Star Wars: The High Republic is set to open a whole new chapter of storytelling for the monumental franchise. The publishing epic from Lucasfilm will look to introduce new heroes to Star Wars lore while also offering clues on how the Jedi Knights thrived during their peak.
After experiencing a delay due to the pandemic, The High Republic is set to be released in January 2021, giving fans something to look forward to after the release of The Mandalorian's second season. Leading up to its eventual release, new details about The High Republic have surfaced online.
It was revealed that Master Yoda will play a prominent role in The High Republic, seemingly providing clues on what the famous Jedi was up to before the events of The Skywalker Saga. Not only that, Star Wars writer Charles Soule previously teased the "epic and wild" scale of The High Republic while also showcasing a glimpse of the first chapter of Light of the Jedi, a story set within the events of the prequel epic.
Now, new details about the villains of The High Republic have been revealed.
Star Wars officially unveiled the new batch of villains that will torment the heroes of Star Wars: The High Republic. The villains are a combination of monsters and marauders, providing an entirely different set of nemesis' for the Jedi during their peak.
Lucasfilm Publishing creative director Michael Siglain opened up about the decision to include this new set of villains, revealing that the creative team had to decide on "what scares the Jedi:"
“One of the north stars for this initiative is to answer the question, ‘What scares the Jedi?’ Which is a really fun but extraordinarily challenging question to answer. All five authors, as well as the Story Group and Publishing teams, had thoughts on what would scare them — and why — but everyone agreed that had to be something new.”
The first villain that was shown is "The Drengir." Star Wars writer Cavan Scott shared that this terrifying beast is a "sentient plant-life" which rises from the ground beneath their feet, while also revealing that the creatives thoroughly researched "how real-world plants thrive and communicate with each other:"
"As the Jedi struggle to deal with the aftermath of the Great Disaster, a new creeping terror rises from the ground beneath their feet. The Drengir are sentient plant-life who are looking to reap a terrible harvest across the galactic frontier." The seed for the vegetation-based villains came from a sketch by [legendary Star Wars concept artist] Iain McCaig in the early days of The High Republic’s development. Iain had been sketching monsters and there was one creature that was covered in vines and creepers. It sparked off the inspiration for what became the Drengir and I quickly fired off a document outlining what could be their culture and background to the rest of the group, drawing on research I’d been reading about how real-world plants thrive and communicate with each other.”
The next villain is the Nihil, and these creatures are described by Charles Soule as "brutal, savage marauders, based in the Outer Rim." Soule also detailed their calculating and strategic nature.
“The Nihil are brutal, savage marauders, based in the Outer Rim. They’re the stuff of nightmares, able to appear anywhere almost at will. They use bizarre, intimidating tactics — chemical weapons, poison — anything that might kill you, they’ll use."
Soule then touched upon a brief background of the Nihil, revealing that they have their own frightening code while also hinting how they will cross paths with the Jedi Order:
"The Nihil are organized into three main divisions called Tempests, each with its own captain who wields total control. They are frightening in a way that feels great for Star Wars, in part because their ‘code,’ if you can call it that, is so simple: the Nihil take what they want. If you stand in their way, they will kill you and everyone you love. But even chaos agents can have goals…and the Nihil’s plans run directly through both the Republic and the Jedi Order.”
The last villain is Marchion Ro, a character who holds an "important post" within the Nihil organization. Soule described the character as the "Eye of the Nihil," pointing out that "everything revolves around him:"
“Marchion Ro holds an important post within the greater Nihil organization — he is the Eye of the Nihil, as was his father before him. He doesn’t give the orders — that’s up to the Tempest Runners — but in a very real way, everything revolves around him. The things that make the Nihil more than just a bunch of Outer Rim raiders all come from Marchion. He is also, in every sense, a bad guy. And it’s been fantastic building someone around which to focus the darker elements of our High Republic story.”
WHAT THIS MEANS
It's good to see Star Wars shying away from the Sith and focusing instead on an entirely different line-up of villains for the Jedi to face this time around. In a way, this presents a fresh dynamic for Star Wars to explore, as well as further elevating the lore revolving around Jedi Knights.
Part of the fun of the Star Wars franchise is its plot potential, and the detailed presentation of this new batch of villains is a prime example of that. It will be interesting to see how the villains will cause trouble for the Jedi and the Republic. In addition, it is unclear if the likes of the Nihil and Drengir are still present during the events of the Skywalker Saga, but it is likely that this plot point will be addressed as The High Republic progresses through its main story.
From the get-go, it's clear that Lucasfilm is going all-in in terms of pushing the boundaries for The High Republic. This should bode well for the future of the franchise since this new wave of stories has the potential to be explored visually sometime down the line.