Since its acquisition of Lucasfilm back in 2012, Disney may have made a few creative missteps in handling the Star Wars franchise, but overall, the Mouse House has done a remarkable job breathing fresh life into the saga and energizing audiences about its future. Last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens harkened back to the original trilogy and introduced a new generation of unforgettable characters like Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron, and BB-8.
Now Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — the first standalone entry in the saga — forges a brave new world for Star Wars, one in which storytellers have the freedom to explore new terrain throughout the timeline and take more risks than the core numbered episodes. It also serves as the first time that fans will get a new Star Wars film just a year after the previous one. This is set to be the new normal for the saga, as Disney is intent on applying the multi-film shared universe that has worked so well for its Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Let’s take a look at what the next few years hold for Star Wars.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15, 2017)
Thanks to the record-breaking success of The Force Awakens, fans all around the world are psyched to see what the future holds for this new set of characters. Expect the hotly anticipated follow-up — Star Wars: The Last Jedi — to answer many lingering questions, including that of Rey’s parentage. There’s also a lot of speculation about which faces from the past may return for this sequel, and many fans are expecting writer and director Rian Johnson (Looper) to deliver a film that just may live up to The Empire Strikes Back. With any luck, Episode VIII will build upon its predecessor and provide an even richer experience for moviegoers. Laura Dern and Oscar winner Benicio del Toro will join the cast as well. [Update, 2/25/17: Added official movie title.]
Han Solo anthology film (May 25, 2018)
Despite his fate in The Force Awakens, Han Solo continues to be a central part of the saga’s future. The second standalone Star Wars film, this one centers on the origin behind the scruffy-looking nerf herder. Originally helmed by by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street), Lucasfilm announced Ron Howard as a replacement director in June, 2017.
Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!) slips into Harrison Ford’s iconic shoes as the character, alongside Donald Glover as young Lando Calrissian. Though plot details remain scarce, the untitled Han Solo film is set before A New Hope and may reveal how Han first partnered up with Chewbacca, won the Millennium Falcon, and generally emerged as the fan-favorite rogue he is. As the first Star Wars spinoff based on a single character, expect Disney to be watching its performance closely to decide if other fan favorites deserve similar treatment.
Star Wars: Episode IX (2019)
Since we know so little about Episode VIII, it’s difficult to speculate on exactly what this finale to the sequel trilogy will bring. If tradition follows suit, it’s very likely that heroes and villains alike will fall, meaning that no one is safe. Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow was originally attached to helm the film, but was later replaced by J.J Abrams.
Episode IX will presumably wrap up the main arcs for the likes of Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren. There’s no sign just yet of where the core “episodes” will go after this release, though it’s probable that Disney will announce the inevitable Episode X at some point, perhaps as the start of another planned trilogy of stories. Only time will tell.
Untitled anthology film (2020)
Beyond the conclusion of the current trilogy, there’s only one other Star Wars film on Disney’s schedule. An unannounced standalone release — the third following Rogue One and the Han Solo spinoff — is tentatively planned for 2020, though nothing has been confirmed regarding what the film may cover.
Although it’s possible that the film will introduce new characters and shed new light on a previously untouched corner of the Star Wars galaxy, it’s perhaps more likely that it will follow the Han Solo film and center on another fan-favorite character. After all, rumors have been swirling for years that Lucasfilm was considering a Boba Fett film, and reports have long discussed the possibility of Ewan McGregor returning to lead an Obi-Wan Kenobi film. Then again, we could wind up with a film focused entirely on Yoda or Darth Maul. Right now, anything’s possible, and considering all the potential in this saga, that’s a very exciting position for fans to be in.
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