The series made its intentions clear immediately when Cassian Andor visited a brothel in the opening sequence of the first episode. Intimate relationships between characters have been covered in ways more blunt than anything else Star Wars has ever done, like things getting steamy between Bix and Timm on Ferrix and their bedroom discussion the morning after.
Violence has been fairly on-brand for Star Wars, though Andor doesn't shy away from taking out many of the good guys, too. Blood in large capacities is seen infrequently in the galaxy far, far away, mostly due to the weapons cauterizing wounds. Cassian and fellow rebels have killed their foes heartlessly, but gore has never been extreme.
For a longtime filmmaker like Gilroy, it was imperative that he have free reign to tell his story as he saw fit. Given the histories Disney and Lucasfilm have in media, the producer was uncertain if a partnership would last. Fortunately, he was afforded full creative freedom, with a request to dial it back on two key elements.
Lucasfilm Restricted Sex and Heavy Violence in Andor
In an interview with Variety, Andor creator and producer Tony Gilroy detailed the conversations had with Lucasfilm regarding mature content in the Disney+ series.
The showrunner stated that the same-sex relationship between Vel Sartha and Cinta Vas was "a gesture," something that was neither restricted or pushed by the Lucasfilm brass, but viewed rather as "just another relationship:"
"Man, really, it was a gesture. There wasn’t any controversy at all. From the very beginning, no one ever said we couldn’t do it and no one ever said, “Oh, God, please do it.” Our whole attitude is it’s just another relationship."
Gilroy noted that the relationship was "one of the least complicated in the show" when compared to many of the more contentious bonds:
"I mean, it’s one of the least complicated relationships in the show, if you consider Dedra and Syril, or Syril and Eedy, or Perrin and Mon Mothma, their marriage. We did not want it to be performative in any way."
While the same-sex relationship was casually explored, Lucasfilm restricted Gilroy on "some things that we would want to do" - namely, "sex" and "a level of violence:"
"There’s things we can’t do — I mean, we have standards and practices. We can’t have sex. There’s a level of violence that we can’t have. There’s limits on what we can do. We can’t do some things that we would want to do. But within that, we’re cool."
Regarding the brothel opening and post-coital scene in the Ferrix arc, Gilroy wrote the three episodes as a "challenge" to see if there would be a legitimate working relationship as he was "tiptoeing into the relationship with Disney" and Lucasfilm executives:
"I wrote that as a challenge. I wrote the first three episodes before we hit the writers’ room. We were still tiptoeing into the relationship with Disney. Is it going to be just a development thing or are we really going to do this? So I definitely was like, “Hey, man, this is what I want to do. Can you take this?” There’s a little bit of a challenge about it."
Andor Opening the Door for Mature Star Wars
While George Lucas has gone on record as stating that Star Wars is for 12-year-olds, the franchise hasn't shied away from dark subjects. Lucas himself wrote the Order 66 sequence in Revenge of the Sith that saw the systematic elimination of the Jedi and Anakin's implied slaughter of younglings, as well as the latter brutally executing the CIS leadership. The Clone Wars killed off several key characters and depicted decapitations, despite being an animated show on Cartoon Network.
More mature subjects were bound to be explored in Star Wars eventually, and Andor has broken the mold. Sex scenes aren't really up the franchises' alley, but the heavy implications of such moments happening between Bix and Timm, and later Cassian and a vacation hookup, are effective and contribute to the story. There will never be X-rated material in a Star Wars project, but things can still be adult.
For years, a chunk of the fanbase has pushed for an R-rated Star Wars film or series - especially in light of Darth Vader's own restricted killing spree in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ironically, this may be a tougher sell to executives than the sex, as violence in the franchise is part of its bones but needs to remain in check so as to be accessible for all audiences.
A universe that's seen planets destroyed, the genocide of species and religious groups, patricide, dismemberment, and slaughter will likely never exceed the gore seen in Mos Eisley Cantina when Ponda Baba loses an arm. Andor has excelled at making killing cruel and brutal, which creates more tension in sequences than restricted graphic violence could - and it may be a precedent set for Star Wars going forward.
New episodes of Andor stream Wednesdays on Disney+.