Star Wars: Andor Could Shine A Light On The Darker Aspects of Rebellion

Star Wars: Andor

One of the best characters to emerge from the Disney era of Star Wars content is rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor. Andor, who is played by Diego Luna, debuted in 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In Rogue One, Andor served a key role as protagonist Jyn Erso’s jailer and later compatriot. Jyn and Cassian’s ragtag team of rebels worked to acquire intelligence related to the Death Star, which leads into the events of the original Star War film (A New Hope).

For much of Rogue One, Cassian Andor is the character who represents many of the darker aspects of the rebellion, aspects largely avoided in previous Star Wars films. In order to fight the Empire, agents from a variety of rebel cells or insurgencies are required to engage in assassination, raids, and other harsh actions. Cassian’s opening scene establishes his connection to the darker aspects of the rebellion, where Cassian is shown killing an informant who is unable to escape Imperial forces. Late in film, Cassian himself admits that “we’ve all done terrible things on behalf of the Rebellion”, an illustration of the costs of war.

While Cassian has only appeared in one Star Wars film, the character’s legacy will continue in Star Wars: Andor, a Disney+ series set around 5 years before the events of Rogue One. The Disney+ show is being described as a “spy thriller” that includes “espionage and daring missions to restore hope to a galaxy” (Star Wars.com). This show can give Lucasfilm an opportunity to explore the darker aspect of the rebellion against the Empire. Star Wars: Andor has opportunity to explore some of the costs of waging a rebellion and the show could potentially illustrate the darker tactic that the rebellion used to survive.

A Recap of Cassian Andor In Rogue One – Spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Cassian Andor first appeared in the anthology Star Wars film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Released in December 2016, Rogue One was the second Star Wars film made after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm. The film focused on the retrieval of the coveted Death Star plans, an event critical to setting up the original Star Wars film. While the film is deeply connected to A New Hope (1977), the film was marketed with a different tone from other Star Wars films. Much of the interviews focused on Rogue One as a “war film”. 1 In a review for Variety, Emily VanDerWerff asserted that the central theme of Rogue One is that “people die in wars”. The anthology film has a high body count with both sides suffering causalities.

Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor serves as a key character in Rogue One. By engaging in morally grey actions like assassination and espionage, the rebel officer serves as representative of the darker aspect of war. Cassian’s introductory scene concludes with the agent killing a panicking informant, a dark scene that sets the tone for the rest of the story. While Cassian works with Jyn to locate Saw Gerrera and her father Galen Erso, Andor keeps Jyn in the dark about many aspects of the mission. For example, while Jyn believes that Cassian is supposed to bring in her father, a Imperial scientist working on the Death Star, his real mission is to assassinate Galen Erso. Cassian struggles with the ethics of the assignment. Perched on an outcropping of rock, Cassian puts himself in position to kill Jyn’s father, but he ultimately choses not to go through with the assassination.

The events of the mission and the death of Jyn’s father create further tension between Jyn and Cassian. In the aftermath of the mission, Jyn confronts Cassian following immoral orders, asserting that he “might as well be a stormtrooper”. In response, Cassian reminds Jyn that she is not the only one who has lost someone, but Cassian and other fighters that support rebellion have decided to “do something about it [their losses]”. While the two characters reconcile to collect the Death Star plans in the final third of the film, even defying their superiors orders, the divide between the idealism of war and the grim reality proves to be a huge dividing point for the two characters.

Star Wars: Andor Can Explore The Cost of Rebellion

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

One of the most exciting prospects about Star Wars: Andor is the potential to explore some mature themes like the long term effects of being part of an insurgency or rebellion. While this idea has been discussed to some degree in expanded universe novels like Alexander Freed’s Alphabet Squadron Trilogy and Paul S. Kemp’s Lords of the Sith, Star Wars film and television properties have not delved as deeply into a more grounded experience of rebels and insurgents as they fight day in and day out for survival and freedom.

Additionally, Star Wars: Andor can look at the physical and mental toll that constant guerilla warfare have on characters in the Star Wars universe. While Rogue One dabbled in this concept with its portrayal of Cassian Andor and Saw Gerrera, Andor could delve even deeper into the psyche of long term rebels. While characters like Leia have served the rebellion from a role of authority or under the guise of a loyal Imperial senator, it would be exciting to see how the lower ranks handle being part of a never-ending war. In an interview discussing several of his projects, Luna asserted that Rogue One was a story about “regular people doing incredible things” and that the upcoming show can explore this concept more fully. 2 With rumors that Forest Whittaker will return as Saw Gerrera, Star Wars: Andor can explore the middle stages of both Cassian and Saw’s battle against the Empire.

Cassian is an excellent subject for exploring the long term effects of war on a character because (as far as the audience knows at this moment) his entire life has been consumed by war and conflict. In Rogue One, Cassian asserts that he has been a part of the war since he was “six years old”. Like many characters living through the Clone Wars and rise of The Empire, Cassian has been shaped by the brutal effects of long term war and the show could explore effects of living such a difficult life. Discussing the idea of a prequel series, Luna asserted that “once you [the actors and/or audience] know what Cassian is capable of, then there’s room for so much exploration, and that’s something that excites me”. 3 By telling the middle of Cassian story, the audience can more fully understand what Cassian has gone through by the events of Rogue One.

Terrible Things Done On Behalf of the Rebellion

Rebellion

While the Rebellion has generally been a considered a heroic force, Andor can explore some of the darker, less morally righteous aspects of rebellion. In Rogue One, Cassian asserts that “every time I walked away from something I wanted to forget, I told myself it was for a cause that I believed in”. This incredible line hints at morally complex situations that could be explored within the show. It is important to remember that individuals like Cassian are soldiers in a complex galactic conflict that often forces men and women to make difficult choices. Shows like Star Wars Rebels have already demonstrated that it took years for the Rebel Alliance to coalesce into a focused organization. For much of the formative years of the Empire, the rebellion took the form of different rebel cells operating independently on a variety of worlds.

Overall, Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels have hinted that maintaining the Rebellion requires a cost not only in human life but also to one’s moral principles. Against the overwhelming power of the Empire, rebels are often forced to result to less than ideal tactics like espionage and sabotage. For example, Cassian’s familiarity with assassination reveals that many rebels are required to get their hands dirty and engage in morally complex choices. Cassian’s murder of the informant also shows that the relationship between rebels can be complex, with trust being extremely difficult to build and easy to break. By putting a spotlight on the difficult decisions that Cassian and other rebel agents must engage in, the show could establish a more morally nuanced interpretation of an insurgent group.

Additionally the show could also fill in the gaps of Cassian’s background and why he joined the rebellion. In Rogue One, Cassian asserts that he has been part of the war since he was six years old and extended universe material that Cassian was involved in the Clone Wars as a child soldier. This means that the majority of Cassian’s life has consumed with war and violence. In Rogue One, Cassian challenges Jyn by saying that she is not “the only one who lost everything”. It would make sense for the streaming show to explore some of Cassian major life events, whether it is his life as a child soldier or his role in the early days of the rebellion. Whether it is through dialogue or direct flashbacks, fleshing out Cassian past could help the audience better understand the character’s journey.

Will Lucasfilm Commit To A Darker Tone for The Show?

Sizzle Reel | Andor | Disney+

One major question that lingers over Star Wars: Andor is whether Lucasfilm will commit to a mature tone for the series. While Star Wars novels like Lords of the Sith, Alphabet Squadron, and Battle Front II: Inferno Squadron have explored themes like violence, survivor’s guilt, and terrorism; films and television shows are still relatively cushioned from darker subject matter. While The Mandalorian is TV-14 but many of the episodes fit closely into the fun action adventure category that is generally expected of Star Wars.

One point in favor of the show being given room to be a more mature experience is that darker Star Wars films like Rogue One and Revenge of the Sith are present along side the rest of the Star Wars content. If Andor can create identity different from many other Star Wars project, it would make the show extremely exciting for new and returning viewers. Ultimately, only time will tell if Andor lives up to the promise many fan feel the show has.

Works Cited

  1. VanDerWerff, Emily. “Rogue One Review: This Is the First Star Wars Movie to Acknowledge the Whole Franchise Is about War.” Vox, Vox, 13 Dec. 2016, www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/13/13928900/rogue-one-review-star-wars.
  2. Davids, Brian. “Diego Luna on ‘Wander Darkly’ and the Cinematic Feel of His ‘Star Wars’ Series ‘Andor’.” The Hollywood Reporter, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Dec. 2020, www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/diego-luna-on-wander-darkly-and-the-cinematic-feel-of-andor-4108436/.
  3. ibid

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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50 Comments

  1. Pearl
    0

    This could go either way. By following Luna’s character it cripples itself in that there’s no real tension as we the viewers know when he dies. Ideally it should quickly establish other characters for us to care about. The prequel films tried this with Vader’s back story but kind of failed in many ways. There were pieces that worked well but other segments that were just screen filler.

  2. Teagan
    0

    The new films are mostly disliked because they render the accomplishments of the rebels and therefore the entire story in the original trilogy pointless. After all they did they might as well have not bothered.

    Also the empire was supposed to be an evil racist xenoist regime, based upon similar regimes from our own history (nazis) thus it made sense that they were all old white men and to contrast this the rebels were led by a woman and had many aliens among them.

    Seeing as how it was always the progressive rebels fighting against the evil conservative empire it’s almost amusing to hear the alt-right complaints about the new films while obviously forgetting one of the main themes of the original films.

    • Esther
      0

      Completely agree, but I have to admit it was amusing to see them negate their own sequel movie in Last Jedi by ignoring everything Force Awakens sets up. It was a beautiful, head shaking moment in storytelling history, and indeed corporate failure. Come to see our movies, although by the next one this might be retconned already. Oh, am I invested!

  3. Lea
    0

    How about something original instead of milking this tripe?

  4. Luke
    0

    I liked Rogue One and found the main characters probably more interesting than their counterparts in the new “trilogy” films. The big problem for Star Wars is that The Last Jedi has killed a lot of the romance and continuity of the whole Star Wars franchise.

    They should keep Rian Johnson as far as way as possible from any of their films.

    • YAKE
      0

      Rogue One is easily the best out of the Disney movies. Solo sadly paid the price for Disney telling fans who were unhappy with The Last Jedi to go f*ck themselves.

  5. David
    0

    Rogue One was excellent and Solo was great entertainment, hope this one is good as well.

    • Floyd
      0

      Yeah, I’m disappointed Solo didn’t do very well at the box office because that pretty much kills any hope of there being a Lando movie with Donald Glover.

    • Hayne
      0

      The silliness at the end where a highly technological society holds their data in a physical data vault with an arial on the top of it so it can be broadcast was just too mind blowingly stupid for words.

      As was the monk who could dodge blaster bolts which we have to assume would be going at light speed or near that.

      Also, the plans that reveal – No! :-O, that if you blow up the generator the Death Star blows up. Who’d have thunk that?

      Star Wars is just a mess as Sci Fi and plot wise and the silliness and childishness just wipes away any value to it.

      Solo was “alright”, but the stimulus to watch Star Wars really can only be for kids – the plots, acting and story lines are mostly shockingly awful.

  6. Bree
    0

    The flaw in Rogue One is that it adds nothing to the universe. The idea that we needed two lines of the opening crawl expanded to a two hour film is insane. Or that we needed an explanation for the “ease” with which the death stay blew up (design flaw or deliberate sabotage were the two explanations being discussed in 1978. Yay, you’ve taken two hours to come down on one side of the debate…)

    Now, the strength of Rogue One is that it is a decent caper movie, arguably hamstrung by the need to throw in “Star Wars Continuity”.

    • Theodor
      0

      – The flaw in Rogue One is that it adds nothing to the universe. The idea that we needed two lines of the opening crawl expanded to a two hour film is insane.

      I don’t have a problem with that. Just because you don’t “need” to explain how it was done doesn’t mean you can’t tell a story about it. (Nor is this the first time the story has been told – there was a whole seriese of computer-games and books about it and the character involved).

      I do agree with you about the Death Star vulnerability though – there was nothing in any of the preceeding films or stories to suggest it was anything other than a design oversight, and no reason to think that that was an unreasonable explanation. (And it wasn’t even that much of an oversight – only a Jedi (or at least, a Jedi-in-training) could have successfully made the shot, and the Empire had no reason to think that any of them still existed, let alone were in the Rebel fighter fleet).

    • Zuzanna
      0

      That’s your opinion; I thought it was a fabulous adventure movie…

  7. Arda
    0

    If the Disney movies have proved anything, it’s that the story of the Skywalker clan actually concluded with RotJ and it’s time for the movies to move on with some new characters. By doing so, they can make these films as modern and diverse as they like, but won’t have all the fanboys moaning about how you’re ruining all that was good about the original trilogy, because they have nothing to do with one another except being set in the same (presumably Force-dominated) universe.

    At the same time, a Rogue One spin-off can continue to mine the grimy, 70’s feel of the Palpatine-era of Star Wars that many older fans obviously like, without treading too much on the toes (and needlessly re-engineering) the original Skywalker storyline. You could even keep bringing Vader back into it every so often because, let’s face it, he was by far the most interesting character in the original trilogy and having him pop up every-now-and-then being a total bad ass (as they did in Rogue One) is faithful to the original storyline.

    • sidra
      0

      I think the problem with fanboys like myself has already been solved. I didn’t see Solo because I didn’t want to see Disney destroy anymore Star Wars characters. I won’t see this for the same reason, too similar in time period to the original films so there’s a chance they’re going to put in old characters to ruin them.

  8. Rogue One is easily one of my favorite projects in the Star Wars because of the great storytelling it did. It easily outshone the sequels and captivated me from beginning to end.

  9. Matas
    0

    Rogue One’s undoubtedly the best Star Wars film since 1983 (and possibly 1980…), but my main concern with this show is that at the start of the movie, Cassian is a bit of a dick. He gets a redemptive plotline, sure, but let’s not forget he starts the movie basically murdering someone for convenience’s sake. Are they going to let him be an antihero the entire series? This is Disney after all.

    • leoo
      0

      You’d imagine that they will base the plot on his lines in the movie that relate to the sacrifices he made that turned him into said antihero. Disney do ‘losing your father’ in an unjust way pretty well.

  10. Simm
    0

    They’re filming this in my home town as we speak. The props are up along the sea front right now and all the vans and tents are 2 minutes from my house. Online it says it’s Andor – Weirdly tho, my local council called the filming the “Pilgrim” production, which sounds more like the Obi Wan series.

  11. Israel
    0

    Can’t wait. Rogue One was great. The prequel novels leading up to Rogue One were also great (Catalyst and Rebel Rising) so this series is much anticipated for me.

  12. anna-pan
    0

    I was reading a Disney storybook to my young daughter the other night and it was spin off stories of the classics. She stopped me at one point and asked ‘Daddy, what are these stories? They don’t make sense’. I replied ‘Its Disney darling. They will do anything to make more money’.

    However, although im not a big Star Wars fan or Disney fan for that matter, I actually liked R1 and viewed it as an action adventure that just happened to be set in the Star Wars universe. I then bought it on Bluray approx. a year later and enjoyed it again. So like the idiot that I am, even though I complain occasionally, I continue to fund these greed based organisations such as Disney, Activision, Sky TV etc. Just like most people…..

    • Maxim
      0

      Have you ever watched Aladdin 2? It is by some way the weakest thing I have ever seen. Its almost worth watching for how bad a film can be.

  13. Mikail
    0

    Rogue one worked because it was a fairly basic war film, filled with all the fairly basic stuff of loyalty, bravery, sacrifice and so on. So often sci-fi ignores these human factors for some grand concept.

    Better to stay small.

  14. Balraj
    0

    I seriously have Star Wars fatigue. It was great when there were 3. A bit strange when there were 6. Now there are so many, I don’t know what’s going on. They’re increasingly becoming less special and more run of the mill.

  15. rabber
    0

    Rogue One was excellent, visually i thought it was stunning on the big screen too. Superior to the other new Star Wars movies.

    • Rosemary
      0

      I love great visuals in movies. The scene where the Death Star destroys the city, and the destruction slowly and inexorably rolls towards them from a distance is breathtaking. I never saw it on the big screen but I am sure it would have been gobsmacking.

  16. Mariella
    0

    There isn’t actually very much to Star Wars. The original trilogy was a soap opera about the Skywalker family, with added mysticism* of the force and climactic lightsaber duels. Without that, what do you have left? Some generic space fantasy in an ill-developed universe I guess.

    Even Rogue One couldn’t really do anything new. The story was entirely based around A New Hope, and they chocked it full of fanwankery as they didn’t trust the audience to come to a movie without things they knew.

    *Something that The Last Jedi did well is make the force interesting again. It works as a mystical concept, not as something to be explained and controlled as in the god-awful prequels.

    • Ms. Fox
      0

      Star Wars had a great visual aesthetic. I don’t think you can understate the importance of that in its success.

  17. Patrick
    0

    Rogue One is superb although a TV series from it feels like another attempt in milking the cow dry.

  18. Selena
    0

    Yet another Star Wars story set during the Empire time? I’d be happy to see more of Cassian Andor and his morally grey work for the Rebellion, but I’d also like to see stories set in other (earlier) parts of the timeline.

    • barry
      0

      I guess previous timelines have to be carefully established, and will probably see light of day in Benioff and Weiss or Johnson’s new films. The whole point of those seems to be to create something new.

      Similarly those clamouring for an Obi-Wan movie – this could be a straight up adventure of Tatooine (sound fun but a bit pointless) or it could involve another confrontation with Vader and feature a younger, boy Luke. In which case extreme care should be taken and the script needs to be perfect. And Ewan McGregor’s probably good for a few years yet. Just like Indiana Jones proved, if it’s not right, don’t do it.

  19. Lord
    0

    The Cassian Andor character is a murderer and an assasin.

    How is Disney going to deal with that?

  20. Paddy
    0

    I can see the appeal/rationale – Rogue One did well and you get to play in the ‘classic’ era of the Empire, Darth Vader etc. Using an established character falls into the prequel trap though and makes it harder to create any genuine threat.

    • Md Shea
      0

      Not sure I buy that. Neither I nor anyone else have ever seriously wondered whether James Bond was going to make it through a film, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt the success.

      Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is technically a prequel but nobody cares that it is.

  21. Storm
    0

    I went off this character the moment he murdered his frightened, disabled informer. So, at the end of his first scene. Maybe he’s a better man in the spin off!?

    • Millie
      0

      I think that scene was there to establish just how dark he’d become doing the dirty business of the rebellion. Without that the decision by the rogue group to sacrifice themselves because of the things they’ve had to do in the name of freedom seems like a lazy writer’s excuse just to get the heroes some allies. That one scene establishes that we’re not watching a goodies versus baddies Buck Rogers style film like the original Star Wars. It also gives the character an emotional arc to follow such as when he later decides not to kill Galen Erso: had he not been set up as a killer who follows orders we’d know he wasn’t going to shoot him all along. That decision takes him down a very different emotional path that leads to his sacrifice.

      I thought Rogue One was one of the best examples I’ve ever seen for how a franchise can expand but also develop genuine depth. The existence of extremist factions within the rebel alliance for example: it’s not such a straightforward story once you see the rebels are also fighting amongst themselves.

      For me Rogue One is the Star Wars movie for those of us who watched the originals when we were young, but now we’ve matured we still like the stories but are much better informed about the world around us. The trick it pulled off was also to remain a Star Wars movie as well.

    • eddie
      0

      Yes, that bothered me too. I wouldn’t like think I’d get the same treatment.

  22. kaep
    0

    Diego Luna was an incredibly charismatic turn in Rogue One but given what happened to that character in the film you know it can only conclude one way. Besides which, we’ve had nearly 20 years of Star Wars prequels starting with Episode I, they’re now trying that age-old and futile practice of getting blood out of a stone. Any mystery to this saga is going to be killed stone dead.

    • Iwan Zimmerman
      0

      Diego Luna “Incredibly charismatic”, I commend you sir kaep on some of the finest and most acerbic sarcasm I have so far read.

  23. NOA
    0

    Rogue One was pretty good but not because (or despite) “Cassian Andor”.

  24. mort
    0

    I loved Rogue One and Diego Luno’s character is the first Star Wars male lead I’ve admired since Luke Skywalker back in the day when I was a teenager. I was dismayed by Cassian’s fate at the end of that film, despite logic in theory preparing me for it. So I’m definitely up for further (or rather previous) adventures of that character. Maybe with a love interest involved – there was zero chemistry between him and the Felicity Jones character in R1 which leaves the field clear for someone else.

  25. Safah
    0

    Re-watched Rouge One last night after very happily discovering it had appeared on Netflix and confirmed my opinion that its a tie with ESB for best of the Star Wars films. Great cast and great characters any of which would make for a great series – I do hope K2SO comes back with Cassian!

  26. Danniella
    0

    It’s hard to get into a show where you know that the main character will not die. It removes all of the tension from the action scenes.

  27. Jennifer
    0

    TV has been good for SW as far as ‘clone wars’, ‘rebels’, ‘mando’ are concerned. I have a good feeling about this project.

  28. colon
    0

    R1 is the only good modern Star Wars film.

  29. arie
    0

    The level of detail and craftsmanship looks amazing in this series.

  30. paul
    0

    Rogue one was the sequel/prequel I imagined in the long gap between the first film and the Empire Strikes Back. I was 12 in ’77, and watched those twin suns set over Tattooine for the first time. I longed for a Star Wars that would grow with me, show me more. Instead it regressed further and further into an infantile world of family drama and marketable cuddly toys.

    By the time Return of the Jedi was released I was heading to university, and had lost all interest in a cartoon empire that could be overthrown by 200 teddybears.

  31. Wilf
    0

    Didn’t he die at the end? It’s a bit of a problem making the main character a person whose tragic fate is already known – that was part of the problem with the prequels…

  32. Darryl
    0

    A spinoff prequel to a spinoff prequel to a digitally altered prequel/sequel.

  33. Maddy
    0

    Rogue One was brilliant. More please.

  34. Re: doing what seems bad for the greater good, contra: particularly as applied to the Star Wars world, would doing things that go into a moral grey area lead to a lesser-quality, lesser-disciplined soldier?

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