“Andor”: A needed redemption for Disney’s Star Wars


Graphic courtesy of Estelle Wong

Estelle Wong, Contributing Writer

“Andor,” released on Sept. 21, 2021, has all the ingredients of a good Star Wars show: explosions, political intrigue, a grand heist, a ragtag team of rebels rising up against a tyrannical empire, and—no Jedi? Removing Star Wars’ perhaps most iconic feature, the Jedi and the Force, Andor was given its own identity and brought new life to this decades-old franchise.

After the release of “The Last Jedi,” the second film in the sequel trilogy, Star Wars fans have been polarized over Disney’s rendition of their franchise, with some claiming that “The Last Jedi” ruined the franchise while other fans loved it. Comparatively, “The Force Awakens,” the first sequel trilogy film, was more universally liked.

Subsequently, Star Wars films produced by Disney have remained under the shadow of “The Last Jedi.” Take “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” released only four months after “The Last Jedi.” It performed meagerly at the box office, only grossing about $393 million worldwide despite a budget of around $300 million. Plans to follow the Marvel Cinematic Universe and have a yearly Star Wars film released in the theaters were scrapped.

Additionally, recent shows like “The Book of Boba Fett” or “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” with mediocre Rotten Tomatoes audience ratings of 55% and 63%, did not unite Star Wars fans, especially those disappointed by the treatment of some of their favorite old-time characters. Clearly, many fans wanted something different from Star Wars.

Enter “Andor,” the show that is everything Disney needs to revive the franchise as it’s a prequel show to the 2016 film “Rogue One.” It stars Diego Luna as he returns to play the title character, Cassian Andor, as the show focuses on his journey in becoming a Rebel spy along with the formation of the Rebel Alliance itself against the Galactic Empire.

Despite the absence of Jedi and fan-favorite characters, “Andor” surpasses several other Disney-era films and TV shows, especially the controversial sequel trilogy. Star Wars under Disney has seemed to be in a creative rut for several years, and “Andor” seems to break that mold.

In fact, what gives Andor its perhaps biggest strength is the departure from famous Star Wars characters like Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, or Obi-Wan Kenobi. Having an original story detached from established canon, “Andor” can explore new themes and storylines without upsetting fans.

The emphasis on the story of ordinary heroes struggling against the Empire portrays the titular Star Wars in a more tangible and grounded way than the original trilogy films where Jedi used the magical Force to help defeat the Empire.

Having the perspective of regular people, not Jedi or Sith, adds new dimensions to a galaxy as big as Star Wars. We get to explore new planets, learn about their culture, their history, and learn of the ways the Empire has oppressed them. We see the fight against the Empire not from the viewpoint of Force wielding individuals but from powerless people who have lost everything they loved. The Empire has never felt more alive, and so is the world of Star Wars.

But despite having a strong response from both critics and fans, “Andor” has not gotten the viewership that Disney hoped so far.

“I thought… we would have this gigantic, instantaneous audience that would just be everywhere… The opposite happened,” Showrunner Tony Gilroy said in an interview.

Disney recently announced plans to release the first two episodes of “Andor” on ABC, FX, Freeform, and Hulu in the hopes of garnering more attention. The show is slated for only two seasons, with the final one beginning production later this month. Therefore there’s still time to catch up on the first season before it ends, and hopefully, “Andor” will reach the success it deserves.