When the J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Wars Episode IX is released later this year, the Skywalker saga we’ve been following since 1977 will finally come to a close. After that, Lucasfilm’s release slate looks pretty barren. Disney is still in early development on a few Star Wars-related projects, as well as some exciting original series for their new streaming service Disney+, but nothing definitive is in sight.
We’ve been promised a couple of unrelated trilogies, but they’re still in the very early stages of being put together. So, here are 8 Directions The Star Wars Saga Can Take After Episode IX.
8 Follow the Game of Thrones route
Prequels aren’t necessarily a bad thing. The Star Wars prequel trilogy disappointed a lot of fans because not only were they bad movies; they presented the dark, brooding, mysterious Darth Vader as an adorable little kid and then a bratty teenager. It ruined the original trilogy by being too close to its stories and characters.
When Game of Thrones ends this year, HBO still wants its fans to pay their subscription fees, so they’re making a prequel series entitled The Long Night. But instead of focusing on young Jon Snow and young Daenerys Targaryen etc., it’ll be set eight thousand years before the original series. Star Wars can do this with prequels that dig deep into the history of that world, like the rise and fall of the Old Republic.
7 Focus on TV
The Star Wars universe is ripe for TV. World-building has become a popular trend in television with shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad expanding their brands and fictional universes with long-running story arcs and spin-off series. We could have TV series that explore fallen civilizations decimated during the battle sequences in the movies. All the aftermath that the movies didn’t have enough time to explore could be depicted on television with new formats like the season-by-season anthology format.
Star Wars was based on serialized TV in the first place, so why not bring it into the new age of serialized television? With Disney announcing a bunch of original series based on MCU characters for their new Disney+ streaming service, there’s no reason not to do the same with Star Wars.
6 Smaller-scale movies
There was a lot to blame for Solo: A Star Wars Story’s failure at the box office. One issue is that it was given as big a budget as any other Star Wars movie, yet it clearly didn’t have the same appeal. A new chapter of the Skywalker saga is bound to make more money than the origin story of Han Solo, especially when the latter is trying to have the scale and stakes of one of the bigger movies. The future of Star Wars, at least part of it, could be in smaller-scale films.
The Boba Fett movie that was in development and subsequently got canceled should be redeveloped with a smaller budget and scale. Jeremy Bulloch based his performance as Fett on Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name character. The Fett movie could be a spaghetti western set in space. The right writer-director could experiment with this genre beautifully. We could have a bunch of little movies like this that fans aren’t forced at gunpoint to see and stand on their own as self-contained, start-to-finish Star Wars tales. They could tell some neat stories.
5 Lean into the fan base’s nostalgia
The positive reception to The Force Awakens had very little to do with the plot, which we all know was a shameless rip-off of A New Hope, and a lot to do with the nostalgic elements. Seeing Harrison Ford back playing Han Solo and Carrie Fisher back playing Princess Leia etc. was enough to get Star Wars fans and movie buffs alike flooding to theaters in late 2015.
So, Disney can just keep banking on the fan base’s nostalgia. Just don’t recast roles. Remember Alden Ehrenreich? We’ve already seen that Ewan McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson are open to returning to their Star Wars roles, so there’s a good starting point.
4 Tell the stories that need to be told
When Disney announced they’d be making more Star Wars movies than just the set-menu “Episode” films, there were ambitious plans for all kinds of spin-offs. There was even reportedly a whole spin-off movie about Mos Eisley Spaceport in development at one point. What’s next, a Bohemian Rhapsody-style rise-and-fall music biopic about the Max Rebo Band?
So far, Disney has released two “Anthology” spin-off movies. The first, Rogue One, was a tremendous $1 billion box office success. It told the story of how the Rebels stole the Death Star plans before the events of A New Hope. It was a story that needed to be told – a story that Star Wars fans were excited to see play out on the big screen. The second, Solo, was a box office flop.
It told the underwhelming story of how Han Solo got his name, met Chewie, won the Falcon from Lando, and made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. It was a feature-length movie adaptation of a handful of one-liners from the original trilogy. Fans didn’t need that, nor did they want it. So, going forward, Disney should be more careful with the stories they tell and only tell the Star Wars stories that need to be told.
3 Do a bunch of unrelated trilogies
The storytelling model of the Star Wars saga goes back to George Lucas’ earliest influences: TV serials. These stories are told in installments, with each one ending with a cliffhanger that gets the viewers to come back next time.
Lucas brought this narrative model to the big screen with Star Wars, and while no one can come up with anything that will have as big an impact on audiences as he did with the story of the Skywalker bloodline, Disney can do a bunch of mini-serials that get the audience invested enough to come back for a whole trilogy. This is what Peter Jackson did with his Middle-earth movies and they made billions of dollars. Rian Johnson’s trilogy and David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ trilogy will be a good jumping-off point for this.
2 Episodes X-XII
After Episode IX, the sequel trilogy will be complete. This is the third trilogy that makes up the Star Wars saga. The original trilogy existed on its own and had its own natural conclusion, but the door was still open for a prequel trilogy and, later, a sequel trilogy.
Given how much money Disney spent on acquiring Lucasfilm, it seems unlikely they’ll let J.J. Abrams close that door at the end of Episode IX. We need closure on the story, but also hope for the future. Maybe that kid with the broom will lead a new rebellion against a new evil force as an adult. There’s definitely more story to tell, so why not keep carrying the torch with Episodes X, XI, and XII?
1 Start from scratch
The box office failure of Solo: A Star Wars Story showed us that moviegoers’ love for the Star Wars brand only goes so far. As much as they might love that world (the lightsabers, the Force, the escapism), they don’t want to see other actors playing their favorite characters.
So, at the end of the Skywalker saga, why not start from scratch and introduce a new cast of characters with their own conflicts and no ties to the Skywalker family whatsoever? This galaxy is populated by millions upon millions of lifeforms across a bunch of different planets. There are plenty of characters in there and, along with them, plenty of interesting stories to tell.