No matter where you stand on the current state of the franchise, it's a rough time to be a Star Wars fan. Over the years, the fandom has become increasingly defined by polarization and, in some respects, turned toxic. Thank goodness for those ever-optimistic “Reylo” shippers.
With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Force-leaping into theaters soon, the future of the saga is very much up in the air. J.J. Abrams' film promises to give everyone's favorite original trilogy characters one last hurrah. After that though, fans may not see Star Wars on the big screen for a while.
Disney presses pause on the saga
Disney and Lucasfilm have reportedly been developing a strategy for what films would follow The Rise of Skywalker . Yet, Variety’s Brent Lang reports that Disney CEO Bob Iger has shared the truth behind the future of Star Wars . Apparently, the feature side of things is being put on an indefinite hiatus.
That doesn't bode well for previously announced projects like Rian Johnson's trilogy. Then again, we recently learned Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were no longer working with Lucasfilm. So perhaps fans should not be surprised at this point.
Lucasfilm had previously staked out release dates starting in 2022 for a new trilogy of Star Wars films. With Marvel Studios ramping up production to four films each year, perhaps the Avengers will claim those dates instead.
'Star Wars' has no clear direction
Although devoted fans might be disheartened by this news, it ultimately could be a smart move for Lucasfilm Sure, Star Wars has remained financially successful since the Disney acquisition. But at what cost?
Three of the four films released since The Force Awakens – our apologies to Solo – have broken the $ 1-billion barrier worldwide. But the fanbase has been bifurcated as a result. Some love the ongoing Skywalker saga, and others prefer standalone spinoffs like Rogue One . The cross-section between lovers of both is uncomfortably slim and getting worse with each new film.
Part of this is due to the lack of long-term planning at Lucasfilm. Consider the series of director firings that have plagued the studio these past few years. Rather than a clear vision of what it wants to be, Star Wars has been alternating between two different options.
The saga should have been chosen to either develop an ongoing narrative – a la Marvel – or embrace standalone successes like DC's Joker . Instead, the decision to do both underscores a lack of confidence in the brand and has ultimately done it a disservice. Might fans expect to eventually see a Kevin Feige-esque five-year plan for Star Wars ? Perhaps.
Fans still have 'The Mandalorian'
Even though Star Wars won't be on the big screen, the saga is far from dead. The launch of Disney +, in fact, provides a whole new way for fans to visit the “galaxy far, far away.” The streaming service will feature a new season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars as well as live-action series focused on Cassian Andor and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
But in the short term, all eyes are on The Mandalorian . Notably, the show – at least so far – doesn't feature any recognizable characters or storylines. So the Jon Favreau-created series could be the first bold step toward a fresh new era for the saga.
A break from Star Wars might not be what some fans want. But, considering the toxic turn its relationship with fans has taken, such an approach is necessary to keep the two together for the long haul. Search your feelings, Star Wars fans. You know it to be true.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20.