Solo Might Have Put Future Star Wars Story Films on Ice

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.

Alas, Star Wars fans, it would appear that we might never learn Boba Fett’s entire backstory after all—at least, not in the form of a Star Wars Story film. According to a new report, Lucasfilm has suspended plans for future spin-offs under the banner that brought us Rogue One and Solo, opting instead to focus on Star Wars: Episode IX and whatever trilogy might follow it. Collider writes that a rumored Obi-Wan film has also been nixed; a representative for Lucasfilm did not immediately respond to V.F.’s request for comment.

Truthfully, it’s probably wise for Lucasfilm to rethink this strategy. Mythologizing every last detail of the original trilogy has proven to have diminishing returns; one of the most common criticisms leveled against Solo was the film’s dependence on callbacks and shoehorned references to previous Star Wars movies. Solo’s soft box office—by the numbers, it was the first Star Wars film to officially flop—proved that the Star Wars Story label is not necessarily enough to guarantee the kind of success Lucasfilm is used to. So, Boba Fett and Obi-Wan might have to wait for their big-screen close-ups. In Boba Fett’s case, that’s a relief; the character is interesting particularly because of the things we don’t know about him. The same might also be true of Obi-Wan, whose story has been told in several Star Wars films already—The Phantom Menace through A New Hope, plus Force Ghost appearances in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Still, it’s hard not to mourn the loss of another chance to see Ewan McGregor in action as the world’s most enthusiastic Jedi. Although the rumored Obi-Wan film was nowhere near announcing a cast, McGregor had stated multiple times that he would be willing to reprise his role from the prequel trilogy, although he wasn’t sure what might be left for his character to do. It’s unclear what age Obi-Wan would have been in a spin-off film, but any proposed movie would have done well to employ McGregor in some way; critically drubbed as the prequels were, most people agreed that McGregor was the best thing about them. Besides, Obi-Wan’s story could have contained the best anthology fodder of all: the film could have revealed what on earth Obi-Wan got up to after the Republic fell, before Luke found him in a cave on Tatooine. Most important, we could have learned how on earth he aged so quickly between Revenge of the Sith (when he’s played by a fresh-faced McGregor) and A New Hope (when he’s played by a considerably more grizzled Alec Guinness)—or why on earth, with a name as cool as Obi-Wan, he would ever have let some random farm boy call him “Old Ben.”

Perhaps this retooling will actually be an opportunity for Lucasfilm to bring the Star Wars Story films back to what they were originally intended to be: a more flexible storytelling vehicle through which an expanding film franchise could branch out in unexpected ways. Rogue One, the first of the two completed Star Wars Story spin-offs, was promising; though its story was fairly inessential in the grand scheme of Star Wars, the movie took a novel approach to this universe, one more sober and bloody than the average Star Wars. And for all its weaknesses, it will always be remembered as the first Star Wars movie that dared to do something truly unexpected.

Solo, meanwhile, earned a more tepid response from fans and critics alike, perhaps because its approach felt comparably safe. (There was also that creative clash between directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, which ended when Lord and Miller left the film and Ron Howard stepped in to shepherd Solo to completion.) With these films seemingly on ice and the Skywalker story arc set to presumably come to an end next winter with Episode IX, it will be fascinating to see who steps in to carry the torch in this beloved galaxy far, far away.

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