Rian Johnson says his upcoming Star Wars trilogy will tap into the franchise’s essence while telling a story featuring all-new characters. The director is currently preparing to release his new murder-mystery film Knives Out, but shortly after that, he’ll be making a return journey to the galaxy far, far away. About a month before Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened in theaters two years ago, Lucasfilm officially announced Johnson would oversee a new film trilogy, writing and directing at least the first installment. The project is entirely separate from the Skywalker saga.
Since the time Johnson’s trilogy was announced, Lucasfilm also revealed Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff & D.B. Weiss would be the creative force behind another new Star Wars movie series. Benioff & Weiss’ first Star Wars film will be the first post-Rise of Skywalker release, implying it’s set for a December 2022 premiere. This has raised questions about the status of Johnson’s trilogy, which is frequently rumored to have been canceled. However, Johnson has debunked this speculation and continues to publicly discuss his new trilogy.
In an interview with Observer, Johnson was asked about his Star Wars project and he talked a bit about his approach as he tries to figure out the story:
“I think that the fun and challenging part of it is to dive in, figure out what’s exciting and then figure out what it’s going to be. We’re doing something that steps beyond the legacy characters. What does that look like? To me, the blue sky element of it is what was most striking about it. I know the way that I’m coming at it and what’s fun about it for everyone in George Lucas’ films is figuring out, ‘what’s the next step?’ It really makes you think and figure out what the essence of Star Wars is for me and what that will look like moving forward.”
Johnson made similar statements a year ago, revealing his goal is to capture the spirit of Star Wars with his new films. More so than any individual legacy character or iconic spaceship, the franchise is defined by its distinct tone. It’s pertinent to nail that aspect down before anything else. Without any familiar characters or imagery to lean on as a nostalgia crutch, these new movies need to feel like Star Wars in order to properly work. If Johnson figures that out, then the rest of the narrative should take care of itself. Though Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Rey are pop culture icons, Star Wars as a property is bigger than any one character. With Disney’s mega marketing machine behind things, they’ll be able to promote any character Johnson comes up with. The key is conveying Star Wars’ trademark essence.
It’ll be interesting to see what Johnson has come up with and when Lucasfilm will officially reveal details. This month’s D23 Expo is going to heavily feature The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker, so fans may have to wait until Celebration Anaheim 2020 to learn more about Star Wars’ future. By the time that event rolls around, viewers will be ready to anticipate what’s next for the galaxy far, far away, so hopefully Johnson is there to share some of what he has in mind.