Star Wars at one point was considered the greatest franchise of all time and even up until a few years ago, it seemed like the franchise had a bright and certain future at Disney with the major success that was The Force Awakens. Now, one controversial sequel and two spin-offs later, the franchise seem broken more than ever with the fandom being intensely divided and a planned trilogy being suddenly put on hold after Game of Thrones creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss “exit” their six-year deal for a nicer deal over at Netflix. One thing is for sure though, the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker and The Mandalorian will be the deciding say on where this franchise goes for a number of reasons.
Let’s go back to December 2015 where The Force Awakens has just opened to rave reviews and commercial success. It was the moment Star Wars was reborn for today’s generation with the fans and characters now handing down the torch to the new generation. Everyone agreed for better or for worse that The Force Awakens was very similar to A New Hope. Some said it paid homage, others said it was a copy-and-paste movie. Which ever one you stand one, you can’t deny the massive success of The Force Awakens. Nostalgia is one of Disney’s greatest tools and they perfected it with that movie, they managed to repeat 1977 and inspire a new age with these stories. Fast forward a year later, Rogue One comes out with a relatively same situation. Now with all respect to Rogue One, most of the movie’s success was held on the shoulders of one thing, nostalgia. Rogue One promised new Darth Vader scenes and another chance to live in that old Star Wars world from the original trilogy with a new movie, the movie literally clashes with A New Hope in the ending scene. Can you see a pattern starting to form?
Now here’s when things started to change, a year later in 2017, The Last Jedi opens with a successful opening at the box-office and rave reviews with critics however the fans had other things to say. In retrospect The Last Jedi is the only modern Star Wars movie which did not rely only on nostalgia as it’s selling point. Luke Skywalker being back was a nice selling point for the movie but even then, it’s a drastically different Luke than the one we know. The Last Jedi is the most controversial Star Wars movie to date, it literally divided the fandom and sparked toxicity and hate, even going so far as to bully one of the cast members off of social media. Why did this happen? Well Rian Johnson went in a completely new and unexpected turn which fans couldn’t have ever predicted. It debunked every theory and took the story to quite an unexpected turn. While it still grossed over a billion dollars, it still caused a lot of damage to the franchise.
Less than a year later, Disney relied once again on nostalgia with Solo: A Star Wars Story which became a box-office bomb after becoming the least-grossing movie of the franchise. While it was received well by critics and most fans, people were simply not interested. Since then the franchise has taken quite the break but not even a year and a half break could not mend the wounds this franchise has garnered. The most recent trailer for The Rise of Skywalker was nowhere near as popular as the trailers for the previous two episodes. While The Last Jedi promised to let go of the past and go on a new path, The Rise of Skywalker seems to be ignoring that and going back for some more nostalgia with the return of The Emperor and the Skywalker name even though there are no supposed Skywalkers left, except for Leia, right?
Right now while fans are still interested in The Rise of Skywalker there is a lot less hype and anticipation for it than usual. It is even projected to have the lowest opening weekend out of the new trilogy at the box-office. Fans seem more interested in the upcoming Disney+ show, The Mandalorian, in fact the franchise has a much shinier future on the streaming service than on the big screen with anticipated shows like the Obi-Wan and the seventh season of The Clone Wars. For the franchise to truly return to it’s bright days, The Rise of Skywalker would have to miraculously please every fan or at least on the same level of The Force Awakens. People will see this movie either way. This movie will either break or save the franchise.
For now the future of Star Wars looks better on Disney+ than it does on the big screen. If The Rise of Skywalker fails to deliver, fans will look to the streaming service for their yearly dose of Star Wars. If The Rise of Skywalker does deliver even on the slightest, it will guarantee another trilogy where the people helming will have a less chance of ruining their career. If I’m being honest, the final trailer didn’t impress me much. As someone who likes The Last Jedi, I am excited to see where this story ends but I can’t help but feel worried about it. One question remains though, can Star Wars survive as a a franchise without relying on nostalgia?
Are you invested in the newer characters?
Which are you most excited for, The Mandalorian or The Rise of Skywalker?
Would you be comfortable with Star Wars living on Disney+ than on the big screen?