Rian Johnson Star Wars Trilogy

Yesterday, Lucasfilm dropped one of the year’s biggest pieces of movie news: Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is set to develop a brand new trilogy of Star Wars movies with no connection to the Skywalker Saga. And because we love Star Wars and because we the previous work of Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper), we have thoughts and opinions. Enough to fill an entire episode of an emergency podcast. Or enough to share below in written form.

Star Wars Bits

Jacob Hall: Far, Far Away From a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The beauty of Star Wars has always been its breadth. Unlike Star Trek, which fits into a rigid timeline and whose fans police its various intricacies like historians and scientists, Star Wars has always kept one foot firmly in fantasy. It’s more J.R.R. Tolkien than Arthur C. Clarke, existing in a universe that never needs to make logical sense. Star Wars makes dramatic sense. It can pull anything out of anywhere and justify it as long as it clicks with us on an emotional level. Star Wars is magic.

And yet, filmmakers have been tapping that same wellspring of magic for a long time now. We’re rightfully obsessed with Darth Vader and the Death Star and the saga of the Skywalker family, the tragic family tree that led a galaxy to war. Even the spin-off films like Rogue One and the upcoming Solo are Skywalker-adjacent. What are the friends of the family up to? Here you go. Even when it’s fresh, it’s still a familiar meal.

That’s what’s so exciting about this announcement: Rian Johnson, a filmmaker with more imagination in his little finger than most directors can dredge up over entire feature film careers, is being allowed to stray off the path. It’s telling that the official announcement makes it clear that this will not have a connection to the Skywalker stories. It’s like Lucasfilm has been searching for that one creative genius who can cut through our collective nostalgia and paint in the unfinished corners, an artist fearless enough to definitively guide the saga somewhere completely fresh. Johnson’s past work suggests that he’s the guy.

That alone informs what I want to see. I don’t want super weapons. I don’t want rebels. I don’t want Jedi or Stormtroopers or desert planets that are home to scrappy young heroes with something to prove. I want to see the blank spots brought to life, heroes and villains without a connection to anything we have seen before. The best and grandest mythologies understand that a world or universe doesn’t revolve around a single hero or a single family. Star Wars has long created the illusion of a universe bigger than Luke Skywalker. I want these new movies to make it a reality.

Star Wars Last Jedi BTS Daisy Ridley Rian Johnson

Ben Pearson: A More Politically Aware Star Universe

When I spoke with Johnson during the press junket for his 2012 time travel thriller Looper, I asked what he wanted to do in the future. Here was his response: 

“I wanna keep telling my own stories. That’s what I’m in it for, at least for now. I’m already working on the next one and what really gets me excited about this is starting with the seed of an idea and growing it through all the way to the end. Nothing against franchise movies – I really enjoy watching them – but for me, that’s what I want to do.”

This all-new trilogy sounds like the perfect balance of telling stories within the framework of an established franchise while still allowing him to develop a concept from its initial idea all the way through to completion. Even without having seen The Last Jedi yet, the notion of getting a new trilogy of Rian Johnson movies set in the Star Wars universe is incredibly exciting.

As for what I’d specifically like to see in this trilogy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson use the Star Wars structure as a way to comment on our society. While Star Wars films haven’t had too much to say about class differences beyond surface level explorations of the sleek Empire vs. the grungier Rebellion, Johnson is introducing Canto Bight in The Last Jedi – a casino city where the richest people in the galaxy go to ignore the idea that a war is underway around them. I’m expecting more inventiveness along those lines in what’s to come.

Rian Johnson Star Wars Episode 9

Ethan Anderton: Something More Isolated and Intimate

The fact that this new Star Wars trilogy will be separate from the Skywalker saga is a good start. But I think we need to see a departure from the same conflict we’ve expected to see in Star Wars as well. Frankly, I’d like to see a movie that doesn’t focus on the Jedi and Sith or the Rebel Alliance and the Empire (or even the Resistance and the First Order). We need to move away from some of these Star Wars tropes and try to create a grand, epic new trilogy that doesn’t follow any Force sensitive individuals, whether they’re Jedi or Sith.

The Star Wars galaxy is massive, and while the presence of the overarching conflict could possibly be felt, I’m hoping for a story that is a little more isolated and intimate. Something where the stakes aren’t as high. Maybe the story can focus on a bounty hunter who takes a job that gets him in over his head and the story slowly builds to being something bigger than he ever expected. That’s on par with Luke Skywalker’s journey on some level without treading the exact same territory

Of course, since we’re talking about one of the biggest franchises of all time, one that sells endless merchandise and relies heavily on the imagery of the Jedi and Sith to sell toys, video games and more, that might not be possible. So if we must maintain a presence for the Jedi and Sith, then I hope that we flash back to the early days of the conflict. We need to be as far away from any Star Wars timeline we’ve seen in the canon so far simply so that we don’t have to ponder the whereabouts of any of the signature characters that we’re already familiar with.

But no matter what happens, I’m confident that Rian Johnson came into Star Wars with a plethora of ideas that he wanted to see realized. Lucasfilm wouldn’t just put anybody in charge of an entirely new trilogy that will usher in a new era of Star Wars, so whatever pitch he has for this story arc must have been something that wowed Kathleen Kennedy. I will be eagerly anticipating each and every chapter of this trilogy.

Star Wars Last Jedi Carrie Fisher Rian Johnson

Chris Evangelista: More Genres Within Star Wars

While I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan in the galaxy, I’m very excited at the prospect of Rian Johnson opening up the Star Wars universe beyond the Skywalker saga. As far as what I’m hoping to see: I’d love it if the franchise tried telling different genres of stories. In other words, imagine a horror movie set within the Star Wars universe. The franchise has already established ghosts – Force Ghosts, at least – exist, which opens up the potential for other supernatural goings-on. Or imagine a romantic comedy set in a Star Wars setting? The possibilities are endless. That’s the beautiful thing about this franchise: you can take it in hundreds of different directions, and hopefully that’s just what this new trilogy will do. Either that, or give me three movies in a row about Laura Dern’s Last Jedi character hanging out with some Porgs. Whichever is easiest.

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