If any of you missed it, today Disney debuted the trailer for ROUGE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. If you haven’t seen it check it out. I’ve talked with friends about the fact that Disney is branching off from the traditional numbered Star Wars sequels and making these spin-off films. For me there’s more excitement in these Star Wars stories than the episodes. Why, well of course I’m going to explain myself. So sit back and prepare for my inner Star Wars nerd to be released.
-Telling Self-Contained Stories-
This is a big nitpick I had with The Force Awakens. While it’s picking up the story 30 some years after Return of the Jedi we’re dealing with a new chapter in Star Wars. Even before the film’s release people were already hypothesizing who were Rey’s parents. And yes, there have always been questions left open in Star Wars that would later be definitively answered. This time it feels more like sequel bait than organic storytelling. When The Empire Strikes Back ended we had a cliffhanger, but the major crux of the story was answered. Darth Vader is in fact Luke’s father and we know with absolute certainty it’s true. We now have to wait until Episode IX to find out if Rey is a Skywalker, a Kenobi, or something else entirely. With Rouge One this is a story that can have a beginning, middle, and end not being forced to set any sequels up.
-A Universe Bigger than the Skywalkers-
Producer Kathleen Kennedy has talked about the future of Star Wars and what the major difference between the spin-offs and the episodes entails. Basically the episode films are all going to be focused on the Skywalker family while the spin-offs can tell other stories. The Star Wars franchise is a rich and expansive universe filled with so much potential if you don’t have to link your story to the Skywalkers. Point of fact, in the now non-canon expanded universe there are many tremendous stories that have nothing to do with the Skywalkers. Hopefully this will allow for greater stories that can be their own thing.
-Jumping Around the Timeline-
While Star Wars has never been afraid to jump around chronologically (Episodes IV-VI were released between ’77-’83, Episodes I-III were released between ’99-’05, and Episodes VII-IX will be released between ’15-19) we’re now set on a path going forward. With the spin-offs we get the chance to criss-cross the timeline to tell stories. What most excites me about Rogue One is seeing a story set between the prequels and the original trilogy. This 19 year gap that shows the rise of the Empire could be a great space to set new material. Or telling a story set centuries before the prequels showing the Jedi fighting the Sith. Everything is ripe for the picking in this series.
-Attracting Actors Not Interested in Multi-Picture Deals-
With the new Episodes actors Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac have all committed to a multi-picture deal for three films. Many actors (especially older ones) have a hesitancy to sign up when they don’t know when their character’s story will end. Being stuck in the same role for years can cause them to stagnate or worse, become typecast afterwards. With Rogue One the cast is stacked with such an impressive set of actors (Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, and Donnie Yen) I assume it’s because they signed on for a single film that could lead to future roles in the franchise. This opens the possibility for many brilliant actors being open to appearing in future spin-off films.
-Bringing Back Past Talent-
One the best parts of the prequel trilogy was Ewan McGregor’s performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi. While some of the other actors turned in so-so performances he was great from start to finish. The idea of seeing McGregor reprising his role is an interesting prospect. We’d get to see him front and center in a story that would show us how a Jedi Master ended up a “strange old hermit”.
So there you have it. These are my reasons for being excited for the spin-off films moreso than the sequels. Not that I’m not excited for Episode VIII (Rian Johnson is an amazing director and Mark Hamill will have more than a cameo), I love this franchise so dearly. What are your thoughts? Did you like the Rogue One trailer? Do you have an idea for a spin-off story? Or are you more excited about Star Trek Beyond?