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By Paul Dixon

The future of the Star Wars franchise

With the recent release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," many fans have speculated on where the series could go from here. Director J.J. Abrams is already in the midst of creating the ninth episode, which will end the currently trilogy, and the Han Solo film directed by Ron Howard will be on us faster than you can say "Scruffy-looking nerf herder!" After those are released, what can we hope for?

A whole new trilogy

According to Disney, Rian Johnson is making a return to a galaxy far far away with a whole new trilogy starring new characters and exploring new worlds. At the end of "The Last Jedi," (SPOILER ALERT) a young boy seen earlier in the film uses the force to grab a broom, then begins sweeping. He looks up at the stars while wearing a rebel ring, similar to the way Luke Skywalker in "A New Hope" stared up at the twin suns and dreamt of a better life. Johnson seems keen on bringing in new blood and following possibly this child and others who come from nothing – much like Rey. A whole new generation of Jedi – and possibly Sith – would bring about an exciting new era of Star Wars.

Obi-Wan on his own

Both animated series, "Clone Wars" and "Rebels," did a terrific job of exploring a bit of the life Obi-Wan Kenobi had outside of the movies. The prequel films, while greatly flawed, contained an excellent performance from Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, who brought a nuance to the role when others felt like cardboard cut-outs. Fortunately, the actor has expressed interest in returning to the titular role, whilst fan outcry for this to happen has hit an all-time high in recent years. A film following an adventure that takes place between "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope" would be a great way to fill in the gaps between the time periods. Imagine a swashbuckling adventure in the vein of "Logan" or "Unforgiven," and Disney would have another instant hit on their hands!

Exploring the dark side

It's been pretty unanimous that the most interesting aspect of any Star Wars lore has been hints at and exploration of the dark side of the force. Whether it be the ways of the Sith or that of the yet to be touched upon Knights of Ren, the dark side is ripe with stories that many filmmakers would kill to get their hands on. During "Revenge of the Sith," Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) has a scene with Anakin Skywalker involving a story about a Sith Lord that could create life from nothing. An entire story focusing on the warrior speaks for itself, but even a film involving Darth Vader going on a quest to end the remainder of Jedi roaming the galaxy would be an intriguing endeavor. Another possibility would be bringing back the Knights of Ren. Even after Episode VIII, it's clear that Kylo's former associates are a mysterious bunch, to say the least. If it turns out they don't show up in Episode IX, expect them to return in some form down the line. Like Boba Fett before them, they are just too interesting to be ignored.

A different point of view

The Rotten Tomatoes score has been split between critics and fans with "The Last Jedi." One thing that nobody can deny is that the film did something different from its predecessors. When it comes to longstanding franchises, it is easy for things to become stale and boring (look no further than the "Transformers" movies). With "The Last Jedi" being the ninth film in the series, this was a great time to shake things up and go beyond what has come before.

Some fans may have expected the latest movie to continue the tradition of mirroring the second films ("Empire Strikes Back" and "Attack of the Clones") but Rian Johnson subverted expectations and has set up the next movie to be something entirely different than that of "Return of the Jedi." Gone is the idea of a Supreme Leader Snoke showdown in the climax. Kylo is the Supreme Leader and is even further away from the redemption arc his grandfather had. There is no family squabble for Rey to confront. Now that all bets are off, only one thing is for certain: the movie will have to adapt.

The old ways

The Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) went into great detail with exploring the Old Republic and the makings of both the Jedi and the Sith to a certain degree. However, with the Disney merger of Lucasfilm, the EU is no longer in existence and the slate has been cleaned for new stories. This gives filmmakers a golden opportunity to travel back in time and tell a fresh story of how the first force users came to be and how the Old Republic formed. Stories could involve the first Sith lord and how he came upon having an apprentice, or perhaps the establishment of the Jedi order. Either way, this is a prequel trilogy worth exploring down the line.

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