Lucasfilm announced today that Rian Johnson will create a new trilogy of STAR WARS movies. Johnson, who also directed THE LAST JEDI, will write and direct at least the first movie in the new trilogy.

Who is Rian Johnson?

Johnson is relatively new to Hollywood. Unlike other big name STAR WARS directors like J.  J. Abrams, Johnson does not have an extensive resume. He previously directed LOOPER and several episodes of BREAKING BAD. THE LAST JEDI may end up being his big break. Certainly, the experience has netted him another huge job.

J.J. Abrams Will Return To A Galaxy Far Far Away

Disney and Lucasfilm are excited about the prospect of working further with Johnson. The release describes THE LAST JEDI as “a powerful film of which Lucasfilm and Disney are immensely proud.” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy went further in her praise of Johnson’s work on THE LAST JEDI. Kennedy claims that “watching [Johnson] craft THE LAST JEDI from start to finish was one of the great joys of [her] career.”

What Can We Expect?

Lucasfilm hasn’t released details for the new trilogy beyond Johnson’s hiring. The one thing the announcement reveals is that the new trilogy will be “separate from the episodic Skywalker saga.” Johnson has a completely blank slate to work with and the biggest sandbox of them all to play in. With the whole galaxy at his fingertips, who knows what we’ll get?

Rian Johnson
Rian, you can stay. Luke, Leia… get gone.

We already know Disney is invested in releasing as many STAR WARS pieces as they can, as evidenced by stand-alone stories like ROGUE ONE, the upcoming Han Solo movie, and the new Obi-Wan Kenobi movie. But this is an unprecedented step, announcing a new trilogy.

This means we can expect a larger story, given that it can be split across three movies. We can also expect something new, as opposed to the ongoing saga of “Keeping Up With The Skywalkers.” Although I loved THE FORCE AWAKENS, I can’t help but feel like it’s a rehash of A NEW HOPE. Having something brand new is immensely exciting.

Expanded Universe??

But what new story are we getting? My mind immediately turns to the Expanded (Legends) Universe novels. There is a wealth of stories in the EU that deserve to be told. I’m a huge fan of the EU novels, and there are quite a few I would love to see get the movie treatment.

Granted, a lot of these stories do involve the Skywalkers, since they seem fundamentally incapable of avoiding galactic events. The new canon directly contradicts other stories. But there are still some stories I would love to see on the big screen that wouldn’t be impossible to do.

X-WING

Rian Johnson
Highly recommended read.

Take the X-WING series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston. While Luke and Leia pop up once or twice, the novels primarily have nothing to do with them. Instead, the series focuses on Wedge Antilles as he tries to mop up the last remains of the Empire. This takes place well after the original trilogy. Wedge and his squadrons — first Rogue then Wraith — play a vital role in securing galactic peace. These stories play up the “war” aspect of STAR WARS.

There are a lot of great characters introduced in the X-WING books as well. Corran Horn is a member of Rogue Squadron and later becomes a Jedi. Tycho Celchu is a former Alliance pilot suspected of being an Imperial spy. Old favorites pop up too, such as Admiral Ackbar and Hobbie Klivian, seen in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. These characters are fascinating and complex (and not a Skywalker in sight!).

40 Years of STAR WARS: So You Think You Know Wedge Antilles

The X-WING novels are also hilarious. While Allston’s Wraith Squadron books are more overtly comedic than Stackpole’s Rogue Squadron ones, the series as a whole plays all the right notes. I would gladly watch an entire series about these books.

THE NEW JEDI ORDER

Rian Johnson
Unlikely, but I can still hope.

Another, less likely option, is the NEW JEDI ORDER series of books. This is less likely for two reasons: one, these books heavily feature several Skywalkers, and two, what we have seen so far in THE FORCE AWAKENS seems to contradict a lot of the NJO canon. However, several story elements could be applied to a new series.

Most obvious would be the NJO antagonists, the Yuuzhan-Vong. If you’re unfamiliar with the NJO series, it tells the story of how the galaxy reacts to invaders from beyond known space, the Yuuzhan-Vong. They are violent, masochistic, and vehemently anti-technology.

They also exist outside of the Force, which makes it incredibly difficult to fight them. The book series is massive, encompassing some 20 novels, so there’s a lot to play with even if you remove the Skywalker element. The Yuuzhan-Vong make a great antagonist for anyone to face.

Counting Down

Unfortunately, we have no idea what to expect from Rian Johnson’s new series. Lucasfilm has a lot on its plate with the upcoming THE LAST JEDI and EPISODE IX. It makes sense that they wouldn’t focus too heavily on something new. However, the timing of the announcement is interesting. It stands as a show of confidence in Rian Johnson. This hints that we can expect great things from THE LAST JEDI.

JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – CAPTAIN PHASMA #2 Review: The Castaway Captain

In the meantime, I’ll be eagerly awaiting any and all news about the new trilogy. As of yet, we have no release dates, no titles, no plots… only the news that it will happen and that Johnson is at the helm. But we have something to look forward to. Personally, I’m crossing my fingers for more EU stories, though I won’t hold my breath.

Regardless of what story these movies tell, however, I’m here for it. What I have seen so far of THE LAST JEDI has me firmly supporting giving Johnson more creative control. And I am always up for more STAR WARS. I can’t wait to return to a galaxy far, far away.

Rian Johnson, you’re my only hope.

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