What’s ahead for Star Wars after all those Celebration surprises?

This week, I was already planning to write a post about Star Wars, reflecting on my thoughts on this season of The Mandalorian and where I thought the show was heading in the future. However, thanks to all the surprising news that came out of the recent Star Wars Celebration convention in London, I’ve scrapped my previous blog plans and instead I want to geek out (and share a few concerns) about the franchise’s revised game plan going forward. 

Funnily enough, I didn’t really expect a lot of major news announcements out of this year’s Celebration. I thought it would be mostly focused on the Disney+ series we already knew about. While Celebration did highlight The Mandalorian and the upcoming Ahsoka series, what we got was a whole lot more. 

Before I dive into all the new stuff we’re getting, I have to confess that I’ve been struggling a bit to connect with Star Wars’ more recent storytelling. That’s a difficult confession to write, because as many of you know, Star Wars is “my thing.” And after years of wondering if I’d ever see any more live-action Star Wars, it seems a bit ungrateful to admit to feeling dissatisfied with what I’m seeing. 

I fell deeply in love with the sequel trilogy, despite the controversy sometimes surrounding that series (more on that later). The Mandalorian’s second season was my favorite of that series so far, and I got misty-eyed seeing Luke Skywalker’s return. The Clone Wars finale was a bittersweet but satisfying end to one of my favorite Star Wars stories. 

But once Star Wars content returned after the pandemic…I found myself drifting. As much as I loved seeing Ewan McGregor return as Obi-Wan Kenobi, that series wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be. And while Andor is top-shelf storytelling with an excellent cast and scripts (really, I don’t have any major criticisms), I didn’t connect with that series as much as I thought I would. The third season of Mando has been a mixed bag, in my opinion, and the most recent episode featuring not one, not two, but three too-obvious celebrity cameos (plus an anticlimactic end to the darksaber drama) left me feeling rather deflated. Were Star Wars and I OK? Was our relationship going through a drought period? Was it really time for us to go on a break?

I panicked, even though I shouldn’t have. The MCU and I went through a similar period post-Endgame, when I started to wonder if I’d connect with the franchise again. Turns out, all it took was the launch of several Disney+ series and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and I was fully invested once again. 

I think — I hope — that all the stuff coming out of this year’s Celebration will do the same for me and Star Wars. There are many facets to the Star Wars storytelling universe, and I know some who really love the recent focus on the more “grounded” elements, like the Rebellion and the Mandalorians. I get it, I like those too. 

But to me, the heart of Star Wars has always been its more mystical elements, and my favorite Star Wars stories highlight the Jedi and their deep connection to the Force. I got some of that in Kenobi, of course; however, as mentioned previously, that show had its ups and downs, and I’ve never gotten around to rewatching it.

I loved everything about the new Ahsoka trailer, and it gave me a giddy shot of Star Wars adrenalin I hadn’t felt in a while. I’m so, so excited to see characters like Sabine, Ezra, Hera, Chopper, and Thrawn — yes, Thrawn! — make the jump to live action. Just seeing the back of Thrawn’s head made me geek out. 

I am very intrigued by the High Republic era series The Acolyte and how that show will explore the temptations of the dark side and the downfall of the Jedi. Angsty Force content is my jam. 

And while I have absolutely no idea what to expect from Skeleton Crew, I like Jude Law and maybe with its cast of younger characters it could be a fun series to watch with my daughter.

And now, for the really big news from Celebration: the announcement of three movies in development. One featuring the Mando-verse, directed by Dave Filoni; one from James Mangold described as a “biblical epic” about the dawn of the Jedi; and finally, the one that nearly gave me a heart attack from explosive glee, the return of Daisy Ridley as Rey Skywalker. 

Now, I do have to temper my enthusiasm somewhat, because Lucasfilm does seem to have a habit of announcing film projects and then either canceling them or letting them fade from the public’s memory like Yoda vanishing into the Force. As much as I want to see Rian Johnson’s new Star Wars project, as more time passes, the more I doubt that project will ever come to fruition. And after the somewhat lackluster response to Wonder Woman 1984 and Thor: Love and Thunder, respectively, I’m doubtful Patty Jenkins’ and Taika Waititi’s Star Wars projects will move forward, either. 

I do think Dave Filoni’s film is a sure thing. As the heir apparent to George Lucas, Filoni would have to do something truly awful or scandalous to get booted from this project. Filoni has produced some wonderful Star Wars storytelling over the years, and I’m glad Lucasfilm continues to let him play around in the universe. 

Mangold’s movie concept sounds fantastic, and is exactly the sort of Star Wars story I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. But if Indiana Jones 5 ends up behind a commercial or critical flop, I could see this movie quietly getting sidelined. 

Naturally, I’ve saved my favorite for last, and I was absolutely floored by the announcement of a film featuring Rey and her new Jedi Order. I’m not lying – I was so excited and happy that my eyes started brimming with tears. 

I know that Rey has sometimes been a controversial character. And it is never my intention to try to silence nuanced discussion or to deny people a space to discuss their criticisms. Yet Rey is a character who is deeply important to me, and I don’t always get a chance to talk about that, because too often when I mention that I love the character, fans will start angrily talking over me with their rants about the sequel trilogy. (Trust me, I’ve done my time in the trenches for the sequel trilogy fandom: I have been awkwardly and loudly complained at in an airport after Star Wars Celebration; insulted while volunteering at a community Halloween event for children, while I was dressed as Rey; and fan-splained by a stranger at an amusement park who took my Star Wars hoodie as an invitation to cross-examination my fandom.)

Rey was the first time I saw myself in a female character in Star Wars. Star Wars has had many great female characters that I dearly loved — from Leia to Ahsoka to the often-underappreciated Padmé. However, I connected with Rey more deeply than any female character before her. 

I know not everyone loved the sequel trilogy, but I did. It felt like Rey and I were on a journey together. In the time period when the movies were coming out (2015-2019), I had a lot of changes in my life, some good and some bad. I got married, moved to a new town, and started a new job. I dealt with a serious illness and had to make some massive and stressful lifestyle changes as part of my treatment. I was diagnosed with depression after a long period of struggling. 

Whenever Rey felt lonely or scared or overwhelmed, she found a way to keep fighting, and she inspired me. Plus, looking forward to these movies and speculating about the story twists helped distract me and give me something positive to look forward to. At the end of the story, seeing Rey overcome her challenges and forge a lightsaber out of broken pieces from her past meant a lot to me. 

My basement is filled with Rey-themed art and memorabilia, and I was even able to buy a replica of her yellow lightsaber from Disney World during my trip to Galaxy’s Edge last year. I have four different Rey cosplays, and I’m already joking that this new movie will be a great excuse to start a fifth one. 

I share all this to provide some context for why I’m so thrilled with the announcement of the Rey movie, and why the project is so important to me personally. If you don’t like Rey as a character, that’s fine, and I respect that. Yet this time around, I’m not going to let other fans bully me or talk over me. 

I’m sure there will be more to speculate and write about as we get closer to the film’s release, but for right now, I just want to bask in the excitement. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that John Boyega will get to return as Jedi Finn, and maybe even Adam Driver as Force Ghost Ben Solo. Director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy also worked on Ms. Marvel, and based on how well that show weaved together themes like superpowers, faith, and family, I think Obaid-Chinoy is the perfect person to tell Rey’s story. 

As always, I’m curious to hear other fans’ thoughts and opinions. Did all the new announcements excite you? Concern you? Do you like where Star Wars is headed?

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