Over the last two months, 45,000 Star Wars fans have signed a petition addressed to Disney and Lucasfilm, asking them to bring a particular part of the Star Wars canon to life on Netflix. There’s been no indication that this will happen – Netflix and Disney have never worked together on original content before. But The Old Republic is the story they want to see told in a Netflix series – it’s a prequel to the film franchise, and it’s explored in three key games, the first of which was released all the way back in 2003:
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – 2003
Setting: 4,000 years before the events of 1977’s original Star Wars film, the galaxy is in chaos. Darth Malak, a Sith lord, has taken control of an extraordinarily powerful military production furnace called the Star Forge and is waging war on the Republic.
You play: A male or female human called Revan, who exhibits Jedi abilities but has lost their memory.
Other key characters: Bastila Shan is your mentor, a battle Jedi who Darth Malak wants to bring over to the dark side. Carth Onasi is your first buddy, a pilot and commander in the Republic’s forces who hates his former commander Saul Karath. Then there’s HK-47, an assassin droid who spouts Machiavellian lines all the time.
Why people love it: KotOR is an immersive and huge world. The series is made by Bioware, who were also behind the gigantic sci-fi series Mass Effect, so your choices are key to the progression of the story – at the end you can either take Malak’s place as a Sith lord, or you can bring his cycle of destruction to an end. Then there’s your ‘party’ – a motley crew of characters including Bastila, Carth and HK-47, whom you collect along the way to help you in your quest. There are many, many dialogue options with them, and that’s one of the reasons the games are so popular: they capture the sense of teamwork that’s so key to the best Star Wars films. The trailer might make it seem clunky and old-fashioned, but there’s a reason it remains in the top 100 highest-rated games ever.
2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords – 2004
Setting: Five years after the events of KotOR. That game’s protagonist, Revan, has disappeared, leaving in his or her wake a trail of destruction from the climactic battle of Malachor V in the Mandalorian Wars – a series of battles that you’ll learn much more about by playing the game. At the end of those hostilities, the activation of a weapon on the mysterious planet of brought an end to years of war (the Mandalorian Wars) but also tore a ‘wound’ in the Force that your character is responsible for.
You play: The Exile, a former Jedi Knight who activated the weapon that ‘wounded’ the Force; in doing so the Exile unconsciously severed their connection to the Force and inspired a new, destructive tactic among the Sith Lords.
Other key characters: Kreia, a blind and mysterious Force-sensitive old woman who acts as your guide. Engineer Bao-Dur is of the Zabrak race and fought in the Mandalorian Wars; bounty hunter Mira lost her family to the same wars. Your enemies are three Sith Lords intent on destroying the Force: the wraith-like Darth Nihilus, the undead Darth Sion and finally Darth Traya, who remains in the shadows for most of the game.
Why people love it: The enigma and personality surrounding some of these characters makes it a fascinating experience that fans can replay in different ways for different endings. Like the previous game, it’s also got a huge sense of scale, taking you to abandoned mining facilities, desolate planets, lush green worlds and underwater sanctuaries, among others. The exploratory and mysterious aspect of the game would translate very well to television.
3. The Old Republic – 2011
Setting: 300 years after the events of KotOR II. This Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG for short) was Lucasarts’ response to World of Warcraft and allows players access to several storylines across the galaxy, which are constantly being updated.
You play: Anyone you like: you can be any kind of character and side with either the good guys (Jedi) or the bad guys (Sith). You’ll fight battles across various different fronts in their ongoing war.
Other key characters: There are loads of companions you can choose between, but key people in the game include Jedi Master Satele Shan, who’s a apparently a real badass.
Why people love it: Because it offers even more chance to explore the world of the Old Republic, as whatever character you choose, with storylines that are equally expansive and dark as the previous games.
Why do fans want to turn the stories of The Old Republic into a TV series?
In the petition’s own words: “It’s about time that the stories from over 3,000 years before the Battle of Yavin be told to both new and old fans of the franchise.”
They consider the era of The Old Republic “a pivotal point in the Star Wars timeline” because “that’s where everything changed, from the Jedi Civil War and the fall of Revan, the First Jedi Purge, and an omnipresent darkness that not only watched the chaos from afar but also kick-started the downfall.” In other words, for proper Star Wars fans the stories in The Old Republic are really fucking interesting.
As for the reason fans want to see it on Netflix, they cite “the wealth of great content they have produced over the years, such as Narcos, House of Cards, and especially everything that Marvel has done and is still currently working on. Not only that, but Netflix can serve as a platform to tell these stories as they were meant to be portrayed: dark, foreboding, and a touch on the mature side.”
There’s been no response from Lucasfilm, Disney or Netflix on the petition, but watch this space. And if a Netflix series of The Old Republic sounds like your cup of tea, you can sign the petition here.