Star Wars has been a part of the lives of billions of people as they grew up. The modern decade saw the world being reintroduced to the saga with J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens which started a new trilogy and built a new history after Disney discarded the decades of work seen in various novels, comics, and video games. The present Star Wars canon is left with only stories related to the Republic or Rebellion battling the Empire. That’s not bad but very limited in scope and not as exciting as some other stories which are a part of Star Wars Legends, the title given to everything that got retconned once Disney took over.
That’s why the latest update about Rian Johnson directing the new trilogy is exciting. It will show a new story featuring new characters and locations which means there is a great deal of potential. Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president, said: “Rian will do amazing things with the blank canvas of this new trilogy,” and we agree with her. At the same time we believe that this fresh story should be based on a time that fans already know about: The Old Republic era.
For those who are fans of the films rather than everything else outside,The Old Republic is a period nearly 4000 years prior to the events of the present movie saga. That was a time when the galaxy was ruled by a republic. This era has featured randomly in various comic books and novels and became a popular setting after the success of the video game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (popularly called KOTOR) created by Bioware.
The game came out in 2003 and revealed various new planets such as Manaan the ocean planet, the ancient Lehon and Taris, which is akin to a poor man’s Coruscant. It also built grand backstories for places which barely got a mention in the movies such as Dantooine, which got a mention in Star Wars: A New Hope as the planet that was a former rebel base. Star Wars: KOTOR showed Dantooine as a Jedi enclave which protected the planet’s inhabitants.
Dantooine is a part of the official Star Wars canon. It served as the setting of various episodes of Star Wars: Clone Wars and also Star Wars: Rebels, the latter also showed the planet Malachor, which debuted in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, developed by Obsidian. The video game depicted the planet to be a world ruled by Sith and Dark Jedi, and the canon’s animated series stayed honest to that history as we saw it mention in the Star Wars: Rebels episode “Missing in Action” (story by Brent Friedman).
The Old Republic period also showed various events which shaped the Star Wars universe. These include the Mandalorian Wars, The Great Sith War, and the Jedi Civil War, which jointly defined the relationship between various races and the relationship between Jedi and the rest of the galaxy and that’s something not seen in either movies or series.
You can notice that there are several elements from the Old Republic which have been seen in the new canon in some way, therefore, it won’t be too outlandish for Rian Johnson to utilize these elements in the new Star Wars trilogy and develop them later, maybe even bring some of the characters and stories which appealed to fans, back such as Darth Traya, a murky and complicated Sith lord from the video game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II with a backstory and character which is far more intriguing than either Darth Sidious or Darth Vader.
The Old Republic era is replete with such characters and has a great deal of depth and complex narrative suitable for a film version. The reason is that it focuses on the issues between the Jedi and the Sith, but, it has not been explored well in the films. At least not beyond the Skywalker family. Both groups were quite mighty during the Old Republic era, and it has a great potential for lightsaber battles, complex relationships, deep character development, well almost everything that made the Old Republic a great fan favorite. The fans even tried to petition the Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Company to create a Netflix series based on the Old Republic.
That didn’t work, but, it is hoped that Rian Johnson will show the old Republic in his new trilogy. It is known that the story will be unrelated to the Skywalker clan and the characters/locations seen so far in the movies. This means that it has a good chance of showing the history of the Jedi and the Sith, the start of the conflict and even the destruction of the Old Galactic Republic.
You might wonder about its necessity, however, if you glance at the film saga, you would know that it is based on only two elements, the Skywalkers, and the Death stars. It is time to move on. We love them, but, we need something fresh now. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a great chapter, but, it only pushed the Starkiller Base. It had a superb name, but, it was only a third Death Star. It also became cumbersome to see variations of the same tech, soldiers, and characters. Moving to older times of the Star Wars universe would mean a change of ambiance without deviating from the overall concept of the world we know.
To use an established period is also better because Star Wars movies carry great expectations and recent years have shown that the pressure is immense. Script changes, last moment reshoots, delays and other things highlight that these films are big. Nobody wants to see the repeat of the prequel trilogy. If Rian Johnson needed to build from earlier versions of Legends events and characters, then fans would be more receptive to changes and less hostile about mistakes made to characters such as Han Solo or Boba Fett. Because most of fan favorite Old Republic characters belong to video games which allowed role-playing and let players create different settings about the characters.
Apart from the announcement of Rian Johnson directing the new Star Wars trilogy, we have no clue about other things. There is no information about its setting, cast or any release schedule. The only thing certain is that it will be far away because the current trilogy ends with Star Wars IX which will release in 2019, although Kathleen Kennedy has revealed that they are working on plans for Star Wars movies for the next ten years.