Was anyone really surprised by the success of The Mandalorian? The chronicles of a lone hunter traveling across the galaxy to protect an innocent child, a.k.a. the Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda (and as we learn in season two, Grogu). Together, Mando and the Child broke everyone’s heart with their adorable relationship that grew throughout season one. Both, especially Baby Yoda, has received the highest honor of all, the subject of several memes.
The Mandalorian is the first live- action Star Wars series, released when Disney Plus launched in 2019. On December 10th, 2020, Disney Investors Day (an extremely magical day, I might add), the world was bombarded with the announcement of several Star Wars series coming to Disney Plus within the next few years. The Obi- Wan Kenobi series we’ve all known about for a while along with the Cassian Andor series (Diego Luna’s character in Rogue One). Given her popularity in The Clone Wars, and the decision and excitement from fans of introducing her into The Mandalorian, the Ahsoka Tano series is not surprising at all (I admit… I’m PUMPED). But the rest? Lando, The Acolyte, Visions, Rogue Squadron, Rangers of the High Republic etc. etc. So many new characters, so many new areas to explore. It’s going to be wild.
Although I’ll admit, as excited as I was/am about the announcement on Investors Day, I did start thinking, what about Star Wars films? Are they gone forever? Unlikely. I mean, other than the Taika Waititi directed one we’ll be getting in a few years, will we get more? Probably. Not necessarily another trilogy (but we are getting a Taika Waititi directed Star Wars film, so if it’s successful… Anything is possible.), but that’s definitely possible. Do we necessarily need another Star Wars movie though? Sorry, stupid question… Do we need one with all these series coming out? Who’s to say? This isn’t the end of Star Wars films this is just a new phase. A different phase. I don’t mean phase like something a person will grow out of and I don’t mean like the organized phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is a phase of Star Wars where the storytelling itself is going to be different. Mainly episodic (not just episodic in the movie’s title…), and that’s incredible.
For years, television was viewed secondary to film. For example, long before the Mandalorian, the franchise found success with The Clone Wars, an animated anthology series about the war and the events between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Due to the Clone Wars series being animated and originally meant for children (they quickly learned that wasn’t their primarily audience, and by season two it’s more obviously meant for general Star Wars fans), it’s possible no one viewed it as important enough or not that big of a deal… it’s just a Star Wars show (trust me, it is a BIG deal). But with the success of cable shows and streaming, where you don’t have the same limitations as network TV, television has become a force to be reckoned with. You can actually compare television versus features because the quality is, or at least almost, equal. The difference between the two is with an episodic series you have more time to develop the story and characters. Of course, this doesn’t mean all films are rushed or even Star Wars films should have been a television series from the get- go. It simply means this is the best medium to tell this specific story.
Most people might remember the Obi- Wan Kenobi series, was originally in talks to be a movie. What made them change their minds? Solo. The Han Solo movie was not the success they were hopping it would be. I cannot stress this enough, I went into it with the lowest expectations, and actually really enjoyed it. Many want to blame the actors, specifically Alden Ehrenreich who played Han, but from what I’ve read/heard; it seemed the original directors (before Ron Howard took over) were just not the right creatives for this project (I’d recommend doing more research as I’m not an expert).
Regardless, due to the lukewarm love for the movie, the Obi- Wan film was cancelled, and eventually substituted for the upcoming series. For the story, I think this will be great. Would an Obi- Wan film be good and successful? Probably, if the right people are involved (which is the case for any project when you really think about it). But because Obi- Wan is such an important and iconic character, a series might be more suited to encapsulate what he went through with Anakin and the fall of the Jedi, how it affected him, and what the events of Revenge of the Sith will lead him to do in the series.
Within the last few years, reboots, sequels and prequels have taken the path of exploring other characters, perspectives, or expanding the universe, i.e. MCU shows such as Agent Carter and Agents of Shield, live- action Maleficent, Fantastic Beasts films etc. Stars Wars kicked it off with Rogue One, and rightly so. In the beginning of A New Hope, Leia has the plans to defeat the Death Star, later we’re told Rebels died retrieving the information… Looking back, how did this story not come around sooner? I said it above, the want or need for reboots, sequels and prequels wasn’t there yet… And the Star Wars sequels were just starting to roll out so the demand for more Star Wars was getting real.
What’s the takeaway? Why does this all happen now? One word: streaming. Steaming, obviously, has changed television. Series streaming versus series on network TV, have more budget, less limitations, and therefore a look of quality (not saying that network shows don’t. It absolutely depends on the show, the network etc.).
So why is Star Wars diving into the world of streaming and episodic series? Is it money? Duh. Is it popularity and success with other services? Again, duh. For me, it’s because the right story came along within the Star Wars universe, to tell in this format. A Star Wars movie will happen when the right story comes along.
Whether it’s a movie or a series, live- action or animated it doesn’t matter, it’s still Star Wars, it’s still part of the story, so I still will watch it (unless it’s Star Wars Resistance, which I haven’t heard the best things about…?). We’re getting so much in the next couple of years, let’s be excited. It’s going to be a good time.