Opinion: ‘Always in motion is the future’: What will Star Wars look like after Episode IX?

The Story Geeks blogger Ashley Pauls responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – the future of Star Wars. [Listen Here: Apple, Stitcher, Podbean]

I’ll never forget the moment when I found out that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm, and that we’d be getting new Star Wars movies.

I was sitting at my desk at work in late 2012. The details are a bit fuzzy, due to the explosion of excitement that followed, but I’m pretty sure my dad texted me and told me I needed to look at the news right away.

Before that time, the thought of an “Episode VII” was a surreal, difficult-to-grasp concept. It was a movie I assumed I’d never get to see, until Disney made it possible.

Since then, Lucasfilm has taken me on an incredible journey that has far exceeded my expectations. The sequel trilogy has become my favorite era of Star Wars, and I’ve fallen in love with all the new characters — Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe, Rose, and so many others.

I love how the sequel trilogy both deconstructs and reaffirms the concept of Star Wars, and I can’t wait to see how Episode IX will wrap up the saga as a whole.

However, with the supposed conclusion of the Skywalker saga coming in December, what happens next? Have we really seen the last of the “episodes”? Will we get more stand-alone Star Wars stories, or will we get a new kind of trilogy that takes us either backwards or forwards in time in the Star Wars universe?

What comes next

Disney has slowed down the release of Star Wars films after the underperformance of “Solo,” which disappoints me as a fan. “Solo” is a fun Star Wars film that deserved more love (plus a sequel!). It also seems unfair because the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had its own missteps over the years, but Disney seems to have taken that in stride.

Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be a post focused on complaining — we’re here to speculate and brainstorm!

My gut feeling is that someday we will get an Episode X, but it will be many years down the road, featuring older versions of Rey, Finn, etc. The near future of Lucasfilm will likely include new stories and new characters.

I believe it’s inevitable that Lucasfilm will make a film or trilogy set in the Old Republic era. The “Knights of the Old Republic” videogame is extremely popular, and I’m intrigued by the idea of taking the franchise back in time to the golden age of the Jedi and the Sith. Think of how cool it would be to see a massive lightsaber battle in the style of the Lord of the Rings movies!

There were rumors that the planned trilogy from the Game of Thrones showrunners — David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — would take place in the Old Republic era, but of course, those two creatives have now parted ways with Lucasfilm.

While I was excited by the idea of a film that was a stylistic cross between Star Wars and Game of Thrones, I can understand why their trilogy didn’t pan out. The final season of Game of Thrones was not well received by a number of fans, and Benioff and Weiss have received criticism for some of their comments off set. Game of Thrones also did not always do a good job portraying its female characters, and I had some concerns about Benioff and Weiss writing women in the Star Wars universe.

I hope the departure of Benioff and Weiss opens the door for Rian Johnson’s new trilogy to move forward more quickly. “The Last Jedi,” which was written and directed by Johnson, is my favorite Star Wars film, and I would love to see Johnson continue to dabble in the Star Wars universe. He is able to approach the franchise with a sense of both boldness and respect, and I want him to keep pushing the boundaries.

I’d like his trilogy to delve deeper into the mysteries of the Force. It’s time to let Star Wars get really weird; show us some Force secrets or abilities that fill us with wonder and make us think. Revisit the ancient Jedi Order, or jump forward in time to a galaxy that looks completely different from what we’ve seen before.

I don’t have a lot of specific story ideas or concrete concepts that I’d like to see; the thing I love most about Star Wars is how it challenges and surprises me. Give me something amazing that I never would have imagined on my own.

Bringing in new faces

While I dearly love the Skywalker family and their messy, Shakespearean drama, I’m also ready to meet some new characters. (Although we all know I’m going to continue to devour any Skywalker content Lucasfilm gives me.)

As mentioned previously, I don’t want to get attached to certain ideas for plotlines, settings, or character types, because we know so little about the future of Star Wars right now that I don’t want to lock myself into any preconceptions about what Star Wars after Episode IX should look like.

The sequel trilogy era has brought some great actors into the Star Wars franchise — Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac, among others — but there are several other performers that I’d love to see play a character in a galaxy far, far away.

Michael Fassbender was so great as Magneto in the X-Men prequel franchise, and I’d love to see him as a complicated ex-Jedi, someone who can still use the Force but has concerns about how the Jedi Order tries to legislate the use of the Force.

Daniel Kaluuya was amazing in “Get Out,” and he’d be great in a variety of roles: Jedi, bounty hunter, space pirate, or whatever he would want to play.

And speaking of “Get Out,” there’s plenty of room in the Star Wars universe to dabble in the horror genre. I’m fairly squeamish when it comes to graphic horror movies, but I’m very intrigued by the idea of a psychological thriller like “Get Out” that is set in the Star Wars universe.

Michelle Dockery plays one of my favorite characters on the period drama “Downton Abbey,” and she’d be interesting to see as a Senator or other political figure in a Star Wars movie. Dockery’s Downton Abbey character, Lady Mary, was fascinating because this character wasn’t necessarily likeable at first, but Dockery gave her enough nuance and depth that eventually you were rooting for her.

Letting go of the past

My only real concern about the future of Star Wars isn’t the content itself, but rather the fans.

It’s perfectly fine to prefer the original trilogy or the Expanded Universe (now called Legends), but it’s been very frustrating to see how negative and unkind some fans have become in regards to the new Star Wars content. I see way too much gatekeeping behavior going on, and some fans have been truly awful to both creatives working on these projects and to other fans who are just trying to have fun.

I hope that Lucasfilm and Disney won’t be discouraged by the bad behavior of a small group of “fans.” I hope they’ll continue to take chances, tell bold stories, imagine, and innovate ⁠— which is what Star Wars is all about.

The Star Wars universe is going to keep expanding in the years to come, and I feel that there truly is something for everyone. Maybe your favorite thing about Star Wars hasn’t even been created yet! With more movies and Disney+ content on the way, it definitely is a great time to be a Star Wars fan.

We talked about what Star Wars stories we’d like to see in a recent episode of The Story Geeks podcast.

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