Lucasfilm caused a bit of stir this week when they casually dropped the news that Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is working on a brand new trilogy of Star Wars films. Much remains unknown about these films, but Lucasfilm's announcement described the trilogy as being, "from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored." So, it's a new slate of films set in a time or place within the vast galaxy far, far away that no one has ever heard of before. Your guess is as good as ours.
While it's unclear what theses films will be about and how they'll fit within existing Star Wars canon, Lucasfilm was very clear to point out Johnson's trilogy, "is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga." This trilogy is not Episodes X-XII, and apart from likely being the first, second, and third chapters in whatever crazy new story Johnson has cooked up, they aren't even really Episodes. In fact, with Disney/Lucasfilm already producing standalone pictures (Rogue One, Solo), there's no reason to assume Johnson's trilogy is even a sequential story - it could be its own anthology of vaguely connected tales set within a similar time or place. This early on, nobody outside of Johnson, his collaborator Ram Bergman, Kathleen Kennedy, and the Lucasfilm Story Group know what's really going on with this new trilogy.
But the fact that today's announcement boldly states these films will not be part of the Skywalker saga has us wondering - after a story spanning (when complete) nine films as well as countless books, comics, and TV episodes - is Star Wars leaving its royal family behind?
To which the only sensible answer is... no. Absolutely not.
Whether through films unaffiliated with Johnson's trilogy or in other media, the Skywalker family and legacy is sure to continue. Lucasfilm isn't throwing away characters as lucrative as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, or anyone who can claim to be of their lineage. As of the moment, practically everything Star Wars - and especially everything considered official canon in the years since Disney's culling of the Expanded Universe - is in some way connected to that nine film saga. There are certainly exceptions, but they are very few. By and large everything being produced by Disney has made sure to include a clear link back to those core films and the Skywalker clan.
What's being done with this new trilogy, however, is an expansion of the Star Wars universe in a way no one has ever done before. If Johnson's films truly are set in a unexplored corner of the Star Wars universe, then the possibilities are endless. These films could be set centuries before Anakin was ever magically conceived; they could feature an entirely different society or civilization, one that's so far on the outskirts it's never even heard of Jedi and is untouched by the Galactic Civil War; it could be set in a far-flung future where the threats of the Empire and First Order are relics of the past; and there's even the chance these films will have a smaller scope than 'the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance', in which case, Johnson's story might just be unlike anything ever told within the Star Wars universe.
As of now, we know next to nothing about this new trilogy of Star Wars films. But there won't be any Skywalkers or any friends of the Skywalkers and there probably won't even be anyone who hung out with a Skywalker. And really, though we don't yet know for certain, Episode IX could very well end the Skywalker line. The only remaining Skywalkers (that we know of) are Luke, Leia, and her son, Ben (AKA Kylo Ren), which means that unless Luke has secret child, Leia had a child in secret, or Kylo is redeemed and lives long enough to have children of his own - each of which, though not impossible, vary in their likelihood - then the Skywalkers would cease to be, living on only in legend.
Whether the Skywalkers die out with Episode IX or not, Johnson is clearly more interested in charting a new course through the Star Wars universe - one that's free of any Skywalker baggage and open to all sorts of new possibilities. If Disney and Lucasfilm really are going to make Star Wars films from now until long after we're all dead, then the universe needs to be cracked wide open. A film series that doesn't rely on recognizable characters or recycled story beats, but can still capture the awe and wonder we come to expect from a galaxy far, far away, could ensure that Star Wars - in at least some shape or form - will be here for generations to come.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019