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First Click: How many Star Wars movies is too many?

First Click: How many Star Wars movies is too many?

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December 1st, 2016

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We're less than three weeks away from a new Star Wars movie — Rogue One will be our second in two years — and if all goes to plan, we should be getting Episode VIII next December. Growing up with the expanded universe and, latterly, the prequels, I never thought we'd get to this point. To a young me, Star Wars movies were scaffolding, a fossilized skeleton on which to hang other stories told by book, comic, or video game.

George Lucas tried to breathe new life into that skeleton at the turn of the millennium, but the prequels ended up feeling like a funeral for the body of Star Wars, marking a time the films should be buried. But Disney and J.J. Abrams exhumed that corpse again last year, imbuing it with movie magic and making Star Wars movies feel fresh again. Now the franchise's new owners promise a swathe of new films, starting with Rogue One, and following up with a range of spinoffs.

It's certainly an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan, but I'm also a little worried. If Rogue One fails, then Disney has indicated that it may dial back production on spinoffs and standalone movies. But if it succeeds — and most evidence so far indicates that it will — then we could be getting a Star Wars movie every year from now until end of time. That's fine for a while, because the Star Wars galaxy has a surfeit of memorable characters on which to draw, but what comes after Disney has exhausted the series' main characters? Once Boba Fett, Wedge Antilles, and Mon Mothma get their own movies?

I've been thinking about that, and this is how I see the release schedule going.

Lando Calrissian: A Star Wars Story

After an appearance in the Han Solo spinoff, a young Lando Calrissian takes the starring role in his own movie. Played by Donald Glover, the smooth-talking Lando charms his way around the galaxy, making deals, playing Star Wars poker analog sabacc, and kissing women's hands. The film explains how Lando comes to run Cloud City in the Empire Strikes Back, but production is held up for three months while Disney works out how to tastefully handle the multiple sex scenes.

The sith come back — again

Lobot: A Star Wars Story

Follow Lando's cybernetically enhanced assistant Lobot as he performs a string of administrative tasks in Cloud City! Try not to consider the philosophical ramifications of forcing a man with severe brain injuries into indentured servitude! (At the same time, audiences are invited to think about how cruel it was for George Lucas to call an essentially lobotomized man "Lobot." It's like calling a guy with a prosthetic leg "Amputato.")

Star Wars: Episode X: Revenge of the Returning Sith Empire's Shadow

It's 30 years after the First Order and the resurgent Sith — led by Supreme Leader Snoke and Ben "shut up I'm Kylo!" Solo — have been beaten by the goodie-goodie New Republic and the Resistance. It's the third time this has happened in the galaxy in less than a century, but apparently nobody has learned anything, and a mysterious cloaked figure rises to power at the head of yet another fascist force. The Jedi consider saving the day, but Jesus Christ, people, is this really happening again?

Dak Ralter: A Star Wars Story

In a bid to avoid messing up an increasingly complicated canon, Disney commissions a standalone movie about Dak Ralter, a character distinguished primarily by dying in the back of Luke Skywalker's snowspeeder during the escape from Hoth. With its scope limited to one battle from the Empire Strikes Back, this film-within-a-film resorts to a cinéma vérité style that has viewers watch for two excruciating hours as Dak wakes up, brushes his teeth, visits the restroom, and pulls on his flight suit ahead of his inevitable demise.

Star Wars: the Holiday Special Strikes Back

After a string of gritty character studies flop at the box office, Disney changes its approach, dialing up the kitsch references in a bid to win over a cynical post-millennial audience. Kylo Ren and Rey duet on a song about Life Day, 50 ewoks are enlisted for a dance number, and a bearded Luke Skywalker gives everyone presents. Guy Fieri guest stars as the son of infamous alien chef Gormaanda. He requires no makeup.

Chewbacca's Mom: A Star Wars Story

A standalone movie following the wookiee that would become mother to the legendary Chewbacca. Chewbacca's Mom — real name unnecessary — becomes famous overnight on her home planet of Kashyyyk for a holonet-distributed video in which she dons a human mask and laughs uproariously for several minutes. Her sudden renown leads her to a meeting with wookiee chieftain Attichituk on a local talk show, and a romance blossoms. A year later (wookiee gestation periods are longer than humans'), Chewbacca is born, but most of Kashyyyk has already tired of her masked antics and questionable statements, and she fades into obscurity.

Hmmm. I originally wrote these out to illustrate that Star Wars movies will suffer from diminishing returns, to show that our taste for nostalgia would fade with time, and to suggest that a more relaxed release schedule may give us the necessary refractory period to appreciate a new film. But now I realize the problem here is not that Disney would ever run out of characters on which to base new Star Wars movies. The real problem is that I would pay to see all of these films.

I am the problem.

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A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix