These days, Star Wars works better if you know Star Wars. Knowing that Obi-Wan Kenobi will let Darth Vader kill him makes the Obi-Wan Kenobi show richer. Hearing Ahsoka Tano say “Thrawn” on The Mandalorian will be that much sweeter to fans of Star Wars Rebels. The examples go on and on. And while playing to nostalgia and fandom seems to be the pattern with the franchise, even with the feature films, the next Lucasfilm Star Wars creation takes a different approach. At least according to its creator.
Tony Gilroy, one of the writers of Rogue One, is the showrunner of Andor, which debuts on Disney+ September 21. Andor is a prequel to a prequel, a story of one of the main characters of Rogue One, which itself was the story that set up the beginning of the first Star Wars. And though the character’s creation is rooted in Star Wars lore, Gilroy made this show to... not be that.
“You should be able to watch the show and not give a shit about Star Wars ever, or [have ever] seen any Star Wars,” Gilroy told Variety. “This show should work on its own.” Andor tells the story of a young man (the title character, played by Diego Luna) who is confused about his place in the galaxy. He knows he hates the Empire, knows he wants to do something about it, and eventually an opportunity presents itself. Gilroy created Andor to be less of a Star Wars showcase and more of a slice-of-life, grounded spy show. A spy show that just happens to take place in the world of Star Wars.
“I wanted to do it about real people,” Gilroy said. “They’ve made all this IP about the royal family, in essence. It’s been great. But there’s a billion, billion, billion other beings in the galaxy. There’s plumbers and cosmeticians. Journalists! What are their lives like? The revolution is affecting them just as much as anybody else. Why not use the Star Wars canon as a host organism for absolutely realistic, passionate, dramatic storytelling?”
If that makes it sounds like Andor is going to be almost un-Star Wars, you’re catching Gilroy’s vibe. Variety asked him about Andor being on Disney+ alongside shows that are mainly aimed at families and he makes it sound like they’re inherently different. “I don’t think it’s a show for nine-year-olds, probably,” Gilroy said. “We are an adventure story. We are a thriller. And in a really abundant way, we’re creating a lot of IP. Some of it’s ground level: products and TV shows, all kinds of things. They’re all brand new.”
So while there will be legacy characters like Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera appearing, and plenty of toys and merch coming, that’s not the point. The point is to look at Star Wars from a whole new perspective, with mostly new characters doing mostly recognizable, normal things, and Gilroy hopes fans get that. “The hope, the dream, is that the really hardcore Star Wars community will embrace the show in a new way,” he said. “That they’ll be thrilled to have someone come in and completely uncynically get down molecularly in their world and treat it like a real thing.”
Read more from Gilroy over at Variety. Andor premieres with three episodes on September 21.
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.