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– by David Kozlowski

Disney detonated a series of massive bombshells this week with their cascading media announcements, including a cheap subscription fee for their streaming service, a new Marvel TV show, and at least one new Star Wars TV series. However, the biggest revelation was Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy’s decision to develop a new Star Wars trilogy by The Last Jedi‘s Rian Johnson (Looper), who will write and direct (at least) the first installment.

While it’s hardly shocking that Lucasfilm is planning new Star Wars content far, far into the future, it’s rather surprising that they’ve chosen to jump headfirst into another trilogy right away (instead of creating a few more anthology films, for example).

Related – BREAKING: Rian Johnson Developing All-New Star Wars Trilogy [UPDATED]

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of this new trilogy strategy, and also some possible directions that these new films should explore…


No Characters Named (or Blood-Relations of) Skywalker

It’s finally time to say goodbye to the Skywalkers. Every Star Wars movie to-date (including Rogue One) involved the Skywalker family and their galaxy-wrecking squabbles, to lesser or greater extent. The Last Jedi will mark the end of Princess Leia’s story, and possibly Luke’s as well. The Skywalker saga will (likely) span 10 films when all is said and done (I’m assuming Episode IX still contains at least one character from the Skywalker bloodline).

Now is the time to invest in new characters and conflicts that do not involve a Skywalker — the Star Wars franchise is bigger than just this one extended family. Introducing new narratives and characters who have no connection to the Skywalkers may risk alienating long-time fans, but it will also create a completely new jumping-on-point for the next generation of movie-goers. (Let’s be honest, if you saw the original Star Wars during its initial theater run, you’re getting old.) Let’s give the kids some new heroes and stories to share with their kids and grandkids, eh?


Develop A New Conflict Beyond Rebels vs. Empire

We’ve been living with the same galaxy-wide conflict since 1977, it’s time to invest in new groups and organizations to breathe fresh air into the galaxy. Rebel forces have been pitted against Imperial troops since before many Star Wars fans were born. Granted, George Lucas muddled things with his prequels (both the Trade Federation and the Old Republic were ham-fisted implementations, at best). Put another way, how many X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter battles can we before the whole enterprise just feels stale?

Lucasfilm needs to invent a major new antagonist, something we haven’t seen before. Perhaps a new kind of evil so dire that it compels Rebels/New Republic and Imperials/First Order to work together against their common foe… or something else entirely out of left field. The Star Wars movies have become predictable, in large part because they haven’t bothered to develop a new threat or elevate their known crime organization, Black Sun. After all, Snoke and Kylo are just updated versions of Vader and Palpatine, Rey is the new Luke, etc.

For Star Wars to appeal to audiences for multiple decades into the future, Lucasfilm cannot keep repeating the same old beats. Ask Ridley Scott what happens when a filmmaker goes to the well once (or three times) too often.


Explore More Alien Races And Cultures

While the human character’s relationships and conflicts are at the center of the Star Wars phenomenon, it’s the aliens and droids that remain the coolest, yet least examined parts of the franchise. Why not develop a major storyline around Wookiees, Jawas, or Bounty Hunters? Sound crazy? Well, Pixar’s been killing it for twenty years with movies about fish, cars, monsters, bugs, and children’s toys — How about a WALL-E-style Star Wars movie with R2 units? Not so crazy after all.

Additionally, Star Wars movies have traveled to so many amazing places that are populated with diverse and interesting creatures. Lucasfilm should pick one of these planets, fully develop a new species, and give it a central role in the upcoming trilogy, and then see where it goes — James Cameron proved that audiences will line-up to watch goofy blue giants riding pterodactyls in Avatar, as an obvious example.


Take A Break From Jedis And The Force

The force, lightsabers, and Jedi/Sith put Star Wars on the map, but after eight movies, multiple TV shows, and a boatload of videogames and novels, they’re simply not as exciting nor as fresh as they used to be. Sometimes the best way to generate new excitement and interest in a character or concept is to put it on the shelf for a while. Marvel Comics did this recently with Wolverine, who returned to the canon after four years off — fans were ecstatic, by the way.

What does a Star Wars trilogy without the force look like? If Solo turns out to be something cool and successful, why not build the next trilogy on the back of the Milennium Falcon. In other words, what’s so bad about playing in a new sandbox full of smugglers, bounty hunters, and the criminal factions from the Outer Rim for awhile… and then bring the Jedi and Sith back in a subsequent trilogy with a vengeance!


Change-Up And Embrace Different Sub-Genres

Rogue One proved that Star Wars can work in multiple genres beyond straight-up sci-fi; Solo appears to lean into comedy, as you may have heard. Most of the Star Wars films to-date have involved a sprawling, intergalactic conflict as the backdrop to the ongoing Skywalker story, but Rogue One was a full-on war movie (and a little bit film noir too), and that movie pulled few punches with its interpretation of the war genre — fans were into it too; to the tune of over $1 billion worldwide.

Perhaps Johnson should look to Marvel’s movie successes for inspiration. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was an espionage film, Ant-Man was a heist picture, Dr. Strange was kinda-sorta a horror film (well, that’s what they were going for anyway). How cool would it be to see a martial arts movie in the Star Wars universe? Gangster, disaster, mystery, or detective genres could all totally work too. Imagine a variation on the buddy-cop genre with Boba Fett and IG-88 as bounty hunters forced to work together to capture and bring an assignment home alive… crap, that’s basically the plot to DeNiro’s Midnight Run — but I would totally be the first in line for that movie!


Be Bold, Be Brave, Embrace Change!

Star Wars as a franchise is at crossroads. The safe bet would be to continue telling the same Star Wars stories with the same characters, conflicts, and locations that have already been well-established. Arguably, this has worked like gangbusters for James Bond (but even this franchise is questioning its future). I believe the key to Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars trilogy is embracing change, doing something no one expects, and seeing the reaction… if it doesn’t work, at least they tried. Marvel has proven that even a successful formula can (and should) survive tinkering and experimentation.

Modern cinema is far too competitive these days to rely on past successes. Few movies and franchises these days are finding success by leveraging the past, instead those franchises that are bold enough to take risks and connect with different audiences are the ones that we’ll be talking about years from now.

Are you ready for a fourth Star Wars trilogy on the heels of The Last Jedi? Let us know in the comments down below!

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  • Aline

    Yes, for all! We need to let things evolve.

  • Sy Burr

    Ummmm…I’ll happily take a ton of Jedi and Sith. Go watch Star Trek if the Force isn’t your thing.

    • Vector

      This. Fans like Sy here demand more Force and light sabers. I can’t imagine Disney sidelining these elements even if it would be the right creative decision.

      I say go heavy force users in the new trilogy. Every time you have one force user with a bunch of regular joes, the story inevitably has the force user leave the main group to do their own thing. Just look at Luke in TESB and now, Rey in TLJ.

    • m sm

      Agreed. If you’re not a fan of the Forces there’s literally every other SyFi franchise out there for you!!!

    • Joe Chaisson

      I 100% agree. I would love to see the a movie set pre-prequels or even 1000 after episode 9.

    • DarkoCool

      Yeah, let’s remove the best element and the one thing which makes Star Wars different from all the other sci-fi/fantasy movies out there. I say go backwards in time and show us Jedi and Sith in all their glory ala The Old Republic!

  • axebox

    Well Kylo is a Skywalker.

    • Yes, that’s true. I alluded to this in the article. Not sure I understand your question or assertion?

  • Heath

    Yeh…Star Wars = Jedi… just make it cool

  • alexpedro

    “Take A Break From Jedis And The Force” Isn’t that what Star Wars is about? Are you sure you’re a fan? Let “non-force-jedi-empire-sith-skywalker” for other space operas. There are plans for Flash Gordon, X-Men in space, Thor, Guardians of the galaxy, etc etc. The difference between Star Wars and the rest is the force, my dear.

    • There are many Star Wars stories yet to be told, not all of them need the Force as a crutch. Rogue One was largely Force free, and it felt incredibly fresh and vibrant.

      • Saranac

        I am the force, the force is with me.

      • m sm

        Vader “Forced” the hell out of them on the Tantive V, used the Force while using a bad dad pun, and there were lots of reference to the force.

      • JSmoove

        No one wants to watch a jawa movie. Or a movie solo about R2-D2.

        • Wow, you speak for everyone? That is indeed a tremendous power.

          • DarkoCool

            I’m pretty sure he speaks for most Star Wars fans. The Force is what makes Star Wars Star Wars!

          • Kindofabigdeal

            Unlimited Powah!!!

          • JSmoove

            How much money do you think a Jawa movie would make? It’s an absurd idea. Just because you write something doesn’t mean it’s good.

      • DarkoCool

        And yet the scene that everyone talked about featured Darth Vader using the force…

  • Ryan Fink

    KOTOR trilogy!

    • That would rock, I would love to see that. Go back a few thousand years to the dawn of the Force, when Jedis were everywhere. Could be awesome!

  • Kronx

    A lot of these ideas are fine for anthology films, but a trilogy should probably deliver the essential Star Wars experience… Wars in the stars. Space magic. Close calls. Someone having a bad feeling about it.

    • So more of the same, no changes, keep making the same movie over and over again? That’s the major issue with The Force Awakens, it’s basically a remake of the original Star Wars. Alien and Blade Runner franchises are dead because they couldn’t evolve.

      • Saranac

        Well that and the films were past their “interest by date”.

        • Alien was just crap

          Blade Runner was excellent, but was never going to do big BO. The original didn’t either and still ended up a classic

          Still say if they had made Blomkamp’s sequel to Aliens it would have faired better

          • Saranac

            Maybe on Blolamp. It took me 10 years to see Blade Runner, I might see the sequel over the holidays… After Prometheus i’m not going back to that well.

      • I’m all for standalone stories without the Force. But a new trilogy? Not so sure.

      • Kronx

        No, but it does need to stay in the realm of epic space opera.

        Star Wars already does some of the things in this list anyway. There are always new aliens and cultures in the films, and you can argue that ANH and RotJ are heist films in their own right, from a certain point of view. TPM was part racing film. AotC was some sort of detective/romance hybrid.

        TFA was definitely way too much like ANH. But it had to be that way after the special edition and prequel trilogy backlash.

        I agree with moving beyond the Skywalkers, but a saga trilogy needs the Force and some sort of intergalactic conflict.

        I’m not opposed to an anthology series though.

      • JSmoove

        The Alien franchise is bad because of terrible scripts. Blade Runner was never even close to being as popular as Star Wars. Your logic is flawed.

      • Deplorable_Me

        How very two dimensional of you. You offer up two choices. No Force users or remake the same movie over and over. I agree that TFA was a little too much like Star Wars but that doesn’t mean this original trilogy has to be “just like” anything. You could base it off KOTOR. It’s a great story plus not every already knows it. There are also thousands of years they could set the story in. So no there are more choices than the two you offer.

  • William Bloomfield

    Isn’t what you described the point of the “Star Wars stories?” Why would Rian LOWER the stakes of the next trilogy?

    • What stakes are you referring to? You’re a bit vague here.

      • William Bloomfield

        The military and spiritual control of the galaxy?

        • OK, cool, thanks for clarifying. I don’t see how focusing on characters or taking a break from Jedis/Sith/Force/Lightsabers would be lowering the stakes. The stakes in Star Wars have always focused on defending justice and freedom, not control (military, spiritual, or otherwise).

          • Deplorable_Me

            Yeah I just don’t think you are going to get many to agree with you. You are of course entitled to yur opinion but like has been said before what makes Star Wars different from ANY other Sci Fi movie are Jedi’s, Sith, the Force, and light sabers. While I liked Rogue One, I like most other people, like the part with Darth Vader the best. If they made a no Jedi trilogy, I would have a very hard time getting excited to see this.

          • I’m not trying to get anyone to agree with me, I’m just expressing my point-of-view and hoping for some extended discussion. We’ve certainly had a spirited debate here, which is awesome. Thank you for your comments!

            As to your point regarding a non-Jedi trilogy, why is it so crucial to require Jedis or the force in every Star Wars movie? Does every Marvel film need Captain America? Can there be a Justice League w/o Batman? Taking risks and pushing in new directions is what makes these franchise great, not giving us the same old tropes, characters, and narrative over and over again.

          • Deplorable_Me

            Ok cool I am all for long interesting discussions. Once again though you gave a false equivalency. You offer Marvel film with out Captain America or Justice League with out Batman but that doesn’t equal Star Wars with out the force. Let’s try this a Marvel movie with no powered people. You can have SHIELD and all of the other non-powered Characters. So no Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, or Thor. Also Justice League with no Meta’s. So you can have Jim Gordon, the Martha’s (lol), Lois Lane. See my point? I think the disconnect is that for you the Force isn’t that integral to Star Wars. For most of us the Force IS Star Wars. Many movies have hero’s, planets, star ships, and aliens. Only Star Wars has Sith, Jedi, and the Force. Can you see where we are coming from?

  • Ramodelmar

    I’m still waiting for robocop sequel 🍿

    • Kindofabigdeal

      Didn’t you see the one with Frankenstien from Monster Squad, or the one with robot ninjas?

  • Venomaide

    R2D2 diary of a wimpy robot

  • Jason Tyler

    I love how you suggest taking away the things that make Star Wars, Star Wars.

    bravo!

    • Star Wars is more than just lightsabers, the force, and Jedis/Sith. Star Wars is about characters first — that’s why Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, etc. are still part of the cultural discussion 40 years later. Revisiting the same plot points, the same lightsaber duels, and the same space battles over and over again is watering down the excitement and uniqueness of these elements; put them on the shelf for a movie or two (as was the case in Rogue One) and the interest and excitement returns.

      • JSmoove

        It might be watering it down for you but I’m guessing The Last Jedi will do just fine on it’s opening weekend.

        What other ‘competition’ would a Star Wars movie have?

      • Joe Chaisson

        That’s one thing people love about Star Wars is the Force and Jedi. I think people get the Skywalkers and Jedi/Force mixed up since those have been the focus of 8 films. But looking at other force user pre-prequels or way into he future would be fun. Even focusing a Triliogy based around the the Sith rise to existence.

  • newscynic

    Some of the ideas in this article are fine for the anthology films The main films need to be classic battles between good and evil with huge stakes and the Force playing a central role.

    • Why is that? Haven’t we already had this in 8 (and soon to be 9) films?

  • David

    3 words: THE OLD REPUBLIC

    • KOTOR could definitely work, would be a totally new viewpoint and perspective on the entire canon. Somehow, I worry that Lucasfilm will try to shove Luke’s great, great, great, great grandfather into the story, which would be a mistake. Go somewhere new, tell stories that we’ve never seen or read or played before.

  • Victor Roa

    Walle style movie with the droids. THANK YOU FOR READING MY MIND!

    • Right? That would be different and fun.

      • Victor Roa

        Maybe it’s how I grew up, but I think Siri and Alexia are the wrong direction. Anthropomorphic designs to robots are the right way to go than just disembodied voices. And that design is meant for less clutter but I had Siri activate while I was doing the laundry “excuse me, I didn’t hear that exactly.” And things like that are just CREEEEEEEEPY. It’d be better if it was a BB8 head that peered out and made a beep sound just to acknowledge you instead. And I notice that with Data in Star Trek TNG, He’s an android but he makes head movements in response to help everyone on the enterprise not feel creeped out.
        Yeah, I’m one of those guys who puts tape on his laptop mic and camera but I have every single R2 figure since 1980….. the cuter the better, like a Gonk droid or a mouse bot. I actually have an 88 TMNT mouser toy.

        • I never thought about Siri and Alexa as creepy, but you make a great point — a talking toaster is definitely weird, I agree.

  • Jack Bean

    That would rock, I would love to see that. Go back a few thousand years to the dawn of the Force, when Jedis were everywhere. Could be awesome!

  • Jim straya

    Empire strikes back has all the right stuff, all lead characters are doing whats needed, Luke getting his training, Han and Leia being chased through space, it was simple and didn’t have so much dialog, but enough to keep you wondering what’s next, this is how the new additions should be, not so much politics and more confrontation, Hoth was a huge introduction to episode 5, especially when the empire is winning the fight all through the movie, space being the middle of the movie didn’t make you feel grounded, and then cloud city with its carbonite chamber finished it perfectly, this movie in my eyes is the best movie ever made, stop with the new ideas and give us another empire strikes back please.

  • HaroldNMaudeDib

    These are fair points but careful not to confuse Star Wars with Star Trek. And I’m not sure you can do Star Wars without the Force.

    • Joe Chaisson

      You can but other Sci-Fi does it very well. Look at Star Trek, GotG, Battlestar Galactica.

    • Seems to me that the Force was not a major factor in Rogue One, and that worked out just fine.

  • RadicalAgnostic

    The Force is what sets Star Wars apart from any other Space Opera (your Star Trekkings, Farscapes, Fireflies, and Battlestars Galactica). The Planetary Romance of Star Wars is virtually lost without it. Might as well watch something else. Star Trek has your exploration, Farscape has your fugitives, Firefly has your western style showdowns, and BSG has your military. The one thing none of them have is Magic.

    Why lose the very thing that sets Star Wars apart from it’s peers?

  • Moby85

    I somewhat agree with all five points but lack of the Force is the most contentious. And it’s the one I’d mind the least if it was involved. The idea of the Force seems intrinsic to this property.

    • I agree, the force is central to Star Wars lore, but after 8 Star Wars movies it doesn’t feel like we’re seeing anything new. My rationale for this new trilogy being force-light (or no force at all) is to suggest that great Star Wars stories can be told w/o this element (I doubt Solo will be force-heavy, for example). Putting the force on the shelf in a new trilogy might allow (or force) the screenwriters to focus on other aliens, planets, and concepts that haven’t gotten a ton of screen times (like Bounty Hunters, droids, etc.)

  • Kindofabigdeal

    I wouldn’t mind a non force/non jedi movie. Maybe in a pocket of the universe that’s not important for any jedi or sith to visit.

  • CrystalClearTruth

    all the “recommendations” listed would destroy Star Wars. You have no idea what the franchise is about. Stay with your pap Wachowski drivel and leave the Star Wars alone.

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.