As vast as the Star Wars universe is, we still haven't seen its darkest corners explored in live-action: The underworld, where people struggle with what they have to do every day in order to survive. Well, take a deep breath fellow Star Wars nerd, as that situation might change thanks to Rogue One.
Rogue One broke new ground for #StarWars in different ways, mainly by showing new, complex and deep character dynamics. These opened a world of possibilities for the franchise. One of them being an opportunity to revive the long-rumored Star Wars: Underworld live-action TV series.
What Is 'Star Wars Underworld'?
Underworld has officially been in development since 2005 and unfortunately, hasn't yet seen the light of day. During its early stages, the main focus shifted constantly, from exploring Han Solo and Chewbacca's early relationship to answering the question of how Leia knew about her mother's personality even though Padmé was only alive when she was a newborn.
Still, the main idea remained as the exploration of the period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, set in the underworld of the Star Wars universe. Series producer Rick McCallum, said this about the project:
"It is going to be much darker, grittier. It's much more character-based. Think about bounty hunter, that's all I can tell you."
Surprisingly, that bounty hunter comment wasn't an empty tease. During Toy Fair 2007, a promotional poster was released, detailing the plans for the Star Wars franchise for the next two years:
The live-action TV series was slated to come out in 2009, and going by the picture, a certain famous bounty hunter was part of it. Unfortunately, after years of development and delays, the show fell apart due to unrealistic budget expectations, which involved creating movie-like visuals with a $4-million budget per episode.
The intention of exploring non-force user characters in a dark setting was met with disbelief by some fans. Fortunately for us craving fans, #RogueOne just gave us...
The Scene That Proved The Series Could Work
We first meet Captain Cassian Andor when he's chatting with an informant about the Empire's new sinister plan. After killing a Stormtrooper who discovers them, Cassian comforts the informant, who's justifiably freaking out. Seeing the danger of the guy talking about their meeting, Andor shoots him in the back and escapes.
Star Wars characters are usually very straightforward: They're either good and perform nothing but heroic or noble acts, or bad because they do unsavory things. There have been rare instances of a character acting in a morally gray area (such as Darth Vader) and Cassian was one of them — his entire storyline through the first two acts was a morally gray area. Here's Diego Luna talking about his character's moral compromises to IGN:
A big concern for people regarding #StarWarsUnderworld moving forward was how its dark dynamic could work in the Star Wars universe, especially without leaning on the Jedi. This scene holds the answer.
When Cassian shot his informant in the back, it drove home the point that this was a war and his job was espionage; in desperate situations, good men can do bad things. It gave us the excitement of seeing a character who's not trying to balance the Force, just a guy trying to stay alive and do his job. It made me want to see more of that concept.
#GeorgeLucas even discussed the topic of the show skipping the more "flashy" elements of the franchise, stating:
"The Emperor and Darth Vader are heard about — people talk about them — but you never see them because it doesn't take place where they actually are. There are stormtroopers and all that, but there are no Jedi."
Rogue One pulled that off perfectly. We didn't need a lightsaber-user in conflict to care about the moment. It was the excitement to see how people below the great space battles stay alive every day. It was a great treatment that opened the door for an in-depth exploration of the concept.
Does The Show Have A Future?
The concept for Underworld has been the basis of inspiration for other famous projects. For example, the cancelled #videogame Star Wars: 1313 was supposed to tie into the show. Later, when that plan was scrapped, the game adapted concepts from it. Check out what it m have been:
In 2015, president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, was asked about the possibility of the more than 100 scripts written for Underworld being gone. She answered:
"No. No, interestingly enough, thats an area we’ve spent a lot of time in; reading through the material that he developed is something we very much would like to explore. And there was 1313 the game [...] So our attitude is, we don’t want to throw any of that stuff away. It’s gold. And it’s something we’re spending a lot of time looking at, pouring through, discussing, and we may very well develop those things further. We definitely want to."
And ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey recently fueled more speculation during this past spring's Television Critics Association tour. After confirming that they'd been in talks with Lucasfilm, the cautioned that the details are still under wraps:
"It’s all a little bit hush-hush,...That company exists under a big shroud of secrecy. If you feel Marvel’s secretive, [Lucasfilm] takes it to a whole other level … [Talks] are ongoing. We don’t have an official timeline yet."
Whether or not this project is Underworld or not, it's not unreasonable to think it might be. Now that Rogue One proved how the complex concepts of the show could work, hopefully this amazing series won't remain buried for long.
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