James Mangold’s Upcoming “Star Wars” Film has a Thrilling Premise
The recent Star Wars Celebration in London included some major (and long-awaited) news about the future of the franchise’s feature films. It’s been four years since J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy revealed the shape of the galaxy’s upcoming feature landscape. One big reveal was the continuation of Rey (Daisy Ridley)’s story in a new movie from Oscar-winning documentarian (and Ms. Marvel director) Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, which will focus on Rey’s attempts to re-build the Jedi order after the events in Rise of Skywalker. The script is being taken over by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight after an initial draft from Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
The Obaid-Chinoy film focused on Rey was one of three upcoming features Kennedy revealed. A second film comes from Davie Filioni, once George Lucas’s protégé, who has helped steer the animated corner of the Star Wars world and the highly successful launch of their live-action series on Disney+, beginning with The Mandalorian. Filioni will be directing his first feature film and tying together storylines from the live-action series, including The Mandalorian and the upcoming Rosaria Dawson-led Ahsoka, with a film focused on the growing war between the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant.
This brings us to the third film Kennedy teased—one to be directed by James Mangold. Mangold knows a thing or two about taking on existing franchises and making them his own while still satisfying the hardcore fans. His 2017 film Logan is considered one of the better superhero films ever made, giving us a grizzled Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in his final days. His next film is Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth film in the franchise and the only one to be directed by someone other than Steven Spielberg. Mangold is more than capable of stepping into the Star Wars galaxy, but what makes his inclusion even more exciting is he’s taking on a film that will allow him to explore the most ancient era ever depicted in a Star Wars film, one that takes place long (long) before the events in the overarching Skywalker Saga that animated George Lucas’s film or any of the films or series that we’ve seen thus far.
How far in the past will Mangold’s film be set? Try 25,000 years before any of the events depicted in any Star Wars film, animated or live-action series with a story focused on the very beginnings of the Force.
Speaking to ScreenRant, Mangold spoke about what excited him about a project he’s thought of as Star Wars Zero:
“The idea of where it all started. To make a Star Wars Zero, if you will. ‘Where was the Force born?’ To me, a movie always has to have a question to answer. Some singular thing that you can say it’s about. Not just connecting the plot of who built this when and who’s gonna defeat, but what’s it about? And to me, this is about this discovery.”
This is a beautiful way to envision a Star Wars Zero film that gets away from the pillars of the franchise—the Death Star, lightsabers, rebels, and the various incarnations of the Empire—to explore the fundamental elements that lie beneath the surface of Star Wars. Mangold has mentioned that he’s imagining his film as a Biblical epic akin to The Ten Commandments, exploring where the Force came from and how people learned to use it.
As Mangold himself said, what interests him in a film beyond plot mechanics and story arcs is what is at the heart of the story and what’s driving the character’s actions. There has been an endless amount of digital ink spilled over the way Geroge Lucas and the filmmakers who have followed him have treated the Force, who has it and why, whether it’s a universal energy that anyone can tap into, or, whether it’s connected to an individual’s Midi-chlorian count or lineage. As Mangold did with Logan, dredging up a deeply personal, bittersweet epic about the humanity raging inside an aging, ailing mutant’s heart, so, too, will he likely do with the first people to come into contact with the Force. We’re guessing that however Mangold depicts how the Force was discovered and harnessed, it’ll be the why of it all that will interest him most. And will, in turn, will offer Star Wars fans something new in the galaxy.
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Featured image: Adam Driver is Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley is Rey in STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. Courtesy Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios