Star Wars' non-book media is still new when it comes to stories not including Skywalkers, but shows like The Mandalorian prove there’s an audience for these tales. The Acolyte on Disney+ will continue that trend, taking place 100 years before The Phantom Menace.
The Acolyte will officially be the first Star Wars project to take place in The High Republic era. However, more interestingly, the series is confirmed to reference material from the non-non-canon Expanded Universe, now branded Star Wars Legends.
Drawing heavily from Star Wars Legends
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that Leslye Headland, writer, and showrunner for The Acolyte, is a hardcore Star Wars fan. Kennedy mentions that Headland adores classic EU material, stories that will be integral to The Acolyte.
"She is a gigantic Star Wars fan. She is a gigantic Star Wars fan,” Kathleen Kennedy confirms to Vanity Fair. “What’s wonderful about Leslye is she knows it all. I mean, she’s read a gazillion books inside the E.U. There are little bits and pieces that she’s drawing from that no one has explored yet in the onscreen storytelling."
It’s not yet clear which parts of the EU/Star Wars Legends Headland will be pulling from, though it wouldn’t be the first time Star Wars media has done this. For example, Star Wars Rebels brought in Grand Admiral Thrawn. Hopefully, The Acolyte can actually use the Star Wars Legends lore to make a lasting impact, rather than fan-pleasing moments.
Kennedy hinted that some of the most beloved Legends storylines would be retrofitted into The High Republic era. This includes storylines from Knights of The Old Republic and characters such as Revan and Darth Bane.
The Jedi will outnumber The Sith
Leslye Headland says it was her idea to set The Acolyte 100 years into the past. Headland feels recent Star Wars media has focused too much on legacy characters. The Mandalorian and Star Wars Rebels have fallen victim to this as well, not to mention some of those episodes in The Book of Bobba Fett.
Furthermore, Headland feels that having The Acolyte take place farther in Star Wars past will make the series feel fresh. Putting the series in this timeline means witnessing an era of Star Wars where The Jedi actually outnumber The Sith. It’s a status quo we rarely see in Star Wars and one that should make the series feel fresh.
"I was coming at it as a fan who was much more into the RPG [role-playing games] that the Extended Universe feeds on. I came hard at that in the ’90s, and then got introduced to [the animated series] The Clone Wars,” says Headland. “I knew the timeline really well. And I was like, 'I think if you want to explore Star Wars from the perspective of the bad guys, the best time to do it is when the bad guys are wildly outnumbered. When they actually are essentially the underdogs, for lack of a better term.' So this would be that era.”
We hope that The Acolyte can give Star Wars fans something fresh and interesting, especially with Legends references abound. It’s one thing to have a cool cameo but if that doesn’t lead to a fun story, what’s the point?