The Year Ahead in Star Wars

The Year Ahead in Star Wars

The year 2024 is a transitory one for Star Wars. As familiar series and eras give way to a few new ideas, all eyes are less on the current moment and more on what’s to come: it’s been five very long years since The Rise of Skywalker, and much of that period has been bearing witness to announced movie projects that then crumble months or years after, never making it further than ideation or early drafts. At Star Wars Celebration last year Lucasfilm made a bold step forward, publicly unveiling what are now the three next major Star Wars film projects. While there’s plenty to look forward to this year in the world of Star Wars gaming, books, comics, and TV, all eyes will be on if Lucasfilm can actually start bringing the galaxy far, far away back to the big screen.

What We’re Waiting For

  • This is another big year for Star Wars streaming, although not quite so much in the ways recent years have been. The next season of The Mandalorian is unlikely to make it to this year unless it squeaks into the last few months, and the much-hyped Ahsoka is now behind us, with an uncertain future hinged on if Star Wars’ latest movie dreams actually pan out. Instead, we look to two new Star Wars series that are, by and large, completely new worlds and ideas for the franchise: Skeleton Crew, the Jude-Law-starring, post-Return of the Jedi series built around a group of young kids whisked into adventure, and The Acolyte, the High Republic era’s live-action debut that will focus on the Dark Side’s plans to ascend as the light of the Jedi’s golden age dwindles. It’s not just the launch of two brand-new series, but the launch of two stories that are, seemingly for the most part, largely unconnected to characters that came before.
  • It’s also an important year for Star Wars animation. The Bad Batch’s third and final season is set to debut this year, as will a follow-up to the anthology series Tales of the Jedi. But as another phase of Lucasfilm animation comes to an end, there’s room for speculation about what the studio has planned for the medium next. Will there be even more Clone Wars-stylized spinoffs, or is it time for something new?
  • While there are no Star Wars movies coming in 2024, this year still represents an important period for Lucasfilm’s latest attempts at hashing out a slate for Star Wars’ big screen comeback, five years after The Rise of Skywalker. The big headliner is the New Jedi Order movie from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daisy Ridley, which is set to start filming this year, but hopefully this year we’ll also see movement on the two films announced alongside it, James Mangold’s “Dawn of the Jedi” ancient history tale, and now creative-overseer Dave Filoni’s New Republic vs. Imperial Remnant film—movement that actually makes us feel like these projects won’t fall by the wayside like so many ones before them.
  • Last year was a stellar one for Star Wars gaming thanks to the incredible Star Wars Jedi: Survivor—not just one of the year’s best games, but one of the best Star Wars stories around. This year all eyes are on an altogether different tale: Ubisoft’s Star Wars Outlaws, which trades Jedi for an open-world smuggling adventure set during the events of the original movies.
  • This is also a big year for nostalgia: the prequels turn 25 with the anniversary of The Phantom Menace in May. Could we see more than merch and reminiscing? We’ll have to wait and see.
  • We know it’s been delayed by last year’s writers and actors strikes, but please, I beg of you: a crumb of Andor news. Even if we’re still waiting for next year.

Unconventional Wisdom

The year ahead is going to be important for the future of Star Wars books and comics. It will see the wrap-up of transmedia High Republic project’s third, and long-heralded final, phase, tying into the launch of The Acolyte streaming show. But what will be next for Star Wars fiction?

There’s the possibility we see more—and whether or not the success of The Acolyte sparks interest in different periods of this prequel-prequel era. But there’s also the opportunity for Star Wars books to simply move to another similarly scaled project in another timeframe, or re-explore its past style of output, with multiple standalone novels across all different periods of the franchise, with the lessons learned from what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. We already know a few things on the way, like the Phantom Menace anniversary-adjacent Jedi Council novel Living Force, as well as, of course, the climactic novels from High Republic phase three.

That’s not even to touch on Marvel’s Star Wars comics, which have increasingly felt trapped in their move to the timeframe between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi back in 2020. It’s not like there haven’t been good stories there, but three years on a lot has been crammed into this small slice of Star Wars, and it’s time to see what could happen, if Marvel is willing, to bring its books perhaps beyond the original trilogy itself. It’s looking like 2024 will be an important evolutionary and transitory year for Star Wars fiction on your shelf, regardless of the form it takes.

Longshot Bets

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s Rey movie might not be coming in 2024—and given Star Wars’ current success rate with getting greenlit movie projects to fruition, there’s a not-insignificant chance it won’t make it out at all—but is Lucasfilm prepared for the culture war storm it’s already generating? The answer is… probably not, even though this has been a long time coming for Star Wars since The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi became emergent topics for right-leaning firestorms and discourse.

We’ve already seen the impact those previous battles had on the future of the franchise, especially when it came to how Lucasfilm handled talent in front of and behind the camera that became targets of those hate campaigns. The studio has taken steps to improve in this regard, but the Rey movie faces a kind of weaponized culture war industry that simply did not exist in the state it currently does even the last time a Star Wars movie came out—an industry already eager to tear the franchise and its creatives down. Given that the film has almost become a make-or-break project for Star Wars’ cinematic return, 2024 has to be a year where the studio radically steps up the ways it stands with its creatives and talent, and the Rey movie will be one of the most important battlegrounds for it to do so as it enters production.

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