For the first time in five years, Star Wars did not have a major theatrical movie release. This is likely for the best because 2020 took the plans of every major film release and blew them away like Alderaan. Even before 2020 started to play its awful game of go kriff yourself, this was still going to be a year without a Star Wars film. That suggested that the galaxy far, far away wouldn't change very much in 2020.
From every point of view imaginable, that was not the case. This year has changed Star Wars forever, and even without a major theatrical release, it is a contender for the biggest year the franchise has ever had in its 43 years. It saw Star Wars plant a number of huge flags on the small screen while also making it clear that the franchise will continue to do so. Books, comics, and games continued to keep the engines running between the shows, and everything was truly connected.
The world itself is forever changed in a myriad of ways, and most of those changes are bad. Star Wars remained a constant comfort this year, and it is not going to slow down. We Star Wars fans have everything we need. Here are the 10 biggest ways that 2020 has changed Star Wars forever. Forever, we say! Punch it.
**Spoiler Warning: This article will contain spoilers for The Mandalorian, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, many comics, books, Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge, and the LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. If you haven't seen any of these things and do not want to be spoiled, get OUT of here, Dewey! You don't want this! Get OUTTA HERE!**
The Siege of Mandalore (Star Wars: The Clone Wars ended)
Ended, Star Wars: The Clone Wars finally has. The beloved series came back toward the beginning of the year to finally finish things on its own terms, and that meant fans finally got to see the long-awaited Siege of Mandalore. While the entirety of the new season was great, the final four episodes were the stuff that Star Wars dreams are made on.
Ahsoka and Clone Captain Rex's arcs were at the forefront, and the show focused on closing out their stories (in this time period) in a highly fulfilling style. Along the way, fans got a lot of history about Mandalore, how the Republic got involved there, and a lot more information about Maul. Major pieces of the Star Wars puzzle were filled in.
The animation style set a new series standard, one that will continue to be enjoyed in a show that is set to spin-off directly from this one, Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Aside from that, this season continued the prequel renaissance that the entire series began in 2008. After watching this season, you'll never look at Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith the same way again.
If 2020 has a fantasy image that we still can't get over, that image would be a hooded Ahsoka standing in front of a downed Republic cruiser... and a Clone graveyard. That's The Clone Wars, and that's 2020. Everyone lost, except for Sheev Palpatine. Maybe he's born with it? (Cloned with it?)
Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge - Episode 10
Star Wars got its own game show (Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge)
Take one part Legends of the Hidden Temple, one part Guts, a whole lot of Star Wars fun, and put them all together. The result is Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge.
This game show (where children were contestants) was the first time that the GFFA had done such a thing, and the result was a delight to watch. It was fun, it was pure, and it was free. It's all on YouTube right now.
Some of us may or may not have found ourselves screaming at the contestants while watching. They didn't always win, but even in defeat they received encouragement from the show's host, Master Kelleren Beq.
Beq was played by Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best, returning to Star Wars in a new role. His positivity and enthusiasm were infectious, and both he (and his co-host droid, played by Mary Holland) proved that toxicity has no power when it is met with genuine joy.
By the way, did you know that Master Beq was once called "The Sabered Hand?" He wanted us to remind people of that.
If you haven't watched this show, go to YouTube and watch it all right now. We really hope it comes back.
Padme Amidala and Her Handmaidens
Padmé Amidala's loyal protectors had a big year. Not only did E.K. Johnston continue to flesh these characters out in the book Star Wars: Queen's Peril, they made a giant comeback in the comics.
The latest run of Star Wars: Darth Vader takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and following his truth-telling sesh with Luke, Vader has questions of his own. What actually happened to the woman he loved? How was Luke's birth covered up? How much helmet is too much helmet? He goes looking for answers.
While searching, he thinks (for a moment) that he's found Padmé herself, back from the dead.
Readers thought so too, until the next issue revealed that it was actually Sabé, Padmé's most loyal handmaiden, friend, and bodyguard. Thanks to Johnston's books, we know so much more about Sabé than we previously did, and that information set the stage brilliantly. Sabé, the rest of the surviving handmaidens, and a contingent of Naboo loyalists have now formed a group called "The Amidalans." They want justice for Padmé, and because they don't know the full truth, they also want justice for Anakin Skywalker. What a merry predicament it was!
Once again, the prequel renaissance continued. The decoy play from The Phantom Menace is enriched every time Johnston sits at her keyboard, and continuing the tale of Sabé takes things even further. In Return of the Jedi, Vader has changed. He has softened, much to Sheev's dismay. This comic arc shows that process (as does the one that follows it), as well as how Sheev tried to get Vader back on track and start hating again. He wasn't nice about it. But never fear, for "we are brave, your highness."
Fett family history (The Mandalorian)
Season 2 of The Mandalorian was the gift that kept on giving. With eight new episodes, the show became the center of the Star Wars world in 2020, firing off that canon cannon repeatedly in every episode.
One of the biggest canon additions that the show gave the franchise is yet another bit of Tip Yip that will forever change the way we look at the prequels. The long-standing question (in the new canon, not the old) of whether or not Jango Fett was a true Mandalorian was answered. It was answered by Boba Fett, not as dead as we'd been led to believe.
The returned Boba (Temuera Morrison) laid out the truth when he showed Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) his chain code. His father was a foundling, he was raised by way of some kind of Mandalorian creed (there seem to be many), and he fought in the Mandalorian civil wars.
He likely passed some of this heritage on to Boba, but what's even more interesting is the notion that Jango helped to train the Clones before the Clone Wars broke out. Either by training or through his DNA (Mr. DNA, where did you come from?), it could be said that there was a little Mando in every Clone.
Did Count Dooku know Jango was a foundling (and not just a bounty hunter) when he recruited him for the job on the moons of Bogden? Almost certainly he did, because the Clone endgame was Order 66. Who better to gun down the entire Jedi Order than Clones who held some traits of their ancient enemies?
Boba Fett being alive (and even more of a bada** than we thought possible thanks to Robert Rodriguez) was great, but this little bit of lore changed our points of view in so many areas.
LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special | Official Trailer | Disney+
Not another holiday special! Wait, it's LEGO? All right then.
We never thought that anyone would be daring enough to create another television episode that put "Star Wars" and "Holiday Special" together again, certainly not after the original Star Wars Holiday Special, a coke-fueled nightmare machine that could bring Andy Warhol back to life. George Lucas wishes it did not exist, but there are simply too many receipts. Whip stir, whip stir, whip whip stir, George!
Enter the magic of LEGO.
The humor and fun of LEGO has long been a part of Star Wars, and it proved to be the key that made a new holiday special possible. Not only was it possible, it worked. It worked like a charm, as everything LEGO does... aside from stepping on the bricks in bare feet. Don't do that unless you hate yourself, and even then, nah.
Not only did the special give us "Jingle Bells" sung in Huttese, it also confirmed that Finn is Force sensitive. His training with Rey is the backbone of the special, and though this is a highly important moment and one we would have loved to have seen depicted in live-action, we're just happy that we saw it somewhere.
Will we all gather around and watch this every year, or is this only the first of many LEGO Star Wars Holiday Specials? The way things are going we can see them making a new one for every holiday. The LEGO Star Wars Guy Fawkes Day Special is gonna be lit, man! Lit and legit.
The High Republic
The mysterious "Project Luminous" was revealed early this year, and it turned out to be a major publishing initiative set in an unexplored era of the GFFA. The High Republic stories will take place hundreds of years before The Phantom Menace, back when the Jedi were everything that they always claimed they were.
A large team of writers was announced, artwork was revealed, and a barrage of books and comics were given release dates. The dates were then pushed back, and most of these tales will now begin in 2021. Still, there were many seeds planted in 2020 for this new era.
Things will kick off officially on Jan. 5, 2021, with the novel Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule and the YA novel A Test of Courage by Justina Ireland. Many chapters of Soule's novel were released (on purpose) toward the end of 2020 to get fans excited. Excited we were, and still are. This is a fascinating time period to explore, and readers are in for a treat.
Star Wars: Squadrons – CG Short Premiere
Believers (Star Wars: Squadrons, The Mandalorian)
We've already talked about the prequel renaissance, but that's nothing new. Those movies were despised once upon a time, and now they are hotter than Hansel. The day will come (perhaps not soon, but at some point, it will come) when the sequel trilogy receives the same treatment.
The Mandalorian began to show us how a group like the First Order would be able to rise, even after so much disarray. While they are off building themselves up in the unknown regions, there are still true believers among the Imperial Remnant that has been left behind in the Empire's wake. They aren't still in the fight because they are being forced to be, they're still in it because they believe in the Empire. They believe that what they were doing was, and is, right. Ew, David.
At some point, the galaxy will realize it's made a mistake. Citizens will crave order once more, and they will welcome "order" back with open arms. That's what Valin Hess believes, and he says as much in Chapter 15 of The Mandalorian.
He wasn't the only believer we met this year, either. Star Wars: Squadrons introduced gamers to a number of true Imperial believers, and even had players fight alongside them for some of the story mode. Characters like Varko Grey made the galactic civil war more complicated than simple black and white. Grey made things grey.
That these believers existed makes it so much more believable that the First Order was not shown the damn door the second that it came shuffling back in. The gears were already in motion, and the pumps were primed. Snokes for the memories.
It really is all connected (The Mandalorian)
Many franchises make the claim that "it's all connected." Their shows, their movies, their books, all of it is a part of one big narrative experience. Many claim it, but rarely does it actually happen.
Star Wars went above and beyond in 2020 to prove that connectivity. Maul showing up a couple of years ago in Solo: A Star Wars Story was only the beginning, because once again, here comes The Mandalorian.
Fans of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels were likely bouncing off of the walls with Mando's Season 2. Ahsoka Tano finally made her way to live-action, now being played by Rosario Dawson. Bo-Katan Kryze made the trip as well, though she continued to be played by Katee Sackhoff, who gave the character voice in both of the aforementioned animated series.
Plot points from both of those shows proved pivotal, and all of that happened after the series went and did something truly insane — it brought in a character who had been created for a Star Wars novel.
Timothy Olyphant (man of talent, man of looks) hit the screen as Cobb Vanth in Chapter 9, continuing a story arc that began years ago in Chuck Wendig's Aftermath trilogy.
If you didn't read that book, or watch the other shows? You were given all of the information you needed, and the show played just fine. If you are someone who goes in for every show, every book, every comic, and every game? The Mandalorian proved to be a major hub of connectivity, and we didn't think that was possible.
The gates are now wide open for other animated characters to make the Saw Gerrera leap, though a few could theoretically make the Bo-Katan leap... meaning that the actor who first voiced them in animation could continue to play them in live-action. Kevin McKidd as Fenn Rau instantly comes to mind, mostly because he's great and we want it to happen. Fenn Rau is almost always on our minds... just ask Dr. Richard Nygard. He's heard all about it.
Besides that, there are so many great characters that only exist in the books and comics of the new canon. The Vanth inclusion proved that wanting Doctor Aphra to appear in a series is not a foolish cause. It could actually happen. When Vanth happens, anything can happen. Put that in your slambook, Bullock. Ad friggin hoc, free friggin gratis.
Return of THE Jedi (The Mandalorian)
Of all of the crazy tricks that The Mandalorian pulled in 2020, this was the biggest and the most unexpected. Some fans had thought that the Jedi who communed with Grogu could turn out to be Luke Skywalker, but everyone bet on him being recast if they went this route.
That's not what happened. When Luke Skywalker returned, he was played by Mark Hamill. Digital wonderment gave a great assist, and there he was. The Jedi had returned. Again.
One reason no one saw this coming is because Hamill had been saying that he was done with Star Wars ever since his Rise of Skywalker appearance. Why did we believe him? He lied, he just sat there and lied to us, Mr. Lundegaard... and we're happy that he did. He fooled us all right good.
The Mandalorian is not going to become Luke's show, that's not why this has us so excited. It has us excited because we thought that Mark Hamill was done with this, and he clearly isn't. Maybe we'll get a little appearance here and there, maybe more, who knows? Hamill is still in the picture. Thank the Light for that.
Earnings Call: The Musical
The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars proved that Star Wars worked on a streaming service. Though we knew more shows were being planned, we didn't know that we'd be getting a Holdo Maneuver right to the face. The weird new holiday tradition of the "Disney Investor Call" made it very clear that Star Wars has a bright future.
There will be 11 new shows coming. Some of them we knew about (Andor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Bad Batch), and then others (Lando, Visions, A Droid Story) came out of nowhere. The rumored female-centric series will be called The Acolyte and will tie into the High Republic. There will naturally be more of The Mandalorian, and it will have two spin-off shows too — Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic. All three of those series will tie together in some kind of mega-event and could make the Arrowverse crossovers look tame. Vancouver shmancouver. (Nailed it.)
Actually! We're sorry, we meant to say four shows will tie together because Jon Favreau hid a post-investor call trick up his sleeve and only revealed in the season finale of The Mandalorian that another new show was coming, this one called The Book of Boba Fett. The title came up right after we saw Boba gun down Bib Fortuna and take Jabba's throne with the spotchka swiggin' Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Robert Rodriguez will work on this new series with Favreau and Dave Filoni, and we'll get it in December of 2021 before Season 3 of Mando.
Movies are a thing too, aren't they? Taika Waititi is still cooking up his own oddball bit of Star Wars cinematic brilliance, and that was confirmed in the call. Also revealed? Another new film called Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, which will be directed by Wonder Woman helmer Patty Jenkins. What? Also, hell yeah!
Whether we're streaming at home, watching on the big screen (here's hoping), reading in the pages of a book that takes place in a new time period, or repeatedly trying not the crash that TIE Fighter into an asteroid, Star Wars is going nowhere. Luke pulled off his one in a million shot in 1977, but Lucasfilm just went and fired every gun it had in 2020. The ramifications of everything that was announced in that call will be felt for years, and we have a feeling that they are nowhere close to being done.
It should be noted that we've made our own pitch to Lucasfilm. It's a show called Dave Filoni Talks About Star Wars for an Hour and it would be on every week. It's exactly what it sounds like. Call us back, Mouse House. Plenty more where this came from.
So while 2020 sucked, Star Wars in 2020 was magical. It was a shining starlight beacon, and it will continue to inspire us for so very many years to come. Thank the force, and Joh Blastoh.