This year, October marks the ten year anniversary of the announcement that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and along with it all of Star Wars. In the past ten years we’ve gotten more Star Wars than we could have ever hoped for. But these are the top five Star Wars things in the first decade of the Disney Star Wars era.
1. Sequel Trilogy
It happened. It really happened. We knew that there had been talk of there being episodes VII-IX, even as far back as when the original trilogy was being made, but for a long time it seemed like there were only going to be six Star Wars movies. In the years before the Disney purchase, Lucas had said on multiple occasions that there were only going to be six Star Wars movies. And it made sense in a way. The six movies told a complete story of the fall and redemption of Darth Vader. Return of the Jedi ended on a final note that served as a good conclusion to the saga. It made sense to say that Star Wars was a six part story. But there was always that nagging feeling that we knew that there was talk of more Star Wars movies. While there were plenty of post Jedi stories to enjoy in the Expanded Universe, nothing else has hit in quite the way of seeing the words Episode VII appear in that familiar opening crawl for the first time.
2. The Mandalorian
It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of a Star Wars television show was a scary prospect. Star Wars was a franchise that belonged on the big screen with big budgets and expensive set pieces. While the idea of a Star Wars show sounded great in theory, the few previous attempts to bring Star Wars to the small screen varied from disappointing to downright embarrassing. So it’s understandable why the announcement of a Star Wars streaming show might be met with some apprehension. Then, The Mandalorian was released. This was a show that felt like Star Wars. It had the right look, the right tone, the characters and the settings fit. For the first time, a tv show felt like an essential piece of Star Wars. The success of The Mandalorian lead to and explosion of Star Wars projects destined for the small screen, and when Disney decided that the spin-off movie strategy wasn’t working, the streaming show format saved some of those stories from never getting a chance to be told.
3. A Blank Slate
It’s perfectly understandable that someone might look at the loss of the Expanded Star Wars universe as a bad thing that came out of Disney purchase Lucasfilm, and there certainly is an argument for that. However the Expanded Universe had been growing for over two decades by that point and it’s hard to deny how unwieldy the whole thing had become. The Expanded Universe had covered forty years of material that had happened since the end of Return of the Jedi (and well over a hundred years if you want to include the Legacy storyline). So much had happened that any version of Episode VII that tried to keep all of that cannon would have immediately been confusing to most viewers. As hard as it may be fore some to let go of the Expanded Universe, we suddenly found ourselves with an exciting blank page for anything post Jedi. Not just for the sequel trilogy, there were all sorts of moments that we got to see with fresh eyes, or new takes on familiar stories. Books, and comics set in the new timeline got to expand the universe just as the original EU had. Just as the new sequels brought in a new generation of Star Wars fans, the expanded material found new fans as well, ones who might have been overwhelmed or turned off by the sheer volume of the original EU. Plus, the “greatest hits” of the original EU have slowly started to make their way back into the Star Wars cannon, including Thrawn and the return of Boba Fett.
4. Star Wars: Rebels
One of the biggest gut punches when it was announced that Disney purchased Lucasfilm was that Clone Wars was pretty much a casualty of the sale. Clone Wars was some of the best Star Wars storytelling in recent memory and the show was still very much in production when we learned that the show would be shut down. It seemed like a bad sign for the future of the franchise under Disney, and the promise of a new animated show didn’t seem to soothe anyone’s concerns very much. Then Rebels came along. Rebels not only felt like a true spiritual sequel to The Clone Wars, but over the four year run, it became something even more. New characters were introduced, along with continuing narrative threads that we had become fixated on in The Clone Wars. Plus, as an added bonus, years later, the wounds of The Clone Wars being prematurely canceled were healed even further with a surprise announcement of one final season on Disney+.
5. Galaxy’s Edge
Back in the day, we had Star Tours. Now, make no mistake, Star Tours was a fantastic ride, and throughout the 1990s it was an amazing experience to be thrust into the world of Star Wars for five minutes, but it was one five minute ride. Then Disney bought Star Wars, and when you think of Disney, you can’t help but think of theme parks. Disney announcing plans for a Star Wars themed park didn’t come as too big of a surprise to anyone, but nobody could have imagined exactly what we were going to get. Galaxy’s Edge has become the biggest Star Wars playground that fans can go to. It’s a fully immersive Star Wars experience that is comparable to nothing like we had before it. The level of detail that went into creating the park was staggering, including ambient music for the park composed by John Williams himself, and sly nods and winks to deep parts of the Star Wars lore. Including RX-24, the pilot who flew the ship in the original Star Tours ride returning as a DJ droid in the cantina (complete with Paul Reubens returning to voice the droid. Plus, because everything that in Galaxy’s Edge is technically canon to the Star Wars universe, that means that Coca-Cola and other soft drinks are now canonically in Star Wars.