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The ‘Star Wars’ saga continues

Th ExCel Centre in London was the center of the inner galactic rim as far as Star Wars fans were concerned on the weekend of April 7 as they gathered for “Star Wars: Celebration Europe 2023.” The annual, biggest Star Wars convention always had the most significant announcements across all the Star Wars media and merchandise, but as far as movies and series went, this one was especially big, as the projects announced during the Lucasfilm Ltd. panel changed Star Wars forever—and that’s no exaggeration.

            This was because the movies and shows revealed would expand Star Wars both in terms of its history and its future, establishing a new, definitive timeline for Star Wars media. Super was given access to the panel via video link provided by Disney+.

Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy explains, “As you can see by all the television we’ve been doing, we’re exploring a lot of different storylines. And this comes from what George Lucas said years ago that he created ‘Star Wars’ to move forward and backward along a mythological timeline. And now we’re looking to broaden that timeline, building a rich future, expanding upon the present, going deep into the past to tell our stories and we’re thrilled to be working with some of the best and most passionate filmmakers on projects that will span the past, the present and the future.”

            But as always, a big deal would be the actors and creators involved in these, uh, episodes.

Star Wars baby

            And that mood was really captured by Filipino Canadian actor Manny Jacinto who said he would say every day, “We’re doing ‘Star Wars’ baby! Like, unreal. This is crazy.” Jacinto is appearing in “Star Wars: The Acolyte,” a streaming series from Disney+ set during the era of the Jedi that creator Leslye Headland said “would be told from the view of the villains” and which she pitched to Kennedy as “Frozen” meets “Kill Bill.” Joining Jacinto in the cast are Amandla Steinberg (“Dear Evan Hansen”), Lee Jung-jae (“Squid Games”), Dafne Keen (“Logan”), Carrie-Anne Moss and Joonas Suotama (Chewbacca in the Sequel Trilogy) as the first Wookie Jedi Master, Kelnacca. The eight-episode series drops in 2024.

            Going in a completely different direction was “Star Wars: Skeleton Crew,” a kid-friendly Disney+ series created by Jon Watts (the Tom Holland “Spider-Man” trilogy) and Chris Ford, scheduled for release later this year. On this coming-of-age show set during the time period immediately after the Original Trilogy and the same as “The Mandalorian,” Jude Law (the “Fantastic Beasts” films) plays a Jedi who helps four children try to get home after being lost in space. Law remembered being 6 when “Star Wars” first came out. “I feel like I’ve been in preparation ever since. So, by the time ‘Return of the Jedi’ came out, I must have been about 11 or 12, and that’s about the same age as my wonderful cast members, fellow castmates and friends.”

Jude Law

           

Animated universe

But one must speak about the Jedi in the room—or will be, by August. Everyone’s been waiting for the inevitable Ahsoka solo series ever since Rosario Dawson first appeared as the Jedi in the second season of “The Mandalorian.” This series is significant on so many levels. Ahsoka Tano first appeared in the animated “Stars: Clone Wars” film in 2008, a creation of Lucas and Dave Filoni, as a Padawan to the eventual Darth Vader,

Anakin Skywalker. Filoni, more than anyone else, has fleshed out the animated “Star Wars” universe, featuring Ahsoka on the “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” shows, where animated Ahsoka is last seen. “Star Wars: Ahsoka” is, in many ways, a continuation to “Rebels,” as it picks up almost that show’s ending. The show is helmed by Filoni, continuing his mission to bring the animated universe to live-action and “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau. Also transforming into live-action are Mandalorian Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), Twi’Lek pilot Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen). Also to appear on the show are Anakin (Hayden Christensen), Mon Mothma (Genevieve O-Reilly) and, also in his first live-action incarnation,

Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi). Dawson was positively gushing when she was asked about getting over having her own “Star Wars” show. “Is it possible to? Oh, oh my god. That day I was I mean, I think a lot of people have actually seen my reaction because they put out the BTS footage of me absolutely freaking out and looking like a machine because I was screaming so much,” she said.

Jon Favreau, Diana Lee Inosanto, Ivanna Sakhno, Rosario Dawson, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Dave Filoni
Trailers

            Not only was the imposing “Ahsoka” poster unveiled, but so was the first teaser trailer, in which Ahsoka can be seen wielding her dual lightsabers and facing against two black-garbed agents (Ray Stevenson and Ivanna Sakhno) notably wielding orange (not red) lightsabers. There were also a lot of callbacks to the animated universe. The trailer can now be viewed online.

Mandalorian

           

Of course, there were the returning shows, and ones about to finish. “The Mandalorian’s” fantastic third-season finale was mere weeks away (and done by the time you read this). The show’s main protagonist Din Djarin’s actor Pedro Pascal could not attend but said greetings via a video message. The emergent protagonist of the third season, Bo-Katan Kryze, sci-fi TV icon Katee Sackhoff, was.

Asked what the highlight of the season was, she answered, “well, I finally have what’s mine,” referring to the Darksaber, which is the symbol of leadership for the Mandalorians. “For now,” Giancarlo Esposito, who plays the Imperial Moff Gideon and had previous taken the Darksaber from her, gamely quipped.

Diego Luna will return in “Andor” season 2 in 2024

            Though the show won’t be returning until 2024, “Andor,” perhaps the most critically acclaimed of the “Star Wars” TV show, had a healthy presence at the convention. Showrunner Tony Gilroy described the production of the second season: “We’re just keep on going. It’s a train that just keeps rolling and we’re trying to we’re going as quickly as we can to come back with the second half of this and finish it out proudly and make you proud of us.” Diego Luna, who played the Rebel spy Andor first seen in 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (the show is a prequel), expressed his gratitude for the audience’s reception of the show: “I feel like part of it means we are still doing under there was always the feeling of like what’s going to happen if they don’t like it. And we’re here because you liked it.”

See Also

            The second and third biggest announcements of the panel, however, were the first and second of three new “Star Wars” films, all at different points in the expansive “Star Wars” timeline.

            First would be a tale from the deep history of the franchise, an era known as the Dawn of the Jedi. This tale of the very first Jedi would be directed by James Mangold (“Logan”), who said, “I thought about a kind of biblical epic, like ‘The Ten Commandments’ and a dawning of the Force. Where did the Force come from? When did we discover it? When did we know how to use it?”

Start of trilogy


            The second film would be the feature-film debut of the beloved Filoni, who was feted all night by different collaborators. Filoni would finally be about to bring his animation-to-live-action dream to culmination with a film that ties together the events of the shows he’s involved in, “The Mandalorian,” “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Ahsoka.” Filoni was clearly excited: “To make a movie guys, that’s really, really cool, so this moment’s not lost on me,” adding that the film would bridge the gap between the shows and the start of the sequel trilogy. “Expanding upon our present day, Filoni will orchestrate the escalating war between the Imperial remnant and the fledging New Republic,” Kennedy said.

            But the biggest surprise of the panel was the final one. The third film Kennedy announced would be set in the future, 15 years after the events of 2019’s “Star Wars: Episode IX—The Rise of Skywalker.” In the era that is called a New Jedi Order, Academy Award-winning documentary director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. “I’ve always been attracted to the hero’s journey, and the fact that the world needs many more heroes, and the blueprint of the heroes that we see on screen are rooted in real life. And I’ve spent the better part of my lifetime meeting real heroes who are overcoming oppressive regimes and battling impossible odds. And I think that’s why I’m attracted to the promise of a New Jedi Order, to the idea of immersing myself in a Jedi Academy with a powerful Jedi Master.”

            Then, she was asked if she could reveal who the new Jedi Master was. “I can do much better than that. Who would like to meet that Jedi Master?”

            And walking out on stage, with a starry smile and a fantastic red dress, was Daisy Ridley, Jedi Master Rey herself. The fans were so stunned, they forgot to clap or even take photos for a moment.

            “My heart is pounding,” she said. “Thank you, Kathy, and Sharmeen for having me back. I’m very thrilled to be continuing this journey.”

            We know exactly how she feels.

Daisy Ridley returns as Jedi Master Rey
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