Compared to the likes of other iconic science-fiction properties like Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica (which began life on TV), Star Wars originally started as a cinematic and theatrical venture in 1977. Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope was the first time that a science fiction movie truly broke into the mainstream and became a blockbuster box office phenomenon.
The Star Wars movies and the quality of their visual effects have always been the defining feature of the franchise This prompted other science-fiction IPs to hop on the bandwagon and make their own motion pictures (with varying and mixed effects; looking at you, Star Trek The Motion Picture).
Disney CEP Bob Iger recently confirmed that the Star Wars franchise will be taking a break from movies and focus on TV instead. During a quarterly earnings call (via IGN), he said:
“We’re taking a bit of a hiatus in terms of theatrical releases, we finished the nine-episode Skywalker Saga and we’re developing both television and features.
The priority in the next few years is television, with The Mandalorian Season 2 coming in October and then more coming from The Mandalorian thereafter,
including the possibility of infusing it with more characters and the possibility of taking those characters in their own direction in terms of series.
And then we have a prequel to Rogue One and an Obi-Wan series also in development.
So the priority for Star Wars in the short term is going to be television for Disney+ and then we’ll have more to say about the development of theatrical soon after that.”
As an avid Star Wars fan myself, I believe that the future of Star Wars should be on TV as well. Here’s why:
Brimming With Potential For Expansion Than Ever
It’s not like Star Wars hasn’t tried to dabble on TV before Star Wars The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian came along. It’s just that fans preferred to leave them in the dust of obscurity, due to how terrible they were.
The most infamous example is probably the accursed 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, but there were also several others, including two Ewok-themed TV specials and two animated series that never took off for good reason; 1985’s Star Wars Droids and two freaking seasons of Ewoks. You can catch a glimpse of that monstrosity below.
Besides the fact that George Lucas definitely loved Ewoks too much and clearly tried too hard to push the cuddly creatures on fans, the problem is that there wasn’t enough lore (or content) yet for the franchise to truly thrive on TV.
However, thanks to the Prequel Trilogy and (*sigh*) even the disappointing Sequel Trilogy, we now have a lot more actual content to explore and expand on in the history of the franchise. While the upcoming Star Wars The Clone Wars Season 7 is set to conclude the final chapter of the Prequel Trilogy for good, the Sequel Trilogy era remains largely unexplored outside of the movies.
Despite the fact that Star Wars Resistance was set in the Sequel Trilogy era, it did almost nothing to explore or expand on the lore in significant ways. It was complacent on just providing cheap and mindless entertainment for kids. It was truly a waste of time, money and resources.
On the other hand, The Mandalorian is a perfect example of how to salvage the poorly-received Sequel Trilogy era. It manages to cohesively cram influences and lore from all three eras of the franchise while simultaneously expanding the lore of the Mandalorian race and perhaps even Master Yoda’s unknown race in the future, two canon aspects of the franchise which has rarely been touched upon.
We might eventually receive the Sequel Trilogy’s answer to Star Wars The Clone Wars; a series that fleshes out those years where Luke was rebuilding the Jedi Order, Leia rebuilding the New Republic, and Ben Solo’s fall from grace (though this is already being explored in an ongoing comic published by Marvel).
Successfully doing that would go a long way in redeeming Disney and Lucasfilm (and the entire Sequel Trilogy) in the eyes of fans, many of whom have gradually lost faith in the franchise over the years.
The Best Star Wars Creatives And Talent Are In TV
Of course, brilliant TV content for the franchise like Star Wars The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian was only made possible thanks to the incredible pool of talent and creatives working on it. This is the advantage of Star Wars on TV, as they’re relatively free from the chaos and indecisive turmoil that currently plagues the movie division.
Leading the pack is Dave Filoni, who was responsible for both the Star Wars The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels animated series, as well as co-developing The Mandalorian. He also created Star Wars Resistance, but hey, no one’s perfect.
George Lucas also personally recruited Filoni to work together with him way before Disney bought Star Wars. After Lucas himself, Filoni is probably the next most reliable master keeper of knowledge and source of all things Star Wars.
If Filoni paved the way for Star Wars animation on TV, we have Jon Favreau to thank for the franchise’s foray into live-action TV. I still can’t believe that it took Star Wars 42 years to make a proper live-action TV show, but it was certainly worth the wait. With these two front and centre (as well as other contributors), Star Wars on TV is in good hands, which is a lot more than I can say for the current sorry state of the movies.
The Rise Of Skywalker Broke The Franchise
Say what you want about the Sequel Trilogy, but there’s no denying that Disney and Lucasfilm wasted all the momentum and goodwill generated by Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens. While they admittedly weren’t financial failures, the Sequel Trilogy is a broken mess that disrespects the franchise and its long-time fans.
They never had a clear plan for a proper trilogy. In comparison, at least the Prequel Trilogy was mostly coherent. Sure, George Lucas made some stuff up on the fly over the years as well (*cough* Darth Vader being Luke and Leia’s father *cough*), but he had an outline for the bigger picture of the franchise. Heck, Lucas even had outlines of the Prequels and Sequels years in advance before they even came into fruition.
The Star Wars movies will always be more epic in scope but are more limited in other ways. For example, Solo: A Star Wars Story would have worked better as a TV series, rather than a movie so middling and inconsequential that it doesn’t deserve to be called a Star Wars movie.
The Prequel Trilogy depicted the very beginning and end of the galaxy-spanning Clone Wars, but it’s only thanks to Star Wars The Clone Wars that we truly understand how complex and expansive that conflict truly was in the larger scheme of Star Wars lore.
Great TV shows like Star Wars The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian both complement the movies and can stand on their own as great Star Wars IP. Meanwhile, Star Wars Episode IX The Rise Of Skywalker is forced to rely on supplementary material to fill in their own plot holes and blanks.
This Is The Way
Focusing on TV doesn’t mean that Star Wars should completely abandon the movies. In the meantime, Lucasfilm should re-prioritize and plan ahead for their future movies. If the reports of a Knights Of The Old Republic trilogy does turn out to be true, I sincerely that they will have learnt from their Sequel Trilogy mistakes by then.
The Original and Prequel Trilogies inspired their respective generations of youth to pick up sticks and pretend to be in lightsaber duels or to feel a proud camaraderie of being in fandom as the iconic Star Wars theme plays. Everyone has their own reason to love Star Wars.
I grew up with the Prequel Trilogy and watched the Original Trilogy later, but still loved both of them very much. I can’t, and probably never will say the same about the Sequel Trilogy.
Here’s hoping that Star Wars The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian and future TV shows like them (Cassian Andor, Obi-Wan Kenobi) will inspire fans once again.