With The Acolyte trailer, Star Wars gives fans the gift of anticipation

Headshot of Wenlei Ma
Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
3 Min Read
If you haven’t been excited about new Star Wars titles for a while, we get it. But that could change with The Acolyte.
If you haven’t been excited about new Star Wars titles for a while, we get it. But that could change with The Acolyte. Credit: Lucasfilm/Lucasfilm

Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

After an onslaught of Star Wars titles over a number of years, ranging from the sublime (The Mandalorian S1, Rogue One, Andor) and the forgettable (Obi-Wan Kenobi) to the “I wish I could forget” (The Rise of Skywalker, The Book of Boba Fett), fans were finally allowed to breathe.

With its movies side still in limbo (we’ll believe that Mando and Grogu film when we see it), and the streaming output finally slowing down, Star Wars has given its fans a great gift - the gift of anticipation.

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In the past 18 months since Andor came along and impressed with its astute political thriller vibes, fueled by a pacy storyline that had nothing to do with The Force, there has only been one live-action Star Wars property – Ahsoka.

Star Wars series The Acolyte.
Star Wars series The Acolyte is coming in June. Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Reasonably well received and built off a beloved character that first premiered in animated form in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Ahsoka was a show that didn’t impose itself.

It was a semi-marginal character whose adventures weren’t essential to the overall Star Wars arc. It was able to exist as a “nice to have” slice of the franchise, great for the super fans who loved the character and know that creator Dave Filoni is a trusted shepherd.

But more casual viewers didn’t feel as if they had get on board. By implying it was optional, Ahsoka had goodwill because it wasn’t an obligation.

So when the first trailer for The Acolyte dropped this week, it stirred curiosity. Oh, there’s another Star Wars thing coming, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? And, geez, wasn’t that Andor show really great?

Star Wars series The Acolyte.
Manny Jacinto in The Acolyte. Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Set about 100 years before The Phantom Menace (aka Episode I), The Acolyte takes place in what the lore calls the High Republic era and follows a Jedi master investigating a series of crimes.

It features an exciting cast of young(ish), diverse talent including Amandla Stenberg (Bodies Bodies Bodies, The Hate U Give), Dafne Keene (Logan), Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game), Manny Jacinto (The Good Place), Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim, After Yang) and Charlie Barnett (Russian Doll). Plus, genre queen Carrie-Anne Moss.

And it was created by Leslye Headland, who was behind the very good Netflix series Russian Doll with Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler, and has worked on slightly less mainstream fare such as SMILF, Black Monday and Sleeping with Other People.

Star Wars series The Acolyte.
Star Wars has slowed down its output, and that’s better for the fans. Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

One line spoken in the trailer by Turner-Smith’s character - “This isn’t about good or bad, this is about power and who is allowed to use it” – suggests The Acolyte will take a more nuanced view than the Skywalker films’ white-hat-and-black-hat binary. Although someone else says, “I sense a darkness”, so it’ll still very Star Wars-y.

Headland is an unexpected voice for a Star Wars series which is what makes The Acolyte an enticing prospect. Yes, you want Filoni and Jon Favreau to be helming Star Wars stuff but you also want to see what someone outside the tribe can do.

It may be a disaster, who knows, but for the first time in a while, there’s excitement building for a new Star Wars show, and that’s not something Lucasfilm can take for granted anymore.

The Acolyte will be available to stream on Disney+ in June.

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