“Star Wars’”future seems to lie with Disney+’s “Andor,” which has received the critical praise it rightfully deserves.
“Andor” is distinct from every other “Star Wars” project because it’s set in that universe, but it does not further any of the original narratives that made the universe content so polarizing.
There are now generations of people who grew up with “Star Wars”: those in the ‘70s with the originals, and those in the 2000s with the prequels. We all came together in the 2010s with the later sequels, witnessing the continuation of a single storyline. Some were supportive of that storyline, while others were not.
There was definitely some criticism of the sequels, which polarized the fan base in only a way that “The Mandalorian” could rectify (after all, “this is the way”). The fan base was calmed (including myself), and the world set about its original axis rotation once again.
Then along comes “Andor,” a show that is set in the universe but speaks nothing of Jedi or Sith. It’s presented in the context of a political storyline not too dissimilar to a show like “House of Cards.” “Andor” develops new characters slowly and maintains a completely self-enclosed storyline that furthers its own narratives without touching on others set in the galaxy of Skywalker and Palpatine.
Imagine a story in the Marvel cinematic universe that dealt with not a single superhero but instead spoke to the fallout of the families devastated in the wake of Sokovia (insider reference for those that don’t know). That’s what “Andor” is like, executed to bring a completely different audience in without trying to hook them on the broader narrative.
It’s a brilliant move by the show’s development team, one that creates intrigue and invites an entirely different audience to the fold, while still keeping the faithful interested and involved. When I watched it, I initially found it slow -- but it built, and I was hooked. This was a similar thread to “Breaking Bad” and even “Lost,” both shows I rate in my top 5 of all time.
The recognition that “Andor” is getting is encouraging for other writers and development teams in the broader media category, because it creates a precedent for building new stories in existing universes that untether those stories from the binds of previous efforts.
Writers can be given the parameters within to work, without the required assets of specific characters, specific tropes, or specific narratives to further build upon. This process provides freedom to a new generation of artistic creativity, and one that can broaden an audience, which is of value to advertisers and studios alike.
“Andor” demonstrates that the future of “Star Wars is safe and secure, while not being confined to a single tentpole storyline that must be maintained. That universe is open for business, so to speak.