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Four Ways To Nail Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars” Trilogy

From the Old Republic to a future unknown

star wars trilogy

Earlier today, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed a brand new Star Wars trilogy is in development. The first instalment will be written and directed by Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi), with a release date not currently set. According to Lucasfilm, this trilogy will “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.” Whether “lore” refers exclusively to the new Star Wars canon, or if it includes the old Legends continuity, is yet to be clarified. Nevertheless, knowing basically nothing, I have outlined four possible directions that Rian Johnson could take his new trilogy.

 

The Old Republic

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Master and apprentice, flanked by the Old Republic’s version of stormtroopers: the Sith trooper.

Everybody wants to revisit the Old Republic. The Knights of the Old Republic video games told some of the greatest stories in Star Wars history. The characters are legendary (literally). The ambition, and the risk associated with setting a trilogy in the Old Republic, would win back the good-will of anybody still mad over Disney’s choice to kill the old EU in 2014.

Announcing a trilogy set in the Old Republic would not only cause fans worldwide to lose their minds, but it would prove that Lucasfilm are indeed willing to take risks by going back four thousand years to a completely new era. We could finally see the reintroduction of characters like Revan, Darth Malak, the killer droid HK-47, and yellow lightsaber-wielder Bastila Shan. It could be The Lord of the Rings in space, with all the political games of hit show Game of Thrones.

Alternatively, they could set the story in and around the Mandalorian Wars—using this as the connective tissue that binds the trilogy together. This would make sense, as the new canon has established this conflict in Star Wars: Rebels, and Lucasfilm has been paying attention to Mandalorians in recent years.

The question is, will they do this? Personally, while this would be incredible, I don’t put much faith in it. I just can’t see Lucasfilm completely detaching themselves from the main saga. If they were to attempt the Old Republic, we would be going back so far it would completely separate itself from the new continuity. If anything, they’re saving the Old Republic for their upcoming live-action TV series. It’s difficult to see them investing upwards of $500 million on a story and an isolated era that most people aren’t familiar with.

 

The Prequel Era

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Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Mandalorian Battle of Sundari.

We know that Lucasfilm is finally beginning to acknowledge the existence of the much-maligned prequels. They have been referenced in Star Wars: Rebels, in several comics (including Obi-Wan & Anakin, and the Mace Windu run), and there were minor hints of them in the first spin-off film, Rogue One. It’s also worth mentioning that this year’s Star Wars Celebration paid special mention to the prequels, going so far as to give Hayden Christensen and Ian McDiarmid their own panel. Testing the waters, maybe.

So, it wouldn’t be crazy to suggest a return to that era.

Despite the negative reception to the prequels, the prequel era is one of the most intriguing in Star Wars canon and, in my opinion, even more so than the classic era. What’s most important is, if done right, this trilogy could actually redeem the prequels. The only question is, what stories would they tell?

We have to centre around the Jedi and Sith, don’t we? Could it take place after Order 66? Or will it precede The Phantom Menace? What if we finally told the tale of Palpatine and Darth Plagueis the Wise, based loosely on James Luceno’s Legends novel, Darth Plagueis. Or maybe we will finally see the hinted-at Siege of Mandalore (cut from The Clone Wars and briefly featured in E. K. Johnston’s Ahsoka novel).

The prequel era is a goldmine of stories and mythology, and considering The Last Jedi is speculated to delve deeper into Jedi lore and other prequel goodness, Rian Johnson is obviously interested in it.

 

Between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens

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The Battle of Jakku (art by Dylan Kowalski)

We have already started to fill in the gaps between episode six and seven with books and comics (the Aftermath trilogy, Bloodline, Marvel’s Poe Dameron run, etc…), and now with the campaign of Star Wars: Battlefront II. It is also rumoured that the next animated TV show will concentrate on filling this void. But with thirty years to cover, it is entirely possible that Rian Johnson’s trilogy will also take us here.

We could tell the rise of the New Republic. We could, potentially, have the post-Jedi return of Grand Admiral Thrawn and tell a story loosely based on Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy (though, this obviously depends on Thrawn’s fate in the final season of Rebels).

Rian Johnson must also take into consideration how many years the trilogy will span. Will it cover a little over a decade, like the prequels? Will it only span four years, like the original trilogy? Or, like the sequel trilogy, will it only cover a matter of months (unless there is a time jump between The Last Jedi and Episode IX)? In the age that we live in now, I imagine the story won’t be spanning decades. The most likely scenario is that we’ll see something that spans 3-5 years.

 

The Future

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The Yuuzhan Vong, a questionable storyline in the old EU

The last possibility, one that seems less likely but still entirely plausible, is that Rian Johnson’s trilogy will, in fact, take place after Episode IX. Lucasfilm has already confirmed that it won’t connect to the saga films—but that doesn’t mean it won’t bring the timeline further into the aftermath of Episode IX.

Clearly these films are still a long way off. Rian Johnson has just come off The Last Jedi, so we probably shouldn’t expect the first film to be released until 2021 at the very earliest. We also don’t know when Episodes X, XI and XII will be released—if at all. So there’s a considerable possibility that Rian Johnson’s trilogy will take Star Wars into the future with a kind of “branching” trilogy.

It’s difficult to say what this might look like, if we’ll see the return of the Jedi and Sith, if we’ll be introduced to a threat of the same magnitude as the often-criticised Yuuzhan Vong, or if it will actually build off whatever happens at the end of the Episode IX.

One other question to consider is whether this trilogy will tell one continuous story (as a saga trilogy would do), or if it will err closer to what Marvel has done with their “trilogies?” As for now, we can only speculate. And we should also keep in mind: We haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet.

However, it’s starting to sound like Lucasfilm and Disney are bloody confident in it.

 

What do you guys think? Are you excited about Rian Johnson creating a brand new Star Wars trilogy? Are you apprehensive? What story would you like to see told and which era do you think we need to explore? Sound off in the comments and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Brandon Young
Brandon is a writer, director, musician, and all-round nerd raised on four things: Final Fantasy VIII, the OG Xbox, the Star Wars prequels, and D&D. His favourite games of all time comprise entirely of RPGs, although he has played no game as much as the original Battlefront II.

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