While Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may have concluded many storylines and answered a lot of questions (and raised quite a few too), the most important question that came after the movie's end is, "What comes next?" So where do we go now that the Skywalker Saga has come to an end and the original characters' story arcs all reached their final moments?
The question presented many challenges to Lucasfilm, but it also presented a great opportunity. It's a chance to bring about a whole new era to the Star Wars universe. And although many fans may have been rooting for a focus on the Old Republic, instead Lucasfilm decided to go another step further. They would not focus on any era that had been already covered, not even only in video games. They created a new timeline to explore in the form of the High Republic.
But what exactly is the High Republic and is it paving the way for the next movie series?
For now, Star Wars: The High Republic is not a movie, but a new era from Lucasfilm Publishing.
Originally called Project Luminus, Star Wars: The High Republic came about from, as the VP of Franchise Content and Strategy James Waugh put it, the thought of making publishing "more of an incubation place". With that desire, Lucasfilm organized some of their top writers, like Justina Ireland and Claudia Gray, to form a new era, with new struggles and new characters.
The idea of the High Republic is that it goes back further than Star Wars ever did. It's a time of piece in the galaxy. The Jedi are powerful and strong and connected. But rather than the threat of these stories coming from those connected to the Force, the threat comes from outside the borders of the Republic.
"We see a different kind of Jedi that patrols the frontiers," James said in the announcement video. "He's more of a Texas Ranger."
Similarly to the original series and the sequels, there is a core group of heroes. Those heroes, as well as the main baddies, the Nihil, who are referred to as "Space Vikings", will be introduced throughout the original books in the era,
The first five books of the era will begin arriving in Aug. 2020, but Lucasfilm made it clear that the High Republic will be expanding throughout all of their publishing licensees, including Marvel Comics.
So what about the movies?
As James said, right now Lucasfilm Publishing is being used as an incubation chamber. And that's likely a good thing. The fact is, we may not see a Star Wars movie for a little while. Although Bob Iger has since stepped down from his role of CEO of the Walt Disney Company, he reaffirmed back in Nov. 2019 that it was important to Disney to slow down on Star Wars movies.
“I have said publicly that I think we made and released too many films over a short period of time,” he said. “I have not said that they were disappointing in any way. I’ve not said that I’m disappointed in their performance. I just think that there’s something so special about a Star Wars film, and less is more.”
Although we've gotten used to seeing a new Star Wars movie every year since 2015, we sometimes forget that, before Disney took over, we hadn't had a new one since 2005. Even the prequels didn't come out every year in quick succession. The first was in 1999 and the second was in 2002.
It does seem likely that, if Lucasfilm is developing a whole new era through their books and comics, then that era will play into the next trilogy or series of movies. But it seems like a smart move to take some time developing those stories before trying to put them on screen.
Especially considering one of the most common complaints of the sequel trilogy was that fans didn't think they had the story mapped out beforehand. Hopefully, the plan here is to use the books as a map and deliver a new story that delights new and old viewers alike.