I live at the alter of Star Wars and George Lucas. I love the films, the comics, novels — you name it (unless it's the Christmas Special, let's not go there). Despite my appreciation for the series, I'm not blind to its faults. Yes, the prequels are not great films. Yes, there are plot holes. Yes, there is bad dialogue throughout the series. Nevertheless, the saga resonates with me and millions of others around the world, casual and diehard fans alike. That's why I am terribly worried — yet equally excited — for the first film to be released in the new Disney canon that is not part of that saga.
For those who haven't heard (or haven't made the connection yet), the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a prequel to the original trilogy. It features a new cast of characters (not Rey and company) who must fight the evil Empire down in the trenches as opposed to using the mystical powers of the Force. I know "prequel" is a dirty word for fans, but color me intrigued. There are no Jedi in this film, rather, director Gareth Edwards and his crew are giving us the Black Hawk Down-style of film, emphasizing the "war" in Star Wars, as he stated at Celebration 2015 when the movie was unveiled.
I love the idea of different directors coming in, tackling new sub genres and characters throughout the canon. Personally, I would love to see a samurai-inspired Old Republic flick or a gangster/cop style that makes proper use of the bounty hunters and the underworld.
Solo Han Solo Film
We're also getting a Han Solo prequel film, set before the events of A New Hope. Fans are understandably a bit apprehensive about this one, as the role — made famous by Harrison Ford — has been given a new face. Alden Ehrenreich (Hail Caesar!) takes on the role of the scruffy-looking nerf herder and many fans are (understandably) wary, uncertain or downright against the role going to a new actor.
I count myself as one of the wary. I'm not sure how I feel about a new face taking on such an iconic role. I wish the spin-off films would focus more on new characters and points in time rather than giving us prequels to established characters. It's why I'm not rooting for an Obi-Wan film and it's why I am more on board with the idea of Rogue One, which takes an established piece of history (that I won't spoil if you want to go in blind) and gives us the full story through new characters and events. We get a familiar period in time, but a fresh ensemble cast also makes the story that much more appealing. Here's hoping that Disney starts to open up the galaxy sooner than later. The latest Old Republic game trailer highlights the potential for new storylines set far from the established timeline and characters (shame it's not canon though).
I'm all for a new take and look for the series. I think it could be refreshing, original and an opportunity to offer some great new characters. My greatest fear with the anthology films is the annualized mentality they're already showing. The Han Solo spin-off film is due Spring 2018 and an untitled mystery film for 2020 (the long-rumored Boba Fett prequel). Couple this with the saga films yet to be released (Episodes 8 and 9) and we have one Star Wars film for the next five years, including Rogue One, which hits theaters December 16th of this year.
Star Wars films are event films, it becomes a story on major news outlets, people line up for days and seemingly everyone goes to see it. Franchise fatigue could make the series less special, I fear, and the interest in Rogue One just isn't anywhere near that of last year's The Force Awakens, which broke both trailer and box office records. Fans rejoiced to see their childhood heroes and iconic imagery come back to pull on their nostalgia strings, which saw the original cast (for the most part) tangle with a new cast. Disney executives stated recently that believe their new film will not do as well financially, possibly due to the purposefully more mature tone. Time will tell how much less. Is this a sign that people — the masses — would prefer the saga films? Or are we already seeing signs of waning interest? Time will tell. Until then, check out the new Rogue One trailer right here:
What are your thoughts about the upcoming anthology films? Do you think they will fall short of the majesty of the saga films?