First up is Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards. He previously directed Monsters and the 2014 Godzilla. The film is scheduled for release in December 2016.
This week plot details for Rogue One finally emerged. According to Disney:
Rogue One is set sometime before Star Wars: A New Hope, and revolves around a band of rebels and bounty hunters who unite to steal the plans for the first Death Star.Phew! Thank the Maker! For a minute there I was afraid we were going to get a new Star Wars film that didn't somehow involve the Death Star, or a Death Star-like super weapon. The world has dodged a bullet today, my friends! Crisis averted!
Um… don't we already know how this movie's going to end? It's obvious the Rogue One cast will successfully steal the Death Star plans, since A New Hope opens with Princess Leia desperately trying to deliver them to Alderaan. How the plans were stolen isn't important. If it was the story would have already been told.
The same thing goes for Disney's upcoming Han Solo spinoff, set to release in 2018. Like Rogue One, it'll be a prequel, presumably telling the story of a younger Han Solo before we met him in A New Hope. We don't need to see Han's childhood or awkward teen years, or how he hooked up with Chewbacca. We learned everything we needed to know about the character the minute he first appeared onscreen back in 1977.
So what's the point? Why spend millions making a movie about a minor plot point that everyone can figure out for themselves?
This digging into the distant past of a franchise is called story mining, and it's completely unnecessary, even dangerous. George Lucas found that out the hard way with the Prequels. He came up with a lame origin story for the mysterious Boba Fett that was met with outright hostility by fans.
Not every story needs to be told. Some things are better left to the imagination.
But this is Disney we're talking about, and they don't just want most of the money, they want ALL of it. They're going to keep pumping out these movies and they'll keep grossing billions until there's no more money left.
Actually I'm not so sure about that. By its very nature Rogue One will feature a cast of brand new characters. New favorites like Rey and Finn can't be in it, because the movie's set before they were born. I doubt it'll feature any old characters like Luke or Han either, unless they're played by younger actors. The only familiar face that might show up would be a CGI de-aged Leia, who'll appear at the end to receive the stolen plans.
A Star Wars movie without any beloved characters is an extremely risky move, and as we all know, Disney doesn't like risk. It'll be interesting to see if the public flocks to a movie filled with unknown characters and a plot they've already seen. Ah, who am I kidding— I just described The Force Awakens! Rogue One will make 'em another billion. Disney might as well start construction on a new money bin!