With the finale of the Mandalorian season 3 having aired, coming shortly after the trailer for Ahsoka and news of future Star Wars films, the grand plans of the emperor (in this case, Kathleen Kennedy) are finally becoming clear. And, while I’m excited for the new series starring Rosario Dawson this summer, I’m also worried that Star Wars is about to fall into the same trap as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the first Iron Man movie was an entertaining movie that charted Tony Stark’s unlikely journey from arms dealer to superhero. Because Marvel Studios at the time wasn’t sure if it would be a hit — and if there would be any sequels — the movie is neatly self-contained. The post-credits scene with Samuel L. Jackson seems almost like an afterthought.
However, with the success of Iron Man and each subsequent film, Marvel’s plans became as grand as Thanos’ designs, and just as bloated. Leading up to Avengers: Endgame, each movie became more and more self-referential, and it’s only gotten worse since. While I enjoyed Spider-Man: No Way Home, it felt like each successive Marvel movie and TV show was required viewing if you were to understand anything else. And, with few exceptions (like the entertaining She-Hulk), each new product seemed to only be a setup for something else.
Dual of the Fates
By contrast, most of the recent Star Wars movies and shows have avoided a similar fate. A large part of this is due to the fact that there wasn’t a Kevin Feige equivalent overseeing everything. While this resulted in a disjoined storyline between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, it also allowed each Star Wars property to breathe on its own, and to have a distinct look and feel. There’s a drab sameness to a lot of the Marvel movies.
Shows such as The Mandalorian have succeeded in weaving in Star Wars lore and Easter eggs, rewarding those who have seen everything, but not punishing others who haven’t watched, say, The Clone Wars or Rebels. Zeb Orrellios — one of the main characters from Rebels — popped up in Mandalorian as a New Republic X-Wing pilot, but you needn’t have known who he was.
The Bad Batch — which I think is one of the best Star Wars shows — also drops in some great Easter Eggs. You don’t need to know that Wilhuff Tarkin and Orson Krennic are secretly building the Death Star, but it’s a treat when Tarkin asks Krennic how Project Stardust is coming along.
Andor was an excellent series too, but didn’t rely on what Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) did in Rogue One. The reveal at the end of season 1 that he was unknowingly building parts for the Death Star was a great twist, but even if it hadn’t been included, I’d still be looking forward to Andor season 2.
Outlook: A new movie sparks a new concern
However, I sense a disturbance in the Force. With the announcement of a new film from Dave Filoni (The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi) that wraps up the storylines of The Mandalorian, Ahsoka, The Book of Boba Fett (and potentially other shows), I worry that they’ll end up in a closed loop, and that any enjoyment will be predicated on talmudic knowledge of Star Wars canon.
Because Ahsoka Tano is so prominent in both The Clone Wars and Rebels, it only makes sense that a number of other characters from those shows would also feature in her own series. However, I’m hoping that audiences can go into Ahsoka without having to know the backstories of Grand Admiral Thrawn, Sabine Wren and Ezra Bridger.
Like Princess Leia, I am hopeful about the Filoni movie, as he's successfully guided a number of small-screen Star Wars projects. I just hope he remembers that watching a movie should feel fun, not homework.