Star Wars Is Getting Closer and Closer to Exposing the Jedi Order for What It Is

When Star Wars first arrived in the world—back when it was just the original trilogy, mountains of toys, and one peculiar holiday special—fans knew where things stood. The Jedi were the good guys; Darth Vader and his pals were the baddies. But in the decades since, things have gotten a lot murkier across both sides of the Force.

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Speaking to C Magazine, Amandla Stenberg—soon to star in Star Wars series The Acolyte, created by Russian Doll’s Leslye Headland for Disney+—shared a little bit about where the show fits into not just Star Wars’ timeline, but its ever-evolving perspective on its core concepts.

“In the context of the Star Wars universe, it’s a time of great peace, theoretically,” Stenberg said, referring to the High Republic—an era several generations prior to the events of The Phantom Menace. “It’s also a time of an institution, and it’s a time in which conceptions around the Force are very strict. And I think what we’re trying to explore within our show is when an institution has a singular conception of how power can be used … we try to provide a lot of different perspectives and answers to that question. The idea is to kind of honor the ethos of Star Wars and ideas around the Force and also challenge them, hopefully harmoniously.”

That dovetails with Headland’s own statements, including those she made last summer in an Entertainment Weekly piece teasing the show. “Star Wars is always about some version of the underdog versus the institution. And I just thought it was very interesting to do a show about the bad guys and to set that during that time period made the most sense. So it’s kind of almost flipped,” she said. “We have more Jedi than you’ve seen in any of the of the Star Wars content, but at the same time, you see more morally ambiguous characters than you’ve seen in other Star Wars content.”

Noting that The Acolyte is “from the perspective of the villains of Star Wars,” Headland described the show’s characters as “people who are using the Force in their own way, dipping into the darker sides of the Force and are doing it without being sanctioned by the larger institution, which, in this case, is the Jedi.”

Challenging long-held ideas around the Force—and blurring the lines between the Light and Dark sides—is a relatively new path in Star Wars media, and it’s extending beyond just The Acolyte. Today, shared an excerpt from John Jackson Miller’s upcoming novel Star Wars: The Living Force, which takes place before the events of The Phantom Menace but includes some of its characters, including Jedi Masters Qui-Gon Jinn and Mace Windu. It examines “the Jedi Order at a crossroads” as the group considers its place in the galaxy—and whether it’s time to rethink how they handle their business.

It’s an interesting road for Star Wars to travel, and certainly opens up opportunities for stories more nuanced than clashes that may see different characters and settings involved, but still feel awfully familiar. Though it is not yet officially confirmed, online reports have tagged The Acolyte’s premiere date as June 5.

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