Disney always had an insurmountable challenge with the Star Wars sequel trilogy. There was never a way to satisfy everyone. And Disney got off to the worse possible start because when they started with the Force Awakens, it decided to do away with George Lucas’s original plotline blueprint. This obviously alienated Lucas which added more pressure on JJ Abrams who took over the mantel of directing the first movie of the trilogy. So in a way it is a good thing for both Star Wars and Disney that the Skywalker saga is over. Let me explain why.
- George Lucas had a blueprint for the end of the Skywalker saga which Disney did away with. Instead, they decided to create a brand new story and introduce new characters like Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren. Lucas in 2015 after the release of the Force Awakens said, “ All those Star Wars films … I loved them, I created them, I’m very intimately involved in them, and I sold them to the white slavers that take these things.” He equated the situation to a break-up. And while people actually loved the Force Awakens, you could see the creator of Star Wars wasn’t happy. Disney should’ve had some kind of buy-in from Lucas which they didn’t because they acquired the company — but for the sake of the trilogy they should’ve had him around as it was still centred on characters that he had created 40 years ago who transcended generations. Now that the Skywalker saga is over, you can imagine more inventive storytelling which we can already see in shows like the Mandalorian and even in some of the origin movies like Solo and Rogue One.
- A big part of the problem of the LucasFilm acquisition was that Disney had to bring in people like Katheleen Kennedy whom George Lucas had just hired months before the closing the deal. This meant, Disney had to ensure continuity but this was continuity for just for the sake of it as the Star Wars franchise had been dormant in movie halls since the end of the Revenge of the Sith in 2005. They made a meal of the situation by adding a star director in JJ Abrams into the mix and then handing the reigns to Rian Johnson for the Last Jedi and then handing it back to Abrams. Their diverging thoughts towards the storyline of the trilogy made sure that the franchise had a convoluted plot. Carrie Fisher’s untimely death also added complexity which impacted both the Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker. They also had to decide on the massive Star Wars expanded universe apart from the active Clone Wars shows and LucasArts which was making video games based on the franchise. Now that LucasArts just licenses the IP, we can see great games coming out of studios like Electronic Arts like the new Jedi Fallen game. Similarly, with the end of the Skywalker saga, we can imagine more core Disney creative talent taking over Star Wars like the way Jon Favreau has led the way with the Mandalorian. There is already chatter that Marvel chief creative officer Kevin Feige might take charge of Star Wars in the future.
- With Disney+ taking centre stage for the Walt Disney Company in a post Avengers and Rise of Skywalker world, it enters the new decade with a lot of its major IP milked. It needs a fresh start. The Mandalorian represents that but the Star Wars universe arguably can offer it more than Marvel just because of the legacy of its characters. Already, a live-action series based on Obi-Wan Kenobi has been announced with Ewan McGregor returning to reprise his iconic role from the prequel trilogy. One can totally imagine one story coming out on the iconic Jedi grandmaster Yoda, perhaps one on his younger days, before the Skywalker story arc. A similar story based on Mace Windu can be dreamed up with Samuel L Jackson. Based on the devastating end scene of Rogue One, one can imagine something on Darth Vadar in his prime. At the of the Rise of Skywalker, you see Lando Calrissian asking Jannah where is she from. It has been hinted that Jannah is her long lost daughter and there is potential for a plot around Calrissian.
- The Rise of Skywalker also hints at the end of the Jedi and Sith as the main Force-sensitive factions. At the end of the movie, Rey states her name is Rey Skywalker, hinting at a new type of Force Sensitive who could harness some traits of a dark side wielder to create a more balanced Force user. This includes the use of Force Lightning and even the ability to love and marry something that was considered taboo in the erstwhile Jedi Order. Rey also designs a new “yellow” lightsaber which is the sign of a Jedi Sentinal in the Knights of the Old Republic video games. All of this hints towards the fact that it isn’t the end of the line for Rey and now Disney could push the franchise in a new direction free from the legacy of George Lucas after a gap of a couple of years.
- Disney over the years has also managed to woo George Lucas back as a consultant which is very important for the health of the franchise as he created the universe. It is said that Lucas is consulting on the Mandalorian and he was even brought in to fix the Rise of Skywalker when the reviews weren’t that good with the initial focus group which led to reshoots. At the end of the day, this is George’s baby and he knows best for the franchise. Disney may not want to push the limits of storytelling and technology with these movies which is what Lucas did when he was in charge but his inputs can be invaluable to ensuring a healthy future but from a distance.