Recently, Disney confirmed that Rian Johnson-Co-writer and director of The Last Jedi-will be supervising a fourth Star Wars trilogy. However, it’s a bit unclear if this will be a continuation of the current “Skywalker saga” of films, or something self contained. Much like my “third spin-off” speculation (A third spin-off that has yet to materialize, despite Kathleen Kennedy teasing a Summer announcement; perhaps it’s been delayed due to the Han Solo problems), this is mainly just me thinking about what it could be.
Sequel to the sequels?
It’s pretty obvious that the current sequel trilogy is pretty much the last hurrah for our original trilogy heroes. Han died in “The Force Awakens”. Carrie Fisher’s passing will probably mean no more Leia after “The Last Jedi” although the character’s fate remains unknown. Mark Hammil could continue as Luke but he’s somewhat far older now, and also his fate post-TLJ remains unknown. Plus he’s also fairly old at this point-it seems like a wise move by Disney to mostly sideline the OT characters in the sequel trilogy due to their age (and makes me a bit concerned about Ford headlining a new Indiana Jones-as “Force Awakens” and “Blade Runner 2049” proved, at this age he’s perhaps best as a mentor to a new lead-although I suppose Indiana Jones 5 could do this, but hopefully with somebody other than Shia Lebouf’s Mutt). The only real OT characters that could go on are probably Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2, all who are of course not human, and simply-with the exception of Anthony Daniel’s voice as Threepio-wearing an outfit/CG/remote control etc.
The current actors are of course still young, and it’s conceivable that-bar their characters dying-they could continue in Star Wars movies past “Episode 9” for years to come, and perhaps even down the line pass *their* torches to another new generation of heroes.
Totally new saga?
This is of course what the spin-offs are primarily for; but perhaps they can tell a story that goes through more than one film. Certainly, there’s been a few “micro-sagas” in the the now non-canon “Legends” Expanded Universes, such as the adventures of Stormtrooper-turned-mercenary-turned-Jedi Kyle Katarn (Dark Forces/Jedi Knight), or the former Royal Guard Kir Kanos (Crimson Empire), each of whom saved the galaxy in their own way, with the regular Star Wars heroes (and some villains) only making the occasional cameo. And both were multi-part sagas.
Dark Horse also did their own take on a saga mostly divorced from the era of the film’s; the “Legacy” comics. In a way, it anticipated some of the developments of the sequel trilogy, with the good guys facing off against a resurgant Empire/Sith-with the Jedi once again mostly extinct, and Luke is a mentor (although he’s now a force ghost that retains a youthful appearance like his post-2004 father) ; However, unlike those films, set pretty much in our ‘real time’ from the time of ROTJ (A few decades) this one goes a full century into the future. It’s of course not totally distant from the films; the main character, Cade, is a descendant of Luke’s (presumably through Luke’s son Ben from the novels) and there’s even a Leia stand-in although she’s Cade’s cousin (through the Jaina/Jagged Fel line).
Still, if they want to go in semi-fresh, perhaps a ‘far future’ saga is the way to go. Kind of worked for another franchise with “Star” in the title…
I discussed something similar in my spin-off thread. Part of the Star Wars backstory-fleshed out somewhat in the prequels-is that there was once a massive war between the Jedi and the Sith lords, with the Sith thought to be extinct-although one of their order-Darth Bane (This is still canon; Bane is mentioned in “Clone Wars” series) survived and continued the order in secret with the rule of two-with one Sith as the Master and the other the apprentice. This eventually culminated in the conflict of the first six episodes, with Palpatine ascending to power and wiping out (most of) the Jedi, bringing back Sith rule under the Empire and taking Vader as his apprentice. (It’s kind of unclear where Snoke/Kylo Ren/Knights of Ren fit into the dark side hierarchy, but I’m sure some answer is coming)
While the story of this war-as well as prior wars-is told in the “Darth Bane” novel series (as well as it’s comic counterpart, Jedi vs. Sith) and Bioware’s “Old Republic” franchise, that series (apart from the Bane element) is now non-canon, so Disney could be free to tell this story their own way….and it’d probably take quite a few movies to do so.