ByMax Farrow, writer at Creators.co
Fanatical film-watcher, Hill-walker, Writer and Procrastinator Extraordinaire.
Max Farrow

“If there’s a bright center of the universe...” then we’re surely living in it right now! That's at least true where all things Star Wars are concerned. The films and games have always been a pathway to so much happiness, even more so since Disney bought the rights back in 2012.

With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on the horizon and Episode VIII due next year, we have plenty of Star Wars goodness to look forward to. Yet there has been great disturbance on the internet, following the surfacing of fresh details which concern an abandoned project. Indeed, this would have meant massive changes being wrought upon an important figure in Star Wars lore.

"POWEEEEEERRRR!"
"POWEEEEEERRRR!"

“This is the Emperor, the lightning out of the fingers Emperor.”

In an interview with VentureBeat, director Corey Balrog discussed helming of the God of War franchise. But one of the biggest takeaways was his involvement with “something magical” several years ago.

Credit: Dean Takahashi
Credit: Dean Takahashi

He was referring to the planned television series, Star Wars: Underworld , which was less interactive than his other projects and more...well Star Wars-y. According to Balrog, the series would have explored the back-story of Emperor Palpatine!

Excellently played by Ian McDiarmid the cackling, evil, and the endlessly quotable Emperor was the figurehead of the Galactic Empire. He was also responsible for corrupting the heroic Anakin Skywalker as well as the torture, death, injury and upset of countless others. All in all, a lovely fellow.

What's surprising, as Corey Balrog explained, was the fact that Star Wars: Underworld was going to show a softer side to the infamous Sith Lord:

...Come again?

“She’s this hardcore gangster, and she just totally destroyed him as a person. I almost cried while reading this...It was the most mind-blowing thing I’d ever experienced. I cared about the Emperor.

Well, you never saw that coming did you? The Emperor has, throughout his appearances, been a somewhat mysterious, shadowy character (he did orchestrate the entirety of the Clone Wars after all) and I’ve always wanted to know more about him - but I wasn’t expecting that!

AGH! Now I’m curious as to who she was and what she did to ol’ Palpy (that’s his nickname which I made up just now, and will never, ever use again) to make him turn to the Dark Side, but because Underworld is cancelled I guess we’ll never know.

“I have you now!” - Unveiling Underworld

The massive popularity of Star Wars, plus the inherent potential of its vast universe, mean its always been ripe to house fresh stories (and make even more money). Even though George Lucas had openly said that he had finished with the films (though he secretly was working on a new trilogy) there were many other projects in development, such as Star Wars 1313.

Ah 1313...This game looked and sounded like a whole bunch of awesome. Charting Boba Fett’s early days prior to his bounty hunting, the gritty and mature sounding game would have followed Fett negotiating his way through a wretched hive of scum and villainy, the titular 1313 (Coruscant’s red light district), kicking ass and taking names.

Concept art for Star Wars 1313
Concept art for Star Wars 1313

Alas, when Disney acquired Star Wars, a lot of projects were put on hold so that the franchise could be brought under Disney’s umbrella, and 1313 was among them. Though it could be revived in some way with another developer - because as Kathleen Kennedy said, the concept is “gold" - the future does not look bright.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, Underworld was set to follow a similar, darker route. The planned live-action TV series would have followed an original cast of characters who would rub shoulders with gangsters, criminals and other such “scum and villainy” in the galaxy far, far away. It would be set whilst the Empire consolidated its power between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Quite how Palpatine’s back-story would have fitted into this is beyond me, but as Den of Geek postulates, the tale could have been an intriguing one-off episode in the series.

“Great kid! Don’t get cocky!”

Palpatine isn't sure about this either.
Palpatine isn't sure about this either.

Balrog seems sure that this would have been a hit, and is full of praise for the series since:

“The writers who worked on that, [were the] guys from The Shield and 24, these were excellent writers...”

I can’t get enough of Star Wars myself, and I’m sure that it could have been half-way decent at least. Be that as it may, I’m kinda glad that this didn’t come to pass.

I’m mainly in this mindset because Palpatine’s past has already been explored in the now defunct Expanded Universe, in the James Luceno novels entitled Cloak of Deception and Darth Plagueis. Retconning them could have been confusing, and the idea of the extremely powerful Palpatine being set on that path by some sort of failed love affair is a bit of a tired trope, and would have proved very controversial with fans.

The prequel trilogy of movie explored a similar thing with Darth Vader, and they are still not loved by many hardcore fans. Plus, this story line also hews pretty close to Anakin Skywalker’s fall from grace, so it could have been a bit repetitive.

We can now only ponder on what could have been, and we will still be able to experience life in the Star Wars universe pre- A New Hope in the upcoming Rogue One movie.

Check out the trailer again below... because you know you want to!

Poll

Would you have liked to have seen Palpatine's back-story in Star Wars: Underworld?