Welcome to the latest edition of Dream Screens, where we attempt to pitch the next small screen sensation by unearthing a high-upside intellectual property ripe for adaptation and pair it with a fitting creative talent and digital home to maximize its potential. Typically, we look to highlight less heralded material that has been flying under the radar and is just waiting to emerge as a streaming savoir somewhere. But today, we’re in a franchise mood and there’s no better place to start than Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The High Republic series.
Earlier this year, author Charles Soule provided a brief overview as to what form The High Republic, which takes place 200 years before George Lucas’ Prequel Trilogy during a time of peace and prosperity in the galaxy, will take in the expanding Star Wars universe: “The story is huge, and we’re going to move through it along all of those paths. Every book or comic has a piece of the overall story, and you can read as much or as little as you like – but the fullest experience will be if you read it all.”
The written High Republic series will culminate in Disney’s+ live-action series Acolyte, which is set at the end of the High Republic era and will see dark side Force users emerge. It’s poised to be a breath of fresh air as the first big live-action Star Wars project that thankfully isn’t set in the Skywalker Saga timeline. But as the Force is predicated on balance, the dark side-skewing series could use a natural counterpoint. Enter Star Wars: Light of the Jedi.
Why Star Wars: Light of the Jedi: Light of the Jedi is the first entry in The High Republic series and arguably its flagship novel as it anchors readers in a new era of Star Wars and sets the sprawling plot in motion. The story follows Jedi master Avar Kriss and other Jedi as the Order attempt to solve a mysterious disaster in hyperspace that threatens the galaxy just as a new evil, the Nihil, begin to make their presence known.
The novel introduces us to fantastical new periods of rich Star Wars history, custom, and culture, which expands the scope of the property. No longer are we beholden to the same 80-year time period ruled by overly familiar faces. Instead, a sawth of new characters are introduced in one of the more mature Star Wars offerings. Of course, there’s the basic outline of good versus evil. The novel spends almost as much time with the “bad guys” as it does with the good, giving readers deep insight into this emerging faction.
But Light of the Jedi encompasses strategic maneuvering, action-packed drama, and a surprisingly nuanced skepticism and exploration of Jedi norms. The novel’s great success is deepening our understanding of these mythical heroes as relatable individuals while capably setting the table for a galactic clash that defines an entire era of (fictional) history. Its ripple effects have been the springboard for the entire High Republic narrative.
Why Simon Racioppa should executive produce: Racioppa has a track record in elevating younger-skewing animated series to wider appeal (Netflix’s Fangbone) and reinventing classic IP for a new age (Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance). His latest achievement is Amazon Prime Video’s Invincible, one of the best additions to the superhero genre in years. Invincible carefully leverages audience expectations against viewers in order to subvert, develop, and deliver a crisp take that mixes and matches from Spider-Man, Justice League Unlimited and The Boys.
It all reflects Racioppa’s strong grasp of ensemble casts and interwoven storylines, which will be needed for Light of the Jedi. This, coupled with his ability to synthesize dense and detail-packed franchise-building into easy free-flowing access points, will help with the heavy narrative lifting that the adaptation requires.
The transition from animation to live-action may give some fans pause, but I view it as an advantage. It provides Racioppa with a unique perspective on aesthetics and kinetic motion. We’ve already been given an avalanche of Star Wars content with a tsunami more on the horizon, all of which takes place in the same century. Transporting fans to a never-before-seen era at a time when they are saturated in Star Wars options will require both an inventive and distinctive approach that sets it apart from its predecessors.
Dream Screens are hypothetical arguments for Hollywood endeavors yet to come.