Damon Lindelof’s Star Wars Movie Shows Disney Hasn’t Learned Its Lesson

Recent reports indicate that Disney is moving full-steam ahead on a new Star Wars theatrical release. Spearheaded and written by Damon Lindelof, with direction from Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the film comes after a time when all Star Wars content found itself relegated to Disney’s streaming network, Disney+. Though the shows have received varying levels of critical and fan acclaim, devotees and the entertainment world have been waiting with bated breath for real movement forward on a theatrical product from the legendary franchise. Several projects have been announced and quickly tossed on the back-burner, most notably a proposed trilogy from Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson. But Lindelof’s movie is the first to see true momentum building.

Along with confirmations of the next Star Wars entry’s guiding hands, tantalizing hints about the film have come to light. Prime among these is the revelation that the upcoming adventure will likely feature characters from the recent 2010s Star Wars trilogy, which saw its first and final entries handled by longtime Lindelof collaborator J.J. Abrams. No word has leaked in regards to which characters might appear or in what capacity, but the suggestion alone proves that Disney has yet to learn its lesson on the proper handling of Star Wars moving forward.

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Disney Has Yet to Step Away From the Original Star Wars Films

Disney has proved reticent, time and time again, to explore corners of the Star Wars universe hitherto untouched. The 2010s trilogy featured a bevy of legacy characters and carried on the fundamental narrative elements of the previous six chapters. Even details outside the main throughline of the Skywalker Saga constantly returned or played major roles in the plot. Namely, protagonist Rey’s connection with Emperor Palpatine. All the Star Wars television properties, too, tie directly to previous movies or eventually feature legacy characters to some degree. Both spinoff movies follow this pattern, as well.

Making characters from the recent trilogy central or ancillary figures appear in the new Star Wars movie doubles down on this paradigm, extending the legacy character umbrella to ones less than a decade old. Disney cannot seem to muster the courage to fabricate a narrative whole cloth without having it connect tangentially to the supposedly concluded Skywalker Saga. The end of Star Wars (to this point) main narrative should, in theory, allow for complete freedom in crafting whatever comes next. But if the creatives at Disney can’t stand the risk, there’s no real chance of any new compelling stories coming from the Star Wars universe again.

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Damon Lindelof’s Style Hews Closely to Another Controversial Star Wars Figure

Lindelof’s involvement alone indicates that Disney hasn’t learned its lesson. Abrams is a close collaborator and creative peer to Lindelof. The two famously pioneered the “mystery box” style of storytelling with their long-running television show Lost. This style of plot structuring worked well as an opening salvo in the sequel trilogy, but Abrams was unwilling to take any narrative risks with his grand finale, retconning elements of Johnson’s middle entry to better connect to the original trilogy. The “mystery box” questions that were asked in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens were never satisfactorily answered, and several were left dangling entirely. Should Lindelof take a similar tack with his Star Wars movie’s screenplay, it may achieve similar results.

There are plenty of reasons to hold out hope when it comes to the final product of Lindelof’s upcoming Star Wars movie. In fact, the team working alongside him is especially promising. But if Disney is ever going to craft a new and original story in the Star Wars universe, it has to finally detach from the past.