“May the Fourth be with you!”
“And also with you!”
If you can have this exchange with someone today, this person is someone to not ignore the other 364 days of the year. Today is, of COURSE, the greatest unofficial holiday on the calendar: Star Wars Day! Not Cinco de Mayo eve, but a celebration of the greatest fictional universe and the state of that fictional universe has never been stronger. Star Wars never really went away, but it hasn’t been mainstream cool like this since the Original Trilogy in the early 1980’s. We’ve had two outstanding films from Disney that have established enough good will and confidence in the franchise’s future that they’re not pushing The Last Jedi the way they did Rogue One and The Force Awakens. They know we’re on-board. What they are consistently doing is making sure the EU is promoting upcoming projects and is living up to the quality standards they’ve established for films. Novels, Comics,TV Shows, Video Games; all of it ties back to strengthening the brand as a whole and supporting the films. So we know what lies at the end of the 2017, but that’s far from the only Star Wars projects to look forward to while we count the days to TLJ.
The cornerstone of Star Wars will always be the films, and we have two approaching quickly while pre-production is underway on Episode IX. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi will open December 15, 2017, then the still-to-be-titled Han Solo film (Smugglers, Scoundrels, and Thieves: A Star Wars Story – my suggestion) is moving the franchise from Christmas to summer. While the films had been summer mainstays before Disney, I like them at Christmas and I think they’ll make more money there. Right now Han Solo is scheduled for a May 25, 2018, release. What comes after Episode IX is the big question, and one that either already has an answer or needs one soon if they’re going to keep on their one-a-year production schedule. Look for more news at Comic Con.
Coming out of Star Wars Celebration was the sad announcement that the upcoming fourth season of Star Wars: Rebels will be the last. It brings to an end 10 years of animation that has added so much to Star Wars canon. There’s certainly the potential that some of the characters from these shows will turn up in films, because they already did in Rogue One. The Ghost was part of the Rebel armada at the Battle of Scariff and Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue) was introduced in Star Wars Clone Wars. It’s rumored the split between Mon Mothma and Gerrera will be part of the final season that will see the Rebels continuing to fight Grand Admiral Thrawn (in an awesome example of using the best of the old EU to strengthen projects going forward. Dave Filoni, Star Wars animation guru, announced today that there is an animated series in the works, perhaps even several. He seemed to indicate that these would not be a continuation of this 10 year arc, but something brand new. Rumors are that these would be series that exist within the arcs of existing Star Wars stories rather than filling in the gaps between episodes like Clone Wars and Rebels did.
From Timothy Zahn’s original trilogy of novels until the Prequel Trilogy, books carried the Star Wars universe. They make up the mass of the old EU (now dubbed “Legends”), but the new novels haven’t so far lived up to the best of the old group. This year offers five new titles though that look full of potential to change that, and, in the spirit of everything tying together, they serve to expand on past or future projects in other mediums. Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn establishes the character in his new place in the EU in-between seasons three and four of Star Wars: Rebels in which he’s served as the main antagonist. The Guardians of the Whills were a concept that go back to some of George Lucas’ earliest notes on Star Wars, but they were brought to the screen in the person of Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Greg Rucka’s book, which was released Tuesday, expands on their past and the order’s before Jedha was reduced to teeny bits by the Death Star. Inferno Squad is a novel that sets up the story that will be the centerpiece of Star Wars Battlefront II. Phasma will tell us more about the chrome trooper and is the novel that will lead into Episode VIII. Then, probably the one I’m most looking forward to, From a Certain Point of View, is 40 short stories by 40 different authors examining big moments in Star Wars history from the point of various characters.
If you are a Kindle owner, today’s “Deal of the Day” is pretty much every Star Wars comic of the new EU, so it’s a great day to catch up The comics have been nothing short of outstanding. They’re some of the best comics being done right now period. There’s a main series focusing on the period right after A New Hope. There have been a number of miniseries (the most recent a Darth Maul tale) fleshing out characters. Right now there’s an ongoing Poe Dameron book and an ongoing Dr. Aphra book. Who is Dr. Aphra? You make me sad, padawan. She spun out of Marvel’s first epic Darth Vader series, which was a 25-issue masterpiece that saw the Dark Lord in the Emperor’s dog house after the Death Star’s destruction. That series came to a satisfying conclusion and a new Vader series, Darth Vader: The Dark Lord of the Sith, has just begun, picking up the moment after he’s sealed in the suit in Episode III. The main book, the Vader books, and the minis for Lando and Han are compulsory reading.
There have only been two video games since the Disney era began: LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens (which was outstanding and expanded on a number of story points) and Star Wars Battlefront. The latter made a mistake in focusing solely on multiplayer, though what it did, it did well. Making video games takes even longer than films, so getting this going has taken awhile, but the debut trailer for this fall’s Star Wars Battlefront II, which does have a very compelling single player campaign, looks stellar. Look for announcements on future Star Wars video games at E3 or Comic Con.