A lot was announced over the past weekend, here’s a recap of the major things and my thoughts
Over the past weekend (plus a bit, as Friday and Monday were also thrown into the mix), the irregularly annual Star Wars Celebration was held in London. Despite the last Celebration being held last year alongside a D23, there was a lot announced over the weekend. Everything from massive upcoming movies to theme park ride updates to the consistently excellent Marvel comics. Since the news is pretty spread out and not everyone reported on everything, here are the biggest things announced and what I thought of them.
Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny
Where better to start than the film branch? Everything in here was clustered together in one panel on the first day, and it was the most reported on. Three upcoming films were announced, and a trailer was shown for James Mangold’s Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny. Since it’s the only thing we have anything to go off of, let’s start with the latter.
The trailer (linked below) gives us our first actual look at what the titular Dial of Destiny is and what it does. The Dial can somehow change the past and is being sought after by Mads Mikkelson’s character, Jürgen Voller, a Nazi scientist recruited into NASA as a part of Operation Paperclip, who intends to use it to change the outcome of WWII.
Personally, I think Operation Paperclip in the 1960s is a great angle to allow an aging Harrison Ford to reprise the role while also maintaining the series’ trademark of having Nazis get punched in the face. As stated, James Mangold is directing, so I have nothing but faith in the film. He already concluded the story of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine with the outstanding Logan, and this seems to be doing the same for Indy with a far less dour tone. I can’t wait.
The First Jedi
Speaking of James Mangold, he’s also attached to direct one of the three films announced during the panel. His film will focus on the first Jedi, and he described it as a “biblical epic”, the now-dead Old Hollywood genre. He specifically cites 1956’s The Ten Commandments and 1959’s Ben-Hur as influences on the film. Both films are known for their visual spectacle, the former’s set piece regarding the Parting of the Red Sea and the latter’s massive sets. While I doubt this influence will span to its runtime, as both of those films are over 3 hours long, it likely indicates the scale.
The film has no date nor title and will likely remain that way until Mangold’s Bob Dylan biopic has wrapped production. After that, not even Mangold knows if he’ll be directing this or Swamp Thing first, so it may be a while until this happens. But, as with Indiana Jones, I have a lot of faith in Mangold as a director, and I think this is a premise and style that evokes a lot of passion on his part. It’s unique, it’s different, and I hope it’ll release within the next decade.
Sequel Trilogy Epilogue Film
Spanning the absolute opposite end of the timeline is a film focusing on Rey fifteen years after the events of The Rise of Skywalker as she attempts to rebuild the Jedi. The film will be directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a director I am quite unfamiliar with, and written by Steven Knight, a writer I’m also unfamiliar with. This seems to be the most “traditional” Star Wars film of the three announced, serving as something akin to an Episode X, though Lucasfilm notably has not called it that. The film is seemingly further along than the other two announced. Kathleen Kennedy has since stated she expects the script to be complete within the next few weeks.
As to my thoughts, they’re quite limited. As I said, I have no experience with the creative team’s prior work, so I’m definitely less enthusiastic than I am for Mangold’s film, but I also don’t necessarily lack excitement either. I hold the semi-unpopular opinion of quite liking Rey. I think she served well as a protagonist in the sequels, and I have no qualms with seeing her fifteen years later. The sole issue I can raise here is I think the premise of her rebuilding the Jedi is just another example of Disney’s attempts to discard The Last Jedi. Regardless of what you may think of the film, it is quite cowardly.
Mandalorian Conclusion Film
The last of the three announced is a conclusion to the ongoing storyline told in The Mandalorian and its associated spinoffs. This seems to be taking cues from the MCU model, with the film serving as the Avengers Endgame to The Mandalorian’s Iron Man, tying together the previously mentioned series as well as The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka, Skeleton Crew, and potentially other series that could surface in the years between then and now. The film will be directed and presumably written by Dave Filoni, creator of The Clone Wars, Rebels, and executive producer and writer of what he calls “The Mandoverse.” It is currently untitled, but Filoni has stated it will likely release 6-7 years from now.
I can’t help but feel dread for this movie. I thought that as Filoni grew more involved in The Mandalorian after season 1 concluded, the show took a progressive downturn. What was once a series accessible to non-fans gradually became a convoluted mess that required the audience to watch all of Filoni’s career at Lucasfilm. The Book of Boba Fett was a pointless endeavor wasting the idea of its titular character getting his own series to undo the consequences of The Mandalorian’s season 2 finale instead. That season requires you to see The Clone Wars, as Bo-Katan becomes an essential character. Ahsoka only drives this further, being part of this story and the 5th season of Rebels. I think much of The Mandalorian’s original appeal has been lost in this, and this film cements it.
As mentioned in the paragraph above, Ahsoka will be receiving her own dedicated miniseries tying into the greater storyline of The Mandalorian while also serving as a sort of 5th season to Star Wars: Rebels. A trailer debuted on Saturday (linked below). The series is written by Dave Filoni, with Rosario Dawson reprising her role as the titular character after debuting in The Mandalorian season 2. It will also feature seemingly all of the surviving cast of Rebels, including Lars Mikkelson returning to the role of Grand Admiral Thrawn after previously lending his voice to the character. The miniseries will consist of 8 episodes and be released on Disney+ this August.
As to my thoughts, they mainly resemble the ones stated above about the Filoni film, so I’m gonna save you all from a paragraph where I just say that again and move on instead.
Despite being dated for a release this year, this series continues to be an enigma. Some footage was shown, though it was kept private to the convention, unlike the Ahsoka teaser. So without that going off, I’ll say what we do know. The show is created and executive produced by Jon Watts, director of the MCU Spider-Man trilogy. It stars Jude Law and a crew of young actors. Though plot details are limited to it being about a group lost in the galaxy, it will be similar tonally to classic Amblin films like E.T. A slate of directors on the show was also unveiled, including The Daniels (Everything Everywhere All At Once), and David Lowery (The Green Knight), alongside The Mandalorian alumni Bryce Dallas Howard and Lee Isaac Chung.
As to my thoughts, I must say I find it a tad concerning that Lucasfilm hasn’t even released a still, despite the series airing this year. With that concern out of the way, I like classic Amblin films. I find Jon Watts’ work pretty decent, with Far From Home as his sole miss, and I am interested to see his first major non-MCU creation. I also think Jude Law is an outstanding actor, and I am interested in whatever character he could be playing. And addressing the elephants in the room, I love Everything Everywhere All At Once and The Green Knight, so I’d watch it for The Daniels and Lowery’s episode even if the premise didn’t interest me.
The other big mystery of the Celebration is The Acolyte, a series that has been in production for quite a while now and will debut next year. The series, starring Amandla Stenburg (Bodies Bodies Bodies) and created by Leslye Headland (Russian Doll), will be introducing the art nouveau High Republic setting to live action. Similarly to Skeleton Crew, the footage was shown privately. What is known about the plot is that it will focus on the emergence of the Sith during the tail end of the High Republic, just before the Jedi begin to enter a state of decline.
While I have not seen the showrunner’s previous work on Russian Doll (though I do intend to), I’ve been interested in this show for a long time. The High Republic is an amazing setting, and I’ve been patiently waiting for it to be used outside of books and comics since Light of The Jedi was released in 2021. Stenburg has said the show will be similar to Kill Bill and classic Samurai films (the latter being what influenced George Lucas to make Star Wars in the first place), and as a fan of both of those, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in seeing how this turns out.
Star Wars Publishing
The final major things to cover are the published works spanning the High Republic and the Marvel Comics. The former will be entering its third phase, and comic writer Alyssa Wong has joined the project to cowrite the middle-grade novel Escape From Valo alongside Daniel Josè Older, being the first of the phase’s trilogy of middle-grade novels. The adult trilogy will begin with The Eye of Darkness by George Mann, and the YA trilogy will open with Defy The Storm by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland. As to Marvel, Cavan Scott will continue writing the High Republic ongoing, while the OT comics will move towards the Dark Droids horror event, led by Charles Soule. The event will focus on an unknown corruption overtaking droids across the galaxy and span Star Wars, Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra, and Bounty Hunters.
To be quite frank, all the publishing stuff did for me was remind me I have to catch up on both the prose and comic branches. I enjoyed the first High Republic novel by Charles Soule and Cavan Scott’s early ongoing issues. I also enjoyed the Jason Aaron Star Wars comics, especially Kieron Gillen’s work on Vader and Aphra. Even further, I’ve been reading and loving Alyssa Wong’s run on Deadpool and would love to see what they’re doing with Doctor Aphra at some point.
Regarding returning shows, The Bad Batch received its 3rd and final season, Tales of the Jedi made a surprise return for a 2nd season, and footage was shown for Visions’ 2nd volume, which will be expanded from Japanese animation to animation across the globe. Also in animation, the young children’s series Young Jedi Adventures received a trailer and will be released on Disney+ alongside Visions volume 2 on May 4th. Finally, they announced that Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, a Disney Parks attraction, will receive new simulated “destinations” in 2024.
What was Missing
The two notable absences (and please, by all means, comment if I forget any) are the untitled Taika Watiti film and Rian Johnson’s trilogy, which has been MIA nearly since it was announced. The lack of the former is curious; as Kathleen Kennedy previously stated, it was intended to be the next film released. However, it can be theorized to be a result of critical and fan backlash to his last production Thor: Love and Thunder. As to the Rian Johnson trilogy, it is likely due to his current commitments to the Knives Out franchise and Poker Face, which was recently green-lit for a second season, though the polarizing reception of The Last Jedi may also play a part in it. Regardless, neither has been formally canceled and could surface at any point.