Dave Filoni has effectively functioned as the de facto face of Star Wars ever since creator George Lucas moved on from the iconic franchise over ten years ago. Filoni has been involved in almost every single Star Wars project since the Prequel Trilogy, working alongside Lucas for years. Filoni grew up a Star Wars fan and is considered the Padawan of George Lucas, the handpicked protégé of the master himself, and he’s done well by the franchise and fanbase.
Filoni’s series The Clone Wars and Rebels are some of the most beloved Star Wars stories ever. In many ways, Filoni has been seen as a savior of the franchise for some fans while they make Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy a boogyman figure. They have made up entire rumors of an entire civil war wagging inside Lucasfilm between Filoni and Kennedy. Long story short: to them, everything good is Filoni, and everything bad is Kennedy.
Filoni’s position in Star Wars has only grown in recent years. He has had a hand in guiding the franchise on Disney+ and helped develop The Mandalorian, which has now launched its own corner of the franchise with spinoff series like The Book of Boba Fett and Ahsoka. Filoni will now direct an upcoming Star Wars feature film, one that will unite the three series in an epic crossover event.
With so much knowledge and experience of the franchise from Lucas himself and his obvious love for the story, the fanbase has called for Filoni to lead Lucasfilm, even as company president. While he won’t be replacing Kathleen Kennedy anytime soon, he was named Chief Creative Officer of Lucasfilm in 2023, giving him more control than ever.
However, recent developments in a galaxy far, far away have changed how we should look at things, and if we want the story of Star Wars to continue to thrive after nearly fifty years, we have to think carefully about who’s in charge. No one can deny that Dave Filoni has done a great job for the franchise so far, but he may not be the best choice to lead Lucasfilm at this time, and here’s why.
Update December 12, 2023: This article has been updated following the news that Dave Filoni has been promoted to Chief Creative Officer of Lucasfilm and recent news regarding his upcoming Star Wars films and Disney+ series.
Filoni Taking Over Lucasfilm Has Some Benefits
Dave Filoni has worked alongside George Lucas for over six years, creating the beloved The Clone Wars animated series and growing and learning from his experience. He has been the executive producer and creative director at Lucasfilm for years now and has been involved in (almost) all Star Wars Disney+ projects, so it’s not an overstatement to say that Filoni has shaped Star Wars as we know it to be today. He is considered by many to be the future of the franchise.
His relationship with George Lucas is something that can’t be overlooked, either. More than just his boss, Lucas has been a mentor for Filoni, helping him become the director and producer that he is, learning from his great storytelling style, and helping him bring his vision to life. Having his blessing is a big point in his favor. Also, knowing how instrumental he’s been to what Star Wars is today, there are some people, particularly those who are big fans of this new era of the franchise, that think guaranteeing its continuity would be a good thing.
He Had A Few Important Misses
However, after many years and many successes, his time at the top might be coming to an end. The first time this became evident was with disappointment in The Book of Boba Fett. This second-ever live-action Star Wars series has not only proven a massive disappointment itself for its lackluster story and poor treatment of its titular protagonist, who’s been a fan-favorite for decades, but also a major stumbling block for the rest of the franchise.
There were also issues with The Mandalorian, which could also be Filoni’s most significant achievement. Filoni’s The Mandalorian became the most popular part of the Star Wars saga after the mixed reaction to the sequel trilogy. Both seasons one and two were highly regarded among fans. Fans were excited about the recently concluded season three beforehand but didn’t stay to watch.
The show failed to find its footing all the way through the season, following too many poorly developed plot threads with no apparent overarching goal and no justification for continued existence, leaving viewers increasingly unsatisfied and leading to drastically decreasing demand as the season continued until it suffered the lowest viewership records, proving fans have had enough. Many fans were also confused the whole way through because of critical little details like how Mando and Grogu got back together and why were left unanswered for the many who didn’t watch The Book of Boba Fett.
The Mandalorian, though, was very much Jon Favreau’s show, and Robert Rodriguez was put front and center for The Book of Boba Fett. Yet it was Ahsoka that was clearly Filoni’s vision. The live-action series centered around a character he helped create for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and, in many ways, a live-action season 5 for the series Star Wars: Rebels, which he created.
While some audiences enjoyed Ahsoka, many were also left disappointed by it. The show was criticized for stiff performances, much can be attributed to Filoni’s direction which leaves for some scenes to be as wooden as those in the prequel trilogy directed by George Lucas. Combine that with a disappointing final episode that failed to wrap up its central storyline, Ahsoka might have been the straw that broke the camel back in terms of goodwill Filoni had built up in the franchise.
Star Wars Is Too Big For Only One Person To Be In Charge
The fact remains that Star Wars has outgrown any singular person a long time ago. The franchise has way too many storylines and a huge and diverse fanbase no one person can hope to please. Putting this responsibility on Filoni alone would be unfair to everyone. This becomes evident when analyzing Star Wars‘ latest biggest success, which had nothing to do with Filoni.
Andor was the surprise masterpiece of last year because, as a prequel to a prequel, many didn’t expect much from what was likely to be just the next disappointment in the long line of recent live-action disappointments from Disney’s Star Wars. Yet, from the first moments of the first episode, Andor blew away all expectations, good and bad, and quickly established itself as the show that no one wanted, yet everyone needed, for both Star Wars lovers and haters.
Andor told an incredible story without any Jedi or Sith, introducing many new, deeply developed characters, more average, and more human. It’s a slow-burn action and political drama. It’s the most un-Star-Wars-like Star Wars you will ever get – and everyone loved it; it’s still receiving award after award. Andor proved that Star Wars can be a prestige brand.
Dave Filoni had absolutely nothing to do with Andor. Tony Gilroy was the showrunner and the one responsible for this huge success. This might be because, when approaching Star Wars-related projects, Gilroy’s method is completely different from Filoni’s. Gilroy is more committed to crafting a good story than he is to honoring Star Wars‘ legacy. He is not precious with the property and is willing to experiment with it, something Filoni appears to be afraid to do.
One of the most exciting Star Wars projects in recent years was Star Wars: Visions. Season 1 was an anthology series featuring different anime studios putting their own unique spin on the franchise with no emphasis on continuity. Season 2 expanded the format out to other animation studios from around the world and both were great examples of what Star Wars can be with different creative voices given a spotlight.
Audiences are eagerly awaiting the release of The Acolyte, a Star Wars series from Leslye Headland that will take place before The Phantom Menace and during the era of the High Republic. This will be a Star Wars story not connected to Filoni’s corner of the franchise and will be able to tell its own story that adds its own new elements to the franchise.
Looking over Filoni’s work in the Star Wars franchise, he has some major strengths and weaknesses. He knows how to take elements that fans hated and rework them to be part of a larger mythology to contextualize them in richer ways. Star Wars: The Clone Wars has gone a long way to rebounding the image of the prequels, which was even more hated than the sequel trilogy ever was. Filoni has also introduced many new beloved characters into the franchise that fans love just as much as the original trilogy, from Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex in The Clone Wars, to the Ghost Crew in Rebels to even recently The Bad Batch, Filoni knows character work.
Yet sometimes, he sacrifices the characters in the story to focus on other unrelated parts of the franchise, oftentimes in favor of reminding audiences of other Star Wars projects. The Book of Boba Fett spent two of its seven episodes focusing on The Mandalorian. Bo-Katann has a larger role in season 3 of The Mandalorian than the Mandalorian himself. Ahsoka is weirdly more about Sabine Wren than the title character.
This also speaks to an issue with Filoni, which is that he is shrinking the Star Wars galaxy. For a franchise that is so vast with so many characters and stories to tell, Fioni’s emphasis on interconnectivity and multiple crossovers with characters constantly appearing makes the galaxy feel small. While audiences love the original characters, bringing in Luke Skywalker and C3PO feels like it is taking away from the characters Filoni’s stories should be focused on. Soon, Star Wars will only reference itself and alienate audiences who are not familiar with every part of the franchise.
Filoni’s Star Wars Film
Filoni is now set to direct one of three future Star Wars films. Filoni’s will be an Avengers-style crossover event bringing in various characters from across the Disney+ series into an epic team-up against Grand Admiral Thrawn, likely in a loose adaptation of the Heir to the Empire books. Acting as both Chief Creative Officer and director of a feature film is similar to James Gunn running DC Studios while also directing Superman: Legacy.
It will be interesting to see, with Filoni now the Chief Creative Officer, how much this will impact other Star Wars projects. While he likely won’t touch Andor season 2, he might have more hands-on control over the development of both James Mangold’s Jedi prequel film and the upcoming New Jedi Order film featuring Rey. He also will likely try to find more ways to interconnect the franchise across its various platforms, making sure movies, television, and video games have more callbacks and references.
This certainly is fun for longtime fans and gives the impression of an overall plan that fans have said they want. Yet it also could result in even more behind-the-scenes issues with Star Wars, something the brand has had a hard time with. Should one person have the sole creative vision behind Star Wars? Does the band benefit from having a variety of creative voices, giving something unique to Star Wars and making a little something for everyone, or is brand consistency the best call? It is unclear, but Star Wars is at a turning point for sure.