The Future of Star Wars Animation
“I always get worried about disrupting continuity. I seem to get blamed for that a lot.”
-Dave Filoni, Star Wars Animation Executive Producer
In this current era of Star Wars, new content is being developed every day. Three films are currently in various stages of production, Marvel Comics has several series that show no signs of waning sales, and new novels are creating a huge buzz by bringing on writers from the old Expanded Universe days. Star Wars animation is a connective backbone for the fans as it offers facets of the galaxy not explored in the cinematic experience. However, as great as the Clone Wars were and Rebels is, I feel that we need more Star Wars animation. I know how it should be done and just how it might reunite the divisions of fans that exist.
To see how Star Wars should approach new animation endeavors requires one to look at the DC comics universe. The animated features from DCU are on a consistent release schedule and contain way more hits than misses. The adaptation of Dark Knight Returns and Wonder Woman are just as well written and produced as any live action feature. The DCU animation features are created using a combination of traditional 2D with CG assistance for certain components. Presented usually with a 70-100 minute run time, these stories are able to successfully adapt many of DC’s most popular storylines that are robust with action, character development and little to no filler.
To understand how seasonal animation is not entirely the route for Star Wars consider popular television shows like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. Seasonal television programs are created with certain contractual obligations in mind. If a network or studio orders a 22 episode season they expect just that. Many great stories can be told in far less time. In some cases television shows actually benefit from a shorter season. As exciting and intense as Game of Thrones is with a 10 episode season. Could you imagine how bloated and boring it could get with a 22 episode run? Am I saying that the Clone Wars or Rebels seasons were too long? You be the judge. Are there scenes that are unnecessary to the overall story? Are there episodes that you skip during your re-watch binges? My stance is that sometimes less is more. In the case of Star Wars moving forward in animation we should consider exactly what stories need to be told and why.
So what stories should be told in Star Wars animation? Of course new untold tales of canon are essential to further the universe, but what existing stories should be adapted? This is where i think we could begin to reunify the fanbase. What if Lucasfilm were to adopt the animation ideals of the DCU and focus on exploring the “Legends” of the Star Wars galaxy? How cool would that be? We could see all the tales that so many loved in the Expanded Universe finally be realized in a new medium. Focusing on the “Legends” aspect as a story that was passed down from generation to generation could allow fans to explore the old tales and become familiar with the past happenings prior to The Phantom Menace.
As exciting as all this new Star Wars content is, it is disheartening to know that almost 40 years worth of lore is no longer expanding or being represented. Utilizing animation to revisit this part of the fandom seems like a way that all parties could be pleased. I am a fan of the original Expanded Universe and the new canon. While the idea of “Legends” being realized as animated features may never occur, any new high quality animated content will surely be welcomed. The next few years will continue to be an exciting time for Star Wars fans in all mediums, let’s just hope that Lucasfilm animation projects continue to thrill for generations to come.