Is Disney going to dilute Star Wars?

The other day, Disney announced approximately 11,000 new Star Wars shows. At one point, the studio vowed to “slow down” on Star Wars. Clearly that’s over.

Yesterday, Disney held a four-hour conference where it announced a ton of new content, including a bevy of new Star Wars projects. Let’s run down all the Star Wars projects currently in development, shall we?

  1. Mandalorian spinoff all about Ahsoka Tano, to be played by Rosario Dawson
  2. A new show called Rangers of the New Republic
  3. Andor, a show about Diego Luna’s character from Rogue One
  4. An Obi-Wan Kenobi show with Ewan McGregor returning to the role, with Hayden Christensen returning as Darth Vader
  5. The Bad Batch, an animated series about the titular Clone Wars characters
  6. Visions, a short form anthology show that gives Japanese filmmakers a crack at the Star Wars universe
  7. A Lando Calrissian show
  8. The Acolyte, a female-centric Star Wars show set hundreds of years before the original movies, at the end of the “High Republic” era
  9. A Droid Story — we don’t know much about it but we know it stars R2-D2 and C-3PO

And that’s just the stuff coming to Disney+! There are also new movies in development, including Taika Waititi’s mystery project and Rogue Squadron, a new film from Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins, who will be the first woman to direct a Star Wars film.

Alright, so that is a whole lotta Star Wars. And I can’t be the only one wondering if it’s too much?

By its own admission, Disney over-extended itself on Star Wars before, back when Solo: A Star Wars story made less at the box office than expected and fans were in a tizzy about The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. “I think the mistake that I made — I take the blame — was a little too much, too fast,” CEO Bob Iger said at the time. “You can expect some slowdown.”

Well, with nine new Star Wars projects coming to Disney+ (in addition to The Mandalorian and the new upcoming Star Wars movies), obviously Disney has gotten over that feeling. But is there anything to keep the problem from recurring? For example, let’s assume that the Lando show is about the younger version of Lando played by Donald Glover in Solo. Might people be as relatively uninterested in that as they were in the movie?

Maybe all of these series will be brilliant additions to the Star Wars family of content; Disney has a good track record, and obviously it has an interest in making sure these series are done right. But the sheer number of them could make any new Star Wars content feel less special.

I’m also wary of the news, revealed at Disney’s conference, that both the Ahsoka Tano show and Rangers of the New Republic will interact with The Mandalorian, with all three of them culminating in a “story event.” One of the best things about The Mandalorian so far has been how approachable it is; someone who had never seen anything having to do with Star Wars could hop right in and enjoy the ride, but now, it sounds like we’ll have to watch all three shows if we want to enjoy any of them. It’s asking more of the viewer, which risks alienating those who just want a nice half-hour of space-faring fun every week.

It’s already making me look a little askance at this current season of The Mandalorian, since it now appears that the episode with Ahsoka Tano — “The Jedi” — was just a backdoor pilot for her own show. Was the second episode, “The Passenger,” a backdoor pilot for Rangers of the New Republic? Is the show gonna be about those guys who pulled over Mando and Frog Lady?

There’s an interesting comparison to be made with the way Disney is treating Marvel. We’re also getting a ton of new Marvel shows on Disney+, including WandaVisionThe Falcon and the Winter SoldierLokiMs. MarvelHawkeye and many more. And some of them will interact: Kevin Feige said in the presentation that WandaVision will connect to both Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Tom Holland’s third Spider-Man film. The very fact that the actors from the movies are now in Disney+ shows indicates a new level of conversation between Marvel series, and they were already talking to each other a lot.

But for some reason it doesn’t bother me as much with Marvel. I think it’s because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is based on Marvel comics, where interactivity between concurrent titles is the norm. Making a ton of different shows and movies, all of which revolve around the same larger story and interact along the way, is basically being true to the source material. With Star Wars, Disney is having to find its own way forward, which means there’s a greater chance it’ll make a mistake.

We’ll probably start seeing the first of Disney’s new Star Wars shows next year; the ones closest to being done seem to be Andor and the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, both of which will probably be discrete series set in the franchise’s past. That will be the proving ground.

Despite my concerns, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how Disney handles this next era of Star Wars. I just hope they watch their step.

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