Music is as much of a character in Star Wars as anyone, or anything, else. What John Williams managed to do throughout the Skywalker saga, over more than four decades, is nothing shy of impressive. That music helped to define and enhanced George Lucas’ beloved sci-fi series and a galaxy far, far away. But Williams is said to be done following his work on The Rise of Skywalker. Yet, Star Wars is going to live on in a big way. The good news is, Williams already has an heir apparent, and his name is Kevin Kiner.
Fans will be forgiven for not knowing Kevin Kiner by name, but a great many of those who enjoy Star Wars are intimately familiar with his work. Kiner has been an enormous part of the franchise for more than a decade as the primary composer for both Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. These animated shows represent some of the most beloved and acclaimed works within the franchise. Period. And Kiner’s music was a huge part of that. Week in and week out, he managed to make these shows feel and sound like Star Wars, using John Williams’ iconic work as a springboard.
John Williams composed music for nine Star Wars movies. Kevin Kiner composed the soundtrack for nearly 200 episodes of TV within that universe. While he hasn’t been afforded the opportunity to score a feature in the franchise, save for the 2008 The Clone Wars animated movie, which was essentially just several episodes stitched together, there is no questioning Kiner’s experience. He is intimately familiar with this world and has demonstrated time and time again that he can effectively add that much-needed, musical layer to big moments. If there is anyone more qualified to take the mantle from Williams, one would be hard-pressed to find them.
This is not to say that Kevin Kiner should be the only one composing Star Wars music in the future. Plainly speaking, that isn’t a practical expectation. Disney and Lucasfilm not only have several movies in the works, such as Rogue Squadron and a mystery movie from Taika Waititi, but several shows are in development for Disney+. Ahsoka, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Rangers of the New Republic and The Book of Boba Fett, just to name a few. But If there is someone who can take the torch and head up the next generation of Star Wars, musically speaking, Kiner is the Chosen One, so to speak.
Now, whether or not Lucasfilm sees it that way is another question entirely. Ludwig Goransson was selected to provide the soundtrack for The Mandalorian, and that went quite well. Meanwhile, it was Michael Giacchino who scored Rogue One, the first non-saga entry in the franchise back in 2016. John Powell handled those duties for Solo. Kiner has yet to do any live-action Star Wars work to date. Perhaps Lucasfilm and Disney see him as the animation guy. But that would indeed be a flawed line of thinking.
Whatever the case, there are numerous opportunities to have Kevin Kiner expand his role within the franchise in the coming years. Star Wars isn’t going anywhere. It is moving on with or without John Williams. If that must be the case, then the man who gave us works like Kanan and the Fire and Ahsoka Leaves should absolutely have his talents put to good use. The good news is that Kiner will be back for the upcoming animated series The Bad Batch. However, someone who has demonstrated themselves to be second only to the great John Williams in this arena should be afforded the opportunity to expand beyond that. Your move, Lucasfilm.