StarWars.com Look Back at the Best of 2021

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Some of StarWars.com’s writers rundown the year’s biggest announcements, releases, and fan-favourite moments.

This year, Lucasfilm marked its 50th with a year-long celebration of the company’s galaxy-spanning stories created over five decades. But like Luke Skywalker, our eyes are also on the horizon and the things yet to come. Star Wars: The High Republic ushered in a new multimedia initiative set in a previously unexplored era on the galactic timeline, Star Wars: The Bad Batch focused all-new animated adventures in the immediate aftermath of Order 66, and soon The Book of Boba Fett will reignite our love for the fan-favorite character. We can’t wait to see what next year has in store.

Before we say goodbye to 2021, here are our favorite Star Wars announcements, releases, and moments from this year!

Star Wars: The High Republic changed our view of the peaceful Republic and the golden age of the Jedi Order.

Long before Anakin Skywalker was discovered on Tatooine and the Jedi fell to the corruption of the Sith, there was peace in the Republic. But before this year, we could only imagine the possibilities of a Jedi Order working in harmony with a Republic at its height. Thanks to Star Wars: The High Republic, our exploration of the new era centuries before the prequel trilogy has expanded our appreciation of the Jedi and the democracy they served, in stories created primarily by the five architects of the initiative — Cavan Scott, Claudia Gray, Justina Ireland, Daniel José Older, and Charles Soule. In Phase I, they introduced a bevy of compelling new characters from Chancellor Lina Soh to the rough-around-the-edges pilot Sylvestri Yarrow, the sweet Padawan Burryaga and the monster hunter Ty Yorrick and many others in addition to a handful of familiar faces like Jedi Master Yoda. While there are no Sith to contend with at this time, the stories that have unfolded delve into the humanity of the characters, potent explorations of fear, loss, and the moral and emotional fortitude necessary to overcome life’s tragedies and emerge righteous rather than vengeful and scarred.

This year, the books in the series became New York Times bestsellers while the comics went into multiple print runs as readers eagerly entered the High Republic to immerse themselves in the interconnecting tales. But the multimedia initiative is more than just the stories on the page; we also got the chance to step into the era in virtual reality with ILMxLAB’s Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge, and recently we learned the forthcoming video game, Star Wars Eclipse, will provide another entry point into the period. Plus, the effervescent Krystina Arielle joined the Star Wars family as the host of the new Star Wars: The High Republic Show, a rollicking bi-monthly romp through the latest tales, with special guests, reveals, and even a scale model of the Starlight Beacon that (so far) wasn’t blown up.

As we celebrate a new year, the final wave in Phase I of books and comics in The High Republic will hit store shelves, including The Fallen Star, Midnight Horizon, Mission to Disaster, and the Marvel two-part miniseries Eye of the Storm. Something tells me The High Republic will be back on our best of list next year, too. – Kristin Baver 

Lucasfilm Games was reborn.

The future is bright for Star Wars video games. That’s the message Lucasfilm sent in reactivating Lucasfilm Games, the original designation for its gaming division. For fans of classic Star Wars and Lucasfilm titles, that wasn’t an insignificant act — but it would be meaningless without new games worthy of the name. Thankfully, Lucasfilm Games came out blasters blazing early in the year, announcing an open-world Star Wars game from Ubisoft, Star Wars: Hunters for Nintendo Switch and mobile, and even an Indiana Jones game developed by Bethesda, which my Indy-loving heart could not fail to mention. The excitement hasn’t let up, with everything from the critically-acclaimed LEGO Star Wars: Castaways released on Apple Arcade to the recent reveal of a stunning cinematic trailer for Star Wars Eclipse, the first game set during the High Republic era. So hold your controllers high, Star Wars fans — and long live Lucasfilm Games. – Dan Brooks

Dark Horse Comics returned to the Star Wars galaxy.

If you remember “the dark times” between 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jediand 1999’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, you most likely also remember an era of Star Wars comics that became the mainstays of Legends storytelling. Whether it was our introduction to dark-side Luke and a cloned Emperor Palpatine in Dark Empire, Luke and Mara Jade’s wedding in Union, or any number of classic Star Wars comics stories, Dark Horse Comics kept fans going well into the prequel era and beyond.

But they’re not done yet. Last month we learned that Dark Horse Comics is returning to the galaxy far, far away with new comics and graphic novels for all ages. Fans can expect to get their hands on new stories starting in the spring, with initial content focusing on the High Republic. And there will be plenty more, with series, anthologies, one-shots, and specials spanning every Star Wars era. It’s a continuation of a 30-year partnership, and we can’t wait to see what these talented artists and writers have in store. – Dustin Diehl

Lucasfilm celebrated its first 50 years.

Fifty years ago, in 1971, a 27-year-old filmmaker from Modesto, California, incorporated his own company known as Lucasfilm. George Lucas had recently completed his first feature film, THX 1138, an experience that proved frustrating as he struggled to collaborate with the Hollywood studio system. As he readied his next project, a movie inspired by his adolescence called American Graffiti, he hoped Lucasfilm would afford him better control over his own stories.

Like the balance of the Force, without George Lucas’ commitment to independent filmmaking and creative freedom in the establishment of Lucasfilm, there would have been no Star Wars. And without the phenomenal success of the space fantasy’s 1977 release — which came as a huge surprise to Lucas and nearly everyone else involved — Lucasfilm may have remained a relatively small production company shepherding Lucas’ eclectic projects. Since 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back affirmed the saga’s endurance, Star Wars has continued to primarily define Lucasfilm’s destiny. It has helped allow the company to pursue unique productions from Willow to Red Tails to the Indiana Jones series. It launched the trajectories of divisions like Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, and Lucasfilm Games, as each set their own course in innovation. Star Wars is the Lucasfilm standard.

And this year’s 50th anniversary celebration has been about learning from the past and preparing for the future. Lucasfilm has always been about the next project, the newest challenge. And without a doubt, the galaxy far, far away will continue to help shape the company’s identity over the next 50 years. – Lucas Seastrom

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