Serialized fiction is an ideal mass-market form, delivered in installments to draw consumers in and string them along from chapter to chapter with the promise of more developments to come—and from comic books (and now comic-book movies) to Hollywood sequels, these franchises have often been criticized for this exact reason. But in a new video essay, video blogger Evan Puschak (who might be better known as “the Nerdwriter”) argues for this genre’s virtue and makes the case for the Star Wars franchise as a revolutionary agent within the serial film genre.
Star Wars itself is a pastiche of the Flash Gordon serial film series, among many other things—but its newest installments push the franchise, and serial fiction films as a whole, in a new direction. As Puschak explains, serials of all kinds tend to feature tons of characters and plenty of subplots—but Rogue One and the other Star Wars anthology films will now elevate those subplots and footnotes into full-blown stories of their own. The ever-expanding Star Wars film universe as a whole promises to be a hybrid of other serial forms, combining the endlessness of TV soaps with the interconnectedness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And perhaps most excitingly, unlike the majority of Marvel movies, most of the characters and story arcs in the upcoming Star Wars installments have yet to be written.
“The new Star Wars franchise is primed to explode in a thousand directions,” Puschak says, “and right now in the beginning is when we can help to write the rules for what kind of serials that we want to see.”