Is the Upcoming 'Star Wars' Spin-Off the Film Fans Are Looking for?

With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in the rearview, fans are looking forward to what other movies Lucasfilm has on the way. Since before its release, the future of big-screen Star Wars has been up in the air. The studio has many potential projects in the queue with seemingly little to no long-term plan.

[Spoiler alert: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Read at your own risk.]

Lucasfilm has no idea what the future of ‘Star Wars’ is

These possibilities include Rian Johnson’s announced trilogy and a film overseen by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige. But building on the success of The Mandalorian, Lucas also has other Disney+ shows in the works, including one centered on Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi. Now we have news of yet another Star Wars project to add to the list.

According to recent reports, Lucasfilm has hired director J.D. Dillard (Sleight) and writer Matt Owens (Luke Cage) to work on a new Star Wars movie. The focus this time? The hidden Sith world of Exegol, as seen in The Rise of Skywalker. Although we don’t know if this project would be destined for theaters or Disney+, the real question is if this is the right move.

What Palpatine has been up to since ‘Return of the Jedi’

In the climactic moments of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader aka Anakin Skywalker restores balance to the Force by turning against Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) in defense of his own son. For 36 years, the Star Wars universe — and its fans — believed Palpatine’s story had come to a close. That is, until an iconic cackle punctuated a trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The previous two entries in the sequel trilogy made no reference to Palpatine’s survival. But The Rise of Skywalker lets the emperor out of the bag in the very first words of the opening crawl: “The dead speak!” The character, as we soon learn, is being kept barely alive on a hidden Sith world known as Exegol. No one knows where the planet is, and the search for the final Sith wayfinder propels much of Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) quest.

On Exegol, not only is Palpatine awaiting the opportunity to rise again. He also is joined by legions of Sith acolytes, who have constructed a massive fleet of ships. Palpatine has dubbed this new empire the Final Order. And though his effort to conquer the galaxy a second time is thwarted, it’s unclear what becomes of Exegol, the remaining fleet, and those who constructed it.

Where does the saga go after ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’?

If Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had been roundly praised for its storytelling, then perhaps digging deeper into Exegol would make sense. However, the film received a mixed-at-best response from critics and fans alike. Its box office drop-off alone indicates The Rise of Skywalker failed to deliver the satisfying finale fans hoped for.

The biggest problem looming over The Rise of Skywalker? You guessed it: the last-minute drop-in of everything Palpatine. Love it or hate it, The Last Jedi set Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) up as the sequel trilogy’s Big Bad. Subbing him out at the last minute for the granddaddy (literally) of everything Star Wars is and ever has been created a convoluted story that weighs down the entire film.

Instead of tying up loose ends, The Rise of Skywalker further complicates the story. Seeing as the film wasn’t what most fans wanted, Lucasfilm might be better off letting its less successful elements fade away. Doubling-down on Exegol at this critical point in the saga’s history feels like too risky a move right now. Even if the intention is to smooth it over, fans who feel burned by The Rise of Skywalker need some time to heal before that happens.

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