Disney Plus recently released the schedule for their impressive rollout of Star Wars spinoff series for 2021-2023 exclusive to their streaming platform. Fans are excited to see such a massive continuation of Star Wars spinoffs.
A Reputation Enhanced by Spinoffs
It is not a surprise as the beloved franchise has a reputation for quality spinoffs that expand the Star Wars universe, flesh out well-known stories, and introduce key characters. The release schedules show just how much Disney+ and Lucasfilms are willing to invest in Star Wars spinoffs. It also reminds fans that they are willing to invest so much because Star Wars spinoffs have seen much success for over ten years.
When Lucasfilm released the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999-2005), critics mostly loved it. Unfortunately, many fans did not. There were many aspects of the movies that fans were unhappy with—from CGI to writing. The biggest issue for them was Anakin Skywalker’s arc, especially his transformation into Darth Vader. Some felt like it was rushed; others felt that it just was not depicted well. The overall consensus was his transformation happened so fast that the gravitas of it gets lost, which then makes the final stage of it feel lackluster.
In 2008, George Lucas tapped Dave Filoni to create the Clone Wars animated movie and again to create the Clone Wars animated television series (2008-2021). While the movie was also received with mixed reviews, the series was met with high praise from critics and fans alike. Many attribute this massive success to how the series was able to fill in the blanks left by the movies that had left fans so unsatisfied. The biggest critique for the prequel trilogy was its depiction of Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader.
So, it seemed intentional that the Clone Wars series made up for that by actually being able to flesh out that storyline. They could take the time to not just tell the audience that Anakin was going to the dark side, but also show it in the changes to his behavior over time. Fans received 7 seasons of a compelling story about how the young man fated to unite The Jedi Council became part of its downfall. Many fans accredited the Cartoon Network series for filling in a lot of blanks with the story and, most importantly, providing an organic turning point for Anakin Skywalker to become one of the most infamous villains of cinematic history. Lucasfilm had produced many Star Wars spinoffs since the franchise’s inception. However, this was the first time that a Star Wars spinoff needed to redeem the franchise for the fans. It would not be the last.
The Modern-Day – Some Good, Some Bad
The Star Wars sequel trilogy (2015-2019) received much fan backlash for a variety of reasons. Many felt that the storylines were repetitions of stories that had been told in previous projects. For example, many compared the initial story of the main character, Rey (played by Daisy Ridley), to Luke Skywalker and criticized it for feeling like an unnecessary repeat. But the biggest controversies around the series had little to do with the story and more to do with problematic behavior with the fandom. John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran being such significant characters, for example, received much backlash from fans which often manifested in racist and misogynistic language.
Either way, a Star Wars movie trilogy was once again receiving major fan backlash. By this time, The Walt Disney Company had been gearing up to launch its first streaming service, Disney+, for all movies, television shows, and bonus material from Disney and Disney-affiliated properties, including the Star Wars franchise. So, it is no surprise that the franchise was once again in need of resuscitation when the Star Wars spinoff series, The Mandalorian, aired on Disney Plus in November 2019.
It was an immediate success and gained much praise from critics and fans alike. Like the Clone Wars animated series, the timing of this release meant that many fans unhappy with the sequel trilogy could dive back into the Star Wars world from a different perspective. Unlike the series, though, it seemed more preoccupied with fine-tuning the world-building aspects of the franchise. That is probably why it currently has an approval rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ironically, so does the Clone Wars animated series.
Not all of the Star Wars spinoffs have arrived at turning moments of the franchise. Some, like Rebels and Resistance, have been able to quietly and powerfully pave their own paths through the bigger Star Wars story. But what the spinoff series have in common is that they have introduced new characters and new adventures that appeal to existing fans while attracting new ones, too. This is content that fans love and they are willing to spend money to consume. This almost guarantees that Star Wars spinoffs will always have an audience and, therefore, can always be relied on as a revenue stream.
The Bright Future of Star Wars
It makes sense, then, that Disney+ has not only planned but invested in a lineup of Star Wars spinoffs to be released in the next two years—including Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka. The casting of Obi-Wan Kenobi for his self-titled spinoff series made waves as did the casting of Ahsoka Tano for her self-titled series. Though it made less waves, the casting of Ezra Bridger is another step toward Lucasfilm and Disney+ fully realizing their spinoff plans.
The Bad Batch is the newest Star Wars spinoff series introduced to Disney+ and the next release will happen in December 2021 with The Book of Boba Fett. It focuses on Clone Force 99, a specially trained group of clone troopers that many fans will recognize from the Clone Wars animated series, completing mercenary missions in a post-Clone Wars galaxy. Star Wars spinoffs have a knack for taking side characters, giving them their own spotlight, and letting them shine. The Bad Batch leans into the promising future that Star Wars has in spinoffs by continuing this pattern with a fresh set of characters and new adventures.
The Star Wars spinoffs have not been without their own controversies. For example, Gina Carano who portrays Cara Dune on The Mandalorian was recently fired from the series for transphobic behavior she had been accused of displaying on Twitter. But Star Wars spinoffs themselves continue to receive positive reviews from critics and fans.
Disney+ invested in creating Star Wars spinoffs because they knew they could rely on the fans paying for the service to watch those series and that speaks to their trust in the quality of these spinoffs. It also just gives fans something to be excited about. The series promise exploration of well-known and beloved characters and the continued expansion of the Star Wars universe.
May the Force be with you.