Of the many new Star Wars movies and TV series Disney has down the line, The Acolyte is one of the most mysterious.
What's known so far is that the female-centric Star Wars show is being helmed by Russian Doll showrunner Leslye Headland. The TV series is described as a "mystery, thriller" and promises to take viewers into the emerging dark-side powers towards the end of the High Republic era.
Beyond this, information about The Acolyte is scarce, but its place within the High Republic time period is already taking it to a place no live-action Star Wars project has been before.
That being said, the Skywalker Saga will still have a big influence on the new series, particularly George Lucas' prequel trilogy.
THE LEGACY OF THE STAR WARS PREQUELS
In an interview with The Wrap, writer Leslye Headland explained how the Star Wars prequel films have helped inform the upcoming The Acolyte.
In particular, the release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, had a profound effect on Headland, who said she was a "very, very big Star Wars fan" and that when the film came out, she was "realizing what I wanted to do with my life:"
"The reason it did appeal to me personally is that I was 18 when ‘Phantom Menace’ came out, and I was a very, very big ‘Star Wars’ fan. I remain a big ‘Star Wars’ fan, but at that particular time, right after the re-releases and the fact that I was in high school, it just kind of all coincided at a time where I was discovering who I was sexually, I was discovering who I was artistically, I was kind of realizing what I wanted to do with my life. And then this big, huge movie event, cultural event happened that was ‘The Phantom Menace.'"
Headland said that despite many fans being disappointed with the film, she was "very intrigued" by the reason The Phantom Menace started during the time period that it did:
"I know there were varying reactions to it. And certainly there were a lot of people that had grown up with the original trilogy who were disappointed by it. But I actually was very intrigued by why George Lucas had started us at that particular point."
The showrunner said her brain has always "buzzed around that area" and wondered "what happened to lead up to this:"
"I kind of wondered, but what happened to lead up to this? That’s kind of where my ‘Star Wars’ fan brain went was like, ‘How did we get here?’ And why are the Jedi like this? When they are in power, why are they acting this way and how is it that they’re not having the reaction that you would think they would to Anakin’s presence and what Qui-Gon Jinn is saying about how passionately he feels about training him and bringing him into the fold. It’s like, even the discovery of Darth Maul is kind of met with this like, ‘Hm, interesting’ kind of feeling. So I just think for me, my brain has always buzzed around that area and wondered what’s going on here — or what has been going on here.”
COULD THE ACOLYTE REDEFINE THE PHANTOM MENACE?
As many remember, The Phantom Menace opened at a time of political turmoil for the galaxy far, far away. At this point, the Galactic Republic and Jedi Knights were still allied in harmony, but they faced consistent threats from the forces of the Sith.
The Acolyte takes place roughly 200 years prior to this in an era of peace for the galaxy. Given Headland's interest in the events leading up to The Phantom Menace, it looks like The Acolyte will show audiences exactly how the prosperity of the High Republic era came to an end. Seeing as the Disney+ series will explore the origins of the dark side, it's not much of a stretch to assume the Sith forces have a hand in it.
As Headland mentioned, many fans weren't satisfied with the events of the prequels, but they did explore some important Star Wars lore. Just like The Mandalorian has given new meaning to the events in the Skywalker Saga, The Acolyte has the potential to do the same with The Phantom Menace.
For example, the master and apprentice system is something that's at the core of The Phantom Menace and the Sith religion as a whole. With rumors already circulating that a pivotal Sith character will appear, this could be one way The Acolyte can help give the prequels new meaning.