If you asked any Star Wars fan what the state of the franchise was like just under two years ago, you’d receive responses along the lines of, “Disney is ruining Star Wars,” “They just want my money” and “They have no idea what they’re doing.” In December of 2017, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was released in theaters, resulting in one of the biggest divides in cinematic history between those who loved the film and those who despised it. To this day, the film remains one of the most hotly debated movies of all time. Also around this time, video game developer, Electronic Arts, was still attempting to retrace their steps after they released “Star Wars: Battlefront II” with minimal game modes and a progression system solely based on additional transactions with real money. Adding fuel to the fire, the yet-to-be-released “Solo: A Star Wars Story” was plagued with production problems, including a change in director and rumors of an acting coach being brought to set. The franchise and fandom alike were in shambles, but my goodness how the tables have turned. This fall/winter season alone is proving to be an angelic period in Star Wars content that is getting fans buzzing.
First and most simply, the release of Disney+ allows anyone with the service to watch every Star Wars movie and television series in stunning 4K resolution for the first time ever. Fans and newcomers alike can stream at their leisure the classics that made the franchise popular, as well as the lesser-seen, “The Clone Wars,” “Rebels” and “Resistance” T.V. series.
However, the most popular content to come out of Disney+ thus far is the new series from creator Jon Favreau, “The Mandalorian.” The show follows a gun-slinging bounty hunter, played by Pedro Pascal, with a mysterious past and his adventures in searching for targets. While only two episodes have been released so far, the show already has a strong sense of what Star Wars visual media is supposed to look and feel like. The show is unlike anything the franchise has produced before but immediately feels familiar from its tone and production design. There is a clear love for the material that Favreau, as showrunner, exhibits through every frame. Since Disney+ is releasing episodes weekly instead of all at once, social media hype will allow it to gain traction and attention with every episode that airs. Personally, I think “The Mandalorian” is the perfect placeholder for Star Wars right now. When anticipation is building for the next film, I’m over the moon that they delivered a show of this caliber to hold me over.
Respawn Entertainment, a division of Electronic Arts, recently released the video game “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order” on Xbox One, PS4 and PC, and it is truly a masterwork of Star Wars storytelling. The game follows Cal Kestis, a Jedi Apprentice who survived the Jedi Purge during the events of “Revenge of the Sith,” as he battles the Empire and searches for hope to restore the Jedi Order. After the commercial and critical disaster of “Battlefront II,” Star Wars fans deserved a new game that would immerse them in a galaxy far, far away like so many other games have in the past. I am only about halfway through my playthrough of “Fallen Order” and it is absolutely my favorite Star Wars game ever. I feel like I have stepped inside the shoes of Cal and can relate to his journey of searching for purpose. The gameplay is incredibly smooth and presents the best lightsaber combat ever, allowing the user to feel both powerful and vulnerable at the same time. When the player squares off against other lightsaber-wielding enemies, tensions run extremely high, as it truly feels like you might be overmatched. The game is challenging without ever becoming frustrating, which is essential when there’s an incredible story to take in. If you have a gaming console and are a Star Wars fan, this is a high recommendation from me.
Star Wars and the team at Lucasfilm have absolutely regained their footing after a few rocky years handling this franchise. Both “The Mandalorian” and “Jedi: Fallen Order” are welcome additions to a gallery filled with amazing Star Wars stories. We just got two amazing pieces of media in addition to the fact that “The Rise of Skywalker,” the final movie in the Skywalker Saga, is coming to theaters in less than a month! Yeah, it’s a pretty incredible time to be a Star Wars fan.