Explainers

Rise of the Rumor: The latest on Star Wars decanonization theories

The Mandalorian and Cara Dune in Season 2. Pic credit: Disney Plus

This article contains spoilers about the Star Wars sequel trilogy and Season 2 of The Mandalorian.

How’s your favorite Star Wars theory going? With The Mandalorian at rest before shooting Season 3 and Clone Wars spinoff The Bad Batch not yet released, it’s high season for theory-mongering.

Given the fan uproar still simmering around the firing of Gina Carano, attention has focused once again on rumors concerning changing the canon status of the sequel trilogy.

The miracle of The Mandalorian

The miracle of The Mandalorian lies in its high popularity amongst nearly all factions of the fan base; until recently, the series seemed to heal a split that occurred over the direction of the franchise. The political flavor and plot decisions of the sequel trilogy caused a great deal of controversy, with a Twitter-wielding section of the fanbase seizing the opportunity to accuse others of racism and sexism.

While some troublemaking trolls surely had their day, older fans who had long embraced Lando Calrissian, Bo-Katon, Finn, Rogue One, Ahsoka Tano, and Mace Windu furiously denied such allegations and pointed out that their criticisms were limited to irrational plot direction and poor character development.

Training and discipline

Before The Mandalorian’s Gina Carano was fired over political social media posts but Pedro Pascal was allowed to remain in his position for discussing the same topics in similar formats, the Disney Plus streamer united fans across age gaps and artistic tastes. In particular, adherents to the original trilogy cheered the course of The Mandalorian and its constant swipes at the philosophical underpinnings of the sequels, some of which, it was argued, negated some of the most beloved aspects of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.

Lines such as “Talent without training is nothing” and “To wield (the Force) takes a great deal of training and discipline” were seen as slaps at perceived “Mary Sue” accomplishments of Rey and frustration over a failure to develop Force sensitivity in Finn.

Returning Luke

The Mandalorian’s spectacular and emotional return of Luke Skywalker as fans remembered him in Return of the Jedi were considered a massive rebuke of his character’s treatment in the Disney trilogy. Some hoped this meant an entirely new direction for the Jedi master, who reached a sad and controversial fate in The Last Jedi.

The perception of such disagreement with Kathleen Kennedy’s Lucasfilm Story Group has rendered Dave Filoni as the rebel darling of portions of the fan base, who have cast him and Jon Favreau in the role of daring content insurgents at Lucasfilm. Rumor has it that the two fought against the ousting of Carano, and that they had in-universe plans for her character.

Ahsoka’s role

That’s why talk is still surrounding this theory, which posits that the sequel trilogy is under consideration for decanonization, and that Ahsoka will be the instrument for it in her live-action show, which could debut as early as the end of 2021.

Although Filoni has proven time and again that he’s willing to buck the canon-related decisions rendered by Lucasfilm—he returned Empire baddie Grand Admiral Thrawn to canon status in Rebels after the property decanonized him to clear the timeline for the sequels—it’s doubtful that even with the creative power he currently wields within Lucasfilm, he is able to blot out three features films that were released with an incredible publicity blitz that stretched across a four-year release schedule.

If Team Filoni-Favreau reportedly couldn’t save Carano, how on Earth does it have the political capital to wipe out an entire trilogy?

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Valuable real estate

There are two other reasons why the sequels probably aren’t going anywhere, and they’re sitting on some very valuable real estate in Orlando and Anaheim. Star Wars-related attractions in Disney World and Disneyland are heavily influenced by the characters and settings of the sequels, and it’s doubtful that the mind-bogglingly expensive investment would undergo a noticeable revamp barely a year after opening. (Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World alone cost a cool billion to develop.)

Despite reports that the parks are lightly attended haven’t gone over well with either Disneyphiles or Star Wars fans, COVID-19 intruded too quickly on the expansions to fully assess their success.

While Disney regularly updates and changes its rides, to fade out its signature trilogy would represent an embarrassing, if tacit, admission that the direction of the sequels was a commercial and fan-reach failure. Moreso, given the aggressive drive of Disney’s political content and social media posts, the Lucasfilm story group is likely creatively opposed to the decanonization option.

On top of that, The Mandalorian contained not-so-subtle references to Galaxy’s Edge, so these guys can be team players when they want to.

Waiting for the leak machine

We shall see. Season 3 of The Mandalorian is said to begin shooting as soon as April 2021, so let’s let the leak machine do its work. It could well be that the Disney trilogy might be decanonized someday, but if so, that’s likely in the far-off future.

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