On the second week of December, Disney has made an official announcement of its “five-year plan” (okay, maybe not five-year, but for the near future). It includes multiple – I daresay VERY many – Star Wars titles.
What do we know about these titles? Is it all just a quest for more money? Do any of them seem like worth looking forward to?
Many of the projects are live-action, which is a clear result of The Mandalorian‘s success. Let us take a closer look specifically at these.
Director: Deborah Chow (The Mandalorian)
Starring: Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen
There has been a talk about a Kenobi spinoff set between Episodes III and IV for years. The timeframe is certainly long enough for Obi-Wan to do something in-between. However, on closer inspection, the idea will require a lot of creativity to make it work.
Episode III ended with Obi-Wan settling on Tatooine to watch over baby Luke. His watch lasts until Episode IV. Hard logic would demand Obi-Wan to stay on Tatooine, perhaps protecting the farm from Tusken raiders or bandits and “disappearing” an occasional Imperial patrol that gets too close.
Obi-Wan also should not meet Luke (Luke does not know him in Episode IV) nor Vader (and Vader should certainly never revisit the Lars homestead). This already prevents the main characters from interacting with each other.
So what, a series about Obi-Wan observing 10-year-old Luke from the distance with an occasional cut to Vader doing something completely different? Who would watch that? At best, it would resemble The Mandalorian season 1, and thus lack originality.
Having Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor together is a fabulous idea. The problem, however, is making up the story for it. It will require a genius to write a believable one.
Written by: Dave Filoni (The Clone Wars, Rebels, The Mandalorian)
Starring: Rosario Dawson
On the other hand, the premise of Ahsoka live-action series has the best possible starting position. Live-action portrayal of Anakin’s Padawan has been tested in The Mandalorian. The audience, even those who have not watched The Clone Wars, now know her. Many liked how badass she was and old fans were generally content with how faithful she looked to the original.
Ahsoka series has also the potential to be a “sequel” to Rebels. It seems 99% likely that it is going to feature Sabine Wren (is Tiya Sircar going to play her or will somebody else?). After the events of The Mandalorian, it is also likely that we will see Thrawn, and by association Ezra Bridger (who is going to play them?). If Sabine makes a cameo, Ketsu Onyo might too; as can virtually anybody from Bo-Katan and Hera Syndulla through Hondo Ohnaka to Din Djarin and Grogu.
“Ahsoka” is of all the announcements the most straightforward idea, with the plot ready and the best writer at the helm.
Rangers of the New Republic
Produced by: Dave Filoni, Jon Favreau (The Mandalorian)
This series’ concept remains a little obscure. The only thing known is that its plot should be concurrent with The Mandalorian and together with that and Ahsoka, they would converge into “a climactic story event”.
That idea is nice, but would not Ahsoka and The Mandalorian have sufficed? Is this one starting to be “too much”? One gets the feeling that Filoni and Favreau have had a lot of background ideas for The Mandalorian‘s world that they did not have the chance to show. Perhaps like New Republic pilots, Moff Gideon’s activities directed at the New Republic, various loose ends from Din’s adventures. All this sounds like enough material for novels or comics. Will it be enough to merit a live-action series? Or will it be just too much of the same running around planets and hunting baddies?
Starring: Diego Luna, Genevieve O’Reilly, Stellan Skarsgård, Fiona Shaw, Adria Arjona, Denise Gough, Kyle Soller
Created by: Tony Gilroy
Stand-alone series about Cassian Andor’s adventures before Rogue One. It has been talked about ever since shortly after the film debuted. The series is currently in production and expected in 2022.
Cassian in Rogue One was hinted at having a rather complex past. He was showed not to be exactly a flawless hero and having done questionable things in the name of the Rebellion. The series will focus on this past.
The assortment of actors, if nothing else, looks promising (well, Disney can afford all the big names). Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma provides in-universe continuity. Notably, there has been no official word of Alan Tudyk reprising his role as K-2SO. But one would expect the droid to still appear sooner or later.
Created by: Leslye Headland
Now, for something completely different. The aesthetic of the title already hints at something “Sith-y”. The Acolyte was introduced as “mystery thriller”, taking place during the waning days of the High Republic – meaning before the rise of Palpatine and the events leading to the Clone Wars.
We can expect The Phantom Menace vibe and aesthetics. What remains unclear is who exactly “the acolyte” is and what exactly will the timeframe be. Many fans would not be opposed to watching the adventures of young Palpatine, perhaps even with a cameo of young Qui-Gon. Other options include going few generations back and have future Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s master, training under his own master while trying to remain hidden from Jedi eyes. Or perhaps jump further back and have a female Sith protagonist (to think of what has not been done before).
One can imagine something akin to Hannibal with a young Sith as the protagonist. The premise seems like an elegant way to solve the problem “how to have Jedi and Sith in one place, when the Sith remained hidden until The Phantom Menace“. With the “mystery thriller” style, you can have everything, including lightsaber duels between Jedi and Sith, with the bonus that in the end, the protagonist will have to disguise the Jedi deaths as accidents.
The Acolyte, if nothing else, seems like an original idea: both by setting (the hi-tech, “civilised” prequel setting as opposed to all the Tatooines we are likely going to see everywhere else) and by the genre.
Created by: Justin Simien
In contrast, “Lando” series seems like a very unoriginal concept. Lando is a fairly major and popular character, but does he really need his own spinoff? His appearance in Solo was about the right amount. Half a dozen other characters would be equally if not more eligible for their own show, for instance, starting from the sequel trilogy heroes (Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren) or various prequel characters (young Qui-Gon).
If we are talking Han-associated characters, Qi’ra would be equally eligible (with the advantage of being a completely fresh character), or then – perhaps best of all- Chewie (if the idea was to appeal to old-school fans, this would be a choice that would make everyone happy, AND that would be very original. After all, Wookiees live really long lives, and what did Chewie do before he met Han?).
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
This Star Wars film is already scheduled to hit the theatres on Christmas 2023. Its plot shall revolve around a new batch of Rebel starfighter pilots.
This is an old and tried idea. A generation of fans grew up on Rogue Squadron novels. Also, for all the talk about Star *wars*, objectively very little of the films’ time is actually devoted to spaceship battles. Disney made an effort to immediately underline the director’s own family pilot tradition and her personal strong feelings about the topic.
Still, it seems peculiar to make this a film and not a TV series (where you could more easily follow, say, ten different pilots, while a film will likely focus only on a couple of protagonists). Unusual also seems not having a widely popular protagonist (like in Solo) – clearly, the film wants to try to repeat the success of Rogue One. But Rogue One was built around a major plot point (the Death Star). Unless Rogue Squadron features the battle of Second Death Star or something similar, this film won’t have such an advantage. And having the title subtly echo Rogue One is a rather cheap trick.
Bad Batch, SW Anime, A Droid Story
The remaining projects include a so-far unnamed film by Taika Waititi, and several animated TV series: formerly announced Bad Batch (Clone Wars spin-off now confirmed to feature The Mandalorian’s character Fennec Shand), Star Wars: Visions (ten short films in Japanese anime style), and A Droid Story (about a new character accompanied by R2-D2 and C3PO).
So what do we have all in all? I would divide these into several groups: long-expected titles (Andor, Kenobi, Ahsoka), unexpected titles with more original idea (Acolyte, Rogue Squadron) and unexpected, but less original or unnecessary-sounding titles (Lando, Rangers of the New Republic). This is not to say that those from the third group may not turn out to be good (especially if the Rangers turn to be as high-quality as The Mandalorian), and vice versa.