I've been an avid #StarWars fan ever since I was six years old. I remember my dad took me to see A New Hope in 1997 when the Special Editions were released. It was the first time I saw a lineup snake around the block for a movie. I knew this was not my typical movie-going experience. The atmosphere was electric and that day I came out a changed boy.
Now in my mid 20s, fans including myself, get the luxury of a new Star Wars film every year with the addition of the new anthology films that will come out in between the saga entries (and likely beyond). In the end, I suspect we may actually get more anthology films than saga films, but is that a good thing? Depends on what kind on anthology films end up getting produced.
Rogue One: Star Wars' Very First Anthology Movie
Like many people, I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue One. I thought it was one of the better Star Wars films and certainly the most adult film in the franchise to date.
Despite it focusing on events that we're already familiar with, Rogue One does an excellent job at opening the canon to new characters, places and technology while integrating them with the old familiars. I firmly believe that if we are to get these standalone features, they should be expanding the universe rather than shrinking it. That's why, after seeing Rogue One, I am suddenly very worried for the upcoming Han Solo anthology film and the strong possibility of it delivering something very familiar.
Unlike Rogue One, Solo will (obviously) feature a character that we've come to love over the years and take him back before the events of A New Hope. Accompanying the roguish smuggler (played this time by Alden Ehrenreich) will be, Chewie, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and, more than likely, Boba Fett. Sure, we'll get new characters, like Emilia Clarke's mysterious new addition, but overall to me, this is shrinking the universe rather than expanding it (I guarantee we'll see how Han win the Falcon).
Uncharted Territory: New Characters, Planets and Adventures
I believe these films should be, first and foremost, about new characters or time periods, not more adventures with characters we already know. "Han Solo" and even the much desired Kenobi standalone film don't seem as appealing to me when compared to taking the action back 10, 50, 100, 1000 years and giving us something completely new. Would those characters be better in co-lead roles? It's likely. But right now, I'm more curious about the tales of Dr. Aphra from the comic books than a Solo film or the origins of Darth Bane.
Aphra made her debut in the Vader comic and now has her own series to further explore the adventures of the villainous space archaeologist (read Indiana Jones). Her exploits could easily translate to film and would be refreshing for all those who don't read the comics. Darth Bane has been a fan favorite for years but the #Disney acquisition wiped most of his backstory and novels out of the window. Why not show his exploits instead, which take place around 1000 years before Rogue One?
Rogue One had its fair share of classic characters, and some even had to be recreated with motion capture CGI to put them back on screen. It seems weird, knowing what we know in Rogue One, to have familiar faces in one feature yet have new faces playing classic characters in another. It feels inconsistent now, and if Solo is a success, what's stopping LucasFilm from casting a new Luke Skywalker?
I think the stories surrounding the core characters from the prequels or the original trilogy should be told via video game, comic or novel and on screen (film or television). We as fans and the casual moviegoer would get new characters, new tales or finally get to see moments we've only heard mentioned before, which is what Rogue One successfully pulled off. As director Gareth Edwards stated himself in the behind the scenes reel,
"If you're too respectful of it, that you don't do anything new or different, take a risk, then what are you bringing to the table?"
Maybe I'm wrong, and the Solo film will blow me and other fans away. But for now, I hope the anthology films decide to focus more on new characters and events rather than cherry picking from their roster of greatest hits.