The “Star Wars” universe grows more every year, and with “Solo: A Star Wars Story” coming out in May, the growing list of canon films in the franchise isn’t going to stop any time soon.
While the books span two timelines and have changed since Disney’s acquisition — with anything written before 2014 that doesn’t align with the films or “Clone Wars” series labeled as existing outside of the canon universe — for many fans, the films are all they need to be satisfied.
With the rapidly increasing list, though, “Star Wars” risks upsetting fans by becoming a bloated franchise like Marvel has in recent years.
Marvel’s canon web weaves between film and television, with a catalogue of written works to back it up, just as the “Star Wars’” universe does. For fans of the Marvel film franchise, it becomes difficult to keep up with each movie as the time between release dates get shorter.
Three Marvel films alone are set to come out this year — four if you count “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” though that isn’t part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dedicated fans, however, may find it thrilling and clear their schedules for “Avengers: Infinity War” in April, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” in July and “Venom” in October.
For others, though, several films in one year may be overwhelming. “Star Wars” isn’t currently on the three-films-a-year schedule like Marvel, but it could some day. Considering the past few years, which had “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in 2016 and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in 2017, the future only holds more for the franchise.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “Star Wars: Episode IX” are definite entries into the canon “Star Wars” films, but there are rumors of even more releases. Among these are a currently untitled Boba Fett anthology and an Obi-Wan Kenobi film.
Rumors of two potential film series have also been going around, one from “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson and one from the “Game of Thrones” showrunners. If the rumors are true, the two series alone have the potential to fill an entire year.
So what’s the problem with “Star Wars” becoming a little like Marvel in its methods? At first glance, there aren’t many drawbacks. The lineup of movies seems good for fans who want more content of their favorite franchise every year. Younger generations will be drawn into the “Star Wars” universe as time goes on.
And in terms of representation, modern times have created “Star Wars” films that are slowly becoming more inclusive of women and people of color than the original trilogy. Those are certainly benefits to keep in mind, but for the most part, the expansion of the epic franchise has had a negative effect, primarily on its audience.
It’s pretty obvious, but a lot of films in one year is a lot to keep up with. Dedicated “Star Wars” fans may feel pressured to spend money on every single movie — main trilogy or otherwise — as Marvel fans often do. In addition, casual fans may feel they miss out on smaller details or inside jokes when the spin-off films and main trilogies reference each other.
With “Avengers: Infinity War” coming out in April, trailers reveal the inclusion of characters that were previously only in stand-alone films, including the cast from “Guardians of the Galaxy.” For super fans, it’s exciting to see movies coming together, but for “Star Wars” fans who aren’t used to that level of interconnectedness, it’s a lot to handle.
Even if “Star Wars” fans try to watch every film churned out, they will undoubtedly be overwhelmed by the growing network of canon releases.
While it’s not as heavily interwoven as Marvel’s, the “Star Wars” universe risks alienating devoted audiences who feel they must watch every film in order to understand the complete picture as they must with the “Avengers” series and stand-alone hero films.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” may be able to stand on its own, but for now it’s creating unnecessary complexity in the chronological movie order while focusing on a character who has already had his time in the spotlight.
One fan on Reddit posted their thoughts on the subject, titling the thread “Does anyone else feel like Star Wars is becoming the Marvel Cinematic Universe?”
In the post, they say, “On top of the fact that we’ve already got a Young Han Solo movie — it’s called Episode IV — Star Wars is a galaxy. Not a pool of recurring characters you can pull from whenever you want to prolong the universe.”
The fan’s particular complaint centers around a lack of exploring other characters in potential spin-offs, though “Star Wars” can still become the large franchise Marvel is, and not in a good way.
Fans have compared the humor in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” to that of recent Marvel movies, and while mirroring comedy is fine, oversaturating theaters with “Star Wars” stories may not be.
Currently, many “Star Wars” fans find the idea of movies outside of the main trilogies exciting, with the hope that the films will begin to cover characters other than the main ones in previous films. That excitement may soon fade, however, as it did with Marvel fans, with the realization that there is too much to watch.
A “Star Wars” film here and there keeps the franchise alive. The excitement, the nostalgia and the wonderment that come with seeing the signature opening text as the film begins cannot be denied and should continue. The franchise should tread carefully, though, because while adding more movies to the canon story can bring new fans in, it may scare some old fans away.