Did The Rise of Skywalker and rampant speculation over just which Skywalker is rising, who a Skywalker is, and why they’re rising break some brains over at Lucasfilm? Almost every bit of Star Wars on the small screen we’ve gotten since (and planned for the big one) is a character title, named for an individual or the group we’re following. What happened to a bit of flair?
‘I Started a Yoda Fan Club’
This is, admittedly, a cause for concern about as low on the list as you can get when it comes to the future of Star Wars (they should try actually getting some of those movies they’ve announced made, for example, and it seems like at last they really are trying!). It will not be the end of the galaxy far, far away as we know it if at some point this year Kathleen Kennedy gets on a stage and announced Captain Rex, Luthen, Ackbar, Toryn Farr, Thrawn, or Poe as future projects—or at least it wouldn’t be on the choice of name alone.
But this week’s shock announcement that the next Star Wars film to enter production would be The Mandalorian & Grogu, a movie starring, well, the Mandalorian (we can’t even call him Din Djarin) and Grogu just got me thinking that all these movie and show names are just… a little boring? Star Wars is big, sweeping, pulpy, intense, weird, exciting, stirring. At its very best, it evokes a sense of mystery, adventure, and wanderlust. It’s not just the names of characters we know treated like own sub-brands to the whole, a weird trademarking exercise. For Star Wars to inspire, it can’t just be “here is a character you already know, that’s it.” That’s already a problem the series has had to reckon with time and time again lately in many other ways, but it feels like much more of an issue when the vast majority of projects we hear about are just even called that, even beyond being about the familiar faces we know.
And it’s not like Star Wars titles have to be particularly flowery or anything—the mainline movie titles are all pretty literal in their own ways. Luke is the New Hope, the Empire strikes back, the Jedi return. The Sith are a phantom menace, the Clones attack, the Sith have their revenge. The sequel trilogy is arguably the vaguest those titles get, and even then, not much: Rey and Kylo Ren represent the dichotomy of the Force re-awakening in major galactic events, the real point is that no one is really the Last Jedi, and then of course, it is Rey who becomes the inheritor of the Skywalker legacy. But they intrigue and inspire, evoke the pulp sci-fi that inspired Star Wars in the first place, get you asking questions, inferring meaning. The Mandalorian & Grogu just tells you that the Mandalorian and Grogu are going to be in it. Why should we care, what drives to make this story one for the big screen, what makes this worthy instead of making whatever it becomes into The Mandalorian season four? Maybe at this point, as eager as Lucasfilm is to get Star Wars back in theaters, we’re not meant to really get much out of the title beyond that: you like The Mandalorian, don’t you? You like the Baby Yoda? Well, here they are, The Mandalorian & Grogu™!
We do still get a little bit of that classic mystery in here and sparks though. The Book of Boba Fett may evoke a character name, but it at least added a little pizazz, although I could do without the discourse at the time of trying to treat that show’s plot like chapters of a cohesive novel. The Acoylte is presumably named for one particular character in the Rise of the Sith/Fall of the High Republic show, even if it’s not their literal name, but it still sounds dark and mysterious and intriguing. Skeleton Crew is likely named as such because, from what we know at least, it’s a series that focus on a lot of brand new characters that you can’t really evoke name recognition for—but at the same time, it still gives you an idea of what to expect in a threadbare, ragtag team. And they stand out even more as the sea of character titles we already have because of it!
As we look to Star Wars’ future, there is indeed a hope—even knowing so little about some of the movies planned, the suggestions of what we have so far, like Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s New Jedi Order film (god, please don’t just call it Rey now), Dave Filoni’s potential riff on Heir to the Empire (sure it’s a borrowed title if it’s what we get, but it’s a cool title), or James Mangold’s film about the Dawn of the Jedi (surely there can’t be a character we name that one after yet!) may point to Star Wars once again moving back to that kind of pulpy titling. We can but hope.
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