If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the textbook example of a carefully constructed film franchise, what with its interlacing story and shared DNA, then Lucasfilm’s new wave of Star Wars movies represents a different creative approach altogether.
Sure, there is one single throughline (read: the Skywalker Saga) that connects Episode I to next month’s The Rise of Skywalker, but it’s common knowledge that Lucasfilm’s tale grew in the telling, as big-name directors in the vein of J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson contributed to what has been described as an “evolving process.” Or so says Kathleen Kennedy, who spoke to Rolling Stone in anticipation of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and with it, the end of this saga as we know it.
Part of that interview touched on the inherent difficulties of developing a new Star Wars film without a pre-established template to follow, a la the MCU. Indeed, Kennedy lamented the fact that “there is no source material” to fall back on.
Every one of these movies is a particularly hard nut to crack. There’s no source material. We don’t have comic books. We don’t have 800-page novels. We don’t have anything other than passionate storytellers who get together and talk about what the next iteration might be. We go through a really normal development process that everybody else does. You start by talking to filmmakers who you think exhibit the sensibilities that you’re looking for.
It’s certainly an interesting comment from the Lucasfilm boss. While it’s likely that Kennedy was referring only to the mainline Star Wars films, which have told their own story since as far back as ’77, the studio president seemingly ignores the Legends brand, which comprises a select handful of Star Wars material released after April 2014. Anything that existed before that date – be it a novel or comic – falls under the Expanded Universe, and is no longer considered canon.
Nevertheless, there’s no shortage of licensed stories from which to draw inspiration, though Kennedy made no mention of them in her interview.
It’s been an evolving process with lots of people and lots of opinions, and then you try to shape something into what it eventually becomes. So I feel really fortunate that I’ve worked with so many great people that have been absolutely committed, J.J. being one of them. He’s a huge fan, incredibly passionate about Star Wars, and has been from the moment he and I sat down and started talking about this. And the more he got involved, the more excited he became. So I think if you asked him today, he probably wishes he’d been in a situation where he could have done all three — but as I said, these are huge projects. So it’s very difficult unless there’s three or four years in between. It’s not really physically possible.
Expect Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to shoot for box office glory on December 20th. A $2 billion haul certainly isn’t out of the question, as long-time fans of this most beloved franchise (us included!) will no doubt flock to their local theaters to see J.J. Abrams bring the curtain down on the Skywalker Saga.