2:00 pm EST, February 6, 2018

‘Star Wars’ live-action TV series: What we know, what we don’t and what we want

Disney has announced that a live action Star Wars TV series is in the works, and we’re bursting with speculation!

Update 02/06/18: On a recent earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors that the company is “developing not just one, but a few Star Wars series specifically for the Disney direct to consumer app. We’ve mentioned that and we are close to being able to reveal at least one of the interties that is developing that for us.”

“I think you’ll find the level of talent… on the television front will be rather significant as well,” Iger said.

Original article continues below.

Star Wars has always had an on-and-off relationship with television. The small screen was the original home of the legendarily-awful Holiday Special of 1978; in the decades that followed, Star Wars popped back up on television, but took up permanent residence in the world of animation. Expensive and challenging, live-action seemed a realm to be avoided.

Naturally, rumors of a Star Wars live-action TV show have buzzed around the fandom for years. George Lucas himself had a proposed series called Star Wars: Underworld set in the underbelly of Coruscant, for which dozens of episode scripts allegedly exist. The project was shelved permanently after the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm, but the idea has continued to animate fans’ imaginations for years.

With Disney president Bob Iger’s announcement that a Star Wars live action TV series will be created for Disney’s exclusive streaming service, the concept is a dream no more. Though absolutely no information has been revealed about the series beyond its nascent existence, we have plenty of ideas about where this exciting new development should go.

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The Showrunner

Here’s a crazy idea — how about someone who isn’t a white dude?

The new Star Wars TV series presents yet another opportunity for Lucasfilm to recruit an up-and-coming talent to the galaxy far, far away. With each newly-announced film, many fans have hoped to see a women and/or a person of color take charge of the project, only to see Hollywood pick… well, more of the same.

When it comes to who we’d love to see heading up the series, and guiding the ship, there are the usual suspects that spring to mind. Ava Duvernay. Rachel Talalay. Lexi Alexander. What about Cheo Hodari Coker, who brought Luke Cage to such success? Or Jenji Kohan of Orange is the New Black, or Misha Green, recently of Underground? Albert Kim of Sleepy Hollow and Marti Noxon (UnReal) are other strong options with experience in sci-fi and fantasy, and certainly the list of potential diverse showrunners is longer than than we can list here.

But, when we really sat and thought about it, what we want most, more than anything else, was to have a relative newcomer get their chance at working on the series.

It’s a pattern that has been afforded to most of the directors on the film side of things – ideally, this time, with the aim of giving voice to and underrepresented view-point when it comes to Star Wars. Because, of course, that pattern has followed some other common traits between the directors (even if some of them haven’t survived through to the completion of filming.)

But, equally, if Lucasfilm did want to hand the reins over to one of the aforementioned directors, we certainly wouldn’t be unhappy.

That said, all signs seem to point to current Star Wars Rebels executive producer, Dave Filoni.

A 12-year veteran of Star Wars animation, Filoni is already well versed in the universe, and a tried and trusted creator. So, it would make sense that, with Lucasfilm venturing into new and somewhat unfamiliar territory, they’d want a known quantity involved.

Filoni himself hasn’t exactly been quiet about his desire to work in live-action as a medium. Whilst speaking to Slashfilm in 2014, Filoni said of the possibility of him directing a Star Wars spinoff, “I mean, if I were to get an opportunity like that A, I wouldn’t turn it down. B, I would see it as a great honor to do it. And I would apply all my Jedi knowledge to doing it as best I can. When I see these spin-offs happening, I’ve got definitely more than a few ideas of things that I would love to see finished and some things that makes them, I think, personally great stories.”

More recent and, in fact, telling, were his comments to io9, ahead of Rebels final season. “I have an incredibly talented group of people working here [at Lucasfilm]. They’ve worked for me all 12 years that I’ve been here. So I feel indebted to them and want to keep creating work for them so they can use their abilities and tell great stories. I also want to keep pushing myself into areas that are challenging and new. I’ve had a lot of experience now interacting with live-action directors like Rian Johnson who’s been really wonderful to me and showing me what their production is like.”

He continued, “I want to celebrate stories, and it doesn’t matter what medium it’s in. I don’t care — big screen, small screen — I just need space to tell a story. And do it as best I can. That’s my goal in the end. So we’ll have to see what form that takes in the future. …But let’s just put it this way. I learned from the best.”

At first glance, those comments might seem somewhat innocuous, before you realise that Filoni brought up the ‘L’ word without any prompting from io9. And that, at that point, the forthcoming Disney streaming service had only recently been announced –- with rumors of a Star Wars live-action series close behind.

Coincidence? We’ll let you decide.

The Setting

Between ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’

Blank spaces aren’t that common in Star Wars (between the movies, books, comics, and general trivia, it can feel like we know everything.) But one distinct gap in time is the space between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. So far, the only media to explore that time have been a short story or two, and the non-canonical Freemaker Adventures LEGO series.

This particular time is ripe with storytelling potential. Luke and Leia are searching for Han Solo, but the Empire and the Rebellion have each struck awful blows. Both sides are regrouping, rebuilding their forces (and the Death Star) even as they continue their galactic battle.

A Star Wars live-action TV series set in this space could focus on the rank-and-file members of the Rebellion. X-Wing pilots were the focus of popular stories in the Legends era, and joined with their brothers and sisters in arms could make an incredibly compelling and scrappy tale.

The Empire could certainly be represented as well, exploring life within the dangerous cogs of a regime stretched to its limit. Maybe TIE fighters deserve a voice too — and maybe we could learn just who built that second Death Star.

Between ‘Return of the Jedi’ and ‘The Force Awakens’

When it comes to the period of time between the end of Jedi and the beginning of The Force Awakens, we’ve only really begun to scratch the surface of possibilities. Yes, supplemental material to the Star Wars universe, like the novels and comics, have dug into what happened after the fall of the Empire, and some of the events that led to the rise of the First Order, but there’s so much more to explore in-depth.

Much of what we get to experience is often seen through the eyes of the Skywalkers – or Skywalker adjacent. Taking a step away, and back, gives the show the chance to look at what happened to the rest of the universe after Luke and co. took down the Empire.

And, with a wealth of time, they can give the more political aspects of the galaxy the time they deserve to really make an impact. And, through Claudia Grey’s novels, we know that a true balance can be struck between keeping the story moving, and digging into the complex politics of Star Wars.

The Temple Era

Though the prequels films are not most people’s go-to Star Wars experience (though all cheers to you if they are!) it must be said that there are lots of interesting ideas to explore in that era. We’re not talking about trade federations or droid armies — we’re talking about the quiet intrigue of the Jedi Order itself.

This is another idea that was compellingly explored in Legends novels, many of which focused on a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. That might be challenging to revisit specifically (unless Liam Neeson is up for another go at Qui-Gon) but there is still plenty of drama to plumb from ordinary Jedi rising through the ranks and balancing austerity with power.

On a wider level, the descent of the Jedi Order into fractious politics was a long, slow journey. Human (and alien) frailty warred with right and wrong, faith and honor; it’s quite a rich palate with which to paint a story.

And remember — none of the Jedi actually got to chose their path in life. From a vanishingly young age, they were raised in the Temple community, whittling down their emotions and living lives (supposedly) of pure service. That’s some serious stuff right there, and in the right hands, our concept of the Jedi could be fundamentally transformed.

The Characters

Shara Bey

Whether the show is, potentially, set in the wealth of time between Empire and Jedi or Jedi and Force Awakens, there’s one character that could make a significant appearance: Shara Bey.

(Don’t stop me, even if you’ve heard this one before.)

As most of you are likely aware of by now, Shara Bey is the mother of Poe Dameron and an ace pilot in her own right. She was very much the inspiration and guiding hand for Poe taking the path he did, and there’s a wealth of potential material to be mined should the series choose to include her.

Not to mention the additional possibility of Kes Dameron, Poe’s father, also being a prominent character. He did, after all, fight in the Rebellion as part of the Pathfinders – who operated under the command of none other than Han Solo.

Both Shara and Kes would offer a link to the main continuity of the Star Wars saga, without needing to be entirely beholden to the films.

Boba Fett

Oh, Boba Fett. That fascinating flash-in-the-pan, all suave and mysterious. Fans have loved him since The Empire Strikes Back, and hoped for his return from the Sarlacc Pit ever since. Initially slated to be the subject of a Star Wars Story film, the project has been in un-mentioned limbo since director Josh Trank parted ways with Lucasfilm.

Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Boba Fett is an awesome character, but he works best in small doses. Used in the live-action TV show as an enigmatic guest, Fett could be involved in the adventures of the story without overwhelming it.

Whether villain, hero, or somewhere in between, Boba Fett would make a compelling addition to a new Star Wars tale, thrilling fans while leaving his cool factor completely intact.

Cienna Ree and Thane Kyrell

The two star-crossed characters from Lost Stars by Claudia Grey have captured the imaginations of fans across the galaxy. Both educated in a top Imperial Academy, the childhood-friends-turned-lovers found themselves on opposite sides of the war when Thane deserted his post and joined the Rebellion.

We won’t give away the entire plot of Lost Stars here (you should read it!) but the story spans the entire arc of the original trilogy, following these characters and others through the great moments of Star Wars. An adaptation of Lost Stars would combine romance and drama, politics and philosophy, and offer a wonderful alternate view of the story we know so well.

Alternatively, a Star Wars live-action TV series could follow Thane and Cienna after Lost Stars. The book leaves their story on something of a question mark, albeit one that has intense ties to the events following Return of the Jedi, and it would be wonderful to follow the characters’ (considerable) travails and triumphs into the future.

This article was originally published on Nov. 17, 2017 and was updated on Feb. 6, 2018 to reflect latest information.

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