Star Wars is, without a doubt, one of the most successful franchises out there. The fans are devoted and the content seems endless. But with an original trilogy, a prequel trilogy, and a sequel trilogy, that’s quite a lot of films. Not to mention the anthology films and countless television productions. As the sequel trilogy is about to come to an end with The Rise of the Skywalker, the future is unclear. Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm, has an even more uncertain future in the world of Star Wars.
Who Is Kathleen Kennedy, And What Does She Do With Star Wars?
Image via Twitter
The people who often get praised in regards to the newer Star Wars films include J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson, and the successful actors who bring these stories to life. Kathleen Kennedy does most of her work behind the scenes as a producer. In fact, her work as a producer is quite an extensive list, going far deeper than just the newer Star Wars creations. Her credits include films like Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and The Sixth Sense. Her incredibly impressive résumé has to make you wonder why her name isn’t more talked about with more respect in Hollywood.
Kathleen Kennedy co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall, the production company responsible for some of Hollywood’s greatest hits. And, in 2012, George Lucas hand-picked her to replace him as the president of Lucasfilm. This was before he sold the company to Disney, but her promotion to president was part of the deal. Since then, she’s overseen the relaunch of the Star Wars brand producing films, the animated series, The Mandalorian, and overseeing a slew of comics and novels. At the time of this writing, her contract with Lucasfilm ends until 2021. Nothing is certain after that.
Where Does Kathleen Kennedy Sit In The Future Of Star Wars?
Say what you want about the new trilogy. Some fans love it, some hate it. But it makes money and has launched a new era of Star Wars fans. The Force Awakens was hugely successful because it brought back such a beloved series after a decade. One of the franchise’s newest creations is the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. The series, created by Jon Favreau, started some buzz on Favreau’s future with the franchise. Dave Filoni, who worked side-by-side with George Lucas overseeing the animated series The Clone Wars is also much-beloved by fans. Could it be the beginning of a new era? And may that era be all about the small screen? It’s in the cards. Also, Disney CEO Bob Iger recently said that “less is more” when it comes to Star Wars, suggesting he doesn’t have as much faith in the franchise as they do in Marvel.
The next Star Wars film is scheduled for 2022. Originally it was the Game of Thrones showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff who were set to direct, before an unexpected departure. Now, there’s no telling which film will debut that year. Rian Johnson reportedly has a trilogy in the works, but he’s busy with Knives Out. And the creative director of all of Marvel, Kevin Feige, will produce a Star Wars film. While some think he’s being groomed to replace Kennedy, it seems just as likely that as a lifelong Star Wars fan, producing a Star Wars film is a kind of bonus for him. Still, it’s strange that Kennedy’s next film debuts in 2022, but she’s only guaranteed to be with the company until 2021.
Looking into the future, Rey? Image via Walt Disney Pictures.
Kennedy Isn’t As Beloved As She Deserves to Be
Kathleen has played such an important role in Star Wars. Unfortunately, she gets a pretty massive amount of hate for it. Because she’s “the one in charge”, she often gets blamed for things not turning out the way that some expect. She’s the figurehead of these new films. Since they have different directors and other many changing creatives in the works, and she’s the biggest “constant”, it’s easy to make her a scapegoat for the company. And while it makes sense that you’d immediately want to blame the person that you think is responsible, is some of that hatred rooted in misogyny? Especially since the content of the films has become part the ubiquitous partisan squabbling that passes for political discourse in the United States, she’s singled out as having a political agenda.
(Editor’s Note: Yeah, what place does politics have in a saga about how a democracy is subverted into a fascistic Empire?)
The newer Star Wars films have gone a long way to be more inclusive. The Force Awakens introduced Rey as a heroine to the story. While Star Wars always had excellent female characters, this marked the first time a woman was both the lead and a full-fledged Jedi. While thousands of young girls were eager to cosplay the character and look up to her as a capable bad-ass, some fans couldn’t stand her. The “Mary-Sue” trope became a hot topic when discussing her abilities. Of course, in the films she spends about as much time “training” on-screen as Luke Skywalker did. Also, she didn’t grow up with an Aunt and Uncle on a moisture farm. She had to fight to earn a living on the desolate desert planet where she grew up.
And a few years later, Kelly Marie Tran, a supporting character in The Last Jedi received some pretty nasty harassment. One has to wonder how this has evolved from the toxic corners of the Star Wars fanbase. Could Kathleen Kennedy be another casualty because of this? Thousands signed a petition that supported Kennedy being fired from Lucasfilm. While these fans haven’t succeeded in their attempts to change up the upper management of the franchise, her future is unclear. In Hollywood, both on- and off-screen, narratives have power.
Image via Walt Disney Studios
We’re Still Going To Keep Watching What She Creates
We don’t think that Kathleen Kennedy deserves to get fired from Lucasfilm. She has a massive list of contacts in the industry, a keen eye for casting, and the ability to make incredible box office hits. Even though some people online seem to think that she is individually responsible for “ruining Star Wars” (which we at Comic Years think is far from being ruined) she has proven herself time and time again that she is a box office draw. And when her work on the currently untitled Indiana Jones fifth film releases (hopefully) in 2021, we’ll have a better idea of what her creative mind is up to.
Readers, what do you think about the current state of Star Wars, and how Kathleen Kennedy plays into this? And do you have any ideas for what the future holds for the franchise? Let us know!
Featured image via Gage Skidmore.
Meghan Hale is a graduate student living right outside of Toronto, Canada. She has always been the go-to gal for talking about anything film related and has a frustratingly long list of movie trivia up her sleeve. She is currently working on her first screenplay, as well as a horror novel, with the goal of publishing it while Stephen King is still around to read it.