Starwars.com announced just a few minutes ago that Rian Johnson’s next gig after directing this year’s The Last Jedi will be creating an entire new trilogy of Star Wars films, separate from the episodic Skywalker saga. While there understandably aren’t many details yet, here’s the short soundbite from the article:
As writer-director of The Last Jedi, Johnson conceived and realized a powerful film of which Lucasfilm and Disney are immensely proud. In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.
The first bit of good news to take away from this is that it means The Last Jedi is probably pretty darned good. Rian’s take has been wildly praised enough already by people inside Disney, but the fact that, while other directors are getting let go, Johnson is getting his own trilogy speaks volumes. It also explains why Disney brought back J.J. Abrams for Episode 9 instead of sticking with Johnson, if he was already going to be busy prepping these films. But the second, and more interesting piece to focus on is “a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.”
So what on earth could that mean? We have no idea – but we’re nerds, so it’s time for some wild speculation.
The Old Republic Era
This is by far the most popular rumor in the Star Wars fandom – I’ve already seen it posted three or four times since the news was released only a few minutes ago. It’s an era that is rife with nostalgia for most of the fans, mainly because of the fantastic Knights of the Old Republic games from Bioware. This is definitely a strong possibility, although my personal take is that Disney won’t go there. They’ll want to stay away from the word “prequel” as much as they can. And, if we’re taking the quote above as literally as we can, Star Wars has gone to the Old Republic era. A lot. There’s tons of info on it out there, making it a potential minefield for a new director to step in and change everything. And make no mistake, a new series of films would change everything. Whatever this is, it’s not going to be the adventures of Darth Revan and his epic story of Making the Exact Same Choices You Made in the First Kotor. They will probably want to avoid that kind of fan disappointment entirely.
Scum and Villany
Before we take Disney’s statement at it’s most literal, let’s take it at it’s most metaphorical. The most interesting and popular characters, and the ones who have been least addressed, in Star Wars are the scum. The bounty hunters, the smugglers, those who live on the fringes of the galaxy and make their own way. And since Disney had to cancel a Boba Fett film a few years ago (if the rumors are to be believed), it makes sense that they’d want to dive into that world for their next big trilogy. A one off Fett film would be ok. But an entire trilogy about the folks who make their lives as criminals, now that might be fascinating if done right. And we already know, thanks to Looper, that Johnson could dive into that world well.
The Unknown Regions
Now this is a lot more likely of a possibility if we’re taking the above statement at its absolute most literal. The Unknown Regions are, well they’re unknown. It’s the big portion of the Star Wars galaxy that isn’t explored or examined. And while there are tons of interesting stories coming out from that region in the old EU, it’s only really been addressed in hints in the new canon. The First Order was born there, and Snoke seems like he might be from these regions, but beyond that, we don’t know anything – and we don’t even really know that. In addition, it’s a perfect place for a director who’s proven himself on the main trilogy, but is known for creating things that are a bit more out there, to play. It can follow whatever era and whatever characters Rian wants, because we don’t know who lives there. And that is the sort of thing that might tempt a filmmaker to give up a huge chunk of his career.
No matter which way they go, this is another moment of exciting news about the future of the Galaxy Far Far Away. We can’t wait to see The Last Jedi, and we really can’t wait to know more about what Rian’s doing next.