What’s Marvel taking in with its endless “Avengers” franchise? A few billion a year?

Time for Disney to build its own solid-gold conveyor belt:

Confirming a strategy of aggressive franchise expansion, Disney announced today at CinemaCon that they are planning to release a new Star Wars movie every year, starting with the J.J. Abrams-powered Episode VII in summer 2015. The plan is to release a standalone spinoff the following year — probably one of the projects focusing on Boba Fett or Young Han Solo — and alternate between numerals and spinoffs from there.

Assuming the films are successful, this means the total number of Star Wars films will nearly double by summer 2019. Presumably, Disney is hoping that each of the spinoffs will form their own franchises, much like X-Men and The Avengers.

The good news: The more darts you throw, the more likely you are to hit the target. Some of these flicks will be good, if only as a reversion to the mean, and it’s been a long, long time since we’ve had a truly good Star Wars movie. The bad news: What is it that makes a “Star Wars movie” a “Star Wars movie”? Is there any reason to think the standalone movies will achieve that? One of the things I liked about “Star Trek: The Next Generation” was how it retained some of the sensibility of the original series without any overlapping characters. It felt like “Star Trek” beyond the set and uniforms. The “Star Wars” prequels were the opposite — lots and lots of character overlap but no magic. What do these standalone spinoffs need to do to get it back? I have the feeling that most of the Star Wars-ness will be purely cosmetic, like Young Han inevitably meeting a younger, fluffier, cuddlier Chewie for the requisite glint of audience recognition. What’s left of “Star Wars” once you remove the overthrowing the Empire/blowing up the Death Star framework? We tried that in the first three movies and it didn’t work out. Now comes … lots and lots of Jedi ritualism, I take it. What else?

Then again, haven’t there been a few million “Star Wars” books written spinning off from the universe created by the original trilogy? With that many darts, there are bound to be a few strong, Star Wars-y plots translatable to the movies that hit the target too. Hopefully we’ll get a few good years out of the series before it enters its inevitable period of Palpatine-speecifying-about-trade-agreements decadence.