Star Wars Long-Form Interconnected Storytelling

Disney and Lucasfilm are working to create a new Star Wars trilogy, a few stand-alone films, a new animated television series following the origins of the Rebellion, plus books, games and even theme park attractions. And from what we’ve heard, the plan is for all of them to interconnect and cross over among one another in ways we’ve never seen in the history of storytelling. Learn more about the future of Star Wars long-form interconnected storytelling, after the jump.

star wars expanded universe

In April, LucasFilm released a statement announcing the formation of a story group to oversee the future of the Star Wars franchise across all media. But of course all fans could take out of this announcement was the following:

In order to give maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience, Star Wars Episodes VII-IX will not tell the same story told in the post-Return of the Jedi Expanded Universe. While the universe that readers knew is changing, it is not being discarded. Creators of new Star Wars entertainment have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe.

Yes, some of the post Return of the Jedi expanded universe would have to be changed or abandoned to move forward with the story. It was never considered canon in the first place, but Star Wars fans freaked out. And in doing so, they missed the coolest thing about the announcement:

Under Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy’s direction, the company for the first time ever has formed a story group to oversee and coordinate all Star Wars creative development. “We have an unprecedented slate of new Star Wars entertainment on the horizon,” said Kennedy. “We’re set to bring Star Wars back to the big screen, and continue the adventure through games, books, comics, and new formats that are just emerging. This future of interconnected storytelling will allow fans to explore this galaxy in deeper ways than ever before.”

Thats right, Disney already teased whats to come: a level of Star Wars long-form interconnected storytelling like we’ve never seen before.

Star Wars episode 7 8 and 9 fan poster

Star Wars Post-Jedi Trilogy Fan Created Poster

Well now Badass Digest is reporting that a Lucasfilm employee has told them they are “going to redefine longform storytelling” with the future of the Star Wars movies and television shows:

Marvel Studios has shown that multiple franchises can work together to tell one story, and they’ve even played with a bit of transmedia by having Agents of SHIELD peripherally involved. But Star Wars is about to blow that out of the water; there have been big meetings setting the future of the Star Wars universe, and these meetings are going to impact everything we see from Star Wars moving forward. Everything. … For the first time in franchise history, the arc of the new trilogy is planned out in advance. They’re taking this story someplace, not just picking up the loose ends and figuring out where to go next with each new film. Even with the Prequels, which had a predetermined ending, Lucas was kind of making it up as he went along.

Devin continues:

“That longform vision alone is exciting. But what’s more, they’re going to weave this story through cartoons and books and comics, making every piece of side story count. Star Wars has too long been a central series of movies surrounded by absolutely disposable books, comics and games. No more. You won’t have to know that stuff to follow the main story, but if you do know that stuff you’re going to be rewarded. As a nerd I like knowing that stuff, and I like knowing it counts.. It’s all going to matter.”

Not only is the new trilogy being planned start to finish rather than having one filmmaker try to piece together a sequel based on the previous film, but all of the tie-in material will add to help flesh out the world. And because its canon, it will matter. I got to preview the Star Wars Rebels one hour television movie at Comic Con, and aside from it being a great start to a potentially cool television series, I can’t explain how much added weight the show had because it mattered, because it was now canon.

We’ve already heard one rumor of how the Disney XD television series Star Wars Rebels MIGHT connect to Episode 7 and the post-Jedi trilogy. While we don’t know the legitimacy of that rumor, I love the idea of one huge connected universe.

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I really love what Marvel has been doing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I feel like in recent years I’ve been gravitating more to television than I have movies, and the reason is that they can sometimes provide long-form storytelling that hasn’t been possible on the big screen. Marvel is really the first to franchise to really try longform storytelling on the big screen, and even then it doesn’t seem that planned out.

Sure, there are teases like Samuel L Jackson art the end of Iron Man or Thanos at the end of The Avengers, but those teases are just an idea of where the universe may be headed. Marvel head Kevin Feige has even said they tackle the stories film by film, story by story. I’m not saying thats a bad thing — they are hugely successful and I’ve loved almost every film they have produced thus far. But I’d love to see something more planned out in advance, like how a season of television is designed.

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