Just as we’re about to get a new Star Wars show in the form of Andor—the second of three shows this year, if you need reminding—the movie side of the franchise took another noticeable hit. Rogue Squadron, a film originally planned to be directed by Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins for a December 2023 release, has been pulled off the release schedule. Whether that was a realistic release date or not considering Jenkins reportedly had other projects on her docket, it looks like a new Star Wars movie won’t come until December 2025, if even then.
As there’s been show after show for George Lucas’ sci-fi franchise, the cinematic side of things has noticeably gone through some hurdles. Things began in earnest with the rocky development of 2018's Solo, which saw a change in directors from Phil Lord and Chris Miller to Ron Howard, and whose subsequent underperformance killed Disney’s plans for solo films for Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi. (And maybe even Jabba the Hutt?) Subsequently, there’s been headline-grabbing news about the movies that followed, be it discussions about Rise of Skywalker trying to call do-over after The Last Jedi (after losing original director Colin Trevorrow) or Kevin Feige being brought over from Marvel to help right the ship. And remember when the Game of Thrones creators were going to do a Star Wars movie, until they weren’t?
Things are quite messy in a movie universe far, far away, no question. But if there’s any bright side to this disjointedness from the films, it’s that the expanded media has really gotten a chance to thrive in the last couple of years. The High Republic books have managed to carve out a niche for themselves by winding back the clock and making the most out of a time where the Jedi weren’t being set up to be wiped out by a nihilistic cultist. What video games we’ve gotten have been fun throwbacks to the old PS2 days, and the comics have been reliably doing their own thing with one event after another.
On their own, these would all make for healthy ways to keep the franchise going, but they’re all getting an extra boost from the TV arm. Since The Mandalorian wowed audiences back in 2019, Lucasfilm’s managed to reliably put out a show or two spread out over several months. Not all of them are as good as their premises initially seem, and on an actor level, the TV side of Star Wars has had its controversies, namely Gina Carano’s parting ways with the company after her transphobic tweets, and Rosario Dawson’s now dismissed allegations of assaulting a trans person. Depressing as it is to say, in spite of those, creating and releasing a Star Wars show appears to be a considerably easier task.
To that end... maybe it’s fine if Star Wars just does away with films entirely? The most interesting work is being done on TV anyways, and has been that way for quite some time. The same has been true of Star Trek lately, it’s beginning to be for Marvel, and that can be true here, too. Though the films have mostly been box office juggernauts, constantly trying to top themselves and go big is what ultimately led to the franchise having to spend the last three years apologizing for Rise of Skywalker ending how it did. One could make the argument that being a film is paramount to part of the Star Wars experience, but that isn’t entirely true. The final four episodes of The Clone Wars feel as cinematic as any movie in the franchise, if not moreso, which is extra impressive since it feels like the episodes could’ve played in a theater had the pandemic not happened. Be it a cartoon, comic, book, or musical, it’d be cinematic from its presentation and style rather than how one chooses to consume Star Wars content.
For a franchise that’s had issues with letting go, from a corporation with even bigger issues of the same, abandoning the silver screen may be what it ultimately needs. Disney wins either way, so it couldn’t hurt to experiment and see what best suits the franchise.
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