It’s time for Star Wars to put its history of film trilogies to rest

Andy Serkis as Snoke in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017). Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm.
Andy Serkis as Snoke in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017). Photo: Disney/Lucasfilm. /

In the beginning, Star Wars was just Star Wars — one movie that told a complete story of the triumph of good over evil (in space). That one story soon became a trilogy, and in the four decades that followed, two more trilogies would further expand the franchise.

In addition to those three trilogies — a trilogy of trilogies — two live-action “spinoff” films and one animated film that launched an iconic TV series have also made their way to theaters. Despite mixed reactions across the fan community, those one-shot films brought something unique to the franchise. Trilogies may be a core foundation of Star Wars’ long history, but they don’t have to be an essential part of its future.

Rogue One and Solo are both stories built to be told in one movie. One tells a story that leads directly into A New Hope, and the other is an origin story that, while not essential Star Wars viewing, shows the beginnings of an iconic character before he became the smuggler fans know and love.

There is plenty of room in the franchise for more stories like this — original scripts that look at familiar characters at unique points in their history or, even better, brand-new characters that learn the lessons and adopt the morals Star Wars is known for. And these narratives don’t have to stretch into multiple parts. They can stand on their own as solo films. And maybe they should.

So much of film “discourse” in the Star Wars fandom stems from comparing one movie in a trilogy to the next. It’s much more challenging to analyze and truly appreciate a film on its own when critics are constantly comparing it to its predecessors. More solo films would allow more fans to dive deeper into those stand-alone narratives and their messages without the distraction of questioning whether or not it’s “as good as the first one,” and so on.

Even if Star Wars doesn’t stop making trilogies altogether, it would greatly benefit from a mix of trios and individual films to provide a greater variety in the on-screen stories it tells. Individual films present opportunities for more creators, actors, and others to work on projects without having to commit to years-long contracts. These films could share characters and settings, directors and writers. But the more Star Wars expands its buffet of options for all, the more there will be to love.

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