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Star Wars: The High Republic will change the way we look at Jedi for the better
After plenty of cryptic teasing, Lucasfilm and a collection of authors finally revealed Star Wars' mysterious "Project Luminous" earlier this week. Set 200 years before the Skywalker Saga, the Star Wars: The High Republic is a line-wide initiative of books and comics beginning in August staffed by veteran Star Wars writers such as Justina Ireland, Charles Soule, and Daniel Jose Older. It's a bold step for a franchise with a lot of promise, least of all because it may finally be an opportunity to change our view of the Jedi.
As iconic as the Jedi are, it's been easy for fans and non-fans of Star Wars to list their many grievances with the Light Side users of the Force. They take children from their homes to conscript them into wars and saddle them with trauma; their downfall was in part due to their inability to address emotions of any kind, in turn making it incredibly easy for them to turn to the Dark Side. Despite being said to be protectors, they made no efforts to actually help Shmi Skywalker, a slave, and left her alone on a planet for a decade, where she eventually was kidnapped and died. Intentional or not, their participation in the Clone Wars made them complicit in the Empire's eventual rise to power.
We've all heard or made these very legitimate complaints (and many more) in the past, and the Skywalker Saga and various titles spinning out support this. The Jedi failed Anakin Skywalker and Ben Solo emotionally, which led to catastrophic results. Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars was often used as a character to question the ways of the Jedi, resulting in her eventually walking away from the Order altogether after being falsely accused of a bombing. She was later proven innocent, but the damage was done. In the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, protagonist Cal Kestis is shown a potential future where his attempt to remake the Jedi Order with young Force users ends with them all dead.
When Anakin says the Jedi are evil from his perspective in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, it's hard to argue against it.
This is what makes the prospect of the High Republic so interesting. It's during a time when there are "true guardians of peace and justice ... This was a golden age for the Jedi," in the words of Lucasfilm creative director Michael Siglain. With this new creative lease on life, it's a chance to right the wrongs of the Jedi in the relative present and show the cloaked space warriors as actual heroes for the first time. Concept art from Phil Noto showing multiple Jedi with ignited lightsabers doesn't have a grim irony to it as it did during the Clone Wars. They actually look like noble knights, and seeing them evokes a feeling of hope and wonder at seeing characters whose stories won't abruptly come to a dark end.
If the Jedi are said to be peacekeepers, show them as actual peacekeepers for everyone, not just for the large-scale battles that came to define the Clone Wars and the events afterward.
There's still plenty about the High Republic era we don't know, and it's unclear how it will evolve in the long term. But if its immediate goal is to give the Jedi a soft reboot and make them worthy of the heroic title they've been given for 43 years, it couldn't have come at a better time.