Let’s talk about how Disney seems to be letting the sequel era fade away.
All Star Wars is divided into three parts. They are based around the three main trilogies of the so-called Skywalker Saga:
- The Prequel Era – dealing with the fall of the Old Republic and the Jedi
- The Original Trilogy Era – dealing with the Rebellion and the fall of the Empire
- The Sequel Trilogy Era dealing with the First Order/Resistance Conflict.
These are overall board categories and there are no firm dividing lines between them. It is not, for instance, 100% clear when an event that takes place in the twenty years between Episode III and Episode IV stops being part of the Prequel Era and becomes part of the OT Era. Some have suggested that the main determiner is the bad guys – are you fighting Clone Troopers, Stormtroopers or First Order Stormtroopers, though this is a limited at the best way of looking at it.
Traditionally all of these eras have been explored and gotten their share of love. However with the release of The Rise of Skywalker Disney has seemingly been quick to abandon the Sequel Era. Let’s take a look at why and how.
An Underdeveloped Time
Of the three primary eras of Star Wars the Sequel Era is by far the most underdeveloped. Part of this is simply due to time. We’ve had 40 years to live with the OT Era and tells continuing stories about it, even if many of the stories are no longer canon, it remains well developed and loved. For the Prequels we’ve also had two decades to flesh it out and give the period life.
Compared to that The Sequel Era has only really been around for about 5 years meaning there has been a lot less time to tell stories about it. Indeed since the final movie only came out at the end of last year there’s been very little time grapple with the whole era and its fall out. Still, Disney has, up to now, worked hard to develop the era. They’ve put out a slew of novels, comics, and sourcebooks about the era and even ran the show Star Wars: Resistance. Galaxies Edge, the theme park attraction, was a massive experiment in interactive storytelling set in the Sequels Era.
Now that the movies are done, and we know the scope of the Sequels you would think this would be the perfect time to really delve into the era and expand the universe. This however does not seem to be the case.
Moving Away From the Sequels
One would expect that after the release of a major movie capping off an era the next major projects, or indeed the major projects surrounding the release, would feed into the movie, capitalizing on its popularity and expanding on the movie. For instance the 2003 series Star Wars: Clone Wars aired between Episodes II and III and fed into them.
However, if we look at the two major releases around Episode IX, we have the Mandalorian and The Clone Wars Season 7. Neither of these shows ties into Episode IX or even the sequel trilogy at all, with one being set in the Prequel Era and one the OT era. (If anything these show work to undermine the Sequel Era by reminding people how much they like the other eras better). In addition the major video game drop around Rise of Skywalker was Jedi: Fallen Order, again a game with nothing to do with the Sequels.
Looking at upcoming releases we also see a curious lack of interest in the Sequel Era. Movie-wise we’ve got a lot of conflicting info. There are plenty of cancellations, but no rumors that any new movies would deal with the Sequel Era or the new characters. For TV shows we’ve got the Mandalorian Season 2, as well as an Obi-Wan show, both set well before the Sequel Era.
For books, looking up at the upcoming list, ignoring the large number of sourcebooks we’ve got two novels/anthologies set in the Prequel Era, 3 in the OT Era, 3 in the new High Republic Era and only a single YA novel set in the lead up to the Prequel Era. If we look at the upcoming comic books, we see a similar thing with plenty of books set in the OT and Prequel Era.
In fact the only upcoming comics from the Sequel Era are trade paperbacks reprinting already released comics. Though we don’t have a lot of info on upcoming video games we do know there is a Fallen Order sequel in the works. In fact there has never been a “core” (i.e. PC or console) game set in the sequel trilogy and no indication that will change, though the Battlefront Games do touch on it.
In short at the exact time you would expect Disney and Lucasfilm to capitalize on and expand the Sequel Era, when it’s fresh and new, there is a dearth of new projects related to it. While Star Wars is still telling lots of stories and there are plenty of upcoming releases, the Sequel Era has been reduced to a single YA novel.
Making this all the more complicated is the High Republic. Rather than devoting resources and time to fleshing out the underdeveloped Sequel Era Lucasfilm is instead choosing to focus on a brand new and never before seen era. In fact, the High Republic is about as far away from the Sequel trilogy as you can get as it is both far away in time and concept/tone. That Lucasfilm would pivot so quickly and so far seems to speak of a purposeful abandonment of the newer movies and their era.
So why is Disney moving away from the Sequel Trilogy so quickly? One simple reason is that it is divisive, which isn’t really good for their brand. The OT on the other hand is loved by all and even then in the Prequel movies have haters. The era in general, in large part thanks to the Clone Wars shows, is well-liked. It’s an easy and safe bet to focus on it. However I’d argue that another reason is the kinds of stories they can now tell in the Sequel Era are… well boring and repetitive. I mean let’s say you want to cover what happens after Episode IX and continue the story of Poe, Rey, and Finn. What does that look like?
Well you’d have a setting where Rey, or maybe Finn, is working to rebuild the Jedi order, gathering new force sensitives and training them. You’d have the New Republic (or another new government), likely with the help of Poe and maybe Finn, rebuilding after Palpatine’s defeat, hunting down remnants of the bad guys, and trying to restore peace to a war-torn galaxy. The problem is… that’s exactly the same as what was happening after Return of the Jedi. The Sequels so closely mirror the OT that in the end we are left with the same aftermath. It’s a story we already got told twice, once in the old EU and again in the new canon with Luke rebuilding the Jedi and Leia and the New Republic fighting for peace. I don’t think it’s really a story anyone is interested in hearing a third time.
So there you have it, Disney seems to be, very quickly, giving up on the Sequel Era. Rather than develop it they are moving a lot of their talent to a new era while continuing to support the OT And Prequel Eras. While they can’t come out and just say it, this is as close as we are likely going to get to an admission that the Sequels are bad and the Era an unpopular misstep from Disney. Overall this is a bit sad as they had some great characters and good ideas that likely will never get the stories they deserve now.
Let us know what you think of this move away from the Sequels, down in the comments!