The initial news that Disney was not only producing a new trilogy but also giving us a multitude of other stories in the galaxy far, far away was of course exciting to many Star Wars fans. New Star Wars! In the cinema and everything! Something we never expected to get again after the prequels. But it also came with the arguably justified fear that the franchise could become over-saturated and risk being the worst thing a movie franchise can be: stale.
Just how many stories can you tell in this universe, especially when our first two spin-off movies are about the Death Star and Han Solo, well-covered concepts already? Rogue One itself works because it is a genuinely entertaining movie and successfully adds to the original movie without tripping over itself. It allowed viewers to enjoy Star Wars from a different perspective than the original movies and showed just how large this world can be, as well as the fact that we don't need to follow the Skywalkers. It's a companion piece, but it's also a one-off and you certainly couldn't keep that up forever.
So this is where the old Expanded Universe rears its controversial head. Don't get me wrong here, there's a whole lot of ridiculous bullshit in the EU, but there was also a whole lot of good too. At its best, the EU added depth to the Star Wars universe, just like Rogue One, that allowed fans to immerse themselves into this story. Almost every single character from the movie, no matter how small, had their own tale. Unnecessary? Sure.
But after a while, stepping into the EU felt like stepping into a much larger universe than the one initially seen on screens. It covered thousands of years of Star Wars history, from the origins of the Jedi to the adventures beyond the Original Trilogy and despite the numerous clashes of canon, it all felt connected. Look at the Knights of the Old Republic series, arguably the most immerse Star Wars RPG experience. One of the most entertaining things about playing The Old Republic MMO is the huge wealth of lore, the size of the world, and most of it didn't even come from the movies.
I understand why the EU was scrapped, disappointed as I was, but Star Wars is a universe that begs to be explored. If every film becomes about the Skywalkers, Han Solo or Boba Fett, then we would have a problem, as the old EU also discovered eventually; there are only so many stories you can tell in the Original Trilogy era before it becomes overcrowded.
But like the EU also discovered, there's more to Star Wars than just those films. The Clone Wars and Rebels have both been successful because they expand the universe just like the EU did, using both sets of trilogies as jumping off points to tell their own stories. These series may be close in proximity to the two trilogies, but once we get further into the new trilogy and Rebels comes to an end, it's not impossible that we see a series set between Episodes VI and VII. Both have also at least briefly explored the history of this universe, opening the door to future stories in earlier eras as well.
It's worth remembering Disney's other big franchise (you know, that comic one...) has been so successful in large part due to a willingness to embrace other genres. Look at the differences between The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy or Doctor Strange. Despite sharing enough similarities that they at least remind you they are set in the same universe, they all have a unique identity and tell a different type of story.
As a war movie rather than a space opera, Rogue One proves the Star Wars is capable of genre jumping too Any genre could exist anywhere in this universe, as the EU also managed to prove. The Clone Wars took similar advantage of this freedom, flicking between genres as the series went on and proved before Rogue One that this could work for Star Wars.
While not bringing in the same numbers as The Force Awakens, Rogue One still showed that people will show up for a Star Wars movie that isn't part of the official saga. So why not go more out there? Why not go deep into the criminal underworld and make a gangster movie, or maybe a Coruscant-based conspiracy thriller? Personally, I'd love to see a Western-style film set between Episodes III and IV, similar to John Jackson Miller's EU novel Kenobi.
Star Wars is a franchise full of possibilities and it has proved in the past that it can succeed. There's a lot more pressure on it now to do so, but Rogue One showed that Disney wasn't afraid to take a risk, making something different to what came before but still making it feel like a Star Wars movie. There's still a risk of over-saturation, but there's so much potential for new and exciting storytelling that the Star Wars franchise absolutely has a shot.