While Star Wars is a sci-fi fantasy franchise packed with action and humor, those are only the trimmings. At its core, Star Wars is a narrative based on family, politics, and religion; and despite the complexity of those topics, it's one of the many reasons why the franchise has resonated with audiences for generations. That tradition looks to continue with Disney+'s new Star Wars show, Andor.
Set to debut on September 21, Andor is a Rogue One spin-off prequel starring Diego Luna who's reprising his role as Rebellion operative, Cassian Andor.
But while the 2016 Star Wars film was a sacrificial war tale, the 12-episode season of Andor has been described as both a spy-thriller and a refugee story and one that will take on real-world politics.
Star Wars Andor Tackling Donald Trump Era Politics
Not only is Andor Diego Luna's return to that galaxy far, far away, but it's also a homecoming for Rogue One writer Tony Gilroy who served as the Disney+ show's creator and executive producer and was reportedly instrumental in its commentary on politics.
In talking with Empire, Andor actress Fiona Shaw revealed that Gilroy has "written a great, scurrilous [take] on the Trumpian world" and that events in the series reflect what's happening in the world today:
“Tony has written a great, scurrilous [take] on the Trumpian world. Our world is exploding in different places right now, people’s rights are disappearing, and Andor reflects that. [In the show] the Empire is taking over, and it feels like the same thing is happening in reality, too.”
While Lucasfilm's latest Disney+ series, Obi-Wan Kenobi, was set ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Andor picks up fourteen years after the 2005 film and is expected to be one of the most comprehensive analyses of the Empire at its peak.
But with the Empire in full force, as Shaw noted, people will be struggling as those in authority, and the government itself, are the main threat.
Under such circumstances, the lines between right and wrong are often blurred, and that's something Shaw claimed Gilroy explores in the series:
"I was impressed by Tony’s social-realist intentions. He’s created a whole new morality. It’s very deep and humane – there is grief, mourning, hope, fear. It’s not just primary colours here.”
Even though Andor is Tony Gilroy's second Star Wars project, political themes are nothing new for the writer, director, and producer whose resume includes House of Cards and the Bourne films; and even though Star Wars is no stranger to politics, neither is Gilroy, who noted Andor "comes from the same place" as his other projects:
"Andor comes from the same place as everything else that’s come out of this office. Clayton, the Bournes, The Devil’s Advocate, now this… It’s all full-on drama.”
As to what the finished project will look like, particularly given Andor's echoes of this "Trumpian world," Cassian Andor's own Diego Luna promises that it will be "insanely ambitious, dark and real" and described Gilroy's pitch as "sick:"
“Even as Tony was pitching me, I was like, 'This is amazing. You are sick.’”
Rebellions are Still Built on Hope
Within the Star Wars filmography, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story stands apart from the rest. Less mythical, grounded, and shockingly dark, Rogue One's power is in the fact that its entire ensemble cast sacrificed their lives in a chance to stop the Empire.
To add to the story, there needs to be a reason; it certainly sounds like Andor has found that reason in Tony Gilroy's tale.
Following the release of Rogue One in 2016, American politics have increasingly become more divided and volatile, while desperation, instability, and outright war know no border.
While humanity is often drawn to storytelling and entertainment as a means of escape during such times, stories are often a way to provide understanding, perspective, and even inspiration.
From what Fiona Shaw and Diego Luna shared, fans can expect a reflection of our real world in a way that's both real, ambitious, and relatable. This sort of Star Wars project is something fans have long wanted to see, particularly in terms of the darker side of the Rebellion and the Empire.
No doubt anticipation for Andor is on the rise; but along with the grit and commentary, a Star Wars story also needs hope. Despite its tragic ending, Rogue One was still able to inspire and provide a sense of hope; and considering the state of the world now, here's hoping that Andor will do the same.
The first three episodes of Andor are set to premiere on Disney+ on September 21.