Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Solo: A Star Wars Story.
With Solo: A Star Wars Story now out in theaters, it's clear that the Star Wars spinoff movies have been better than the recent saga episodes. When The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, George Lucas handed the reins over to current studio president Kathleen Kennedy. And everything that has released ever since then has been completely different than what audiences had grown accustomed to with the prequel and original Star Wars trilogies. That's neither a good nor bad thing.
While the bulk of audiences' attentions have been on seeing the Skywalker story advance with J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, where the studio has truly shined these past few years has been with their spinoff movies: Gareth Edwards' Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016 and now Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story in 2018.
Interestingly, George Lucas himself wanted to make a young Han Solo movie before selling the company to Disney, and that was all in addition to expanding the galaxy far, far away on the small screen - with animated shows - as well as in video games and various other mediums. While he never got the chance to do that on the big screen, the studio is doing it now. And it's perhaps one of the best things that Disney-owned Lucasfilm has done in recent years: open up the Star Wars saga beyond the core episodes.
- This Page: What Makes The Star Wars Spinoffs Different
- Page 2: Why The Star Wars Spinoffs Are Better & Why Lucasfilm Should Make More
What Differentiates Star Wars Stories From The Episodes
One of the biggest things that separate the Star Wars anthology films from the saga episodes is the fact that the stories don't revolve around the Skywalker family. The Star Wars saga has always been about the Skywalkers - first Luke Skywalker, then Anakin Skywalker, and now Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (technically) - as well as the struggle between the dark and the light. But what about the rest of the galaxy? There are billions upon billions of people in the galaxy, all of whom have their own stories to tell, some of which connect to the overarching narrative, but audiences only get fleeting glimpses of those character arcs in the mainline episodes. That's where the Star Wars Story movies can shine compared to the core films.
Of course, in addition to exploring new characters, the anthology films also allow the studio to fill plot holes and establish a more cohesive continuity (as they did in Rogue One), not to mention dive deeper into the backstories of more well-known characters like Han Solo. To put Solo: A Star Wars Story's place in the saga into perspective, it's the first Star Wars movie ever to not mention the Force (and that's despite including an overt introduction for a long lost movie villain) nor center around the conflict between the Empire and the Alliance.
Sure, a ragtag group of Rebels played a small part in the film, but the overall story was entirely focused on Han Solo's origin and setting him on the path for when audiences first meet him in A New Hope. It was a personal story. It was about real, grounded characters, and their place in the galaxy, not a focus on mystical beings, religions, and again, the struggle between the dark and the light side of the Force. Instead, there was a grey area that Lucasfilm was able to explore because that's what these anthology movies allow for. That's not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but it is one of the primary aspects that make the Star Wars Story movies different (and better) compared to the recent saga episodes.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019