From ‘Star Wars’ biggest year yet to the future of the franchise

A promotional poster for "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker" (2019) is pictured. via IMDb

2019 was perhaps the biggest year for Star Wars fans yet. From a critically acclaimed video game and the end of the Skywalker saga to probably the cutest, most meme-able character ever, this past year had something for everyone — even the most casual of Star Wars viewers — to enjoy. It brought the new comic miniseries “Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren,” an exciting backstory series on Ben Solo and his fall to darkness. 2019 was also the year of what looked like the most exciting Star Wars Celebration yet, with special announcements and a 20thanniversary celebration for “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace” (1999). While there’s plenty of content to dig through from 2019, here’s a look back on three of the year’s biggest Star Wars moments and a note on what’s coming next in a galaxy far, far away.

“Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order”

Coming after 2015’s “Star Wars Battlefront” and 2017’s “Star Wars Battlefront II,” “Fallen Order” follows Jedi Padawan Cal Kestis (Cameron Monaghan) as he searches for a Jedi Holocron with a list of Force-sensitive children and continues his Jedi training, all while being hunted by Darth Vader’s Inquisitors, a group of Force-sensitive dark side users who hunt down any surviving Jedi or Force-sensitives. It’s a complex plot — Kestis travels to various planets and fights plenty of enemies throughout “Fallen Order.” But every aspect of the game is enjoyable and immersive; indeed, it might just be the best Star Wars video game since “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic” (2003). Kestis’ character is well-developed, the various locations across the game are beautiful and the battles are challenging and fun. A major highlight of the game is the ability to customize Kestis’ outfits — there are some really neat ponchos to find, like a hot pink one! — his ship skin and his lightsaber. With plenty of lightsaber materials and kyber crystals to choose from, players can truly make Kestis look unique.

“The Mandalorian”

 Set before the sequel trilogy, “The Mandalorian” — a Disney+ exclusive live-action series — is inarguably the breakout series of the television season. The series follows the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), a lone bounty hunter, as he pursues various bounties across the galaxy. The series took a turn in its first episode with the introduction of The Child — or as fans call him, Baby Yoda. While the show is absolutely great — a smaller-scale Star Wars story with strong Western and samurai vibes and some killer scoring — Baby Yoda’s internet popularity has made for some pretty hilarious memes (the best certainly being of him holding a cup, which is literally just the cutest thing ever). The unexpected relationship between The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda is the highlight of the show; The Mandalorian, despite constantly wearing armor and speaking only when necessary, has a soft spot for The Child. It’s impossible for the viewer to not feel the same way. Here’s to counting down the days until season two of the best television show out there right now.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

With the end of a 42-year-old saga comes feelings of both sadness and joy. While the nine-episode, three-trilogy story certainly feels complete thanks to “The Rise of Skywalker,” it’s impossible not to hope for another trilogy with these characters. Sequel trilogy characters like Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) might be new on the block, but they already feel cemented in the Star Wars legacy and mythology. “The Rise of Skywalker” builds on fans’ love for the past trilogies and these new characters, focusing on Rey and Kylo Ren’s conflict and palpable romantic tension — arguably the best chemistry between any two characters in the Star Wars franchise — while also providing plenty of fan service and nostalgia. The final film in the Skywalker saga not only spends time exploring interesting Force mythos, showing a very creepy undead Palpatine and providing some of the coolest planets the saga’s seen (talking specifically about Exogol!), it also wraps up the battle between the Resistance and the First Order. As “The Rise of Skywalker” breaks $1 billion at the box office, Disney earns its seventh 2019 $1 billion release.

Well… what’s next?

Good question. Star Wars fans are always looking forward to new content. And while “The Mandalorian” will have its second season release in fall 2020, audiences won’t see a new film until 2022. Who will that film involve? Will it finally kickoff Rian Johnson’s series of films? Or possibly Kevin Feige? Regardless, reports and rumors suggest that it’ll take place during the High Republic era, set around 400 years before the prequels. It’s a great time period to explore — there’s plenty of Jedi, exciting planets to discover and characters to meet. Of course, this doesn’t mean that audiences won’t get to see some fan-favorite Skywalker saga characters. Kathleen Kennedy, the President of Lucasfilm, teased that sequel trilogy characters could certainly make appearances in the future of Star Wars (a Rey Disney+ series? Please!). Fans can expect a slower year for the franchise in 2020, including Project Luminous, a book/comic series written by multiple authors. There aren’t many details about Luminous just yet, but expect it to be an exciting new chapter forStar Wars.