might be why there are so many currently in the works for Star Wars.
Can’t We Just Take Star Wars Movies On A Case By Case Business?
Pre-meditated trilogies made sense for the Skywalker Saga (kind of), but I’m not sure if it’s something Star Wars needs to continue beyond that. Star Wars is one of the biggest franchises out there, and the money and fan interest can speak for themselves at this point. We’re also at a magical time where folks who had Star Wars most of their lives are in a position to make movies about things they like, so one would like to imagine the creative expansion of Star Wars has really only just begun.
With that being said, now seems like as good of a time as any to let the fans decide which movies are the ones that go on to have sequel after sequel, and which ones are best left alone. Maybe Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron movie (which is still happening) gets two to five sequels, or maybe it’s just a one-off movie with nothing left to do beyond that. I’m at a point where I’d rather wait and see how the movie does before knowing sequels are set in stone, especially to avoid the polarizing discussions that happened during the sequel trilogy era. Plus, it only seems like it’s in Lucasfilm’s best interest to let the fans decide what they want to see more of, rather than telling them one series will get more movies than another.
All this talk about Star Wars makes me want to watch something related to the franchise today, and anyone else who feels that way can do so on Disney+ (opens in new tab). Now might be a good time to revisit some Obi-Wan adventures, especially with his new series just around the corner.
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Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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