A new Star Wars trilogy with no Skywalkers? Why fans shouldn't worry, even if it sucks
Christmas time is here, time for joy, and time for yet another Star Wars film. This year it’s The Last Jedi, the eighth film in what Lucasfilm/Disney has just started calling the “Skywalker Saga.” This new moniker comes after the announcement of another planned trilogy, helmed by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, that will take place in the Star Wars universe, but on the exact opposite side of the galaxy with new characters, new stories, and only a tangential connection to the current Star Wars saga we all know and love.
With Johnson getting the keys to a new corner of the Star Wars universe, Lucasfilm and Disney must be thrilled with The Last Jedi and assume he’ll continue to meet the fans’ high expectations. Of course, they’ve been wrong before.
18 years ago, as a naive high school student, I camped outside for two weeks waiting for the release of The Phantom Menace. At the time, it felt like a big deal. In fact, my friends and I weren’t even first in line. The camping itself was great. In a pre-cell phone age, it was a miracle of bringing people together to have someone in our spot all day. A teacher’s wife offered to handle a lot of the day shifts and the overnights.
Over the next few days, the line quickly grew to small colonies of nerds and geeks stretching almost completely around the building. It was alive with its own energy. Lightsaber battles would break out randomly. Games of all types were being played. Discussions on every matter of geek culture were happening untethered by the immediate fact-checking our modern devices allow. It was fun. It was once in a lifetime, and it ended in utter disappointment for most, if not all, present. (Somewhere in some vault there’s a recording of me incorrectly saying the movie was great. It was 2 AM, and I hadn’t slept in about a day and a half. I apologize for my enthusiasm at that time.)
What should have been one of the greatest movies of my life, literally decades in the making, felt off. The film is nearing 20 years old, and plenty has been said about the content and the actual flaws of the film, but I think most can agree that one of the major flaws is it (and the rest of the prequels) believed they could float on the Star Wars name along. And in a way, they did. Phantom Menace was the highest grossing Star Wars release until The Force Awakens, and for a while it was the second highest grossing film of all time (falling short only of Titanic, not adjusted for inflation).
When you are putting up those kind of numbers, studio execs’ eyes turn to dollar signs in a cartoon-y, cash register fashion as they babble incoherent approval of whatever project you want to do next. Which is obviously what happened here, as the next two films only saw the franchise fall further into the unnecessary.
And that may be where we’re at with this new non-Skywalker trilogy. Not everything Star Wars hits it out of the park, and taking something that takes place in the same universe, but isn’t directly related to the story we all fell in love with, isn’t a sure thing. The prequels prove it. The Holiday Special proved it. Looking at the franchise’s full track record, Rogue One (which I did enjoy) was a fluke. And with the issues they seem to be having with the young Han Solo movie they’re making, my hopes aren’t high, as Han Solo is Batman levels of awesome.
The days of sleeping outside for movie tickets are completely gone. Tickets for The Last Jedi went on sale online in October on a normal Monday night. First showings sold out within minutes. No one had to endure a single minute of being outside, let alone sleeping in a tent set up on a sidewalk. It’s great, though. Rather than wasting two weeks of your life on a so-so movie, you can get your tickets while you watch the last one in HD in the comfort of your home. Depending on your household, a random lightsaber battle may still even break out. If the movie turns out bad, nothing was really lost.