Off the back of Rosario Dawson’s cameo appearance as her Clone Wars character Ashoka Tano in the current season of The Mandalorian, Disney have announced a spin-off show also called Ashoka Tano, alongside another Star Wars spin-off, the less specifically titled The Rangers Of The New Republic.
Announcing the news at Disney Investor Day (the investingest place on earth), Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy suggested that one or other of these would premiere around Christmas 2021 – as would the third season of The Mandalorian itself.
These were not the only spin-offs to get a mention, though. The Investor Day also saw the release of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Bad Batch, an informal sequel to Clone Wars which was announced earlier this year:
It was also announced that the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff (also called Obi-Wan Kenobi) would see Hayden Christensen return in the role of Darth Vader.
Hayden Christensen returns as Darth Vader, joining Ewan McGregor in OBI-WAN KENOBI. The Original Series begins 10 years after the dramatic events of Revenge of the Sith, and is coming to #DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/9WR2npRUkk
Beyond that, several other projects were confirmed to be in the works, including Lando, presumably based around the life and times of Lando Calrissian and likely really hoping to snare Donald Glover again, Star Wars: Visions, a collection of short films by “the world’s best Japanese anime creators”, and The Acolyte, a mystery-thriller “that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era” created by Leslye Headland.
In an interview with Fantastic Frankey, Headland commented “If Star Wars is a religion…I like to think of my show as a tent revival. You can come over if you want to. We’re going to be talking about some cool stuff. There’s going to be some things we haven’t discussed in the canon yet. There are going to be some characters you don’t know about. I would love you to join us. I would love you to be interested in it. If it’s not your thing – the cool thing about Star Wars right now is there’s so much you can align yourself with and get invested in, but if you don’t like it, that’s fine.” In the light of this slew of spin-offs, Headland certainly isn’t wrong that viewers are spoilt for choice.
Perhaps the biggest surprise here is the way what began as a film franchise is now definitively moving to television – or, specifically, to Disney+. Among all these announcements, there was mention of a new feature film, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, set to be directed by Wonder Woman‘s Patty Jenkins and with a hazy premiere date of Christmas 2023, but a single movie against a fistful of TV projects cannot help but feel like an afterthought.
Despite Kennedy’s much-derided comment that “There’s no source material. We don’t have comic books. We don’t have 800-page novels”, there is all too clearly a wealth of material for further spin-offs. And given the way the Ashoka Tano spin-off came to be, it seems that the robust The Mandalorian is being used as a proving ground of sorts, a medium through which parts of the Star Wars Expanded Universe – which is full of 800-page novels, whether Disney likes it or not – may be tested out before getting their own feature.
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