Are Star Wars’ nights heading into territory that is a lot more dark and full of terrors? The news that ‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff are to pen the next-but-one film in the franchise (following ‘Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker’) may have fans of the Starks and Targaryens wondering if Obi-Wan Kenobi is about to be revealed as a dragon whisperer, or Luke Skywalker brought back from the dead by a disciple of R’hllor.
The reality is that the most famous tropes of ‘Game of Thrones’ were present and correct in George RR Martin’s’ A Song of Ice and Fire’ novels long before the show arrived on telly. It seems unlikely they will be carried over into the new ‘Star Wars’ film, set to be released in 2022, though it would also be foolish to imagine that Weiss and Benioff haven’t learnt a thing or two about the dramatic power of bloodthirsty betrayal.
It is easy to see why Lucasfilm has turned to the showrunners, not least because of the obvious parallels between ‘Star Wars’ and’ Game of Thrones’. Both operate in a universe where magic exists but is rare — and all the more fascinating for it. There was never a more powerful moment in ‘Game of Thrones’ than the first season finale in which Daenerys Targaryen emerged naked from the flames with three baby dragons curled around her, because until that moment audiences weren’t even sure magic existed in this world. Likewise, the best ‘Star Wars’ movies are those in which the force is only sparsely apparent: the scene in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ when Yoda raises the X-Wing from the Dagobah swamps is infinitely more potent than any of those in the prequel trilogy in which every second character appears to have Jedi powers.
The two sagas have even shared a surprising number of actors. As well as playing the pretender to the Iron Throne, Emilia Clarke, who played the enigmatic Qi’ra, was one of the better things about ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’. Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) is almost as well-known for her role as chrome-plated Stormtrooper chief Captain Phasma in the current Star Wars trilogy. Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle) played General Veers in ‘Empire’, while Max von Sydow was both ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’’ Lor San Tekka and the original Three-Eyed Raven. Keisha Castle-Hughes and Jessica Henwick, who played two of Dorne’s Sand Snakes, appeared in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ and ‘The Force Awakens’ respectively.
Much of this is coincidence — yet both sagas rely on diverse casts to convey the sense that their stories take place in a vast and varied universe. Both also rely on unusually proportioned actors for the same reason: Christie and Peter Dinklage in ‘Thrones’; Dave Prowse, Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker in ‘Star Wars’.
Reasons to be cheerful then. And yet perhaps we should also be asking quite what Weiss and Benioff have done in the past to show they have the creative clout to take on Star Wars. Aside from Game of Thrones, Benioff’s only notable credits in the fantasy and sci-fi arena are for screenwriting efforts on execrable ventures such as ‘Troy’ and ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’; Weiss has very little on his CV other than ‘Thrones’.
Perhaps the pair have a worthy plan to transform ‘Star Wars’; they will need one, because the saga cannot continue leeching off George Lucas’s original trilogy forever. ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ may just be the last time we ever hear mention of that name. The question for those handed the keys to the Jedi kingdom is: what really does happen next?