There has been much speculation as to what form the Star Wars franchise will take after Episode 7 and beyond, though Disney’s plan for the foreseeable future is reasonable enough.
Every year between Episode 7, 8, and 9, there will be one spin-off film with different characters and set in a different part of the Star Wars galaxy. Given the current shared-universe trend that is dominating Hollywood, it makes sense that Disney is capitalizing on this formula. However, it has led to speculation that, depending on the success of this December’s Star Wars: Rogue One, the latest romp in a galaxy far, far away could possibly have a sequel, this time centering on all those “many Bothans” that died to learn that the Emperor would be at Endor in Return of the Jedi, or possibly just the further adventures of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and friends.
To anyone who collectively facepalmed after reading that, you will be delighted to hear that idea is never going to happen. Ever. Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, and visual effects John Knoll have confirmed that not only will Rogue One not have a sequel, it was never intended to have a sequel in the first place. It seems that Lucasfilm, from the start, understood the value of this film being a self-contained story, taking place in a vast universe filled with other stories (hence why the subtitle is literally ‘A Star Wars Story’). Even director Gareth Edwards chimed in, jokingly saying that if there ever was a follow up to the upcoming spinoff, “that sequel will be directed by George Lucas”, referencing the fact that, for all intents and purposes, Episode IV: A New Hope is the actual sequel to Rogue One.
Though some may be saddened by this news, believe it or not, this is actually a positive thing. There is no reason whatsoever for Rogue One to have a sequel. It could end up being hailed as the greatest Star Wars movie ever made, and that STILL wouldn’t justify a sequel, because the entire point of this movie is how the rebels managed to the get technical readouts of the Death Star so that our heroes from the original trilogy could blow it up.
This announcement shows an impressive (yet sadly rare) amount of restraint from Disney, especially considering that the current gold standard for a cinematic universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, goes in the complete opposite direction where every installment is designed to set up the plot for the next film. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that, but a common result of this is that most of these individual stories end up with a lack of closure that, after 20-something movies (I lost count), is pretty noticeable now. They all feel like cogs in a machine as opposed to movies in their own right.
And while this news and the rumors that there may be an Obi-Wan spin-off on the way gives me hope that they’re going in the right direction, other mumblings, like the rumors that there will be a trilogy of Han Solo prequel spin-offs, encourage me to temper expectations and err on the side of cautious optimism (I mean even one two-hour movie about kid Han Solo’s adventures is pushing it, but THREE?!). At any rate, whether the franchise succeeds or fails, the name recognition of Star Wars alone will ensure that the Force will always be with Disney. And by the Force, I mean mountains of money. Sweet, delicious money.
Star Wars: Rogue One will open in theaters on December 16, 2016.