What is it about a Star Wars project that makes it “Star Wars” — and does Andor somehow not fit that formula?
This is the question I’ve been asking myself ever since Star Wars Twitter began reviewing the new Disney+ series. Viewer after viewer, Star Wars fan after Star Wars fan continuously noted that Andor “doesn’t feel like Star Wars.” I’ve been trying to figure out what the collective fandom means by this sentiment — that a Star Wars show doesn’t feel like a Star Wars show — and remain puzzled weeks into the series’ first season. I suppose it may come down to a few different factors — one of these being that Andor is the first live-action Disney+ Star Wars series that doesn’t seem to be trying to appeal to one particular kind of Star Wars fan. You could even argue that it’s not trying to appeal to Star Wars fans specifically at all. To be clear: The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett are both captivating, expertly crafted shows that I have very few complaints about. But The Mandalorian, though it largely featured characters that were new to the Star Wars galaxy especially in the beginning, had a very specific task to complete: It had to draw people in. It was one of Disney+’s headlining shows at launch. It needed to be good, but it also needed a character like Din Djarin, who doesn’t know much about Star Wars despite how dearly we love him, to guide viewers through Star Wars, having things explained to him from time to time to keep everything straight.
And The Book of Boba Fett had a completely different assignment: To appeal to longtime fans of one of Star Wars’ early and original characters. It also made various connections to other shows to appeal to fans who had seen The Clone Wars and other stories. Andor doesn’t care about any of that — and it doesn’t have to. Airing on a now well-established platform with every previous Star Wars release now readily available in one place, it has little to no interest in providing direct context for its events outside of what the story shows its audience. It does not exist to explain Star Wars to anyone; that’s not its job. Its job is to tell the stories of the people responsible for building a rebellion against the wicked government they’re trapped beneath. At its start, that is the only thing its viewers need to know. The rest is revealed through dialogue, character work, and more subtle methods.
Perhaps that’s why it feels different — and perhaps that difference is being mistaken for something it isn’t. It’s a different tone than many are used to. It’s a different style of storytelling than some people are comfortable with. These are things that make it a unique Star Wars story among numerous other Star Wars stories. There’s nothing that makes it feel less like Star Wars. Just because it’s unique does not mean it lacks the key markers that make it a Star Wars story. Family. Love. Friendship. Sacrifice. Anger. Trauma. Good. Evil. Something in-between. Andor has all of this and more. It’s just as Star Wars as A New Hope. A story doesn’t have to lean on recognizable legacy characters, music, or tropes to fit the mold of something Star Wars.