What Is Star Wars?

It’s May 4th. You’re probably going to be reading (or scrolling past) a lot of Star Wars-related content today. I want to take advantage of the zeitgeist to ask a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately: What is Star Wars?

Before I elaborate I should establish that I’m kind of a weird person to ask this question. I’m a fan, but not a super fan. I’ve seen all the theatrically released films (except Rogue One – fell asleep) and the two life action Disney+ series and that’s about it. No Clone Wars, no Bad Batch, no novels. I know the main story line but there is definitely a lot of material I haven’t been exposed to.

Which brings me back to my question: What is Star Wars? What are the essential elements that define the franchise? Does everything have to link back to Skywalker saga, or is it possible to tell a story that is recognizably Star Wars without including references to those existing characters?

For the most part I mean this question in the most non-judgemental way possible; I’m really curious about the different ideas people have. But there is a subordinate question I have that is a little more critical: Where is the franchise going? Right now they seem kind of stuck, telling ancillary stories and fleshing out details from the Republic and Empire eras. Is that all we can ever hope for? Or do you think we might at some point get some post-First Order stories that genuinely break new ground? What might those look like?

What do you think? Feel free to riff on the questions I have asked; I want this to be a wide ranging discussion. May the Force be with you.