At the Oscars on Sunday night, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse rightfully won in the category of Best Animated Feature.
It’s a terrific and incredibly enjoyable film, and it deserves to break out of the assumption that animated films are automatically only for kids. And that’s actually something that Star Wars has been trying to do for years. Their animated shows have been absolutely tremendous, first with The Clone Wars, then with Rebels, and now with Resistance picking up as season one nears its end. All of those shows were at one point or another cast off by a segment of adult Star Wars ‘purists’ as being for kids (as if that were an insult?), but over time both TCW and Rebels grew into deep and enjoyable shows for those adults who were willing to give them a chance. I’m assuming the same will be said of Resistance one day, too. Star Wars is geared for kids anyway, but part of their magic is that people of all ages love them. The same can be said for animation, and so Star Wars animation seems like a perfect fit.
None of this is new stuff or surprising stuff. But the enormous success and reception of Into The Spider-Verse has brought these things to the forefront of my mind. Spider-Verse does so many things well, and it’s a truly great film. And with the success of Spider-Verse, combined with the success of Lucasfilm animation, I absolutely think it’s time for Star Wars to venture into an animated feature film.
Of course, Lucasfilm did do an animated film already when they launched The Clone Wars, and that movie wasn’t really well-received and wasn’t all that great. But that was a decade ago, and that was at the very beginning of this current era of animated storytelling in the Star Wars universe. It’s amazing to see how far things have come, and they have since produced three shows and two other series of shorts – with the overwhelming majority of it being incredible. I have a feeling that another animated film would be far different (in a good way) from TCW film. And there’s no one at Lucasfilm I’d rather trust more with a project like that than Dave Filoni, who has proven over and over to be worthy of the praise.
Under Filoni’s leadership, Lucasfilm Animation has succeeded in tremendous storytelling across various animation styles and contexts. Obviously The Clone Wars was a great show that spanned six seasons and an animated film, and it’s getting a seventh season coming to Disney+ presumably this year. After the cancellation of that show, Filoni and company moved to Star Wars Rebels, which over its four season run produced some of the best storytelling the galaxy has seen. Now, they’ve turned their focus to Star Wars Resistance, which is a little over halfway through season one and has already been renewed for a second season, and which started off strong and seems to be improving as it goes. The animation department has also ventured into various shorts, including Forces of Destiny and Galaxy of Adventures. These shows are very different from one another, and they both were very well done; their animation styles are different, and whereas Forces of Destiny told stories that added to our understanding of the films and shows, Galaxy of Adventures has been adapting these events into animation. The Galaxy of Adventures shorts in particular have absolutely blown me away by how good they are, and it just prompts even more in me the belief that an animated film would be a worthwhile endeavor.
But why an animated film rather than a live-action one? That’s a fantastic question, and I think that the executives at Lucasfilm would need to evaluate ideas on a project-by-project basis to determine whether they’d be better served as a live-action film, an animated film, a TV show, a book, a comic, etc. Each story is different. But there are plenty of stories that would perhaps be best-suited for an animated film.
My favorite idea is to do something in-between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. An animated movie would solve some of the problems with having to re-cast iconic roles like Leia Organa, and I’m sure that Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, etc. would be willing to reprise their respective roles if the story called for it. And really, I’d love to see a story about Luke Skywalker – whether it’s him starting his Jedi Temple, whether it’s him searching for Jedi lore, or whatever he’s up to, I’d love to learn more about him during this period and be able to see it on the screen. I think that an animated medium would be just perfect for this. I have not hidden the fact that I think The Last Jedi dealt with Luke Skywalker in a way so good and so deep that it’s absolutely brilliant, but nonetheless for those who are critics of the sequel trilogy, probably the most common complaints are about how it treats the original characters. So an animated film that has Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, etc. (however they decide to tell it and whichever characters they decide to focus on) would surely be appealing to fans who want to see what these characters were up to in the post-Endor world.
I’d advocate for this to be either a show or a film (or both!), but that’s something that I think might be best suited for animation rather than live-action. And there are countless other things that they could choose to make an animated film about, too. My point is simply that they should pursue doing that.
Especially since the Skywalker saga comes to a close this December, we’ll be moving into new areas of Star Wars. This will include Rian Johnson’s trilogy of films, as well as the trilogy of films from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. There will be several live-action TV shows, more animated shows, and perhaps future standalone films as well. There will be some risks inherent along the way, but Star Wars will surely be branching out into new mediums and methods and themes. So an animated film would make logical sense to be included in the mix (and a film about Luke would not be taking away from the other films, which are going to be set apart from the Skywalker films).
And really, there’s surely not as much risk with this as there will be with other things. With the success of animated films recently (most notably and most spectacularly with Spider-Verse), I don’t know if there’s ever been a better time for a Star Wars animated feature film than right now. And with the success of Lucasfilm’s animation department over the last decade with Dave Filoni, there may not be a more trusted group of storytellers to undertake a Star Wars project right now either.
So really, my point is this: make a Star Wars animated feature film or two, Lucasfilm. Please.