Like an army of clone troopers, Disney’s Star Wars franchise is expanding at a Death Star-sized rate.
While the galaxy far, far away was once confined to George Lucas’ vision on the silver screen, a whole system of shows are making their way to a streaming service near you.
Even though it was originally destined for the movies, the growing world of Star Wars on television is no longer just the grim memory of The Star Wars Holiday Special. With this in mind, it’s time to look at why the future of the franchise lies on TV.
Aside from a flurry of live-action Star Wars shows being announced, Disney boss Bob Iger has pretty much confirmed a TV future as gospel.
At Disney’s Investor Day, Iger said: “The priority in the next few years is television.” It’s not that the franchise will never return to the blockbusters that made it famous, but they’re banishing them to Ahch-To for now.
Even though animated series like Clone Wars and Rebels paved the way for small screen Star Wars, it was from the ashes of Josh Trank’s canned Boba Fett movie that a kyber crystal of potential was first forged.
The seeds of the bounty hunter’s legacy evolved into Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian. Ironically, Fett still managed to claw his way out of the Sarlacc pit for an appearance in season two and, coming full circle, actor Temuera Morrison is suiting up for his own spin-off in the form of The Book Of Boba Fett.
At the time of writing, the schedule of shows includes *deep breath* more from The Mandalorian, The Book Of Boba Fett, the Rosario Dawson-led Ahsoka, a Rogue One prequel with Andor, Ewan McGregor reprising his role for Obi-Wan, Lando with either Billy Dee Williams or Donald Glover (why not both?), the High Republic era series called The Acolyte, and Rangers Of The New Republic that definitely won’t star Gina Carano.
In terms of where else we could head, characters like Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata and Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze could be primed for live-action returns to fill in the gaps of their stories.
There’s also a big question hanging over Alden Ehrenreich’s possible return as Han Solo, and whilst Darth Maul’s story might’ve come to an end in Rebels, actor Ray Park is a master of teasing his return.
Looking at the bigger picture, we’re only just scratching the surface. Aside from The Acolyte, most of the above focuses on characters that have been previously introduced, but what about the untapped potential of further reaches?
It’s still early days, but Disney is already testing out a new televisual era with its Marvel shows. WandaVision set the ball rolling for the MCU’s own TV triumph, and despite criticisms it wasn’t quite on the same level, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier was also a big hit.
Even if Obi-Wan Kenobi is billed as a six-episode miniseries, that didn’t exactly stop WandaVision from becoming a treasured addition to MCU canon. TV shows give a chance to tell more intimate stories without shoehorning them into a much bigger narrative.
It’s easy to imagine Lando and Jannah’s The Rise Of Skywalker arc playing better over the course of several episodes, while even The Last Jedi’s Canto Bight and Benicio Del Toro’s DJ might’ve worked as a gritty heist show.
Importantly, the future of Star Wars on television is about promoting diversity in all forms. With actors alone, it’s a diverse cast that includes Pedro Pascal, Dawson, McGregor, Morrison, Diego Luna, and Ming-Na Wen.
The movies have struggled with diversity and accusations of virtue signalling, for instance The Rise Of Skywalker got caught up in a debacle surrounding a same-sex kiss. Hopefully, television will allow some of these characters and potential romances to evolve more naturally.
Possibly the biggest triumph of The Mandalorian and future shows is the resurrection of the beloved Legends tales that were axed from canon. From Cobb Vanth to Boba’s timely survival, keeping your eyes open for snippets of Legends stories was a highlight of season two.
Showing how it’s done, Favreau’s series has proved to be a springboard for the ever-evolving cantina of ideas.
Finally, a broad spectrum of shows can address the grumble that out of all the planets, star systems, and cantinas, the movies consistently come back to the same trio of Luke, Leia, and Han.
Are we supposed to believe a little girl from Jakku comes across Han and Chewie, who then reunite with Leia after some 30 years apart? After all that, it turns out she’s the granddaughter of the ultimate big bad, while Kylo Ren just so happens to be Darth Vader’s grandson.
Even The Mandalorian relied on using the Skywalker name as a crux when it delivered THAT iconic season two finale. Then again, watching the various theories unfold over the course of the season meant it didn’t feel too out of place to see a de-aged Mark Hamill reprise his role as Luke.
It’s unclear what the future holds for the Skywalkers, but everyone from Hamill to Daisy Ridley have claimed they’re done with their roles after Episode IX.
We should remember the upcoming slate of Star Wars movies still includes Rian Johnson’s proposed trilogy, something from Taiki Waititi, and Patty Jenkins’ Rogue Squadron. Compare this to the ever-growing roster of planned shows though, it’s a sparse affair.
There are continued complaints that visions for the franchise jarred during the latest trilogy, and it seemed some parties were just going through the motions to round off this final chapter. But with a TV future, there’s no end in sight.
Instead of simply giving the arcs of these characters to one person, handing over control to a crack team of Star Wars alumni like Favreau, Deborah Chow, and Dave Filoni – with Kathleen Kennedy overseeing everything – should ensure a bright future is ahead.
There’s already an impressive squadron of shows, but as the over-ambitious Worlds Of DC and HBO’s Game Of Thrones spin-offs have shown, not all of these are guaranteed to get past the planning stages. There are so many on the docket, it could be a case of chopping the dead wood.
But considering it was a gamble to base a whole show around a character we’d never met before, The Mandalorian gave new hope to the fact you don’t (largely) need a Skywalker for a Star Wars project to succeed.
Some of the best Star Wars content includes original outings like Knights Of The Old Republic which we would love to see be adapted for live-action soon, although we also can’t wait to see the inevitable Mr. Miyagi style spin-off where Luke trains Grogu on Dagobah.
One thing is for certain: the future of Star Wars is on television, and that future looks bright.
Shop our range of Star Wars Day offers here.