What Does the Future Hold for the Empire?

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Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is nearly here, but Star Wars fans are always looking to the horizon to see what the future may hold for us.  We are especially excited about the future after the recent announcement of a new trilogy of films coming from filmmaker Rian Johnson set for release some time after Episode IX concludes.  It’s obvious that they are going to keep making Star Wars films for the foreseeable future, the galaxy far, far, away that we know and love will continue to grow and expand in every direction exploring new concepts and new characters.

We saw this in the old Legends expanded universe tales.  We had stories that stretched from 25,000 years before the films to nearly 150 years after.  Many of those stories, and some of the newer canon stories as well, share many similarities to the classic films that started it all.  It seems there is always some ragtag group of heroes that have to come together to face an overwhelming evil, oftentimes this evil is called an Empire.

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Knights of the Old Republic is one of my favorite Star Wars games.  The creators told a story that was set 4,000 years before A New Hope, but it still shared many similarities with the classic film.  You played as a Jedi recruit who had a connection to the evil Sith Lord and you were the key to saving the galaxy from the Sith Empire.  Along the way you fought against faceless troopers and hitched a ride in a beat up old smuggling vessel.  It was a lot of the same story beats as the original trilogy, but spun in a new way.  The Force Awakens and the sequel trilogy of films is doing much the same thing with the First Order, acting as the Empire 2.0.  In Knights of the Old Republic it was the roots of what would become the Empire and in the sequel trilogy it’s what grew from the vacuum created by the death of the Empire.  In Star Wars, the stories always seem to come back around to Rebel heroes fighting against a tyrannical Empire and it’s faceless stormtroopers.

Episode IX will most likely end with the death of Snoke and the destruction of the First Order.  The Resistance will win the day and save the galaxy once again.  Sorry, spoiler alert.  But, what of this idea of the Empire?  Will Rian Johnson’s trilogy of films revolve around Rebels and the Empire?  Will it be some Imperial stand-in like Knights of the Old Republic?  Will we see an Empire 3.0?

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The Empire is a classic archetype.  It is the ultimate evil, represented by some of the most memorable villains and designs ever.  However, I do hope that the new storytellers coming in to Star Wars will find a way to tell Star Wars stories without always having to go back to the Imperial well.  We don’t need to see constant new takes on the old Empire.  If we’re going to get a story about an Empire, I’d probably just want it set during the time of The Empire instead of making it some poor man’s Imperial knock off.  The prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars showed us different ways to get that evil, mustache twirling villain while also not seeming like a carbon copy of what came before.

I’m very excited for what is coming from Lucasfilm and I trust that they will learn from the choices made in the past, what worked and what didn’t work, without needing to lean on the crutch of another Empire lead by a dark side force user who has his finger on the button of a superweapon.

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