The Acolyte Inspired by Martial Arts Films

In an interview with Vanity Fair, showrunner Leslye Headland – known for the Netflix original series Russian Doll – discussed her Star Wars series The Acolyte. Headland said The Acolyte will take place in the High Republic era; this time in Star Wars history has been explored in comics and novels, but this will be its live-action introduction. The series has been described as a “mystery thriller that will take us into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging Dark Side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.” Take a look at Headland’s comments to Vanity Fair about the series here:

“Jon Favreau said that when you’re working in this world, you want to go back to what George was inspired by. There were Westerns and then of course, Akira Kurosawa samurai films, and the fact that he originally offered Obi-Wan Kenobi to Toshiro Mifune …So I actually went more toward martial arts films, and storylines that are a little bit more personal and less global and galactic. Those warriors were on missions that were deeply personal, with people feeling wronged and having to make it right. Wuxia films and martial arts films from King Hu and the Shaw Brothers, like Come Drink With Me and Touch Of Zen. They’re monks that are also martial arts heroes.”

Acolyte Star Wars

She also talks about the decision to explore the High Republic timeline, how the villains are truly the underdogs during this time, and the questions she seeks to answer with this series. I recommend reading the interview in full, as it is insightful and interesting. The Acolyte is the Star Wars series I have the fewest doubts about so far because we know so little about it. There’s much less for them to get wrong here.

That being said, that also makes it a little less exciting than something like Ahsoka or Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sure, they could get those titles all wrong and do a disservice to the beloved title characters (more worried about the latter than the former), but we know these characters. I don’t know much about Headland, and I’ve never seen Russian Doll, but even a brand new Star Wars show with unknown characters is a lot to shoulder. I’m also not super familiar with the Wuxia genre, but I hope this doesn’t mean The Acolyte will be choreographed anything like Mulan (2020). I hope The Acolyte is a breath of fresh air and an awesome introduction to the High Republic for people like me who haven’t read the comics. In the meantime, it sounds like Headland has all the right ideas, which is more than we can say for some over at Lucasfilm. 

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