When news broke that Rian Johnson has secured a deal with Disney to conceptualize and oversee a new Star Wars trilogy once Episode 9 is over with my initial reaction was “ehhhhhhhhhhh” and I was not alone. However, yesterday Screenrant penned an editorial suggesting that The Old Republic would be great source material for a new trilogy. I refuse to link the article because fuck Screenrant, but I concur — it’s a great idea.
When Disney bought the rights to Star Wars and jettisoned the entire Expanded Universe, I wasn’t too broken up about it except for three things: Thrawn, Mara Jade and The Old Republic. Star Wars Rebels reintroduced Thrawn and has toyed with the idea of reintroducing Darth Revan, so Disney’s not opposed to pulling things they’ve tossed overboard back into the franchise.
For those who don’t know, The Old Republic is the setting for the BioWare game Knights of the Old Republic which, once released, became an instant classic and put them on the map as the biggest Western heavy-hitter when it comes to RPGs until they ran their reputation into the ground by letting a cadre of tumblr feminists make Mass Effect Andromeda. EA, the owners of BioWare, have a nearly exclusive license deal with Disney for the Star Wars franchise. They’ve made The Old Republic MMO with BioWare, Star Wars Battlefront, and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. Currently, they’re working on a multi-pronged Star Wars push to release a new Star Wars game from Respawn and they’re rumored to be working on another Star Wars based BioWare title. The point of all this is to say that EA has the influence to exert some pressure on the franchise.
In Galaxy of Heroes, which is tightly controlled by the licensors at LucasFilm, they’ve managed to negotiate the inclusion of beloved Old Republic characters, even though they’re not technically canon. HK-47 and Darth Nihilus are available to recruit, as well as several characters who overtly represent the character classes players can choose from in The Old Republic.
Unlike most licensed games, Star Wars has never been a slouch in the gaming world. While Activision was happy to trot out sloppy Marvel games every couple of years from 1990 to 2010, almost every Star Wars game released has been critically acclaimed on its own merits, from Super Star Wars on SNES to Shadows of the Empire on N64 to, of course, Knights of the Old Republic. Among those games, Knights of the Old Republic stands out as not only the best Star Wars game ever made, but many people would rank it among the best games of all time period. This is due in no small part to its story, which features Darth Revan at its core.
Darth Revan is the coolest and most interesting character in the Star Wars universe, which is why it’s a terrible shame that Star Wars fans who don’t play video games have no awareness of him. Essentially, without spoiling anything from Knights of the Old Republic, he was a powerful Jedi who was tasked with fighting a war against Mandalore (the planet Boba Fett comes from). In order to win, he had to turn to the dark side. A bunch of stuff happens that would be spoilers to reveal, but he ends up becoming the first of the so-called ‘grey Jedi’. Also, he’s unrivaled as the biggest badass in Star Wars with his two lightsabers and his dope mask.
The grey Jedi plotline is well within the boundaries of where it seems like they’re taking Star Wars in the current trilogy. Many people have theorized that “The Last Jedi” refers to the concept that Luke has rejected the Jedi order and decided that a direct relationship with the force is a better path. It remains to be seen if that theory comes to pass, but since Disney bought the franchise we’ve seen spiritual force users who exist outside the order in Rogue One, powerful dark side users who aren’t Sith (Kylo Ren, Snoke), and light side users who don’t identify as Jedi (Rey, Luke). A huge chunk of Star Wars Rebels was about Ahsoka leaving the Jedi order to become one of these ‘grey Jedi’. The theme of an individualistic connection to the force would carry over well into the Old Republic, where the dogmatic soul-crushing black and white views of both the Jedi and the Sith are on full display.
As it happened, the headline was “Rian Johnson to Direct a New Star Wars Trilogy” and my reaction was slightly negative. If the headline had read “Rian Johnson to Direct a New Star Wars Trilogy Based on The Old Republic” I would have been incredibly excited.