Where Does 'Star Wars' Go Next?

Rogue One Still 6 - Publicity - H 2016
Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm
With 'Rogue One' a hit, two Heat Vision writers look at the future of the franchise (and no, we don't mean 'A New Hope').

It's a big galaxy out there, and Rogue One has proven the Skywalker Saga isn't the only game in town when it comes to what Star Wars can be on the big screen.

Disney and Lucasfilm are planning on rolling out a new Star Wars film every year, indefinitely — and so far they have mapped plans through 2019, with three upcoming films announced:  Episode VIII (Dec. 15, 2017), an untitled young Han Solo movie (May 25, 2018) and Episode IX (2019).

So where does Star Wars go from here and what lessons has Rogue One shown? Heat Vision editor Aaron Couch and blogger Graeme McMillan have a few ideas.

Aaron Couch: My main question is, what do you think happens after Episode IX? That presumably will be the end of the Skywalker Saga and conclude the roles of Luke, Leia and Kylo Ren. A friend of mine recently suggested that the Episodes should continue indefinitely — sort of like a serialized TV show that is not contingent on a trilogy and would "expand on the rich history set forth by The Skywalkers." I love this idea, though I would also be cool with it continuing as an ever expanding set of trilogies, too. I see one potential pitfall Lucasfilm could fall into, though with the continued trilogy route. Do the Light and the Dark continue to fight? Will an Empire stand-in come to power, a Rebel Alliance stand-in stop them, and then things are good for awhile, until it starts over? 

Graeme McMIllan: Yeah, I'd actually be fine with the Saga continuing beyond Episode IX, as long as it follows the "rules" set up so far: jump ahead another 30 years, and catch up with a new member of the lineage. (Is it really a "Skywalker" Saga, still, though? I mean, sure, Kylo Ren is a Skywalker by birth, but assuming that Rey isn't secretly the daughter of Luke, I think that the current trilogy has the chance to quietly shift away from that family if it really wants to.) As to the repetition... isn't that kind of the weird, depressing truth behind the franchise, though? That the war never actually ends? Well, as long as Disney wants to have another movie every year, of course. They could shift up who the war is with, I guess. Didn't the comics have an alien invasion fleet disconnected from everyone else up to that point, back when the Expanded Universe was still a thing? Something like that could make for a very unexpected fourth trilogy.

Couch: Okay Graeme, sign up for that, immediately. Let's get a little Xavier and Magneto teamup going and get the Light and the Dark put aside their differences in order to survive. That really would put the war in Star Wars. Then again, a lot of people have been touting that Rogue One really is a war movie.  

McMillan: I've got to be honest, I'm a little confused when I see people talk about Rogue One signifying a new direction for Star Wars because… isn't it just what we've already seen in other Star Wars movies, only more so? It's not like we've never seen ground battles and space battles and Death Stars and/or inspirational speeches or people dying before. Is it just that more people die in Rogue One? Because that'd be a depressing new direction to take the franchise in. "Hey, guys! I heard you liked it when Han died and when Obi-Wan died and when Darth Vader died! Now they all die!"

Couch: But Rogue One did break ground by having a protagonist do shady things, such as Cassian (Diego Luna) killing an apparent ally just moments after we meet him or consider assassinating Jyn's father because he's just following orders. It's time to get that bounty hunter or Darth Vader movie (set in between Episode IV and V) — where we are rooting for the bad guy because there are worse bad guys out there. Or is it sacrilegious to want more Vader or other established characters? 

McMillan: Actually, I like that Rogue One had all-new characters, for the most part. (The pre-existing ones showing up all felt a bit… forced, if that's the right way of putting it? Unnecessary.) I'd like to see more of that in future movies. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Alden Ehrenreich will make a great Han Solo, and Donald Glover playing Lando will be fun, but… it's a galaxy far, far away. Couldn't we have had Ehrenreich and Glover playing entirely new characters, instead?

Couch: True. I'd rather Chris Pine play a Star Trek captain who isn't Kirk, but Han Solo directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord have enough goodwill to do anything they want, so I'm trusting this is going to be a good movie — and I think things are only looking up for Star Wars. (Think how much better subsequent phases of the MCU have been compared to Phase 1). I expect Episode VIII to be even better than VII, as it will be free to explore new ideas that don't involve a Death Star/Starkiller Base, I think future standalone stories can top Rogue One — because they won't have to reassure people, "Hey this is also that thing you like." With one movie a year coming out, Star Wars can go the Marvel route and explore different genres. Though my hope is they don't become so uniform that they all blend together in the way people complain MCU movies do. 
McMillan: If there's a lesson that I hope Disney takes from Rogue One, I hope that it's got nothing to do with the content of the movie itself, but everything surrounding it. You'd think they might have realized this from the reception to Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, but Rogue One's box office should really bear this out — people are going to go and see your Star Wars movie no matter what. So take advantage of that, and actually be far more experimental with the franchise. If Rogue One is the Jedi-less installment, keep stripping elements out for future: What if we have one without a space battle? Can we get a Star Wars that isn't about fighting at all? (Finally, the Ackmena standalone the world has been waiting for!)