As of today, Marvel has movies scheduled for as far off as Nov. 6, 2020. (Right now, some kid in junior high won’t see this movie, whatever it is, until he or she is in college.) And these are just the movies that have been publicly scheduled: Marvel says they have an internal schedule set until 2028. Similarly, Star Wars: Episode IX will premiere in 2019, and it’s evident we will get some sort of Star Wars movie at least once a year for the foreseeable future.
We’ve gotten to the point these kind of announcements aren’t unusual. The reason has everything to do with studios trying to reserve those precious historically bountiful dates for their respective franchise movies. It’s kind of like trying to get a hot restaurant reservation, only you are the restaurant and they want to reserve your money five years from now. Which is nice and all, but with these movie dates getting set more and more in the distant future, it’s all starting to make me feel bad about my mortality.
If I had known walking out of Return of the Jedi that my next Star Wars movie would be 16 years later, the math would have really freaked out my then 8-year-old self. Remember how a 20-year-old used to seem like a real adult? There’s no way I could have comprehended being 24. But Lucas never made that kind of announcement (it was always more of a rumor he’d go back and make the prequels some day) and Star Wars faded from the zeitgeist — which seems inconceivable now — until becoming popular again around 1995.
When I saw Revenge of the Sith, no matter what I thought of the film itself (which, like all the prequel films, was “great!,” until I watched it a second time), I at least thought I’d seen the whole story. Lucas was adamant there’d never make another Star Wars movie. So, as sports fans say when their long-suffering team finally pulls off a championship, I could “die happy” knowing I’d seen all the Star Wars movies.
(There’s a slightly deeper issue here for me that I’ll briefly explain: I had seen The Phantom Menace in 1999 with my college roommate, who was a big Star Wars fan. He passed away in 2001 and never saw the last two prequels, which I knew he really wanted to see. I think about that probably more than I should.)
Disney didn’t acquire Lucasfilm for $4 billion to just make the, right now, five announced Star Wars films. They will keep making them. There will be an Episode X. There will be an Episode XX. There will probably be an Episode XL. I’m now resigned to the fact that I will never know how this story ends. You will never know how it ends. J.J. Abrams will not know how it ends. George Lucas will not know how it ends. As Weird Al once sang, “they’ll be making these movies ‘till the end of time.”
Unless you are immortal, you will never know how Star Wars ends.
I’m not at all saying there shouldn’t be more Star Wars movies. I am looking forward to The Force Awakens with the intensity of a thousand suns. But assuming Disney adds another Star Wars movie in 2020 (this is a safe bet), we are going to have as many Star Wars movies over the next five years (from today’s date) then we have had over the last 38 years. This is, at the same time, both exciting and confusing.
A day has passed since I wrote the above paragraphs. This isn’t an overdramatic instance of me discarding this piece in an, Oh, what was I thinking? kind of way. I am correct, we will most likely never know how Star Wars ends. What I’m not 100 percent sure about is why I’m thinking about that so much.
I guess the easy and most likely answer is that I miss my friend. No matter how frustrated I got with an individual movie, Star Wars has always been about the shared experience. The night I saw The Phantom Menace for the first time was one of the best nights of my life… for a movie I don’t even particularly like that much. But we were all there together. And at that point, that’s all that mattered. And I guess I know there’s no way to recreate that anymore. Someone will always be missing.
So, I guess in a small way, the new Star Wars movies makes me sad. It makes me think about people I’ll never see again. And as we keep getting older, I guess this is the kind of thing that is going to keep happening as Star Wars goes on living forever. I guess there was part of me that found a little bit of closure walking out of Revenge of the Sith for reasons that weren’t entirely Star Wars-related. It was now a part of my life that was over … all that was left was the nostalgia; just ghosts, really.
So, yes, I am admitting to myself there’s a little bit about the new Star Wars movie that feels bittersweet. But, you know, that’s okay. If nothing else, it’s also reminded me that there’s a lot more to Star Wars than the bickering about whatever plot point we happen to not like (which is part of the fun), it’s also about the friendships we made over these dumb movies. And when you see The Force Awakens this December, take a look around at whom you’re with, because it’s not just about the movie. It’s about them, too. Because nothing last forever… well, except Star Wars.
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.
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