The Star Wars sequel trilogy proved to be a bit of a mixed bag, in the end. While The Force Awakens kicked things off with a $2 billion global hit that reignited the franchise, both The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker were intensely divisive. But Disney and Lucasfilm have since moved on, in large part thanks to The Mandalorian. That having been said, if they wanted to distance themselves from the sequel trilogy, there is a way Disney could, and we must stress could, retcon the sequels.
Hardcore Star Wars fans may well have read abundant rumors online in recent weeks/months stating that Lucasfilm is secretly going to retcon the sequels. Our goal here is not to examine the validity of those rumors. Nor is it to say whether the Disney regime should or shouldn't do such a thing. We are merely trying to explain how this, in theory, has already been made possible by canon material within the franchise. It all involves something known as the World Between Worlds, aka the Veil of the Force.
Why Would Disney be Rumored to Retcon the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy?
First, let's explain what has fueled recent rumors, and why Disney/Lucasfilm might consider doing something so bold. As mentioned, no matter how one feels about the movies individually, there is no denying that both director Rian Jonson's The Last Jedi and J.J. Abrams' The Rise of Skywalker were hugely divisive. That is of critical importance when looking at a franchise where everything is canon and everything counts. Novels. Comics. Video games. All of it.
Shortly after Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, it was revealed that they were going to reset the canon. Any new material, no matter what the medium, would count in the Star Wars galaxy. That means, even though they are moving away from the Skywalker saga, the franchise is anchored to the events of the sequel trilogy. Any other stories that come before or after these movies in the timeline will be connected, in some way, to the tales of Rey, Kylo Ren, Poe Dameron and Finn. And the divisive elements must, then, come along for the ride as well.
So, theoretically speaking, if there were a way for the studio to retcon the sequel trilogy, placing it in an alternate timeline, that might be an appealing option. They wouldn't necessarily be saying that the sequels didn't happen. Only that they happened in a different timeline, assuming the proposed method of retconning the movies is used. That said, doing something like this would be bold and could run the risk of alienating fans who loved The Last Jedi and/or The Rise of Skywalker. It would have to be a calculated risk.
What is the World Between Worlds?
A World Between Worlds was the title of a particularly important episode of Star Wars Rebels season 4. The episode took place near the conclusion of the series. For those who didn't watch the animated series, it centers on a young Force-sensitive boy named Ezra Bridger who joins a rag-tag crew in the early days of the Rebellion. He is trained in the ways of the Jedi by Kanan Jarrus, a former padawan who survived Order 66.
In the episode in question, Ezra discovers a portal that serves as a bridge between time and space. It, in essence, is a form of time travel that can be accessed using the Force. The official World Between Worlds database entry on StarWars.com reads as follows.
"Behind the ancient painting of the Mortis gods on the Lothal Jedi Temple is a world between worlds, a collection of pathways and doors between time and space. Uncovered by the Empire, the Emperor sought entrance, as access would grant him unimaginable power. But the Padawan, Ezra Bridger, found the key to unlocking the world between worlds first, and would ultimately thwart Palpatine's plans."
The World Between Worlds/Veil of the Force allows for time travel of a sort within the Star Wars universe. Most importantly, Star Wars Rebels is firmly within canon. It was not only produced following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm but many characters and events from the show have served as a springboard for events witnessed in The Mandalorian. This is something that firmly exists in space occupied by both Rey and Grogu, aka Baby Yoda. It's the same galaxy. Same rules.
How Could Disney Use the Veil of the Force to Retcon the Star Wars Sequels?
Now comes this big question; how could the Veil of the Force be used to retcon the Star Wars sequels? This would be surprisingly easy. Ezra Bridger is alive. This has been confirmed by Lucasfilm's Dave Filoni, who was behind both The Clone Wars and Rebels, now serving as an executive producer on The Mandalorian. As such, the knowledge of this powerful tool remains with him. So it can be used again.
Of particular importance, Lucasfilm is currently developing a whole universe of shows taking place in the same timeline as The Mandalorian, roughly a handful of years after Return of the Jedi. Or, to put it another way, about 25 years, give or take, before the events of The Force Awakens. That leaves a whole lot of room for the Veil of the Force to be used to prevent the First Order from happening. To prevent Kylo Ren and Snoke from snuffing out the New Republic. To prevent Palpatine from returning.
One show, Ahsoka, which will center on Rosario Dawson's Ahsoka Tano, could be the lynchpin in the whole operation. In A World Between Worlds, Ezra manages to save Ahsoka from certain doom in her battle with Darth Vader, which served as the Star Wars Rebels season 2 finale. Ahsoka's fate in the duel with her former master was left ominous until Ezra used the Veil to pull her to safety. Effectively, in that moment, he altered the course of history. Had Ahsoka died in her battle with Vader, who knows what would have happened to the galaxy?
Has Lucasfilm Already Secretly Set the Star Wars Sequels In an Alternate Timeline?
This is where things get more speculative and a little out there. In theory, the Star Wars sequels may already exist in another timeline. That just hasn't been revealed yet. As the theory goes, when Ezra saved Ahsoka, it changed everything. It's possible, at that moment, he prevented the events we saw in the sequel trilogy from ever happening in the first place.
The timeline where Ahsoka dies could, theoretically, be the sequel trilogy timeline. But Ezra saved Ahsoka. She lived. She met Mando and Grogu. She was able to guide Mando to take Grogu to Tython. Ahsoka made it possible for the little Force-sensitive alien to communicate with Luke Skywalker. She made it possible for Luke to take Grogu and train him in the ways of the Force. Star Wars Rebels could have already established this new, theoretical timeline. The same one we've been following in The Mandalorian.
Let's look at the timeline Ahsoka dies. In that scenario, Luke probably doesn't communicate with Grogu. It seems far less likely their paths would cross. The current canon, specifically The Rise of Kylo Ren comic, has stated that Ben Solo, before he became Kylo Ren, was Luke's first student in the aftermath of Return of the Jedi. The situation with Grogu contradicts that on some level. This could be used as fuel to fire the multiple timeline theory.
There is also the matter of Ahsoka's brief role in The Rise of Skywalker. We hear Ahsoka's voice at the end of the movie with all of the other dead Jedi when Rey is communicating with them during her battle with Palpatine. This implies Ahsoka too is dead. Again, this could be taken as a signal that Ahsoka died in the timeline the sequels exist in. That is not the case in the Rebels timeline thanks to Ezra's actions in A World Between Worlds.
Disney's plans for The Mandalorian season 3, Ahsoka, Ranges of the New Republic, and the entire future of Star Wars, remain largely mysterious. There is no telling if the Veil of the Force will ever be used again. If A World Between Worlds will be used to alter the entire framework of the franchise. But it could be, and that is important to ponder as we look ahead.