When 2015 saw an ‘awakening in the Force' in the form of a trailer for the long-awaited Episode VII, it wasn't just the internet that was broken – it was the fans too. Han Solo's "Chewie, we're home" left millions more excited than ever for a Star Wars movie, which was no surprise given the franchise's 11-year hiatus following Revenge of the Sith, the final chapter in the prequel trilogy.
And when The Force Awakens finally landed in theaters in December of that year, the general consensus was mostly positive, with the only notable criticism being the fact that the film was a carbon copy of A New Hope - desert planet-dwelling orphan befriends an adorable droid with a secret and winds up discovering her destiny as a Jedi and must rise to battle a galactic dictatorship.
But the familiar element of The Force Awakens was a compromise fan were willing to exercise in exchange for a new trilogy, and the film promised a bright future with compelling characters and storytelling. In hindsight, this was a wise move for such a long-awaited sequel intended to kick off a new trilogy. But nevertheless, fans had been hoping for something very different.
Why is the sequel trilogy so hated?
When The Last Jedi arrived in 2017, the fans' wish had been granted. Well, sort of. The film was preceded by a trailer that promised a subversive turn of events, indicating Rey's possible turn to the dark side.
But with weak and weird subplots, discarded elements set up in the previous installment, and a Luke Skywalker who was completely inconsistent with the original trilogy, the sequel turned out to be the straw that broke the poor Blurg's back, splitting the fanbase down the middle and quickly becoming the most hated Star Wars film at that time (even more hated than Jar Jar Binks).
Subversive though it was, with plenty of "gotcha" moments rather than well-written, meaningful twists, and with some inexplicable character motivations, director Rian Johnson wanted to do away with anything set up by J.J. Abrams, and in an interview with Radio.com in 2019, he said: "I want to be shocked, I want to be surprised, I want to be thrown off-guard, I want to have things recontextualized, I want to be challenged as a fan when I sit down in the theater…"
Needless to say, plenty of fans were definitely shocked and surprised. Evidently, Johnson's vision wasn't well-received by the masses, but when Abrams returned to helm The Rise of Skywalker, he did the same thing, ignoring the events of the previous film, thus proving that Disney and Lucasfilm had zero roadmaps for the trilogy from the get-go.
And it turns out that The Rise of Skywalker, despite having an incredibly moving final trailer that boasted the best Star Wars score to date (though nowhere to be seen in the film itself), was even messier, and so the trilogy's chance at redemption was squandered by poor storytelling, nonsensical revelations, and a final act that desperately ushers in fan service to cover up a lackluster plot.
Is the sequel trilogy being deleted?
It once seemed impossible that anything could be hated more than the prequel trilogy, but in the years since, fans have grown to appreciate it somewhat, which is perhaps largely because of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the animated series that ‘fills the gaps' in the prequel trilogy while also expanding on the mythology and storylines the films established in impressive ways.
That's not to say the sequels are hated by everyone, though – there are many who enjoy them, perhaps even love. After all, films are subjective, and there's also no doubt whatsoever that the sequel trilogy helped to put Star Wars back on the star chart, and has also invited a new generation of fans into the fold.
But there is, of course, no way that the sequel trilogy can be ‘deleted'. If you aren't a fan, then it's easy enough to pretend they don't exist, and because the films occupy the latest part of the Star Wars timeline and therefore don't overlap with any other existing Star Wars movies or shows, it's easier to do this than it would be with any other film along the timeline.
Are the sequels being removed from canon?
It's likely that shows such as The Clone Wars, Rebels, and The Bad Batch, all of which are canon but take liberties with retconning, are the catalyst behind rumors of the sequels being removed from canon. After all, the hit animated shows have given fans hope, and so has the live-action show The Mandalorian.
In fact, it's possible that anything outside the Skywalker storyline isn't just safer territory to navigate, but more entertaining too, which probably explains the popularity of those shows, along with the fact that much care has been taken in actually making them work.
For now, the sequel trilogy does remain canon, and will likely stay that way. But just as we explained with the sequels being ‘deleted', you can always pretend that they aren't canon and that Rian Johnson, J.J. Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy simply poured a lot of money into some weird fan-fiction project.
Will the sequel trilogy be rebooted?
You might be surprised to learn that there is indeed a rumor flying around that involves Disney planning to ‘erase' the sequel trilogy from existence, much like the planet of Alderaan. However, as we've already established, films cannot be erased. These rumored plans actually involve potentially rebooting the films, but such a rumor should always be taken with a grain of Crait salt.
But the sad truth is that even if this were true – which it probably isn't – things would just get messier. A reboot sequel trilogy or even a limited series on Disney+ would be an admission of failure on Disney and Lucasfilm's part. Not only that, but the opportunity to reunite Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and the late Carrie Fisher for the same scene – something fans always wanted - is now lost.
Another indicator that this rumor is false, is that it has become abundantly clear that Disney and Lucasfilm wish to stay away from the sequel trilogy timeline in terms of TV and film. Even existing and upcoming animated and live-action shows such as The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Andor, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka, and The Bad Batch, orbit either the prequel trilogy or original trilogy.
With all that said, it's unlikely the sequels will ever be removed from canon, or rebooted. After all, wiping something from canon is only possible if there's something new there to replace it, or if something that is canon contradicts the existence or the events the sequel films established – and we can't quite imagine Disney doing this, as it would be the equivalent to ‘deletion'.
As for rebooting the sequels, never say never – after all, before this year, could you ever have imagined the Snydercut version of Justice Leagueactually happening? However, the difference there is that a lot of footage for Snyder's vision already existed. While there is undoubtedly a lot of unused material for the sequel trilogy, it's unlikely there's enough to drastically improve each film.
So, if removing or rebooting the sequel trilogy is out of the question, perhaps it comes down to a form of retconning. Just look at The Clone Wars – it doesn't quite ‘retcon' the events of the prequel trilogy necessarily, so much as introducing new characters such as Ahsoka Tano, and storylines that simply enrich the films, while expanding on everything those films created, including characters like Darth Maul.
But there is an element of retconning involved with The Clone Wars – just as there is with any story that's ‘backdated' to fit in with existing material. But will Disney retcon the sequel trilogy for Star Wars? It's a rumor that's been circulating in the fandom since The Rise of Skywalker, but it's likely that rumor is based on nothing more than wishful thinking.
While it would be a lot easier to retcon than the reboot, it would still involve creating brand new material. Perhaps then, the best solution to ‘fix' the sequel trilogy would be to give it its very own Clone Wars-like series, which could tie up many loose ends from the films, such as explaining Palpatine's return, explaining whether Finn is Force-sensitive or not, and so on.
For now, we'll have to make do with what we have – which is a lot. All 11 Star Wars movies and all live-action and animated shows, along with some from the vintage vault, are now streaming on Disney+. There's even the anime anthology series Star Wars: Visions to look forward to. But if all of that isn't enough to Force-heal the wounds the sequel trilogy has left you with, there's also an upcoming open-world Star Wars game to look forward to, which will hopefully feature a huge roster of planets players can visit and re-create their own version of the last three movies.
The Book of Boba Fett will be the first of the new shows to start streaming, arriving on Disney+ this December.