Headland Addresses Accusations of Portraying Jedi as Villains: “People who don’t know the High Republic — may feel like I’m criticizing the Jedi”

The High Republic Jedi

Even before ‘The Acolyte’ was released, the show generated significant controversy due to statements made by its creator, Leslye Headland. In Headland’s show, the Jedi are depicted as having a monopoly on the Force, a power they exercise regularly, as illustrated in Episode 3 when they confront the Witches of Brendok.

Some of Headland’s pre-release statements suggest that the Jedi are portrayed as the antagonists due to their systemic power.

As you know, ‘The Acolyte’ takes place during the High Republic era, around 100 years before the events of ‘The Phantom Menace.’ This period marks the height of the Jedi power, their golden years, from which everything began to decline. This downfall is partly due to their ego and the lack of threats to their power or authority for centuries.

The Jedi Order was also being undermined by the influence of the Republic’s politics, with rampant corruption and politicization of issues within the order. Vernestra Rwoh appears to be aware of these problems.

This accurate portrayal of the Jedi has drawn criticism from some fans who accuse Headland of depicting them as the true villains in the show. In a recent interview with Collider, Headland clarified that some fans may not be familiar with the High Republic era and its backstory, which predates Lucas’ movies.

HEADLAND: I hope it’s making people look at it from a different point of view. I can understand that fans — especially people who don’t know the High Republic — may feel like I’m criticizing the Jedi as they exist in George Lucas’ oeuvre, meaning the prequels and Episodes 5 through 6, but that’s not the case. We’re so much further back from that. We’re in that era that Obi-Wan is talking about in A New Hope. We’re in that period where the proliferation of power is so huge and far-reaching. Actually, in the next episode, you’re gonna see how far-flung particular missions with Jedi are and the lack of oversight.

Headland also emphasized that comparing the Jedi from her show to those from the prequels is pointless, as the High Republic Jedi adhered to different rules and principles.

Yeah, so comparing these Jedi to the Jedi in the prequels is a little difficult because it’s 100-ish years. It’s a century. So you see Vernestra’s like, “We cannot let this happen.” She gets more and more concerned about that at the end of the season, and rightfully so because she, as a very powerful Jedi Master, can sort of see what’s on the horizon, whereas, when we meet the Jedi in the prequels, they’re completely enmeshed at that point.

Going back to your question, one of the interesting ways to unpack the Jedi is, when they are at their height as they are here, what are the things they’re doing differently? A Jedi doesn’t pull their weapon unless prepared to kill — that’s just a High Republic concept. They don’t have battle droids, they don’t have other people with lightsabers. There isn’t any reason to pull it. Comparing that to anybody in the prequels, it’s not the same. They’re just not the same Jedi. So, in my opinion, and in my experience, and what I was interested in digging into is, it seems like it’s a time where you can break down the Jedi as a concept, whereas I wouldn’t want to touch what has been established of them a century later.

Regardless of whether you enjoy ‘The Acolyte’ or not, the portrayal of Jedi in the show aligns accurately with certain source materials. What are your thoughts on this? Share in the comments below!

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