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Everything we know about Star Wars: The High Republic

Disney is opening up a new era to explore in everyone's favorite galaxy far, far away. 

Fans wondering where the Mouse House might take the Star Wars franchise after The Rise of Skywalker didn't have to wait long to find out: the studio recently announced a new multimedia endeavor entitled Star Wars: The High Republic, the next phase in its efforts to capitalize on Lucasfilm's marquee property (via Salon). So, what do we know about this storytelling venture so far?

Previously referred to by the cryptic codename "Project Luminous," the High Republic stories will be prequels to the entire Skywalker Saga. The subtitle refers to a new era of the Star Wars timeline yet to be explored in any extant media. According to Gizmodo, the High Republic describes an era 200 years before Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; this is a time period substantially prior to the rise of the Galactic Empire, but also substantially after the classic Old Republic era, popularized principally in video games like the Knights of the Old Republic franchise. This is presumably a time when the Jedi Council's strength is at its apex. 

Before we dive too deeply into the weeds of Disney's new plan to explore the storytelling possibilities of this timeline, a little backstory on how we got here.

Disney's handling of Star Wars hasn't been stellar

When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion, we all read the writing on the wall (or the crawl, rather) — Star Wars was set to become the next cinematic universe, and questions swirled around the fandom about how Disney might go about this undertaking. In addition to the three original beloved features and three (less beloved) prequel films, a glut of "Expanded Universe" content had been generated over the last four decades. Star Wars lore had grown to include cartoons, novels, video games, and thousands upon thousands of pages of comics. While any attempt to stay faithful to such a muddled continuity seemed unlikely, fans weren't sure to what extent Disney might mine these past expansions for inspiration.

Then came the big announcement: Disney decided that it would be starting from scratch with the Star Wars universe at large, and demoted all past Expanded Universe content to the new "Star Wars Legends" line, a grouping of stories intended to exist outside of the new canon. With the old Expanded Universe effectively retconned, Disney began creating its own extensions for the franchise outside of the Skywalker Saga.

Its early attempts met with mixed results. The new Star Wars comics produced by Marvel have been popular, as has the franchise's first foray into live-action television, Jon Favreau's hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian. But 2018's Solo: A Star Wars Story underperformed severely at the box office, and after the somewhat tepid fan response to the Skywalker Saga-concluding Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Disney found itself at a crossroads with the franchise.

A longer time ago in a galaxy far, far away

The High Republic offers a rich new area of storytelling, and the multimedia project could be seen as testing the waters for potential feature films to come. The era in which the stories take place begins with a cataclysmic event known as the Great Disaster; this event thrusts the entire galaxy into turmoil, and brings the Jedi Council into conflict with the great nemesis of their time, a shadowy order known only as the Nihil. From the promotional art released so far, the Nihil look a little more anarchic than the fascistic Sith we've come to know and loathe.

Disney plans to begin exploring the High Republic era in literary form. The first five projects have already been announced: Light of the Jedi, an adult novel by Charles Soule; Into the Dark, a YA novel by Claudia Gray; A Test of Courage, a middle grade novel by Justina Ireland; The High Republic Adventures, an IDW comic series by Daniel Jose Older; and The High Republic, a Marvel comic series by Cavan Scott. While the titles seem pretty, errr, generic, the writing talent is top shelf. All of the authors tapped to usher in the new age of Star Wars have already cut their teeth on prior popular canon.

It had been rumored that the canceled film series from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss was set to take place in this same time period, but since that cancellation, no new plans for High Republic films have been laid out. For now, you'll just have to dust off your reading glasses if you want to explore this new Star Wars era. The first book, Soule's Light of the Jedi, is slated for release on August 25th, and all three novels are available for pre-order on the official Star Wars website.